After continued reports of the phones catching on fire when charged, Samsung finally put the Galaxy Note 7 out of its misery two weeks ago. But 2.5 million recalled devices and $2.3 billion in projected losses later, the company is apparently no closer to identifying what killed its flagship smartphone.
According to a new Wall Street Journal report, Samsung’s first diagnosis blaming malfunctioning batteries was made by executives with incomplete information under pressure to “do right” by their customers. In their rush to solve the problem, however, they likely aggravated it instead.
Instead of initiating the kind of formal recall that involves companies and safety agencies working together to study and resolve an issue, the Samsung executives decided to go forward alone with an independent recall of phones shipped with the supposedly bad batteries. When it became clear that other Note 7 batteries were overheating, the only thing the company knew for certain was that its initial explanation was wrong. From the Journal:
Outside experts have pointed to a range of possible culprits, from the software that manages how the battery interacts with other smartphone components to the design of the entire circuit.
Engineers are also looking into the possibility that the battery case may have been too small to house a battery of that capacity, according to one Samsung mobile executive.
“We recognized that we did not correctly identify the issue the first time and remain committed to finding the root cause,” a Samsung spokesperson told the paper. “Our top priority remains the safety of our customers and retrieving 100% of the Galaxy Note 7 devices in the market.”
Of course, its a lot easier to keep people safe if you know what endangered them in the first place and Samsung is now facing a different time pressure: Its next phone, likely called the Galaxy S8, is expected to arrive early next year.