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.

 

Features

Mate 20 series offers a solid lineup: Weekend Rewind

There’s a Mate 20 for everyone!

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Here are this week’s top stories on GadgetMatch.

1. Huawei offers plenty of things with their Mate 20 Series

Huawei could very well fill up this week’s entire rewind with the whole Mate 20 series. In total, they released four new smartphones along with two wearables during their event in London. Here’s all of them.

Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro

These were the devices most of us expected to see. The Mate 20 Pro is probably the most feature-packed phone of 2018. They brought in everything that was good with the P20 Pro and added a few wait-hold-up-did-it-really-do-that features like reverse wireless charging.

Watch the Mate 20 Pro Hands-on…

And our Mate 20 Unboxing while you’re here.

Porsche Design Mate 20 RS

If you have an excessive amount of money to spend (please give us some), you can opt for the more luxurious Mate 20 RS. It has all the bells and whistles of the Mate 20 Pro but with the leatherback Porsche Design. It’ll come in two colors: Black in select markets and in a limited edition Red in China.

Mate 20 X

This was announced as Huawei’s one more big thing. Big, it truly is. Coming with a massive 7.2-inch display, the Mate 20 X is being marketed as a gaming smartphone. It even pairs with a gamepad for that ultimate gaming experience.

Huawei Watch GT and Band Pro 3

These two wearables mostly flew under the radar but they are still worth taking note of. The Huawei Watch GT, while waterproof and equipped with fitness features, is the more lifestyle model thanks to its design. The Huawei Band Pro 3 is the more straightforward health tracker and something you probably shouldn’t wear at formal gatherings.

2. Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 getting hype ahead of launch

In case you haven’t been keeping up, there’s already a handful of smartphones released in October and there’s a handful more coming. One of them is Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 3 which is slated for an October 25 launch and is rumored to have a whopping 10GB of RAM and 5G connectivity.

Xiaomi also released a teaser showcasing the device’s sliding camera feature.

3. Palm breaking trend of bigger phones

Tired of phones getting bigger and bigger? Palm came back this week and offered a different approach with the Palm phone. It’s not exactly a standalone smartphone and is really meant to be more of a Robin to the Batman which is your daily driver. At this point, we’re not sure how useful it’ll be but if you’re curious, it’s priced at US$ 349.

4. OnePlus 6T moves launch date

Speaking of more phones coming, the OnePlus 6T, which was reported to come with a smaller notch, an in-display fingerprint scanner along with the usual performance we’ve come to expect from the company, was forced to move its launch to October 29 with OnePlus CEO and founder Pete Lau saying they want “to make sure it gets the time and attention it deserves.”

Why wouldn’t it get the attention during its initial launch date? Well, it’s because of this next news item.

5. Apple wants to end October with a bang

Whether intentional or not, looks like Apple isn’t done announcing things and they want to be the one to cap off October with their own launch event. After announcing the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR, the company is expected to unveil a new iPad Pro with Face ID, and possibly a low-cost MacBook or MacBook Air as reported by Bloomberg.


Weekend Rewind is our roundup of top news and features you might have missed for the week. We know the world of technology can be overwhelming and not everyone has the time to get up to speed with everything — and that includes us. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the rewind.

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Smartphones

Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro Unboxing

What’s inside the box?

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You already know how impressed we were during the hands-on, so now it’s time to see what comes in the package of Huawei’s newest flagships. This is our Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro unboxing.

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Hands-On

Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus hands-on: A step-up

The company’s greatest contender

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Cherry Mobile recently launched their new Flare S7 series, which is essentially their main smartphone lineup for the year. The greatest offering among the bunch is the Flare S7 Plus, a device with all the specifications and features you’d expect from a 2018 phone.

Since it’s from Cherry Mobile, you’d expect the phone to be cheap, right? Price-wise, it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s just another affordable phone.

Here’s what I got to say about the Flare S7 Plus.

Cherry Mobile has officially joined the notch wagon with a borderless 6.18-inch display. It’s a Full HD+ panel with a 19:9 aspect ratio, and it’s Cherry Mobile’s best display yet.

It’s vibrant and produces vivid colors, but the user interface kind of ruins the beauty of the display. It’s best to download your preferred third-party launcher and customize to your heart’s content.

Unlike with other midrange phones, the Flare S7 Plus’ notch is pretty wide and there’s a reason for it. The phone is equipped with more advanced facial recognition hardware including an IR camera. This ensures higher accuracy, faster unlocking, and even better face detection in low-light.

If you’re not a fan of face unlock, you can always resort to the fingerprint sensor placed on the back of the phone. Based on my usage, the fingerprint reader is faster most of the time than the face unlock. Good thing you have the best of both worlds.

Now that we’re on the back of the phone, let’s talk about another special feature of the Flare S7 Plus. Finally, Cherry Mobile embraces a more elegant design using a glass back and metal frame. I was told that they used Gorilla Glass 3 on both sides, so it won’t scratch easily in your pocket or on the table.

Since we we have a glass back, it’s possible to put in wireless charging and the company did just that. Simply place the phone on any Qi standard wireless charger, and let the magic happen.

It’s not exactly magic per se, but it’s amazing to have your phone charge by placing it on a table. This phone costs less than half of most flagships that don’t even support wireless charging.

Of course, you can always charge this phone’s 3050mAh battery through the reversible USB-C port, which also doubles as the audio port because, sadly, the Flare S7 Plus doesn’t have a 3.5 headphone jack. Cherry Mobile bundles a 3.5mm to USB-C adapter inside the box, so you can still use your legacy headphones as you please.

Powering the Flare S7 Plus is a MediaTek Helio P60 processor. We have already tried the capabilities of this chipset with the OPPO F9, and it definitely delivers great performance. If you’re into benchmarking, you’ll be glad to know the Helio P60 scores higher than its competitors.

The phone also comes with 4GB of memory and 64GB of expandable storage which is pretty standard nowadays. It boots Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box, but there’s no word when Android 9 Pie is coming.

The gaming performance of the Flare S7 Plus is above average, which is what you can expect from the Helio P60. The Mali-G72 MP3 GPU works well with intensive games, but you must reduce the graphics quality a bit to get consistently high frame rates.

As for the cameras, the Flare S7 Plus has capable shooters that are probably the fruit of Cherry Mobile’s investment in improving their R&D when it comes to picture quality. The phone has dual rear shooters using a main 16-megapixel RGB sensor and a secondary 5-megapixel depth sensor. In the front, there’s another 16-megapixel selfie camera that’s paired with the IR sensor when needed. Check out the samples below:

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An additional feature of the front sensors is FlareMoji. Using the IR sensor and facial recognition, you can animate cutesy characters. Check this out:

It’s essentially like Apple’s Animoji, but the tracking is nowhere near as smooth as with the iPhone. Anyhow, it’s still enjoyable to use.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

For just PhP 11,999 (US$ 225), the Flare S7 Plus offers a lot. You get a great premium phone with midrange power, beautiful display, and a plethora of extra features like wireless charging and an IR face scanner. The software UI is quite a letdown, but you can always download a launcher from the Play Store.

If you’re wondering what the Flare S7 Plus is in other markets, it’s also called the BLU VIVO XI+ and they share similar specifications and design.

SEE ALSO: Cherry Mobile announces Flare S7 series with three new smartphones

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