Engage Tinfoil Hat: Samsung Note 7 Battery Theory

For the most part I believe things are as they seem. But every once in a while I begin to look at notable technology happenings from a different angle. What if things are not like they seem? This is conspiracy theory territory, and I want to be very clear about this: what follows is completely fictitious and not based on fact. At least, I haven’t tried to base it on facts surrounding the current events. But perhaps you can. What if there’s more to the battery fires in Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 phones?

I have a plausible theory, won’t you don your tinfoil hat and follow me down this rabbit hole?

Bill Hammack's explanation of uranium enrichment centrifuges
Bill Hammack’s explanation of uranium enrichment centrifuges

Remember Stuxnet? It’s a computer virus that infected and took down the centrifuges Iran was using in its uranium enrichment program. These centrifuges are super-precise; they need to be in order to separate isotopes into depleted uranium and enriched uranium. The process involves software that continually tweaks the balance of the centrifuge — something well explained by Bill Hammack — and disrupting that balance can damage the equipment itself. Many believe that Stuxnet was used in a government-backed attack on Iran’s program to put these centrifuges offline.

Why am I bringing up Stuxnet now? I started to think about the Samsung battery fires and the horrible effect it is having on the world. It certainly has put Samsung in a rough position — perhaps the most respected and trusted maker of Android phones got the battery tech in this phone wrong… twice. How could that be? Perhaps it was corporate espionage. But of course it wasn’t — if anything you’d have to call it corporate sabotage.

How Can You Sabotage a Battery?

Lithium batteries have monitoring circuits built into them. These are responsible for cutting off the cell before it gets too flat (which will damage it), and maintaining acceptable temperatures and constant current profiles during charging. In some cases they can even shunt around cells but this is more of an industrial trick for applications like electric vehicles.

These battery-tending circuits run software, of course. Just last month we saw all the secrets for the controller of a laptop battery unlocked. Smartphones usually have a single cell, but there is still data there — a third conductor that can transfer data like temperature from the battery to the phone.

What if a very carefully crafted virus were able to rewrite the battery charging code of a carefully targeted phone and cause it to fail on purpose? With so many of this particular model in the wild — 1M of the 2.5M manufactured — a virus could be programmed to delete itself 99.99% of the time to avoid detection. The other 0.01% it would go into action — pushing the temperature of the cell past the failing point and thereby destroying the evidence in the fiery process. That would equate to about 100 incidents which is very close to the 112 being reported.

It’s a surprisingly enticing “what-if” and this thought process even opens up my mind to other possible industrial sabotage scenarios. Toyota’s uncontrolled acceleration, for instance. But the simplest answer tends to be the correct one: these are engineering failures. Toyota’s code is a mess, and… well what exactly did happen with Samsung? They have a track record of producing safe phones with energy-dense lithium-ion batteries. I can understand that they got it wrong once… an accident. But how do they get it wrong twice when the stakes are so high?

Discounting the loss in Samsung’s stock value, throwing in the towel on the Note 7 is estimated to be a $9.5 B (yes, Billion) write-off — $5 B of that profit. Which means they could have devoted $2,000 per phone to fix the problem and still broken even. How in the world did they get it wrong the with the recall? Speculation is easy; flying too close to the sun on battery chemistry, a bug in the charging software, a yet-to-be-discovered manufacturing process breakdown, take your pick. The odds are cosmically small that it’s a nefarious battery-torching virus but we’ve come this far so let’s walk through the reasons on why that’s so unlikely.

This is All a Load of Bull

The packing instructions for sending a battery back. You can’t make this stuff up. [via XDA-Developers Portal]
Even if phone batteries have rewritable firmware or the phone’s charging code can be attacked, it would be incredibly hard to get at that functionality from user space on an unmodified OS — then again there were a lot of people sideloading malware-laden versions of Pokemon Go.

Even if someone discovered a way to do this, wouldn’t they be looking for personal gain by selling information on the exploit to Samsung who have the most to gain by fixing it? I feel a recursive conspiracy theory loop coming on so let’s move on.

Motive. There is very little motive for someone to target Samsung. Yes, there is a very public beef between Apple and Samsung over phones that is being heard by the Supreme Court of the United States right now. If you were to make a list of likely sabotage suspects, Apple would be on it. But that line of thinking doesn’t scratch the surface. The only thing to gain here is for Samsung to lose market share, and the risks to a company like Apple are huge. This event could sully the market for battery-powered devices in general, damaging Apple’s own business. And if the plot were discovered the fallout would be devastating.

Some people like to watch the world burn… could it be a lone wolf hacker? Again, very unlikely. This isn’t ransomware or boosting your friends list. These failures can kill and injure — anyone malicious enough to use them would be looking to make a statement rather than flying under the radar.

No, it’s just a promising plot for a sci-fi novel. The irony is that had this recall (minus the conspiracy theory) been in a novel instead of actually going on around us we’d all say it was to far-fetched to be plausible. Keep those mind-control signals out of your head and let us know if you have a favorite tech-related conspiracy theory that’s too good to keep to yourself.

144 thoughts on “Engage Tinfoil Hat: Samsung Note 7 Battery Theory

  1. I can understand that they got it wrong once… an accident. But how do they get it wrong twice when the stakes are so high?

    They aren’t independent failures. As I understand it: they got some failure reports, they figured it seemed like they had enough to suspect one of their two battery suppliers, while knowing they didn’t actually understand the problem to root cause, so they did a recall and swapped over to the other source of batteries. But it now turns out that the battery supplier was fine and there’s probably some kind of thermal/pressure problem with the phone itself.

    I don’t think there’s any hint of fraud or conspiracy, just an example of how impossible debugging in the field can be.

    1. Yes, with this small of a failure rate it is insanely impossible to debug.

      I envision racks full of thousands of the recalled Note 7 devices desperately trying to iteratively recreate the failure. It would be nice to see a failure report come out of this that adequately explains what is going wrong.

    2. the fires happen while charging so couldnt they lower the charging current so yes it may be overnight for a full charge than 1 hour.

      also they could reverse engineer other’s batteries and copy the batteries

          1. Tin whiskers require some time to build, and they would melt immediately because they’re very thin at first. Unless one builds exactly where it could trigger maximum charging current from the controller chip say by shorting a high impedance feedback pin. That could be a possibility, but it requires time anyway.
            If I was in Samsung shoes I’d test all recalled phone batteries as well as new ones and make a graph of how they behave if charged and discharged say 1000 times at currents a bit higher and lower compared to the phone usage.
            At the same time I’d swap all batteries with battery emulators, that is, devices shaped like batteries with wires coming out to get external power and monitor load currents and temperatures in recalled phones.

