Galaxy Note 7 Teardown Reveals a Rookie Mistake in Electronics Design

A report detailing the design flaws of the Galaxy 7 Note cited a cramped battery housing as the primary culprit for their tendency to explode. How does something like this slip through the cracks?

In Case You Haven't Heard...

Unless you've been living under a rock or on that lonely island on a remote planet where Luke Skywalker was found, you've probably heard about Samsung Galaxy Note 7 batteries exploding and their subsequent recalls. The situation has been such a hot topic that you could spend an entire day just looking at the internet memes that have spawned as a result. (A word of warning: many of them are pretty offensive.)

The Galaxy Note 7 phenomenon has trickled into our lives in more than just the news, which you've probably noticed if you've been on an airplane lately.


Image courtesy of Tom's Guide

A Rookie Mistake

Just when the Galaxy Note 7 craze was starting to die down, it came back to the forefront of the news. On December 2nd, Instrumental (an assembly line data startup) released a post detailing why Samsung Galaxy Note 7 batteries have been exploding. In the last week, the post has gone viral, catching fire (too soon?) in the electronics blogosphere. It was written by Anna Shedletsky, the CEO of Instrumental, and gives insight into a teardown they performed with one of their own inspection stations (I suppose I can't fault them for good product placement).

The primary takeaway is that the design didn't allow enough space for natural expansion of the battery. Lithium ion batteries swell a little when they are charged and discharged. As a result, battery engineers recommend leaving some extra room in the battery's housing to accommodate it. This space is referred to as a ceiling, and the Note 7's ceiling was shown to be non-existent.

According to Instrumental's teardown, the 5.2mm battery was laying in a 5.2mm ceiling, meaning that there was no room whatsoever to account for battery swelling. This is bad for a device that sits on a desk like a computer. But for a mobile device, which runs into environmental factors like being dropped or sat on, it can be catastrophically bad. Pair this with the nature of lithium ion batteries, which generate a lot of heat, with no room for said heat to dissipate, and you have a recipe for phone-splosions.


A teardown revealed that the battery housing was dangerously small. Image courtesy of Instrumental

Now, you're probably wondering, if battery swelling is common knowledge, why did Samsung proceed with such a dangerous design? The folks at Instrumental were curious as well.
“Samsung engineers are smart. Why would they design it like this?” - Samuel Weiss, CTO of Instrumental
After all, up until now, Samsung has had a good track record of solid designs for mobile devices. My Galaxy S6 has been working fine... And it's not like they're trying to jump on the latest trend of maximizing profit in a short amount of time like the obscure manufacturers of hoverboards all over the world (and yes, we are aware that they don't actually hover).

When the race to the market precipitates cut corners in designs with large lithium ion batteries—especially in parts of the world with little or no safety regulations for electronics—the resulting explosions aren't all that surprising. But what if Samsung's engineers were put in a position not so different from the engineers riding the hoverboard craze?


Member flaming hoverboards? Courtesy of Board Emporium

The Dangers of "Aggressive Design"

And how would Samsung's engineers be put in a similar position to hoverboard designers? The need to release products on schedule.

In this case, Samsung, locked in a perpetual battle for smartphone releases with Apple, was dead set on releasing the Note 7 before Apple released the iPhone 7. And, in the end, the Note 7 beat the iPhone 7 to market—but at the cost of not addressing a major design flaw.

Naturally, Samsung hasn't released details on the scenario, but I'm inclined to agree with Anna Shedletsky's analysis that Samsung's engineers were aware of this flaw, but the company decided to proceed with the release schedule anyway. Pressure to keep up with Apple in a brand war likely caused Samsung to release a phone that wasn't ready. Ironically, there have been rumors of iPhone 7's bursting into flames as well... perhaps these grueling release schedules aren't so good for the industry?

Samsung is launching a formal investigation to determine the cause of Note 7 explosions, but whether or not they actually release their real findings publicly is another story. There will likely always be some mystery surrounding the Note 7, so I don't expect stories and conspiracy theories to stop circulating the internet anytime soon.


