Why Note 7?
What makes the Note 7 different: Samsung may have accidentally squeezed its batteries harder than it should.
“The defect was revealed when several contributing factors happened simultaneously, which included sub-optimized assembly process that created variations of tension and exposed electrodes due to insufficient insulation tape,” a Samsung representative tells CNET.
Or, in plain English: the thin plastic layer that separates the positive and negative sides of the battery got punctured, became the shortest route for electricity to zap across the battery (that’s why they call it a “short-circuit”), and became a huge fire risk.
What does pressure have to do with it? MIT materials chemistry Professor Don Sadoway explains that today’s cell phone batteries are made by literally pressing together a stack of battery components — and that battery companies are under pressure (no pun intended) to cram in as much battery capacity as possible.
Update, September 15 at 2:00p.m. PT: The CPSC has officially approved the Galaxy Note 7 recall and exchange program in the United States, and Samsung says new Note 7 smartphones with safe batteries will be available at “most retail locations no later than September 21, 2016.” We’ve updated this story to reflect that.
Update, October 10 at 1:31p.m. PT: As many as five of Samsung’s replacement Note 7 smartphones have also allegedly caught fire. All US carriers have stopped selling the phone. Samsung and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission are investigating.
Update, October 10 at 4:21p.m. PT: Samsung and the CPSC have officially advised that all Galaxy Note 7 phones — new and replacement — should be shut down.