You heard how the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 caught fire. Maybe you’ve even experienced it yourself.
And now, a year andlater, you’re wondering: is the new any safer? Well, I’ve got good news and bad news.
The reality: Despite Samsung’s massive investment in safety and quality control, outlined below, there’s always a small chance that lithium-ion batteries from any manufacturer could go up in smoke.
Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere, from laptops and phones to power tools and even some greeting cards, and it only takes one small flaw or defect for their inherent chemical reaction to spark out of control.
The good news: On average, you’ve got a far greater chance of being struck by lightning than see a battery catastrophically fail. And Samsung’s new batteries are likely to be even safer.
What Samsung has done
As we explained last January in, the reason Samsung’s batteries failed were a series of preventable manufacturing errors.
Some of the original batteries weren’t quite constructed properly and got a little bit squished, while some of the replacements were missing insulation tape, and/or had sharp metal bits that punched through. Either way, the positive and negative sides of the battery were allowed to touch, and — zap! — they short-circuited, igniting the flammable liquid that lives inside every lithium-ion battery cell.
To figure that out in the first place — and make sure it never happens again —. It built four new testing facilities, staffed them with a team of 700 engineers, and hired three independent testing firms who spent four months testing over 200,000 phones and an additional 30,000 batteries before releasing their conclusions that bad batteries — not phones — were the culprit.
Then, the company created a new eight-point inspection process for its batteries that, it claims, goes “well above and beyond the industry standard.” Batteries are now drained dry, pushed to their limits and checked for leaks, not to mention bombarded with X-rays, disassembled and monitored for voltage changes by both Samsung and the battery supplier.
According to a Samsung-commissioned white paper, every single batch of batteries is tested, and an entire batch is thrown out if a single battery fails. The company winds up destroying as much as 3 percent of its own monthly battery shipments during the eight-point procedure.
Mind you, that new safety check was already in place when Samsung started sellingin April. But for the new Note 8, the company went a step further. The famous safety standard company Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is now independently testing and certifying the Note 8’s battery pack as well.
A UL rep tells CNET that batteries “have to endure a barrage of drop tests, crush tests and electrical stress tests before they can pass,” and suggests that Samsung’s factories will be regularly inspected to make sure their batteries are up to spec.
Battery standards like UL’s are voluntary —to get their batteries certified. Samsung decided its reputation was worth the extra cash and time.
And that’s not all. Samsung is also using a smaller 3,300mAh battery in the Note 8 this year, compared to the 3,500mAh packs you’ll find in the Note 7 and even this year’s. Samsung told CNET too, and adding “guardrails” for extra protection.
Note that not every single battery is tested. Statistically speaking, the one in your Note 8 probably didn’t go under the microscope, and definitely didn’t get crushed or punctured with a nail. But others from the same batch did.
Don’t fear your phone
Samsung hasn’t magically invented fireproof lithium-ion batteries, because there’s no such thing. And the company isn’t suddenly using a safer chemistry instead. If something goes wrong, they’re still flammable.
But it’s Chemical & Engineering News.. On average, only one in 10 million lithium-ion battery cells are likely to go bad, according to battery expert Brian Barnett, as quoted by
To put that into perspective: You’re 10 times as likely to be struck by lightning in any given year (1 in 1,042,000) and 1,000 times more likely to die in a car crash (1 in 10,000). Do you plan to give up cars anytime soon?
Besides, Samsung’s Note 7 was an anomaly the likes of which the battery industry has maybe never seen, an unnamed Samsung official who spoke to Yonhap News.and as many as 1 in 10,000 batteries with defects, if you believe
Even the giant Nokia battery recall of 2007, reportedly the largest in history, was based on a failure rate of less than one in 350,000, Wired reported at the time.
In general, we don’t expect our lithium-ion batteries to explode, even if we leave them charging all night long or while we’re on vacation. (Don’t do that, I’m just making a point.) And with Samsung’s additional tests, they should theoretically be safer than ever before.
Here’s my personal opinion: Regardless of what Samsung does or doesn’t say publicly, it can’t afford for the Note 8 to catch fire. It’ll do everything in its power to keep that from happening, and in the unlikely event one does it help the owner in a heartbeat.
The Note 8 will probably be the safest phone on the market,. Or else.
: Note 7 Redemption is here, with two cameras.
: The Note name lives on.