Samsung, a global giant in smartphones has blamed faulty batteries for the fires that hit its flagship Galaxy Note 7 device last year.
The South Korean company, it will be recalled was forced to discontinue the smartphone, originally intended to compete with Apple’s iPhone, after a chaotic recall that saw replacement devices also catching fire.
The debacle cost the company an estimated $5.3bn during recalls.
Internal and independent investigations “concluded that batteries were found to be the cause of the Note 7 incidents”, Samsung said in a statement on Monday.
DJ Koh, President of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics, shared detailed results of the investigation and expressed his sincere apology and gratitude to Galaxy Note7 customers, mobile operators, retail and distribution partners and business partners for their patience and continued support.
Koh was joined by executives from UL, Exponent and TUV Rheinland, leading independent industry groups that conducted their own investigation into various aspects of the Galaxy Note7 incidents.
Speakers included: Sajeev Jesudas, President, Consumer Business Unit, UL; Kevin White, Ph.D, Principal Scientist, Exponent; Holger Kunz, Executive Vice President Products, TUV Rheinland AG.
Speakers deliberated on the findings of the investigations in depth and unveiled new measures Samsung has taken to respond to the incidents.
Based on what the company gathered from the investigation, Samsung implemented a broad range of internal quality and safety processes to further enhance product safety including additional protocols such as the multi-layer safety measures and 8-Point Battery Safety Check.
Samsung also formed a Battery Advisory Group of external advisers, academic and research experts to ensure it maintains a clear and objective perspective on battery safety and innovation. Battery Advisory Group members include: Clare Grey, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry, University of Cambridge; Gerbrand Ceder, Ph.D., Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, UC Berkeley; Yi Cui, Ph.D., Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University; Toru Amazutsumi, Ph.D., CEO, Amaz Techno-consultant
“For the last several months, together with independent industry expert organisations, we conducted thorough investigation to find cause to the Galaxy Note7 incidents.
“Today, more than ever, we are committed to earning the trust of our customers through innovation that redefines what is possible in safety, and as a gateway to unlimited possibilities and incredible new experiences,” Koh said.
In September 2016, Samsung announced a recall of the oversized Galaxy Note 7 after several devices exploded or caught fire, with the company blaming batteries from a supplier.
When replacement phones – with batteries from another firm – also started to combust, the company decided to kill off the Note 7 for good.
In total, 3.1 million devices were recalled, as authorities around the world banned the device from use on planes and even from being placed in checked luggage.
Samsung has since embarked on a campaign to restore its battered reputation, issuing repeated apologies and putting full-page advertisements in US newspapers, admitting it “fell short” on its promises.
Analysts said Samsung was looking to move on through the announcement, which did not implicate other devices.
“Consumers tend to be forgiving the first time,” Tom Kang, research director at Counterpoint Technology, told AFP news agency.
“But if it happens again, it will leave a lasting mark on Samsung’s quality and brand image.”
Samsung had concentrated on innovative design, thinness and battery capacity rather than safety, he said.
However, it is expected that Samsung will bring back customers’ confidence with its Galaxy S8 launch.