It’s nearly two weeks since Samsung discontinued the Galaxy Note 7, and the company is yet to determine why several units caught fire. However, according to The Wall Street Journal, the hasty recall process initiated by Samsung following reports of the first Note 7 units catching fire in late August may have exacerbated the issue.
Samsung conducted laboratory tests of faulty units and found “a protrusion in Note 7 batteries supplied by Samsung SDI,” whereas batteries from another supplier didn’t have the bulge. Facing increased pressure from customers and carriers, Samsung’s mobile chief DJ Koh initiated a recall of the 2.5 million units after consulting with heir apparent Lee Jae-yong.
The decision to recall units based on “incomplete evidence” turned out to Samsung’s detriment when “safe” units of the Note 7 also started catching fire:
Messrs. Lee and Koh believed they had all the evidence they needed to conclude the problem lay with Samsung SDI’s batteries, these people said. They argued it was more important for Samsung to do “the right thing” and act, in the words of one of the people familiar with the matter, rather than wait for more information. Doing so would have left customers in the dark longer and potentially allowed the crisis to get worse.
On Sept. 2, Mr. Koh entered a news conference room in downtown Seoul to address reporters. Without providing names, he said the company had identified a problem with one of its suppliers and it would shift production to another supplier it believed hadn’t caused the problems.
With the second batch of units also turning out to be defective, Samsung had no recourse but to discontinue the phone. According to a Samsung spokesperson:
We recognized that we did not correctly identify the issue the first time and remain committed to finding the root cause. Our top priority remains the safety of our customers and retrieving 100% of the Galaxy Note 7 devices in the market.
While there isn’t a definitive answer on what caused the Note 7 to burst into flames, it looks like the battery case designed for the phone may have been too small to house the 3500mAh battery. The WSJ’s sources reveal that Samsung has delayed work on the Galaxy S8 by two weeks while it finds the root cause of the Note 7’s battery woes.