The batteries did it, but maybe not because the batteries were bad
Samsung released a video that…kinda…touches on why the Galaxy Note 7 was combusting. Both of their sources for the battery had catastrophic design flaws. One because the electrodes of the battery in the uppper right hand corner could be compacted and consequently the negative and positive terminal could be shorted, and in the other, an, ‘abnormal weld could cause an internal short circuit.’
It is completely baffling that of the entire length of the two minute and fourteen second video, only 14 seconds talks about what actually happened. And that 14 seconds was so vague, it doesn’t even answer how it could be possible. Because if you have never taken apart a Note 7, you wouldn’t know how Samsung designed the battery compartment.
This is the cell design of the Note 7 with an emphasis in the upper right hand corner. Like most non user-serviceable batteries, it doesn’t have a protective shell or a hermetically sealed rigid container. It isn’t meant to be touched by anyone except the person who places it in the phone at assembly. Like most other designs that utilize non user-serviceable batteries, they are simply glued or double-sided taped to a flat surface…like the inside of the outer rear shell. The glue usually holds it where it is placed. I have never seen or even heard of a properly mounted battery coming loose. While that doesn’t mean one hasn’t or won’t, it is a pretty sure bet that the battery was placed right where it was designed – by Samsung – to be placed, and never moved.
The animation taken from the video, suggests that something squished the corner.
In the second example a, ‘defective weld’, we are told -or perhaps shown- could cause an internal short circuit. Presumably because a breach in the battery lining could make contact with something outside of the battery lining.
What could that be?
This is an image of a Note 7 being disassembled. The tech has a spudger underneath the battery showing how it should be pried lose. Here is where the confusion comes into play. If we are to accept the premise of the animations above (taken from the video), then the only thing that could possibly cause a squished upper right corner, or cause a weld to breach the battery lining…is the unique battery tray Samsung designed in the Note 7. It isn’t there to keep the battery secured. A grip of glue does that all by itself. The battery walls are there to compartmentalize the power source in case the device is submerged in water. Samsung put a lot of pride in the water-proof rating it received. This is one of the ways that rating was achieved.
Note the metal bracket separator to the north of where the top of the battery would be.
Here is the rear plate with a better view of how the battery is compartmentalized. At first glance, one would think that the bracketing that surrounds the battery is there as a testament to Samsung commitment to structural integrity. However, we know this can’t be the case because the entire handset is surrounded by glass.
The only way that battery corners get squished or parts of the battery that are on the inside of the liner get impacted to the point that they reside on the outside of the liner is if the battery comes in contact with something else that is not the battery. If Samsung spec’d the battery dimensions too large for a safe fit into that compartment they created for the water-resistance rating, then it is quite possible that when the techs mount the battery at assembly as the glue is applied they were the ones who applied enough pressure on the battery to impact the water-proofing compartmentalization brackets. Because surely, the battery didn’t move once the glue dried.
Did water proofing kill the Note 7?
Samsung was doing their best to come up with the biggest, baddest mobile device on the planet. It had a huge screen that was beautiful and bright. But big, bright displays need big batteries. Samsung also wanted that IP68 rating for water resistance to 1,5 meters for 30 minutes in the drink. Samsung easily had the prerogative to fill that battery compartment with as much battery as they could fit in there.
But there is more
At the time prior to the launch of the Note 7, Samsungs original plan was to wait for the iPhone 7 announcement before they launched the Note 7. If you recall, tech ‘journalists’ were killing each other over who could write the most, ‘iPhone 7 is going to be boring’ stories:
- The boring iPhone 7
- 10 reasons why the iPhone 7 is boing
- The iPhone 8 won’t be boring, so wait
- Why the iPhone 7 will be boring
- The iPhone 7 will bore you to death
- iBoring phone boring 7 boring
Just like everyone else reading the tech news section a month or two prior to the boring iPhone 7 release, eventually Samsung leadership started to believe the things that everyone was writing about, irrespective of the fact that no one had even seen the iPhone 7, let alone experienced one.
Samsung execs smelled blood in the water. They figured Cupertino leadership decided to have a one-off iPhone release cycle, powered by mediocrity as they put the real effort into next cycle: The iPhone 8, which was 14 months away. As foolish as that sounds, it is an accurate description of the events that led Samsung to push the Note 7 release up a few weeks, with whip-cracking as the main motivational tool during the assembly rush to meet a deadline that never existed, triggered by perceptions that weren’t and could never be corroborated, based on tech news that was completely false.
With that in mind, here is the video:
Also published on Medium.