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

Huawei Nova 5T vs OPPO Reno vs Galaxy A70: Three-way comparison

Which one offers the most value?

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It’s very unusual for one person to be carrying three phones at a time. So to put some semblance of structure in this three-way comparison among the Huawei Nova 5T, the OPPO Reno, and the Samsung Galaxy A70, we’re going to be a little more straightforward with this piece.

You can expect most of our comparisons from here on out to be looked at from these five categories: General performance, media consumption, UI and design, gaming, and everyone’s favorite — cameras.

Let’s jump right in!

Everyday performance: Reliable all throughout 

When we say everyday performance, this could mean anything from keeping up with your friends on Facebook, stalking your crush on Instagram, answering emails, and replying to chats. You know, the usual.

All three smartphones do a fantastic job at what we like to call “the basics.” As they should, given all three are midrangers with the Nova 5T even carrying the Kirin 980 — a flagship-level processor that is also equipped on the Huawei P30 Pro.

In case you’re wondering, the OPPO Reno carries a Snapdragon 710 SoC while the Galaxy A70 is rocking the Snapdragon 675. One key difference we don’t see here is the size of the chips. The Kirin 980 measures 7nm while the Snapdragon 710 and 675 come in at 10nm and 11nm respectively.

The differences are minute, but taking up a smaller space goes a long way in adding more components to each phone, which in turn helps with overall performance.

Media consumption: Size and weight matters

How many times have you told yourself, “just one more episode,” before dozing off with your phone unceremoniously landing on your face?

This happens to the best of us. And you wouldn’t want that happening while using the OPPO Reno. It’s easily the heftiest of the three which makes holding the phone in your hand while getting through 40-50 minute episodes of your favorite shows extra tiring.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy A70 is the longest of the bunch. This also adds some imbalance while you’re holding the phone for an extended period.

The Nova 5T probably has the most balanced attributes in terms of size and weight, making it easier to hold the phone. And with its surprisingly light weight despite being made out of metal, it won’t hurt as much if you drop it on yourself.

The OPPO Reno and the Galaxy A70 both use AMOLED displays while the Nova 5T opts for an IPS LCD screen. At first we thought the Reno and A70 would be far and away better viewing experiences but the difference is almost negligible.

UI and Design: All can be… cleaner

We’re not really solid fans of any of the UIs. If you’ve been using Samsung recently, then you’re probably already used to ONEUI as it’s essentially a cleaner and faster version of TouchWiz. ONE UI is snappy and has less bloat. It’s a welcome change but one that still requires plenty of refinement.

We think ColorOS does look cleaner than ONEUI but something about it just doesn’t feel as snappy. The next iteration of the UI should focus on speed if it hopes to feel as premium as the way OPPO is trying to make the external design of the Reno.

EMUI is fast and probably offer more customization than ONE UI and ColorOS. Its implementation of the swipe gesture for fullscreen is already Android 10-esque and it’s easier to switch the look of the icons should you wish to do so. And since we’ve already gotten a glimpse of how clean EMUI 10 will look, it’s easy to give it an edge over the other two UIs.

Design-wise it will all come down to preference. The A70 is the most-plane looking, the OPPO Reno looks sleek, and the Nova 5T — with its 3D holographic design — is loud and flashy. Of course, if none of the looks appeal to you, there’s always the option of slapping case on the phone.

Gaming: Size matters part 2

These are the dimensions for each phone: Nova 5T (154.3 x 74 x 7.8 mm), OPPO Reno (156.6 x 74.3 x 9 mm), Galaxy A70 (164.3 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm). Why is this relevant? The length of the A70 lends itself nicely to games that are played in landscape mode.

If you have big hands, it just makes it easier to hold the phone as you move around and adjust your aim or press button. The differences may not look like a lot on paper, but it’s these little things that make it or break it for some people.

The Reno and A70 also have their own implementations of a Game Assistant. This helps concentrate the processor’s power and RAM to gaming while you’re playing. It also adds a nifty feature of blocking notifications so you can focus on your game. This wasn’t readily present on the Nova 5T.

Performance-wise, it was the Novat 5T that automatically had most settings on high graphics, thanks largely to GPU Turbo 3.0 working in tandem with 8GB of RAM. While the Reno and A70 can handle it, going down to medium might provide a better experience. There’s no need for that on the Nova 5T. Factor in the Nova 5T’s 128GB of internal storage, and you’ve got a phone that can store all of your favorite games.

Cameras: The more the merrier

What we’re going to do here is drop a few samples in this order: Nova 5T, OPPO Reno, and A70. Carefully scrutinize each one to see the output you like the most.

Food

Portrait

Selfie

Normal, Zoom, Wide

Nova 5T

OPPO Reno

Galaxy A70

You’re probably wondering why there’s no wide for the Reno and no zoom for the A70. That’s because they simply don’t have those lenses. This is the inherent advantage of the Nova 5T. Its triple camera setup is versatile giving you different perspectives all in one phone.

Final thoughts

The differences are minute and looks-wise it will come down to preference. But when it comes down to it, the Nova 5T just has more to offer overall. If you feel like you need a wide angle lens, go with the A70. If you zoom is your thing, then it’s the Reno for you.

However, wouldn’t it be nice to have all those options? That’s what the Nova 5T gives you, on top of a flagship-level performance in a sturdy metal body with a fully customizable UI.

But here’s the kicker. The Nova 5T offers all of that at the base price of PhP 18,990. Meanwhile, the OPPO Reno and the Galaxy A70 will have you spending north of PhP 22,000. So, if you’re looking for overall value among the three, it’s clear the Nova 5T should be your pick.

