Samsung Recall: A Lesson in Smartphone Battery Challenges and Handling Device Malfunctions

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Last week, Samsung had to recall 2.5 million of its Galaxy Note 7 devices due to reports of exploding batteries. Fortunately, Samsung worked to fan the flames as quickly as possible and handle the situation so as to maintain its reputation. However, despite immediate action, it looks as though it will cost the company $1 billion to replace the devices and properly fix the situation. This recall has brought two important issues to light: one, it has shown the challenges that Smartphone manufacturers face when it comes to batteries. Two, it emphasizes the critical nature of forethought and how necessary it is for a company, especially one as big as Samsung, to handle its mistakes in a quick and effective manner.


Batteries: a challenge, but not an unsolvable one

Samsung isn’t the only company that has had to deal with phone battery issues. Apple had to implement the iPhone battery replacement program for the iPhone 5, as some devices were experiencing shorter battery life than others. Many Android users complain about having to continuously recharge in order to maintain the use of their phones throughout the day.

Battery issues often come down to the fact that today’s smartphones are extremely high-performing and are constantly multi-tasking. With so many apps and programs running at once, designing a battery that can handle it all is no small order, especially when people are holding on to their smartphones for a lot longer than they used to. The issue is not with the lithium ion cells themselves, but with the fact that they lose their ability to hold a charge with repeated charging. This is further exacerbated by smartphone users continuously charging their phones until they reach 100% battery life, which causes a great deal of wear and tear. According to an article published by The Guardian, Sony has discovered a solution to the problem: rather than fixing the battery itself, it wants to fix the problems caused by recharging. To do so, it has partnered with Qnovo, a company that has developed technology that controls battery voltage while at the same time delaying full charge, so that the device is able to charge quickly without compromising the integrity of the lithium ion cells. This technology has been integrated into its newest Xperia Android smartphones, with the hopes that these devices will be able to satisfy the growing trend of consumers keeping their smartphones for a longer period of time.


After-the-fact solutions are not always enough

It is clear that no device roll-out is ever completely glitch free. Companies take a risk every single time they decide to release a new device into the market, even if the device is simply just a newer model of a pre-existing one. It is critical that these companies are properly prepared to handle a situation, whether it is limited to a certain number of users or happens on a global scale. Samsung’s debacle is evidence that serious malfunctions such as the one that occurred with the Note 7 need to be remedied before release and traditional safety and design procedures must be strictly adhered to. Further, if something does happen, it has to be dealt with head-on, as efficiently and effectively as possible. But while $1 billion may seem like a large amount of money, this will only be a small fraction of what Samsung is projected to generate in revenues by the end of this year. It seems that Samsung has managed to save face in some respects, however, it still has to deal with its largest recall to-date, offering a lesson to all companies on how to handle these types of situations in the future and the importance of following protocol to a T.


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