            If there’s a malfunction a test done on a large set of batteries/devices should bring some meaningful data.

      1. They could just use the batteries from the Galaxy S5 :-) It’s basically the same technology – 3,85V, max.charging voltage 4,35V with a capacity of 3000mAh and a charging current of 1,8Amp max. I am sure, the Galaxy S6 and S7 and the Note 6 use similar batteries. The Note 7 used a 3500mAh battery of the same voltage levels (and probably) chemistry. But this 3,85V chemistry from Samsung is nothing new.
        There would be no reason at all to lengthen charging to an overnight process. If they want to reverse engineer a battery system, they could look at their own slightly older ones.
        Which makes it difficult for me to believe in a fault of the battery technology itself.

        But they should revert to removable batteries.

  2. Have you seen the film Kingsmen? Spolier: A seemingly benevolent philanthropist gives away sim cards with free data and calls for everyone. However once these sim cards are in 99% of people’s phones, he then activates their hidden power. They are able to play a tone which turns anyone who hears it insanely violent (this disappointing technicality spoils the film). Remind you of anything?

    Samsung > Android > Google > ‘Do No Evil’

    *Tips Tinfoil Hat*

    1. Haha, I have seen Kingsmen and didn’t put that together when coming up with my ridiculous theory. Now that you mention it, a flaming phone in my pocket does make me insanely violent (at least in trying to get away from the burning).

    2. Can’t help thinking how Toyota’s runaway accelerator came about at a time when Toyota was on the upsweep and GM was just coming through it’s government bailout. Would be a really quick way to increase your marketshare. Also interesting how nobody else had problems with parts from the same (American) supplier.

    3. Ha,

      There’s a ‘recent’ Doctor Who episode on almost the same thing – awesome ‘gps’ that can drive you anywhere, and creates no carbon dioxide.

      Once installed in enough cars, the aliens enable the ‘dump CO2’ command and start to flood the earth with CO2 ready for their inhabiation.

      ‘Beware of gifts…’

        1. On a geological timescale, we invented fire like yesterday.

          On a cosmological timescale, “Whoa, did you see that, there were dinosaurs, just right now, oh wait, 3 chills and they’re gone.”

    4. There’s a similar Stephen King novel called ‘Cell’ that plays on this exact topic except the zombifying-signal is piped out over the cell network without any special sim cards, and ultimately gives those subjected to it psychic powers. Pretty good read, but like any King novel it’s sure to give you some rough nights

    1. If you just wanted to cause enough incidents to force a recall, it’d be easier to bribe someone at customs to let you into a shipping container. Sabotage a couple of dozen phones, slip them into random allotments, and sit back and watch it happen.

      (My personal tinfoil-worthy theory is that, if there WAS foul play involved, it was most likely after the initial problems and recall. If some party faked the second wave of problems it would create a huge economic effect with a very small input, which would have to be very attractive to the wrong kind of people.)

  3. A few things…

    – Over-discharge is generally not a safety issue until you next try to charge. ISTR it was related to migration of electrode material into the electrolyte.

    – Safety events during discharge are rare. The discharge limit is much wider than charge (charge typically 0 to 45C, discharge typically -10 to 65 or 75C depending on qualifications). Note that some of the phones appeared to have problems when not charging. The exception here could be if the phone electronics caused extreme local heating of a part of the cell due to bad thermal design.

    – Safety circuits, especially for over-discharge, over-charge and over-current are aggressively non-software based. Generally they are a voltage reference, window comparator, some logic and pumps for NFET gates. See http://www.sii-ic.com/en/semicon/products/power-management-ic/lithium-ion-battery-protection-ic/ for some examples. Also, most packs will also have a non-resettable PTC to provide total disconnect in the event of stuff getting really hot. Note that pack vendors tend to have to stand behind the performance of these safety circuits hence the conservative design.

    – In many phones, eg every iPhone that I’m aware of (and bear in mind that I used to be involved in the iPhone HW design) the temperature sensor was a simple thermistor on a dedicated pin, which fed into a non-software based comparator within the charging hardware. Software could *reduce* charge current – eg in the 0-10C range – but could never cause the charger to operate out of the safety spec range 0 to 45C. Note that the iPhone battery connector has 4 pins – GND, BATT+, thermistor and 1-wire comms to the gas gauge IC. If you see a 3 pin connector on a phone, then most likely it is a digital temperature monitoring scheme and software may be involved. I don’t know what the note 7 looks like.

    – Li-Ion chargers typically (again, all the ones I’ve worked with) set max charge current based on the cell voltage. There’s a traditional cycle of trickle below ~3.5v, high speed constant current up to 4.0v, and then constant voltage charge to the float (max voltage).

    – All phones in the US have to pass IEEE 1725 battery safety testing, which includes fault tree analysis and the requirement for safety to be maintained in the event that two protection systems fail simultaneously. Google this spec to see the type of things involved – it’s non-trivial. Most companies certify with external labs, though I hear Samsung used their own labs (though that should make no difference).

    In my only slightly-above-bystander opinion, Samsung pushed some new anode technology into production too quickly to get another few percent capacity out of a given sized cell, and learnt about it in the field.

    1. “Samsung pushed some new anode technology into production too quickly to get another few percent capacity out of a given sized cell, and learnt about it in the field.”

      That’s the most likely reason this happened for sure. It is a running problem with all novel battery designs – the chemistry is relatively easy to predict, not so much the physics especially the more the cells are cycled

    2. This reply and that in the article seem to be the most likely.

      >>Speculation is easy;(1) flying too close to the sun on battery chemistry, (2)a bug in the charging software, (3)a yet-to-be-discovered manufacturing process breakdown, take your pick.

      We saw issues in the latest Boeing airliner with the whole fleet being grounded after battery fires so it seems a little of (1) and a little of (3) are the most plausible. Given the recent debacle over airbags turning into poorly constructed shotguns on deployment I suspected their battery supplier of doing some fight club math poorly, but since they have been ruled out for now it seems the error is wholly on Samsung putting more focus on scenario (3).

      Once it gets sorted out it would be interesting to see the actual cause.

      1. Lucky for us, the Boeing battery fires were investigated by the NTSB. What they found as a possible cause basically manufacturing quality and communication between design and manufacturing:

        “Cell manufacturing defects and oversight of cell manufacturing processes. After the incident, the NTSB visited GS Yuasa’s production facility to observe the cell manufacturing process. During the visit, the NTSB identified several concerns, including foreign object debris (FOD) generation during cell welding operations and a postassembly inspection process that could not reliably detect manufacturing defects, such as FOD and perturbations (wrinkles) in the cell windings, which could lead to internal short circuiting. In addition, the FAA’s oversight of Boeing, Boeing’s oversight of Thales, and Thales’ oversight of GS Yuasa did not ensure that the cell manufacturing process was consistent with established industry practices.”

