Can Samsung win trust back with apology, explanation for exploding Galaxy Note7?

January 24th, 2017 | by Alfred Siew
Can Samsung win trust back with apology, explanation for exploding Galaxy Note7?

No mobile phone had failed so spectacularly in recent memory. So, when Samsung finally explained what happened with the exploding Galaxy Note7 yesterday, it came with an amount of detail that’s unprecedented.

Yes, the phones caught fire because of a battery fault arising from suppliers, but ultimately, the Korean firm was in charge of quality control, it said. And it should have checked the phones better, it added.

Essentially, the problems had to do with not one, but two, types of batteries that the Galaxy Note7 had relied on. Each one had a different issue that resulted in a negative and positive electrode touching and causing a short circuit.

When the Korean firm first recalled a batch of phones in September last year, it had no idea there were issues with the second batch using a second type of battery. So, when even that batch of phones caught fire weeks later, it had to scrap the Galaxy Note7 altogether.

USA Today has a great infographic summing up the findings from some 700 engineers tasked to find out the cause of the fires. Some 200,000 Galaxy Note7s were tested, with more than 30,000 standalone batteries, it reported.

Samsung also brought in an independent firm, Germany’s TUV Rheinland, to assess its factories and logistics. In other words, nothing was covered up (see the 49-minute presentation here).

That, however, won’t be enough to assuage nervous buyers considering the next Samsung phone.

Yes, Samsung has done probably as much as it could in explaining and apologising for the previous mistake, but can it guarantee its next phone would not suffer from the same issues?

After all, who wants a phone exploding in their face when they have it charging at the bedside at night? Or a phone that catches fire even when it’s not being juiced up?

The ultimate test for Samsung is to produce a new phone that is safe. Given all the scrutiny it is under, don’t be surprised to see people posting videos on the Net claiming their next Galaxy phones are also catching fire.

After all, there are speculative ones claiming that older Galaxy S7s, which are fine, also suffer from battery problems.

In other words, Samsung has an uphill battle to win back trust. It’s done well so far in being sincere and transparent about its problems. No other company in recent times seems to have opened up so much about its weaknesses, especially in such a competitive field.

Now, Samsung has to get the next phone right. It is being extra careful with its next flagship by launching it only after next month’s Mobile World Congress show, where it usually reveals its new models each year. That’s a safe, logical move.

The Galaxy Note7, when it was out in August last year, appeared a slam dunk for Samsung to cement a great comeback year. No one expected it to blow up so dramatically (certainly we didn’t in our review). Surely, lightning doesn’t strike twice, right?


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