Personally, I hope these events change the culture of electronics manufacturers for the better. This seems like a classic case of investors overriding the advice of engineers, and this time it cost Samsung $10 billion. Hopefully, in the future, electronics manufacturers like Samsung will take their engineers' input more seriously.
Previous
Next Post »
My photo

Hi, I`m Sostenes, Electrical Technician and PLC`S Programmer.
Everyday I`m exploring the world of Electrical to find better solution for Automation. I believe everyday can become a Electrician with the right learning materials.
My goal with BLOG is to help you learn Electrical.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Label

KITAIFA NEWS KIMATAIFA MICHEZO BURUDANI SIASA TECHNICAL ARTICLES f HAPA KAZI TU. LEKULE TV EDITORIALS ARTICLES DC DIGITAL ROBOTICS SEMICONDUCTORS MAKALA GENERATOR GALLERY AC EXPERIMENTS MANUFACTURING-ENGINEERING MAGAZETI REFERENCE FUNDAMENTAL OF ELECTRICITY ELECTRONICS IOT ELECTRICAL ENGINEER MEASUREMENT VIDEO ZANZIBAR YETU TRANSDUCER & SENSOR MITINDO RENEWABLE ENERGY ARDUINO AUTOMOBILE SYNCHRONOUS GENERATOR ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTION CABLES DIGITAL ELECTRONICS AUTOMOTIVE PROTECTION SOLAR TEARDOWN DIODE AND CIRCUITS BASIC ELECTRICAL ELECTRONICS MOTOR SWITCHES CIRCUIT BREAKERS CIRCUITS THEORY MICROCONTROLLER PANEL BUILDING ELECTRONICS DEVICES MIRACLES SWITCHGEAR ANALOG MOBILE DEVICES CAMERA TECHNOLOGY GENERATION BATTERIES FREE CIRCUITS INDUSTRIAL AUTOMATION SPECIAL MACHINES WEARABLES COMMUNICATION ELECTRICAL SAFETY ENERGY EFFIDIENCY-BUILDING DRONE NUCLEAR ENERGY CONTROL SYSTEM FILTER`S SMATRPHONE BIOGAS POWER TANZIA BELT CONVEYOR MATERIAL HANDLING RELAY ELECTRICAL INSTRUMENTS PLC`S TRANSFORMER AC CIRCUITS CIRCUIT SCHEMATIC SYMBOLS DDISCRETE SEMICONDUCTOR CIRCUITS WIND POWER C.B DEVICES DC CIRCUITS DIODES AND RECTIFIERS FUSE SPECIAL TRANSFORMER THERMAL POWER PLANT cartoon CELL CHEMISTRY EARTHING SYSTEM ELECTRIC LAMP FUNDAMENTAL OF ELECTRICITY 2 BIPOLAR JUNCTION TRANSISTOR ENERGY SOURCE 555 TIMER CIRCUITS AUTOCAD C PROGRAMMING HYDRO POWER LOGIC GATES OPERATIONAL AMPLIFIER`S SOLID-STATE DEVICE THEORRY DEFECE & MILITARY FLUORESCENT LAMP HOME AUTOMATION INDUSTRIAL ROBOTICS ANDROID COMPUTER ELECTRICAL DRIVES GROUNDING SYSTEM BLUETOOTH CALCULUS REFERENCE DC METERING CIRCUITS DC NETWORK ANALYSIS ELECTRICAL SAFETY TIPS ELECTRICIAN SCHOOL ELECTRON TUBES FUNDAMENTAL OF ELECTRICITY 1 INDUCTION MACHINES INSULATIONS ALGEBRA REFERENCE HMI[Human Interface Machines] INDUCTION MOTOR KARNAUGH MAPPING