        1. I should add that I’m an electrical engineer in an aircraft avionics factory, and we’ve seen a case in the last year where a burr, essentially a grain of sand, that poked a hole in a big electrolytic cap and caused a short between the anode and cathode. That would have been certain death for a lithium ion pack, so I can see this as totally plausible.

        2. In other words, Boeing did not ensure the battery manufacturer for production 787’s used the same attention to quality as the company that manufactured the batteries for the prototype and pre-production aircraft.

          OK, it’s all good! Now let’s see where we can trim costs. How about finding a cheaper battery supplier?

          1. But that is what is done always. While prototyping component cost are secondary, fast delivery is most important. Then you have to find cheaper suppliers, you have to cut cost, where SAFELY possible. Of course you must not overstretch it.

      2. Boeing did some pretty stupid things in getting those lithium ion batteries in those planes.
        They were not familiar with the field, so they asked a random contractor: Can you make a BMS for us? ehhh.. (we’ve never done that before… ehh.. how hard can it be?) … Sure!
        They believed “thermal runaway” wouldn’t happen after ONE demonstration (at room temperature). (Nail through cell).
        The cells were bought at a factory with little lithium ION experience. Again: “how hard can it be”. Those guys were welding (sparks flying) next to the station that was assembling the lithium cells (i.e. open cells before rolling them up).

        I would expect that Samsung has more experience in selecting BMS manufacturers or cell-manufacturers.

        1. My bet is that the root cause falls along the same lines as the VW fiasco. Lots of pressure from up top to meet an aggressive delivery date, maybe a shortcut or two along the way to meet those deadlines and a bet that the current design iteration would be “good enough” and the FMEA’s had reasonable enough risk with an estimated low likelihood of failure occurrence.

          I found it interesting how quickly Samsung jumped in to do a recall on batteries followed by a sudden product removal from market. Most companies tend to drag their feet and deny, deny, deny. So either Samsung has amazing customer centric service or they knew they had a design problem and decided that the failures are actually occurring at higher rates than anticipated.

          Automotive companies do this all the time. All design revisions freeze at a drop dead date and go into production. Improvements after the fact go into next years model. Thats why I’d never buy a first model year release. The third year of a design will have the most kinks worked out before the next major design revision.

    3. Thanks for this reply, very informative!

      I believe Samsung owns one of the two battery companies doing the manufacturing for Note 7 batteries. Just adding that in there because you mentioned battery manufacturers are conservative with their tender circuit design.

      I wondered if cellphone design used hardware charge controllers on the phone board itself. Where I get confused is that new phones have “fast charging” where different profiles are used to charge faster when the battery is at a lower capacity. Do you think that is all happening in hardware and the OS is just polling the charging circuit to find out which mode is currently in use?

      1. Some of that is done in the charger. I suspect it’s more complex than the old iPod chargers that just had a resistor to set the charge mode, in the Samsung chargers they choose the mode so they can be used on anything that has the micro-usb w/o setting your other devices on fire.

        1. Even the old iPod chargers had a fully controlled 3 phase charge cycle – and an NTC on the pack. The resistor sets the constant current (fast charge) phase; the precharge at low voltage was just a fixed fraction of this, and the taper at the top was a taper to zero from the constant current. Look at the LT4055 datasheet for details of this.

          As far as I’m aware “fast charge controllers” are just… higher current charging. You can certainly qualify cells for more than the traditional 0.7C charge (during the CC phase), though you need to be careful with low temperatures (eg 0-10C) because you can get plating if you drive stuff too hard. Something to do with absorption time.

          Some people run higher voltages over the USB cable to make fast charge less lossy with the thin cables customers like – USB C has negotiations for this – but the actual charger really isn’t much different. Pretty much every charger in the last 5 years has been a buck DCDC so that’s not anything hugely magic. My assumption is that qualcomm’s “fast charge” technology is essentially just marketing, but hey, whatever works.

          1. The “taper to zero” is just a constant voltage phase. Even 2A are not more than 0,7C for a 3Ah battery. But most batteries are specified to charge at least up to 1C.

            And yes the charger (PSU) of the Galaxy S5 has some “negative output resistance” to compensate for the voltage drop on the cable. It increases the voltage with increasing current up to about 5,7V at 1,8A. With a good, short (0,5m) USB Cable the phone is able to charge at 1,7A with something like 5,2V to 5,25V (good car adapter). With a bad cable (thin, 1m) the current can be down as low as 0,25A, this does not really compensate for the power use when you use a navigation app in the car.

            The USB-C specifications go up to 20V, so you can get enough power over the tiny connector to charge bigger batteries with step-down converters.

          2. @Jive:
            “degree Celsius” is of course °C – which is just +”^”, not difficult at all. But with “10C” charging he confused me also – this would be 30A for a 3Ah battery. Nearly no battery can stand this high charge rate.
            The possibility to mistake with Coulomb comes additionally, although in case of batteries mostly the multiples of Coulomb “Ah” or “mAh” are used.

      2. I think what’s confusing you is that there are two separate systems involved — the battery charger, and the battery protection circuit. Battery chargers are often part of the PMIC, controlled over i2C. They’re not running code, but instead are just digital logic state machines (like a lot of i2C peripherals). The battery protection circuit is a single-chip solution that’s in-series with the battery pack inside the actual pack. If you take a cell phone battery and short the terminals to each other, the battery will discharge at a safe current level until the pack reaches about 2.6V, and then stop discharging altogether. This is a super-simple analog circuit that can’t be “hacked” — and really, neither can a battery charger IC. But you’ve got double-protection from anything that you’re suggesting.

        1. If you really short circuit the terminals, for sure it will switch off, either electronically or permanently like a fuse. The protection circuit is no linear current regulator. It has no means to dissipate all the power/energy. So in case of a short circuit it will discharge at a very unsafe high current for a brief period of time until the protection kicks in and cuts the current.

    4. But the they could have fitted the phones with a little less advanced battery instead of scrapping them completely. Already the battery of the Galaxy S5 has a capacity of 80 to 83% of the Note 7 battery.

  4. From what i have heard about the problem, it is most likely that they pushed the limits to hard.
    Case to thin and battery to big. Therefore it was more likely that it all got bend to much in manufacturing, resulting in damaged batteries. They could have fixed it with smaller batteries, but then it would not live up to the advertised specs, and also the brand name “note 7” was already damaged too.

