Features

Everything you need to know about the Note 7 investigation

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With 2017 in full swing and the launch of the Galaxy S8 mere months away, Samsung hopes to put to rest the case of the flaming Note 7 and the subsequent recall of what many considered to be the best smartphone ever built.

Today at a press conference in Korea, the tech giant announced the results of its own internal investigation and that of three other independent firms.

A lot of tech jargon was thrown around to explain what happened, but simply put, battery issues were discovered to be the root cause of the problem.

Here’s everything you need know about the Note 7 issue.

What happened?

Last August, shortly after the Galaxy Note 7 went on sale, multiple users reported of phones bursting into flames.

Samsung was relatively quick to respond, halting the sale of the Note 7 and announcing a replacement program.

Its initial investigation found that batteries from one of its two suppliers were faulty. To meet the demand for the Note 7 it ramped up the production of batteries from its other supplier. Recalled Note 7s were replaced and Samsung began selling the phones with the new battery.    

More cases of exploding phones with the new batteries were reported.

Samsung pulled the plug on the Note 7 completely and issued a global recall.

As of today 96% of the 3 million Note 7s sold worldwide have been returned to Samsung.

Who did the testing?

700 researchers from inside Samsung tested 200,000 Note 7 smartphones and over 30,000 batteries.

Samsung also enlisted the services of three independent firms (UL, Exponent, and TÜV Rheinland) to conduct their own tests. Representatives from all 3 firms were also at the event to announce their findings.

What did the investigation find?

After months of tests, investigators didn’t find anything wrong with the Note 7 itself.

Instead all tests pointed to problems in the design and manufacturing of the batteries.

The batteries were manufactured by two different companies using designs and specifications from Samsung.

Two distinct battery issues from both companies were identified.

The batteries from company A had “an electrode deflection, an incorrect positioning of the negative electrode tip in the upper right corner of the battery.”

While the batteries from company B had “an abnormal weld spot (that) led to an internal short circuit.”

Were the Note 7’s other features a factor?

No. Tests found that the fast charging feature on the Note 7 had nothing to do with the problem. Neither did other new features added to the Note 7 including the iris scanner, water resistance and USB-C connectivity.

Samsung also says that contrary to speculation, there was adequate space inside the phone for the battery to swell and contract during charging. In fact, the company claims the Note 7 could have accommodated an even higher capacity battery.

Was the release of the Note 7 rushed? And was this a factor?

Samsung says the Note 7 was released in accordance with its annual roadmap. While Samsung has made a habit of announcing its Galaxy Note smartphone every September, the Note 7’s predecessor the Note 5 was also unveiled in August.

Samsung believes however that rushing its other battery supplier may have triggered the manufacturing issue discovered in Battery B.

So whose fault is it?

Samsung takes full responsibility for the incident. Not only were battery design and specifications from them, they also take the blame for failing to discover the issue which could have been avoided with more rigorous testing.

What is being done so this won’t happen again?

Samsung executives tell us they will continue to strive for an open corporate culture.

Following the results of their investigation Samsung has formed an independent Battery Advisory Council composed of academics from Berkeley, Cambridge and Stanford.

More importantly they have adapted a new 8-point checklist for testing new products. This includes what it calls an enhancement to existing processes like x-ray scans.

And new tests including ones that simulate a variety of use case scenarios.

Did Samsung push too hard? Will it stop innovating?

Samsung did push hard, but we expect nothing less from the world’s top tech brands. To truly innovate tech companies need to continuously push the boundaries of what’s possible. But the harder the push, the greater the need for more stringent quality assurance testing processes.

Samsung says it is committed to “innovation that redefines what’s possible in safety,” their way of saying they will continue to innovate but will be more involved and careful next time.

 

Reviews

Google Pixel 4a Unboxing & Review: Unbelievably Good?

A direct contender of the iPhone SE and OnePlus Nord

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Google’s ‘a'(ffordable) line-up may be long overdue because of the pandemic — but after several months of waiting, we finally have one on our hands.

Cheaper than last year’s US$ 399 Pixel 3a, the US$ 349 Pixel 4a might just be the most affordable flagship killer contender you can get over the 2020 iPhone SE and the OnePlus Nord.

But can the mid-tier specifications and less-fancy phone features justify its affordable price tag? Head over to our in-depth Pixel 4a review here.

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Best Smartphones

Best Budget Smartphones below $200

August 2020 Edition

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Welcome to GadgetMatch’s list of the best smartphones priced below US$ 200! Each month, we update our selection with the budget-friendly phones we believe are most deserving of your hard-earned savings.

Even though the spotlight has been on high-end smartphones this entire year, there have been a few surprisingly good entry-level handsets coming out lately, as well. So good, in fact, that we had to reassess our entire list.