USEUL EQUIATIONS AND CONVERSION FACTOR ANALOG INTEGRATED CIRCUITS BASIC CONCEPTS AND TEST EQUIPMENTS DIGITAL COMMUNICATION DIGITAL-ANALOG CONVERSION ELECTRICAL SOFTWARE GAS TURBINE ILLUMINATION OHM`S LAW POWER ELECTRONICS THYRISTOR USB AUDIO BOOLEAN ALGEBRA DIGITAL INTEGRATED CIRCUITS FUNDAMENTAL OF ELECTRICITY 3 PHYSICS OF CONDUCTORS AND INSULATORS SPECIAL MOTOR STEAM POWER PLANTS TESTING TRANSMISION LINE C-BISCUIT CAPACITORS COMBINATION LOGIC FUNCTION COMPLEX NUMBERS ELECTRICAL LAWS HMI[HUMANI INTERFACE MACHINES INVERTER LADDER DIAGRAM MULTIVIBRATORS RC AND L/R TIME CONSTANTS SCADA SERIES AND PARALLEL CIRCUITS USING THE SPICE CIRCUIT SIMULATION PROGRAM AMPLIFIERS AND ACTIVE DEVICES BASIC CONCEPTS OF ELECTRICITY CONDUCTOR AND INSULATORS TABLES CONDUITS FITTING AND SUPPORTS CONTROL MOTION ELECTRICAL INSTRUMENTATION SIGNALS ELECTRICAL TOOLS INDUCTORS LiDAR MAGNETISM AND ELECTROMAGNETISM PLYPHASE AC CIRCUITS RECLOSER SAFE LIVING WITH GAS AND LPG SAFETY CLOTHING STEPPER MOTOR SYNCHRONOUS MOTOR AC METRING CIRCUITS BASIC AC THEORY BECOME AN ELECTRICIAN BINARY ARITHMETIC BUSHING DIGITAL STORAGE MEMROY ELECTRICIAN JOBS HEAT ENGINES HOME THEATER INPECTIONS LIGHT SABER MOSFET NUMERATION SYSTEM POWER FACTORS REACTANCE AND IMPEDANCE INDUCTIVE RESONANCE SCIENTIFIC NOTATION AND METRIC PREFIXES SULFURIC ACID TROUBLESHOOTING TROUBLESHOOTING-THEORY & PRACTICE 12C BUS APPLE APPS & SOFTWARE BATTERIES AND POWER SYSTEMS ELECTROMECHANICAL RELAYS ENERGY EFFICIENCY-LIGHT INDUSTRIAL SAFETY EQUIPMENTS MEGGER MXED-FREQUENCY AC SIGNALS PRINCIPLE OF DIGITAL COMPUTING QUESTIONS REACTANCE AND IMPEDANCE-CAPATIVE RECTIFIER AND CONVERTERS SEQUENTIAL CIRCUITS SERRIES-PARALLEL COMBINATION CIRCUITS SHIFT REGISTERS BUILDING SERVICES COMPRESSOR CRANES DC MOTOR DRIVES DIVIDER CIRCUIT AND KIRCHHOFF`S LAW ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTION EQUIPMENTS 1 ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTION EQUIPMENTS B ELECTRICAL TOOL KIT ELECTRICIAN JOB DESCRIPTION LAPTOP THERMOCOUPLE TRIGONOMENTRY REFERENCE UART WIRELESS BIOMASS CONTACTOR ELECTRIC ILLUMINATION ELECTRICAL SAFETY TRAINING FILTER DESIGN HARDWARE INDUSTRIAL DRIVES JUNCTION FIELD-EFFECT TRANSISTORS NUCLEAR POWER VALVE WWE oscilloscope 3D TECHNOLOGIES COLOR CODES ELECTRIC TRACTION FLEXIBLE ELECTRONICS FLUKE GEARMOTORS INTRODUCTION LASSER MATERIAL PID PUMP SCIENCE SEAL ELECTRICIAN CAREER ELECTRICITY SUPPLY AND DISTRIBUTION FEATURED MUSIC NEUTRAL PERIODIC TABLES OF THE ELEMENTS POLYPHASE AC CIRCUITS PROJECTS REATORS SATELLITE STAR DELTA VIBRATION WATERPROOF