  5. My personal theory is:

    1) Desperate design goal of “Make phone as thin as possible”

    which leads to:

    1a) Make Battery as thin as possible

    1b) Make case as thin as possible

    which leads to:

    1a.1) Battery layers are dangerously thin and very close together
    1a.2) Battery’s own outer skin is made precariously thin

    1b.1) Back of case is no longer user replaceable to minimize thin-ness
    1b.2) Back is too thin to offer any reasonable physical protection of battery.

    which results in:

    Extremely high density LiPo/Lion cell with no room for error with insufficient physical protection from being dented or even just compressed too much.

    This is based purely on speculation. I have only briefly seen a Note 7.

    My thoughts that lead to this theory:
    Any software related design failure could have been resolved with an update pushed out.
    Just replacing the battery, while trying to maintain energy density was insufficient.
    Reports of phones firing up even while powered down.
    Bendy iPhones being a warning shot across the bow of miniaturization.

    1. Yup, you could actually test this by intentionally bending a large number of phones and by measuring any bend in failed phones. I would think that this would be something Samsung would have already done.

      1. I’ve thought of that – it should be an easy enough component of physical testing that I would think they do it. So that might rule out this one…

        (Although – would they test for compression in the middle? Bending: sure; dropping: yup; squeezing in the middle?)

    2. I came to a similar conclusion as making the battery thinner forces use of a thinner separator which is more likely to suffer damage during manufacturing esp from any FOD such as metal filings.

  6. Haha! our russian guys about to become a meme. beside sabotage scenerios, this kind of issues can be prevented with few lines of additional code. most android phones can read actual voltage, trigger an alarm or something if voltage reaches to 4.20v. at least user can throw phone over window before it erases half of city from map.

    also humidity causes size enlargement on long term, which is makes the battery more vulnerable to overcharging incidents.

    1. Samsung batteries go to 4,35V at least since the Galaxy S5, that is nearly 3 years. Humidity must not get into the battery in any circumstances. But AFAIK the charge/discharge cycle gives slight volume changes in the materials of the electrodes in any LiIon/LiPo battery.

  7. A software virus that only affects the newest model seems highly unlikely as it would take time to develop. I would expect to see it first on older models or after enough time has elapsed to develop such a virus.

    The issue seems to be an inherent problem with Lithium batteries, especially very thin ones. Others have caught fire before. The interesting question is, with a 0.01% failure rate, have other phones been catching fire but not widely reported? Maybe iPhones have a similar failure rate but it hasn’t been widely reported. With such small numbers, it is hard to get good data.

    1. It’s possible that the same failures are present in other phones but there is a mechanism to prevent a runaway event… instead the battery is just bricked or crippled in how much (or fast) it can be charged to prevent actual fire. This way you’re sending back a phone that “won’t charge” or “won’t hold a charge” rather than one that started to smolder or worse.

      1. It’s funny – this situation [cellphone on fire} was one of the hypothetical problems discussed in “If I Only Changed the Software, Why is the Phone on Fire?: Embedded Debugging Methods Revealed: Technical Mysteries for Engineers” [by Lisa K. Simone], – it seemed the software running everything on the phone got confused when too many other things were going on, and it stopped checking the battery charge circuit properly.

        1. Apparently they do this if you discharge them too much.

          This overdischarge happens when the “low voltage cutoff” happens rather late (but not too late) and THEN the user doesn’t immediately put the device on the charger. Leakage currents may then over-discharge the battery.

  8. AFAIK charge controllers are very specific chips. Program memory on them (if they don’t do everything in logic directly) would be ROM. The only reprogrammable part of charge controller are battery setup and data. If you know the chip in the battery and have access to full datasheet, and if chip doesn’t require password to be unlocked in write mode, you can mess it up pretty badly, for example by changing chemistry type, voltage ranges and maximum charging and discharging currents. It would be almost impossible to do in factory and impossible to do from the smartphone, unless you run your code directly…

    On the other hand someone might have just squeezed the phone battery too hard during assembly, either by accident or on purpose. A little bending action, or something and battery gets damaged enough to cause fire when phone is used, but not enough to cause fire during packaging and handling…

    On related note: smartphone with battery owner can’t replace is a piece of future landfill junk, and it will probably break apart one day after warranty ends…

    1. Phones do not use purely fixed function charge controllers, they use PMIC that is usually a separate chip of the phone chipset, a companion to SoC, connected via i2c bus. They know nothing about the battery, but they have a state machine that is initialized with safe initial charging values (trickle charge like) and safe external consumption values. They also have no flash or EEPROM, only volatile registers. After the system boots up, the kernel configures new state machine in PMIC to enable full charging for batteries higher than 4.2V (like Samsung 1.35V), to enable fast charging up to permitted max current, etc. See “Charging mode diagram” in any Qualcomm PMM IC datasheet, note the “SW controlled charging mode”, but i have seen similar design in Chinese PMIC IC. The state machine isn’t very flexible, so it may need to be replaced by i2c host processor software multiple times when going through various stages of charging. When you plug USB power source into an Android device that is turned off, it actually boots complete kernel but different userland to enable full charging support, but charging from bootloader would be imaginable too.

      To my knowledge, there are no security barriers specifically in PMIC. Security may be implemented externally, e.g. by having the baseband processor (separate low-performance processor inside phone oriented SoCs for secure tasks) execute signed firmware which handles a separated power management i2c bus, but so far i was only more deeply interested in general purpose rather than mobile processors that don’t have a baseband, so it wasn’t relevant there and the processor would usually poke the PMIC from the application kernel.

      It is to be noted that US version of Note7 does not only use system PMIC, but also an extra companion IC which delivers extra few amperes, again hanging on the i2c bus.

  9. Non user-removable/serviceable batteries are nothing more than PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE! This is a Marketing scheme to FORCE you to buy more devices long before your device is actually at end-of-life.

    If the horrible Marketing Goons at (e.g.) Samsung intentionally designed the battery to be easily replaced by the user, this debacle would have been largely avoided – saving them BILLIONS and BILLIONS of dollars!

    And this doesn’t even scratch the surface of how PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE in today’s electronic device market cause HUGE harm to our planet! PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE goes beyond the hardware like batteries – even worse it occurs in the total LACK of software security updates. Even if the hardware is working perfectly you are FORCED to buy another device because the manufacturer REFUSES to provide us with updates.

    As much as I hate suggesting BLOATED Government ever get involved with issues through law-making, this is a case where some sort of regulation may make sense.

    Helooo Manufacturers… I will PAY more for a device that is built to be easily serviced (I understand it costs more to make it that way). I will PAY more for a service that pays you to provide me with longer term software updates (I know software update fixes cost you money). CHANGE YOUR GREEDY MARKETING MODEL!!! We will thank you, trust you more, and it will be better for our Planet.

