Will the Galaxy S8 Make Your Pockets Bake?

With the announcement of the Galaxy S8 last week, can we trust Samsung’s new devices in our pockets despite their explosive past with the Note 7 last year? To make this decision we need to explore and understand what actually caused the issues, how it impacted the South Korean tech giant and what they have done to recover.

What happened with the Note 7?

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was launched on August 19, 2016 with a recording-breaking number of pre-orders. It was being regarded as the best Android phone of the year with its sleek design, high-end specs and enhanced stylus.

A couple of weeks later reports started to spread about the Note 7 devices catching fire with 92 incidences of batteries overheating in the U.S. By early September, Samsung halted sales of the Note 7 and issued a global recall which saw over 1 million phones returned and replaced. Several attempts were made to mitigate the situation which included pushing out a software update that reduced the faulty Note 7’s charging abilities in the hopes that it would prevent overheating. Just as the issue seemed to be resolved, new reports of the replacement Note 7 units also catching on fire emerged which ultimately caused Samsung to completely stop selling the phone.

This whole debacle cost Samsung over 5.4 billion dollars and the trust from consumers.

The science behind the exploding phones

The cause of the explosions was from defects in the batteries which came from two suppliers, Samsung SDI and Amperex Technology. Samsung SDI being responsible for the initial run of phones and Amperex Technology being for the replacement units.

Both manufacturers' batteries had different causes for the explosions. 

Batteries from Samsung SDI didn't enough room between the battery walls and its internal components. This caused the negative electrode to be positioned in a way that was susceptible to short circuits as it was very close to the positive electrode.

Batteries manufactured by Amperex Technology had high, sharp protrusions known as “burrs” that occurred from the company’s poor welding process. Through normal charging and discharging, the expansion in the battery caused these burrs to wear down and penetrate the separator between the electrodes which also caused short circuits.

What have they done moving forward?

Alongside publicly explaining the causes of the Note 7 fire, Samsung has implemented new quality assurance measures which include an 8-step battery safety check. To make battery safety the number one priority for Samsung in regaining consumers' trust, they have formed a “battery advisory group” which consists of external researches and experts to ensure that the company “maintains a clear and objective perspective on battery safety and innovation”.

Though it can be questionable that safety measures like these were not implemented before, we know for sure now that Samsung will go to great lengths to ensure that the history of the Note 7 will not be repeated with the upcoming S8 and future devices.

Watch a tour of Samsung's battery testing centre

Can we trust the Galaxy S8?

Your pockets will be as safe, or even safer with the Samsung Galaxy S8 in them compared to any other smartphone on the market and the decision to pick one up need not be based on the Note 7’s explosive past.