SEE ALSO: Huawei Nova 5T vs Samsung Galaxy A50s: Midrange heavy hitters


This feature was produced in collaboration between GadgetMatch and Huawei Philippines.

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Hands-On

Google Pixel 4 and 4XL Unboxing and Hands-on

New features, same price

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The most leaked phone in history is now official. The new Pixel 4 and 4XL may look similar the outside but come with better cameras (yes there are now two), sport a Radar for faster face unlock, and introduce new air gestures. But is it worth upgrading?

This is our Google Pixel 4 and 4XL unboxing and hands-on.

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Entertainment

Joker, Jowable, Jojo Rabbit: Now Playing

Live, love, laugh!

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The GadgetMatch team just went through a rigorous back-to-back coverage starting from IFA 2019, iPhone 11, Vivo NEX 3, Huawei Mate 30 Pro, and many more. Like us, people are overwhelmed with smartphone launches one after another.

What kept us sane was these forms of entertainment we watch and play in passing. Here’s what’s Now Playing in GadgetMatch:

Movies to see

 

Steven Universe: The Movie
Leez: If you’re a fan of Steven Universe and the last episode left you feeling unsettled by how it neatly tucked the whole series, then you’re in luck. The movie doesn’t fall short in tackling the heart-wrenching significance of struggles and obstacles to be better and be who you are. It’s a movie that dives deep into lost friends and lost memories. You definitely need to check this out.

 

Jowable
MJ: No other film in this century has captured how I’ve been feeling for years now, except Jowable. This film tackles the joys, pains, and misadventures of singlehood in a comical approach. But don’t think it’s all just for laughs, Jowable is totally unpredictable — full of plot twists to keep you entertained while preaching you some deep life lessons that Buddha can’t even.

 

Jojo Rabbit
Luigi: Provocative and funny. How else can you describe Taiki Waititi’s upcoming comedy? This World War II satire features a German boy trying to hide a Jewish girl while being aided by his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (played by Waititi himself).

 

Joker
Kevin:  Not your usual origin story of a villain. Joker tackles mental health, human nature, and the society that we’re living in now. Partner those with Joaquin Phoenix’s stellar acting and what you get is a cinematic piece that moves you and makes you think about what “being normal” really is.  It’s best to see it on the big screen so be sure to catch it while it’s still showing.

Shows to binge-watch

 

Player reacts to his Highlights | House of Highlights
Rodneil: I haven’t been able to commit to watching a series of late so for my dwindling downtime, I’ve resorted to watching these one-off series on YouTube. Plus I also miss NBA basketball, so this is a great way to scratch that itch.

 

Marianne
Luigi: People have proclaimed Marianne as the most frightening series of 2019. As a horror enthusiast, I don’t think it is. However, this French horror series is still an excellent addition to the Netflix playhouse of monsters. Plus, that French accent is oh-so-sexy.

 

Vagabond
Rodneil: Gotta admit, I only considered watching because it stars Suzy Bae. But the story is gripping and the cinematography is pretty darn good. It’s about a stuntman who loses his nephew in a plane crash that was made to look like an accident but there’s more to it than just that.

Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to

 

데자 부 (Deja Vu) by Dreamcatcher
Vincenz: Although the song doesn’t sound as intense as their other releases, the latest music video tells a deeper story. There is a line that struck me: “Now I’m holding this pain,” especially that it talks about betrayal and abandonment. The melodic musical arrangement accompanied by contrasting light and dark visuals blend so well together — which gives a surreal and melancholic feeling to listeners and viewers alike.

 

Go Up by SB19
Vincenz: SB19 has been garnering attention for weeks. They sound like a K-Pop boy group because they were trained by a Korean agency. Although I’m not totally a fan, I appreciate their music especially since it talks about aiming high and achieving your dreams. Despite the hard choreography, their live vocals sound great. P-Pop is finally improving!

 

Linkin Park Favorites
Rodneil: It’s been quite a stressful past couple of weeks for me. To combat the urge of setting myself on fire, I’ve been listening to a lot of my favorite Linkin Park songs. The collection is mostly from the Hybrid Theory and Meteora albums. Listen to the full playlist.

 

 

Feel Special by TWICE
Rodneil: TWICE’s gradual concept change is evident in their new song Feel Special. More than that, though, the song seems to hold a special place in the members’ hearts as it alludes to their struggles. Especially Mina who is struggling with anxiety and begged off from parts of their tour but still participated in the album with strong support from the other members.

Games to play

 

Madden NFL 20
Gab: I know how everyone is on some hype train towards the recently released NBA 2K20 video game, but there are other sports-related games out there. As someone who is starting to have a level of interest with the NFL, Madden NFL 20 introduced me to how American football actually works. If you need a quick change of pace from shooting the basketball, I suggest you try scoring touchdowns.

 

NBA 2K20
Rodneil: Echoing what Gab said on his NBA 2K20 review — this game essentially feels like a massive patch for NBA 2K19. That’s not entirely a bad thing. It’s still the superior NBA simulation game and for it to improve, EA needs to step up big time with NBA Live. Will still play it because it’s my number one way to destress.

 

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Luigi: As a child, I never played the original Link’s Awakening on the Gameboy. I joined the Zelda party way too late. Thankfully, this Switch remake plays like a traditional game on the Gameboy. The new Link’s Awakening brings a lot to the table for both new and old players. It’s a well-polished game that doesn’t rely too much on nostalgia.


Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!

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