    1. I’d have to send you to school for you learn why all this is and why you are so wrong in your thinking. But every other person I work with thinks they could build a new car with 1960’s technology and it would be the next big thing because it’s sooooo easy for the everyman to work on, they’d make billions, puppies would not get cancer, grandmas would live for ever, utopia would come to be reality, etc….

      Go ahead and buy a late 1990’s brick phone, it has all that you’re asking for, along with a 1977 ford pinto.

      Then try to get your phone on the network and parts to keep pinto running and come back and tell us how that works out for you.

      Things are planned to be obsolete on about a thousand different reasons that have nothing to do with you not being able to fix it yourself.

      People want new things… The internet in your pocket requires processing power beyond the QUALCOMM chips in the 1990’s phone that NO ONE is getting paid to write code for anymore.

      People want thinner phones, which require the battery to be part of the phones body. mounting mechanisms, latches, connectors, etc take up space, space they need to make the phone thin. Apple or Samsung are not going to make 100 phones for 100 guys who like to DIY to fix themselves just to make 100 guys happy when 100,000,000 people want thin phones and could give two fucks about replacing their own battery or, god forbid, fixing their own phone.

      Processors get smaller, faster more efficient, so the code gets optimized for that. To keep the code base going for old phones is not efficient. To release it open source is to open it to hackers who would cripple the networks using bot armies of old nokia trash. No one wants that.

      Walmart sells flip phones and brick phones, go buy one and shut the fuck up.

      1. My Galaxy S5 is thin enough and has a user replaceable battery. It makes no difference for me, if the phone is 8 or 10mm thin. It also has a µSD card slot, which is a must have for me. I am in no way interested to rely on cloud services.

    2. How else are you going to make a phone water proof if you don’t glue the case shut? O.K., you came up with some ideas, how much more is that going to cost? That cheap? Wow, I’m surprised Samsung didn’t hire you on the spot! Better go check your email…

      Although I _do_ agree with “… I hate suggesting BLOATED Government ever get involved with issues through law-making…” I don’t agree that this is a case where more regulation makes sense.

      1. The Galaxy S5 IS waterproof although you can open the back cover to change the battery. It just has a rubber sealing there. So Samsung does not need to ask anybody about this. Ironically the successor, Galaxy S6 is NOT waterproof although it has a fixed battery – I do not understand this. So it is proven, that your argument s WRONG.

      2. Not all of us want/need/require a phone to be waterproof. Why set that standard as the universal goal, when it has the potential to alienate large portions of your market who want/need/require features that, under most circumstances, would cause the phone to have to be made in such a way as to not be waterproof? Waterproof is not some bare minimum absolute threshold!

        What I want (and would pay good money for) in no particular order in a smartphone (and why I only use a smartphone on an intermittent pay as you go basis through Ting, rather than as my EDC):

        1. User replacable battery
        2. Long term battery package support (replace-ability doesn’t matter as much if the mfgs are perpetually jumping between battery package sizes in order to prevent customers from using their devices for “too long”)
        3. microSD slot
        4. SIM slot
        5. a reasonable-sized one-hand usable body (screen no greater than 4.5″)
        6. a camera with good low light performance
        7. ability to be used on a network with good rural coverage (in the US, only VZW meets this goal thus far)
        8. reasonably trustworthy manufacturer (ie, *not* a Chinese knock-off/cut-rate brand)

        At any given time, I’ve been unable to find more than 4 of those 8 things in a smart phone. A 50% performance rate doesn’t exactly speak well to where the smartphone industry is presently operating. But then, “shareholder value” is driven by convincing the masses to buy the latest, greatest, mondo-mega screened behemoth every 6 months. Externalized costs such as pollution and long-term consumer financial impacts aren’t things to be considered in the present market.

        Every year we become a little bit more like lemmings.

    3. I have a brick phone, battery lasts about 14 days, its pretty much water proof (dropped it in the sink twice) and I can put replacement batteries in it. It’s called a tracphone Happy?

    4. You’re wasting your time with this group.

      Geeks don’t care about planned obsolescence, they don’t care if their toys pollute the planet and generate toxic landfill material a couple years down the road.

      They’re just like all other mindless consumers – they know they want the latest shiny object and that’s it.

    5. My phone came with a built in gun, so it didn’t need any clever scheming to “FORCE” me to buy another one.

      I have searched and searched for real tin foil. I had about 10 pounds of it from a surplus source ages ago and thought it was common, considering it was an expendable household item not that long ago. Where did you get yours?

    6. Hello screaming person. People want thinner phones in general – partially because of marketing from all major manufacturers but partially because it just makes sense as the usage patterns today isn’t really those of a phone – they are for a general purpose pocket computer (for media consumption mostly but I digress). Watching videos and movies on the phone is a relatively common task and then a bigger screen is very nice to have. But a bigger screen means a bigger phone surface, making it harder to fit into a normal pocket. Thinning the device partially makes up for the surface increase unless the screen in simply too large.

      TL;DR nope you are wrong. People have voted with their money and they still think thin is in. Strangely they then commonly slap on a protective skin etc. that adds some extra thickness…

      P.S. It isn’t hard to change the battery in even the latest smartphones on the market, there are businesses that routinely and affordably replace batteries is you don’t want to get your hands dirty (metaphorically).

      1. “There are businesses…” yes, that’s the problem – now I would have to pay somebody for something that I could have done without any effort myself before.
        Similar tocar headlight lamps which could only be changed in the service shop. But I think they made it required by law, that you can change it yourself, at least in Europe.

      2. People don’t really know what they want. That’s the rub. They think they want whatever it is that they are told to want. the more susceptible among them lead the parade and most of the rest follow-on blindly. People, in large groups, are idiots. Marketers and manufactures take advantage of this to the exclusion of longer-term consequences, then shrug off those consequences later on and blame the consumers for buying those products. As it has been, so shall it be.

