Samsung is still reeling from the recent cancellation of the Galaxy Note 7, following a second recall due to a high risk of battery fires. As the company tries to pick up the pieces and regain consumer trust, it is still unable to identify the root cause of the battery fires. A new report from The Wall Street Journal reveals Samsung used an internal lab to test the battery in the Note 7, which sets it apart from all other smartphone makers, which use independent third-party labs for such testing.
Samsung released the Note 7 scarcely two months ago, and within a few weeks it had become apparent the phone was bursting into flames at a higher rate than any other device. The company began an investigation and determined batteries produced by a Samsung subsidiary were the cause. It initiated a fast recall to get the devices swapped out for new, non-explosive units. However, the replacement units seemed to be blowing up at the same unacceptable rate.
At that point, Samsung had little recourse but to kill the phone permanently and accept returns and exchanges. The company has been trying to figure out the cause of the fires without success ever since. It has reportedly been unable to even get a phone to catch fire under laboratory conditions.
There’s no guarantee that Samsung’s use of an internal testing lab has anything to do with the Note 7 defect, but it is very unusual. In order to sell a phone in the US, OEMs must have the battery tested at one of the 28 labs certified by the CTIA mobile trade group, ensuring compliance with standards set by the IEEE. Samsung managed to get CTIA’s okay to use its own testing lab to certify the Note 7’s battery, which may have contributed to the issues with the phone, as well as the confusion around how to fix it.
Industry watchers suspect that Samsung was pushing hard to get the Note 7 out in advance of the iPhone 7 launch. It’s possible its internal testing was hurried along for business reasons—something that would not have been possible with outside testing.
Samsung is currently stuck with a multi-billion dollar bungle and no good answers yet. If it’s going to convince consumers to buy a Galaxy S8, it needs to come up with a full explanation for the Note 7’s issues. Considering how long it takes to design phones, the timing of the Galaxy S8 could be impacted by the Note 7 fiasco.