Here they are in no particular order

Redmi 9 (PhP 6,990 / US$ 141)

Quality build with baseline specs that can handle, well, the basics. This is what the Redmi line has been offering and that remains true with the Redmi 9. You’ll have to be bit creative with some of the apps you install (always go for the Lite versions), but the pre-installed Google apps run smoothly and should be more than enough to power you through.

Hands-On: Redmi 9

Redmi Note 9 (US$ 200)

This is a routine appearance for the Redmi Note line. Xiaomi continues to lord over the budget segment by offering fairly capable smartphones at such an affordable price.

Review: Redmi Note 9

Realme 6i (US$ 196)

Realme finally releases a budget phone with a USB-C port! That aside, everything here is standard Realme — which is great. Its cameras leave much to be desired but what this is a budget phone after all. It does pretty well everywhere else — can game, handle your usual daily things, and has an impressive battery life.

READ: Realme6i 

OPPO A5s (US$ 117)

The OPPO A5s perhaps is best looked at as a transition device more than anything else. It does what you expect out of budget smartphones. It’s good to have “for now” but you might look elsewhere for a more reliable daily driver.

REVIEW: OPPO A5s

Samsung Galaxy A20 (US$ 190)

Samsung’s revived Galaxy A-series proves that the company cares about every price segment. The Galaxy A20, in particular, is the most well-rounded below US$ 200 thanks to its ultra-wide camera, AMOLED display, and hefty battery.

REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy A20

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Best Smartphones

Best Midrange Smartphones from $200 to $400

August 2020 Edition

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When premium phones are out of financial reach and entry-level handsets just don’t make your cut, something in between is the next best thing. This is our updated list of the best midrange smartphones retailing from US$ 200 to US$ 400.

Formulating this category was tricky, since you can’t set an exact price and some of these devices are, in fact, the flagship phones of their respective brands. To simplify things, we chose a price range that simply sits between our other lists for best budget, upper-midrange, and premium smartphones.

Here they are in no particular order:

realme 6 Pro (PhP 16,990/ US$ 339)

This is the only smartphone in this segment that offers a 90Hz screen refresh rate. It’s one thing if that’s the only thing it’s good at, but the realme 6 Pro has a 64MP quad-camera setup, a really clean UI, and Snapdragon 720G along with 30W VOOC charging. We’re convinced this is the best Android phone in this segment.

Review: realme 6 Pro

realme 6 (PhP 13,990/ US$ 280)

It’s pretty much everything its “pro” sibling is except it’s instead powered by a Helio G90T processor made for gaming. the RAM and storage combo is no slouch too (8GB/128GB) and yes, it also has a 90Hz screen refresh rate. Solid. Value.

Review. realme 6

iPhone SE (US$ 399)

One of the world’s fastest processors, a fantastic camera, at a midranger’s price. If we told you, we’re talking about an iPhone you probably wouldn’t believe us but here we are. The iPhone SE’s design is dated, but everything about its performance is near-flagship or flagship 2020 levels.

REVIEW: iPhone SE

Huawei Nova 7 SE (PhP 19,990/ US$ 399)

Barely making the price point, Huawei phones are facing a unique problem with the lack of Google Mobile Services. That said, Huawei Mobile Services is making a headway. But the reason the phone lands on this list is because of its 5G capabilities. This is one of the most affordable phones to support 5G and that has to count for something.

Hands-On: Huawei Nova 7 SE

Samsung Galaxy A51 (US$ 320)

Samsung’s on a roll with their Galaxy A-series. The Galaxy A51 builds on everything that was already great with the Galaxy A50 and A50s and just makes it even better. Much like everything on the Galaxy lineup this year, the Galaxy A51 sports a look that as of posting is still undeniably Samsung.

Pixel 3a (US$399)

The Pixel 3a barely makes this price range by being just a hair under $400. The camera alone easily makes this crème de la crème of this bunch. Add to that the vanilla Android experience and of course being in the priority list of Android updates, this is the Pixel to get for Android purists.

HANDS-ON: Pixel 3a

POCO X2 (INR 19,99/ US$ 279)

The future of Pocophone was up in the air for a while, but all of that was finally put to rest when the brand finally released the POCO X2. This isn’t exactly the successor to the POCO F1. In fact, this is just a rebranded Redmi K30 Pro. But it’s still a step in the right direction for a brand that quickly captured everyone’s attention only to go completely silent for over a year.

REVIEW: POCO X2

Samsung Galaxy M31 (INR 15,99/US$ 224)

This battery-powerhouse of a smartphone has never quite made it to more markets, but it has gotten a significant amount of attention thanks to its 6,000mAh battery. Something this long-lasting appears to still be one of the priorities of smartphone buyers.

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