    7. To All, Well Said and I believe alot of you are correct. I saw some of the comments/replies and don’t care for the haters because we all should listen to one another to get ideas and find solutions. The problems can be fixed. New phones, PC’s and other electronic gadgets cone out like what every six months or so that cost them fractions to make and us a fortune to buy. If some of us can fix them easier that that’s a plus. I have watched this unfold over the years and it’s frustrating sometimes. If you buy a laptop for 1,500 bucks you expect it to last at least a couple of years. You can upgrade until you want a newer option but some people like the things they depend on. For example my LCD went on my laptop a few years back. I tried to purchase new ones but each one I purchased would not work because they didn’t have the same dual backlights and these parts were ordered for that particular model. The one I needed was like $750 or more bucks for a damn screen are you kidding me. Thats if I install it myself. There is where they get you. I can repair the damn thing myself and I couldn’t find the screen less than a couple hundred bucks. I would have to go out and buy a new laptop before I would put 750 or more into a new part that may or may not work. Which I finally did but it’s not the same and don’t like it. I love new gadgets as much as the next person and yes I do purchase them but I rather have the ones I like and depend on and fix them until I decide I want a newer model and not something that I am pushed into because I have no other choice but to do so. I am no programmer or technician but I do know a little and it’s self taught by listening and learning. I will take a PC apart until it can no longer be upgraded as well as a phone. I actually like a phone I can remove the battery if needed and I do have the note series. I had a Galaxy 5 and went to a note 3. Love it. It may be old but it’s my mini PC. I have a 4 but don’t like the camera issues. Don’t like or want a 5 or 6 cause of the batteries can’t be removed. These manufacturers can make things easier to upgrade and repair but chose not too because they can make a lot more money by getting us to buy a new phone or new electronic every few months. They are millionaires and we are fools is what it boils down too. We purchase their products no matter what the cost but are we really getting all the greatness we think we are. No we are not. Even if I want the new product I wait to see the outcome of someone using it for a few months before I purchase it. I want reviews, comments and ideas on the good and the bad. I rather listen to it all before I buy. I do the same with an automobile. Some people are correct even though we don’t care to hear the truth even when it’s right in front of us. Our choice is whether we chose to listen or not. This is only my opinion on the Note 7 but I still think that the operating system along with the programming and those closed in batteries on the devices are causing the batteries to act crazy. Too much override and friction causing a heat build up with no outlet or cooling down. I may be wrong and may have worded it incorrectly but it’s only a opinion. I am not sure on the conspiracy theory but someone could have caused a glitch in the programming I suppose. Samsung can do better and eventually will. Then I will think about purchasing a 8 or 9 one day. Until that day I will sit back and watch the game play out and see which one comes out on top.

    8. I have also found that modern cars are really only designed to last 5 years however much they cost. That comes out as a three year lease plus just about enough time to sell the car to some unsuspecting buyer. As more technology gets into them, they are starting to become out of date after five years, and that is probably why they are not designed to last 10+ years anymore. As self-driving cars come online, planned obsolescence will just get worse. It is not that any major component is likely to fail. It is the peripherals and they can cost a lot in labor to repair. For example, on my BMW, the passenger seat sensor broke. Is is a $100 part but costs $1500 labor to repair. Luckily I can fix most of these things myself. Many of the failures from a long list are where cheap plastic parts under the hood fatigue under heat and break. I have had several plastic cooling system parts fail and the results could have been catastrophic. It would have cost a dollar or two more to make them out of metal and we are not talking economy cars here.We are living in a throw away world.

      Now the real issue comes with IOT. Now you may have hundreds of devices embedded in your home and if they are only designed to last 5 years, there will always be at least one device not functioning. You will end up spending all your time replacing or fixing them. IOt devices must be designed for a minimum life of 10 years to avoid this.

    1. I know you’re making a joke. But what I would love to see is the recalled phones redesigned to use the screens and brain-board again. It’s such a shame… that’s some really amazing hardware to relegate to 2.4 million units chopped up for recycling. A shameful waste.

      1. Indeed. That’s an incredible waste. As hazardous as the battery situation may be, the real shame lies in the wasting of the rest of the units. I hope Samsung gives that part a bit more thought.

  10. I attended a talk at DerbyCon a year or two ago about DOD sponsored research into physically damaging cell phones. One of the methods they explored was causing the battery to explode, so this “tin foil hat” conspiracy isn’t far from reality. Unfortunately for any attackers, they found the protection circuitry too well done to be exploitable. So, there are people out there actively attempting to exploit, and protect against, this.

  11. Here’s an alternate conspiracy theory :
    The failure of the units that were replaced was far more damaging and was what led to most of the bad publicity, and the unit being scrapped. There were only a small handful of reports of post-replacement phones burning. Someone could plausibly have “arranged” for some post-recall failures to occur, possibly with the collusion of the owners.
    Only a very small number would need to be reported for the whole situation to escalate to where it did

  12. One thing to say about Samsung. Having owned a few generations of it. Their phones start out with excellent battery life then the phones start to degrade rapidly. By the end of the year they don’t get even 1/2 the life out of them while turning the energy into heat. My theory is that samsung rides their battery way too hard, their fast chargers will charge a battery from dead 0% to full in about 1.5 hours. The batteries are being hammered and hammered hard even on discharge cycles. Having said this I have owned a s4/s5/note 5 and all but the note 5 have been horrible with battery, gave the note 5 to the wife now and she is starting to complain about battery. The phone is about 1 year old. I have a one plus now, cheap and the battery life is superior with proper management even though the device is 2+ years old. Never feel any heat off this device. My .02c.

    1. It’s this, too fast charging causes dendrite formation (lithium crystals) these can traverse the microporous seperator and short the battery internally. This process also consumes lithium from the intercalated cathode reducing energy density. This process also clogs the edges of the graphite where lithium is intercalated and reduced on the anode again reducing energy density.

      Some consumable electrolyte salts are added like lithium nitrate in order to alleviate the loss of energy density, but then allow larger formation of dendrites. The law of averages probably screwed them they could have added too much consumable salt to alleviate the battery going shitty faster but in the process caused a minority of the batteries to fail. That or some bad seperators that got stretched/smashed too much in the process and had defects allowing internal short circuits.

      1. a 1-1,5h charging is not really fast, it is 0,5C to 1C. It is just that the measly 500mA you get out of a normal USB socket are way to little current for modern smartphone batteries of ~3Ah. Some of the deterioration processes increase even with slow charge/discharge cycles. There was a documentation where it was shown, that 1 50hr charge/discharge cycle basically is equivalent to 5 10hr cycles (five times the current), as most of this deterioration processes are just time driven (aging) and not cycle driven. This is especially true at extreme states of charge (very near depletion or very near full charge (>4V cell voltage).

        1. Your looking at a bare minimum of 365 cycles per year/ the .5c charge cycle is not really true either. You get samsung pushing 3A between 10% and 80% of the charge then it slows down. The amount of heat those batteries produce is staggering, especially as they age. The cycle is then exacerbated when a user gets 1/2 a day of use and the phone is plugged in all day so it does not die.

      1. notarealemail says:
        October 24, 2016 at 3:29 pm

        I disabled almost all of the bloatware. Battery problem solved.

