Leading phone brand, Samsung Electronics has discontinued the production of the Galaxy Note 7. The model which was launched recently started having issues with smoking, exploding, and catching fire, leading to the replacement of the batteries which was initially identified as the cause. The company then took the step of replacing the batteries suppliers, but the complaints and incidents continued.
Samsung then started a worldwide recall in which over a million copies of the new model, which is about 40% of the total number manufactured, have been returned. The move announced on the websites of Samsung and the Consumer Product Safety Commission said, “Consumers should immediately stop using and power down all Galaxy Note 7 devices, including Note 7 devices received as replacements in the previous recall”. Analysts estimate say this might have cost Samsung over $5 billion in losses already. Even at that, in a move to maintain customer loyalty, the company announced in the US that it is giving out an incentive of a $100 credit to Note 7 owners who switch to another model of Samsung phones.
Recently, a South West Airline flight in the US was evacuated when a passenger’s phone started smoking and making popping sounds. At least three mobile carriers in the United States, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile have said they will stop selling or carrying the model.
What is responsible for the phone catching fire? Samsung’s original analysis was that a minor manufacturing error in the batteries is the cause. The phone is powered by Lithium Ion battery. The liquid inside the battery contains highly flammable liquid. When the plastic that separates the positive (+) and negative (-) sides of the battery get punctuated, electricity will flow between the two sides and heat up the liquid on the spot, causing smoking and potential explosion.
There have also been reports of bodily harm and burning of cars and properties when the phones were plugged for charging. The same type of batteries has been responsible for hover boards fires which for the last one year or more have sometimes led to the burning down of houses and other properties where they are being charged, while some even caught fire when in use.
However, experts are now of the opinion that Samsung may have rushed to conclude the Note 7’s problem was a battery issue, noting it may take some time to determine the real cause.
The Note 7 device, which has also been regarded as the brand’s flagship phone product because of its boasting the latest technologies from Samsung, including the ability to unlock the phone by scanning a user’s iris, was sold for between $850 and $890, making it one of the most expensive smartphones in the market.
Featured Image Credit: Cnet.com
Published in the Business Eye’s print version, October 2016 edition.