Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageReport: Samsung rushed the Note 7 to market to beat the iPhone 7

By James Walker     Sep 19, 2016 in Technology
Crisis-hit Samsung is replacing over 2 million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones that pose a serious fire risk. According to a report today, Samsung rushed the device's development so it could launch before Apple's iPhone 7, leading to poor quality control.
The recall is unprecedented in the smartphone industry. While it's not unheard of for phones to explode, such incidents are often down to the user. Installing an unofficial poorly-built battery or charging a device using a badly made adapter has caused fires in the past. The Note 7 is something entirely new though, a flagship device from the world's largest mobile manufacturer that comes with an explosion warning attached.
Samsung knows how to build smartphones. None of its previous devices have run into major battery issues. The Note 7's internal specifications are almost identical to those of the Galaxy S7, launched earlier this year. The older device is not affected by the explosions and is not subject to the recall program. With the company's share value falling and customers increasingly sceptical of its products, some outsiders are beginning to investigate the root cause of the Note 7's problems.
Today, a Bloomberg report claimed to have the answer. Samsung is said to have been cutting corners during the Note 7's development in a bid to get to market before Apple unveiled the similarly-named iPhone 7. For months before Apple's big reveal, rumours had been widely circulated that this year's launch would be an incremental, disappointing upgrade with few new features. Samsung seized the chance to capitalise on the negative press, hoping to win iPhone-sceptics over before the new handset even launched.
Initially, it went well. The Note 7 gained widespread praise and was reviewed as one of the best Android phones to date. During the phone's launch event, Samsung joked how the Note 7 still has a headphone jack, acknowledging the iPhone 7's lack of one before the device had even been officially unveiled. It looked like the Note 7 would become a big seller for Samsung. Six weeks later, the plan has failed in dramatic fashion.
By early September, there were 30 confirmed cases of Note 7 batteries catching fire and exploding. Confronted with reports of personal injury and property damage, Samsung was forced to announce it would be replacing all 2.5 million handsets shipped to customers, losing the race it had set itself against Apple.
According to Bloomberg, Samsung Mobile chief D.J. Koh wanted to "accelerate" the launch of the Note 7 to make the most of the opportunity presented by a lacklustre iPhone launch. The Note 7 is filled with complex features though, including its QHD edge display and iris-scanning authentication technology, something few other manufacturers have experimented with.
Getting the technology ready for Samsung's early-August launch proved to be problematic. The company "pushed suppliers to meet tighter deadlines," a person with "direct knowledge" of the situation told Bloomberg. The companies building the new components were placed under pressure to have the phone prepared for launch. Alongside the exciting headline specs, Samsung also planned to install a higher-capacity fast-charging battery.
The batteries are built primarily by Samsung SDI Co., a company 20 percent owned by Samsung Electronics. Employees "stretched their work hours" to have less sleep and suppliers were placed "under more pressure" and "pushed harder" than usual. Communication broke down and became chaotic, with product development employees repeatedly changing their minds about key specifications.
Eventually, something went wrong. It remains unclear which department made the slip-up, but the Galaxy Note 7 shipped with a critical production fault. The battery was slightly too big for its compartment, leaving it pinched and under excessive pressure. As the battery expanded with heat during normal use, the two opposite poles of the cells could be brought into contact, creating a short-circuit, further heat and ultimately an explosion.
Samsung refused to directly acknowledge it stepped up the Note 7's development to beat the iPhone 7. "Timing of any new mobile product launch is determined by the Mobile business division based on the proper completion of the development process and the readiness of the product for the market," the company told Bloomberg.
Samsung has now begun an official recall of all Galaxy Note 7 units sold in the U.S., as well as other regions. After a confusing "voluntary" recall program of its own, it has now partnered with the appropriate agencies to recover all affected devices from the wild. Apple's famously slow and steady approach to product development has once again proved its worth. Samsung may do well to take notes.
More about Samsung, galaxy note 7, note 7, Smartphones, Mobile
Latest News
Top News