        Well there’s one system app you can’t get to unless your rooted (I hear rooting MAY invalidate your warranty and other bad stuff? I dunno… maybe cell phone mfg propaganda?). It is notorious for sucking Smartphone battery. It’s supposed to be from factory that manages everything but it shows on the battery graph as a huge sucker. On mine it’s called ANDROID SYSTEM and is presently sucking 44%. I know it’s important so I live with it.

        To conserve battery power: turn off wifi. Get all those unnecessary apps off your smartphone’s home page (I heard this somewhere). Allow your auto screen dimmer to come on sooner. Get a caller-id blocker app to stop callers you really don’t want to talk to to get through and cause your ringtone to go off and/or talk-time to suck the battery. Get one of those emergency power dongles from Walmart. Get one of those apps that generate fake background noises like static, another phone ringing, your wife saying “come on, let’s go!” that one helps keeping your talk-time low with your mom, brother-in-law, or your boss. You can cut things short and say “(OK I’m getting off the phone now honey!) Oh
        mom I’ll call you later from a landline!” or “Oh Bob my phone battery is failing so it may cut off at any… [snap crackle pop] – [you hang up]”. I just let stuff go to VM and I call them back from a landline anyway. VM doesn’t kill your battery as it’s someplace else. Learn when to hit the IGNORE (send to VM) button. Some people KNOW when you hit it too fast. They have the temerity to point it out to you later.

        When you are decompressing shut the thing off and remove the battery. Have VM intercept on your PC or MAC. Check it a lot so you don’t miss that critical call from your boss. With the battery is out your boss can’t immolate your Samsung Note 7 with his undocumented gadgets while driving by your flat (flipping you the bird)… [just kidding! That’s just tinfoil hat joking]. – LOL

    2. I’ve has my S5 since not long after release and the battery is still going strong.
      It does go flat a bit quicker now of course but it lasts a whole day with a good number or hours of web browsing and messaging use.

  13. My conspiracy theory: God finally realized it’s time to side with Darwin and implanted this virus as a new (more pinpointed) “Flood” taking out those who can’t walk down the street without staring at a screen and listening to headphones. The irony is: He allowed it to get this far, in the first place, because he thought for certain the muggers would’ve taken care of the job… But turns out they’re actually pretty decent people, having not gone nearly as far with the muggings as He expected, so God felt bad using them for His will, and decided to go straight for the source… the power source.

  14. wouldnt it be simpler to ?

    1. outright ban all devices on planes by using rf interference as an excuse by saying you can bring down a plane.

    2. write trap laws by making taxes and rules on how to ship and sell batteries including but not limited to claiming meth cooks will peel the batteries apart to extract the lithium.

    you may know trap laws from the abortion cases where they said the clinics had to do multiple sonograms, having admitting rights, be located a certain distance from churches and schools and so on.

    dont make the batteries burn just to have a reason to ban them.

    1. Just do what the US post office has done for years – Li-Ion batteries ship ground-only. It is up to the individual to declare what is in the package, but let’s say you ship an item with said battery non-ground (express, priority, overnight, freight, etc), and a fire occurs – Bam, mail fraud.

      Imagine this at airports – Does your device contain a Li-xxx battery? You sign an affidavit stating no, even though everyone involved knows it to be untrue, because it’s how the system works. Then one day your phone explodes, and you’re personally liable.

      It’s really quite a beautiful system – The honest will be honest, the clueless clueless, and absolutely no sense of corporate responsibility is necessary.

  15. Somebody could have taken a short position on Samsung’s stock before releasing the malware (this is where you borrow X number of Samsung shares from your broker, and sell them. Your bet pays off if the price plunges and you can later buy X shares for less than you sold them for and repay your broker those shares.

    This write-off would have provided a tidy profit for anybody holding a short position on Samsung prior to the debacle unfolding. (And if it looked too convenient, land that person under a bunch of scrutiny).

    1. Take it as you want. Personally, I learnt more about Li ion batteries, their protection circuits & chargers in this comments section than all the time before.

      So thanks you all for sharing (and sometimes spilling some beans: yummy!).

  16. While its unlikely current malware has made me rethink a lot of things. There is one page that has a popup javascript add that causes my S4 to instantly reboot. EVERY time. It will do it on every browser but only on S4’s.

  17. I believe, that if it wasn’t just a simple case of Samsung messing up, then it might have been a hacktavist group that wanted demonstrate — to the public — the dangers presented by Lithium ion.

    1. Case in point: The Mirai malware (targeting IOT devices) and turning them into botnets as a demonstration that any one creating an IOT device needs to take security seriously.

  18. What about just shorting stock. That would be a pretty easy step before profit.

    I’m still with other people on there just being a pinch point in the frame or something. The pouch batteries used in cell phones aren’t exactly armored.

  19. How about just plain old random terrorism? How? Someone who has the technical know how to do it would figure out a way to sabotage a few of the phones. It would only take a few, in this case less than 150, and the news media blows it up as though every phone of that model is a ticking bomb about to blow half your ass off.

    ‘Course it’s a stupid thing to do, carrying a phone in a back pocket, especially a super thin one that’s not an LG G Flex.

    I’m still using a Galaxy S4, into which I have installed a huge 5600 mah battery. That’s not the biggest available for it. I like it being thicker. It’s easier to hold onto.

    1. How about one of the TLA’s or a contractor or even an anti-Snowden doing a little Private Enterprise on the side?

      Someone like the NSA will have dedicated teams of people hacking away on how to solve the problem of having a phone blowing off a terr’ists ass without sending a drone or at least marking the terr’ist on the drone’s IR camera.

      The project kinda sits there doesn’t do anything, then, someone get the idea perhaps from Toyota, like “Hey, if one had bought the PUT options on that sucker before the recall, life would be MUCH better”. “I Know how to do this, better do Samsung, not Apple. We don’t wanna mess with a made crew.”

      Or we have Huawei, part of the Chinese military industrial complex, China does not like Korea much. Chinese authorities might not come down very hard on Chinese Hax0rs doing Korea an ill turn.

    2. Galane – Listen to “fajensen”. IMO it’s NOT actually a virus NOR a specific Samsung problem. It only APPEARS that way due to the target selection choices. All you need is some serious $$$ to afford some very specialized Harris equipment and some really psychotic-hidden-agenda like that actor who played the fictional Thomas Brian Reynolds (played by the coincidentally psychotic Jon Voight) in that 1998 infamous movie about a similar subject matter.

