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Cause for Note 7 Explosion Found, Verizon Will Not Shut Defective Devices

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After the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 began getting distributed in mid-August, the device quickly gained a lot of attention. Unfortunately for Samsung, the attention it gained wasn’t exactly good— the Note 7 is more notorious than anything.

Within the first two weeks of shipments, 35 cases of Galaxy Note 7 devices with exploding batteries were reported throughout the world. And that was only initial, the numbers only increased over time. The company responded promptly and professionally by initiating a world wide recall for all devices while they investigated. More than that, Samsung also replaced those devices with a “new and improved” Galaxy Note 7.

The explosions continued, though, leaving carriers confused about what to do. Sprint was the first to make big moves by allowing customers to trade in the replacement Note 7’s for any other device they offered.

Why are they exploding?

It wasn’t until about a week ago that the reasoning behind these explosions might have been revealed. An independent American engineering company, Instrumental, took it upon themselves to investigate the Galaxy Note 7 explosions, and then published the results.

Instrumental said that the cause of the explosions is actually pretty simple— the design. The battery didn’t have enough room to mechanically swell. In fact, the 5.2 mm battery, which should have been given a 0.5 mm ceiling, was actually in a 5.2 mm pocket— with no room to swell.

Apparently this is a huge no-no for mechanical engineers, and is referred to as a “line-to-line”. The company who performed the experiment said that “since it breaks such a basic rule, it must have been intentional.” It looks like Samsung might have been willing to push the limits on safety in order to ensure a longer battery life. Samsung has yet to confirm this themselves, but the company said it would announce the cause before the end of the year.

Now what?

Since even the replacement Note 7’s are exploding and causing issues, Samsung was forced to issue a second recall. Even then, with all of the attention these devices have gotten, only about 93% of the phones have been returned. So, on December 19 Samsung is planning to release a software update that will prevent any Note 7’s from charging, so they’re forced to die instead. While I personally think this is a good idea in order to ensure everyone’s safety, Verizon disagrees.

“Verizon will not be taking part in this update because of the added risk this could pose… We will not push a software upgrade that will eliminate the ability for the Note 7 to work as a mobile device in the heart of the holiday season. We do not want to make it impossible to contact family, first responders, or medical professionals in an emergency situation,” the company said in its statement.

While I definitely see where Verizon is coming from in this situation, and not wanting to take anyone out of contact with their families, it seems a little selfish to me. These devices are literally known for being defective, exploding, and causing fires which seems a lot more dangerous than being without a cell phone around Christmas time. If their Samsung Note 7 explodes, not only will their surroundings potentially go up in flames, but they will still be left without a phone during the holidays. A more practical solution, to me, would be offering a quick replacement device.