An engineering consulting company called Instrumental tore down a Galaxy Note 7 and came up with the best theory so far as to why its batteries exploded.
According to Instrumental, the Note 7’s battery was too big for the enclosure it was meant to fit inside.
Specifically, the Note 7’s battery didn’t have enough room inside its enclosure to naturally and safely swell during normal usage. As a result, when the battery swelled, the volatile chemicals inside the battery risked coming into contact with each other, which can lead to an explosion.
That risk would increase if a Note 7 user placed any added “stress” to the back of the phone, like pressure. According to Instrumental, just sitting on the phone by mistake could have added enough pressure to kickstart the chemical nightmare that brewed within numerous exploded Note 7 devices.
Instrumental’s solution to the problem would have Samsung use smaller batteries in the Note 7. Yet, as Instrumental notes itself, adding a smaller battery would mean it couldn’t compete on battery life against its main competitor, the iPhone 7 Plus. Indeed, battery life is a huge factor for mobile devices.
The report also speculates that Samsung’s quality analysis process failed the company, and it will need to revisit the way it determines whether a product and its components are safe or not.
With the Galaxy Note 7, it’s possible Samsung was in a predicament. It might have known that a safe, stable battery size wouldn’t have allowed the Note 7 to compete with the iPhone 7 Plus on battery life, but it also “needed” to release the Note 7. So, in an effort to outdo its main competition, Samsung could have decided to “push the boundaries” and move forward with a higher, less-tested battery size.
Samsung is still investigating the cause of the Note 7’s battery defect, but if that was the case, those boundaries were pushed too far.
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