Here’s Why The Galaxy Note 7’s Battery Exploded


After Samsung’s staggering recall of millions and millions of Galaxy Note 7 devices around the world, we still don’t know the reasons behind its explosive nature. Sure, we know that it’s related to the battery of the device, but aside from that little tidbit little is known behind the reasons behind the battery failure of the new phones.


Well, Anna Shedletsky, CEO and Founder of Instrumental may have found the reason for it. After tearing down a Galaxy Note 7, she and Samuel Weiss discovered that Samsung’s aggressive, cutting-edge battery design may have been the culprit for the failure. The Korean company’s thirst for innovation meant that Samsung engineers were forced to push the boundaries of battery design, and their quest for higher capacities in a small footprint meant that the polymer separator layers had to be extremely thin – thinner than competing batteries. That meant a lower safety margin in the event of swelling due to heat, outside pressure (when the phone is accidentally sat on) and normal mechanical swell from use. Here’s their technical explanation:

The Note 7’s lithium-polymer battery is a flattened “jelly-roll” consisting of a positive layer made of lithium cobalt oxide, a negative layer made of graphite, and two electrolyte-soaked separator layers made of polymer.  The separator layers allow ions (and energy) to flow between the positive and negative layers, without allowing those layers to touch.  If the positive and negative layers ever do touch, the energy flowing goes directly into the electrolyte, heating it, which causes more energy to flow and more heat — it typically results in an explosion. Compressing the battery puts pressure on those critical polymer separator layers that keep the battery safe.

Because of how thin the layers were, it’s entirely possible that the battery was being squeezed to the point where the positive and negative layers would touch, causing the battery to explode. Samsung pushed the boundaries of design and technology in many parts of the Note 7, unfortunately they pushed too far. Because of their hyper-aggressive design approach to the Note 7 in an attempt to capitalize on Apple’s lack of innovation, Samsung now has to pay the hefty price of a damaged reputation and over $5 billion in lost revenue due to the global Note 7 recall.


John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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  1. aren’t they testing their units before proceeding with production? it’s supposed to be SOP for all manufacturers right? or they subjected it to rigorous tests but the final products that reach consumers behaved differently (that is, with those batteries). please enlighten me.

    1. ang testing lang na ginawa nila is yung sarili lang nilang testing sa samsung without consulting the something called “international standards” (i dont know the specifics) NA nag ttest din ng sa apple, lg, huawei, at lhat.. binypass nila yun kaya sila pumalpak

  2. what’s with the market’s obsession with thin phones anyway? it’s ridiculous!

    thinner means less ridigity. less space for components like batteries

    when you put it in the pocket a thin phone makes absolutely no difference!

    humans are stupid irrational creatures 🙂

    1. I prefer thin phones. I loved my Galaxy S6 Edge. Unfortunately, I need more battery so I downgraded to this brick called Redmi Note 3.

  3. Mahirap pa mahawakan kung sobrang nipis. Sana medyo may texture gilid ng phone para madali hawakan.. Matte kahit konti.. Okay lang lighter kaysa manipis.

  4. People are so obsessed with thickness and yet they complain about battery capacity. Until carbon nano or golden tubes are mass produce ( Not very soon ) we will have to weigh options or carry around power banks.

  5. it seems there was problem with their Quality Control..

    before they release the unit, they should have conducted a battery of test to determine any defects. I presume they have Six Sigma Trained personnel under there payroll..

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