Batteries were flawed in Note7, gov’t concludes

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Batteries were flawed in Note7, gov’t concludes

The government announced the results of its own investigation into the overheating and exploding Galaxy Note7 phablets, saying the way the batteries were made was at fault. It said it will toughen regulations on battery manufacturing to prevent similar accidents.

According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy Monday, the government believes the batteries used in the devices caused the explosions and meltdowns and that the accidents could have been prevented if the smartphone manufacturer toughened its inspections of products before they were distributed.

The Trade Ministry said it didn’t find significant problems with the smartphone itself. But the overall manufacturing process of battery products, including the attaching of insulation tape and other factors such as welding burrs on electrodes, could have caused the explosions.

“We believe the accidents could have been prevented if the manufacturer toughened its inspections as the cause of the accident was the poor manufacturing process of batteries that were used,” said Chung Min-hwa, a director at the Trade Ministry.

The Korea Testing Laboratory conducted an investigation by testing 14 Galaxy Note7 phablets that exploded and another 46 Note7 phablets and 169 batteries that didn’t, and announced the results Monday. Samsung Electronics announced similar findings on Jan. 23. A representative at Samsung said it didn’t have any comment on the government’s announcement Monday.

The government said it will push forward with plans to have smartphone manufacturers inspect their products in a better way.

According to the Trade Ministry, the government will proceed with plans to toughen regulations on safety inspections for battery products. Currently, the government only conducts inspections before battery products undergo mass production. The Trade Ministry plans to revise the rules by October to allow it to inspect batteries every two years.

Battery products that will be affected by the new rule will be those used in cell phones, tablet devices and laptops. The new rule will last for five years.

The Trade Ministry also plans to add some inspection criteria used in other developed countries to improve product safety. As of now, Korea uses the safety standards of the International Electrotechnical Commission and the European Union, which lack some of the standards used by the United States, Japan and China.

The government will announce new standards by April after discussing the issue with experts. The Trade Ministry said it plans to add some of inspection standards that will check the safety of cell phones that are used for long periods of time.

The government is also going to revise its rules on recalls.

Currently, manufacturers need to report to the government if they find their products might cause consumers to be killed or be injured to the extent they need medical treatment for more than four weeks, including causing fires and explosion.

The government plans to tighten the rule.

Meanwhile, the Trade Ministry said 97 percent of the Galaxy Note7 phones sold in the country have been recalled but there are still about 30,000 units unreturned. It urged customers to return them as soon as possible.


BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]
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