      My favorite movie line from popular actor Dan Butler (i.e. Admiral Shaffer):
      Admiral Shaffer: I want the entire history of this device, from birth to abortion on my desk in 2 hours. I want the name of the tech who made it. I want to know who authorized its use, who checked it out from inventory,[hits the table] And for what purpose? And most important, how in God’s green earth it got into [that hotel room!] Listen people, everyone knows where this is going. If this was a legit op, and I can’t imagine how it could be, then so be it. But if this was someone’s unilateral wet dream, then that someone is going to prison.

      Art imitating life? :D

  20. I thought of this a few days before I read the article, but I dismissed my thoughts as conspiracy theory after telling my wife of my idea. I thought this could be software related as well. Samsung is the leader in android phone sales and production, they are also known to be innovative and have had a reputation for making quality products. Samsung is also known for having a loyal fan base, especially with their note brand. The type of person that buys the s7 likes Samsung phones. Maybe they like the new design, or maybe they came from the s5 and decided to stay Samsung after the design change. Anyone who didn’t like Samsung’s new design left last year and either went to iOS or to another android device that had a design more like the older Samsungs. I also think that an s7 user could be sold another phone fairly easily. The note fans however are die hard and they won’t leave. They are in it for more then the design or brand, the note is a brand in and of itself. So if someone, or a whole company of people wanted to shake things up, you go for the rock solid foundation of Samsung and watch them fall. Millions of people, very loyal people will be searching for something new. If they wanted an s7 they would have bought one, if they wanted an I phone the would have bought one. No… They want something new and untarnished, a clean start. Well it just so happens that the company that makes the software that runs the note 7 has a new phone out, and they are trying to break into the market. A market that suddenly has millions of ex loyalists looking for something to new. Google gained a lot potentially from this situation, and they have an in with the software. Does any of this mean they did it? Probably not. But we make our own fate and coincidental occurrences like this rarely happen.

    1. Unfortunately I still do not see any equivalent successor for the Galaxy S5.
      This shall have:

      OLED Screen 5,2″ (up to 5,5) with 1920*1080 pixel (Full HD) or max. 2560*x (too much pixel increase power consumption without any usefulness).
      Micro SD card Slot
      Water resistance
      removable battery

  21. I feel that the S5 was one of their best designed phones. Keep the battery user removable, the damn thing is basically waterproof (I’ve gone swimming with it), the phone still plays HD YouTube…
    Great phone, I’d recommend it to anyone; and my battery hasn’t melted yet…

  22. I wonder if there will be a lot of cheap Note 7 for sale, capable of being used safely directly from the charger with the batteries removed, in some non-mobile function like an Alexa / Siri / Cortana / Google Home clone, or as an IP CCTV camera.

  23. All this effort to make smaller batteries more powerfull… I’m not impressed. I would rather buy a modern, powerful smartphone with a big thick battery like from a 90s era phone. Use technology that’s a few years old, not actual 90s era battery tech, something more recent than that but old enough that all the bugs are worked out. Then, instead of cramming it all into a thin little easy to break phone put it in a 90s size device. I’m picturing those old fat Nextels from just before flip phones became the in thing. The size that is, not the whole form. I do want a full size touch screen.

    Maybe I’ll have a battery that lasts a week that way! I think they are pushing too hard and the technology is getting worse rather than better. My S4 overheats every time I try to run Waze and Pandora simultaneously. My Droid never did that. Now the latest device catches fire? Come on!

  24. In the grand scheme of things, though, a >.02% failure rate on a new technology, followed by an essentially immediate recall is insane if you really think about it – Imagine if this were the drug or automotive industry – The only time you see anything like this is in food.

    Free conspiracy theory for you all – Since the consensus seems to be a combination of everything being too thin, how much of a bribe would it take for one of the assemblers in china, whether it’s the guy packing batteries or installing them, to pinch/squeeze/bend a couple of them every hour or two? No noticable damage, but just enough to ensure premature failure. . .

    So then who is the master conspirator? Think about it, for an absurdly minimal investment, basic technical knowledge, and knowledge of world events pretty much anyone could pull it off . . .

  25. Samsung “the most respected and trusted maker of Android phones”? Maybe to consumers, but not to developers. Samsung devices have always been plagued by bizarre, irreproducible bugs that occur maybe once in a thousand sessions, like apps trying to run as user -2 or crashing because the system says they don’t have a permission that they clearly do have. Samsung devices are highly polished turds.

  26. Sans tin foil sombrero… but this is NOT a conspiracy theory. Here is the information everyone is seeking here. It has a reasonable history and explanation: http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/archive/lithium_ion_safety_concerns

    We here in USA recently found a mother-lode of LITHIUM in Wyoming which may compete with Australia, China, and other locations around the world. However, WHY FOOL WITH LITHIUM AT ALL? What???

    Well come to find out the geniuses at UC3M in Spain have discovered a chemical process that “…might be more powerful than lithium-ion batteries” and is rechargeable! It’s called ACABA technology.

    “Lithium-ion batteries are at present the main electrochemical storage systems in electronic devices and in the growing field of transportation. However, sources of lithium are limited and located in politically conflictive areas. Also, its cost is expected to rise with the increase in the number of batteries on the market. That’s why it’s necessary to seek alternative systems.”

    ACABA elemental sources do NOT need to be mined in the conventional way. We waste this element everyday not knowing it’s true potential. It can be found in plenty of places that do not have heavily armed guards protecting it. Dr. Jean-Yves Sánchez says a working rechargeable ACABA prototype should be ready by 2018 or less. Maybe we could put our HaD heads together and make one of our own? It’s not that we lack the expertise.

    Here’s a short 1:39 minute Youtube video ( /watch?v=bisPYcBYAYY ) of him talking about it briefly. I would advise you to turn on the closed-captioning feature for reasons you will see when you get there. (That’s mostly to my fellow Americans that is. :-) )

      1. rasz_pl – Really? How so?

        The CaBa is not new. It has been invented years ago. The only hard part is get it to easily recharge, hence the A in ACABA (pronounced: ahk-ah-bah). That’s where the research is being focused on by CONEX. Maybe this web portal page at the university will give you and others more insight. They are NOT looking for any funding or interference from us Americans. It’s a E.U. thing with Spain and France. The E.U. even has their own space program that rivals NASA. This type of battery could be used in their spacecrafts?


        Professor Jean Yves Sanchez
        Universite Montpellier 2, France
        Department at UC3M:
        Materials Science and Engineering and Chemical Engineering
        E-mail: jeasanch[at]ing.uc3m.es

        Send him an email and ask for his ACABA whitepaper and then post it here on HaD. Replace [at] with @ first. He speaks and reads English.

      2. No, it is a research project, not a ready battery technology. The acronym has nothing to do with “ACAB”, it means just “advanced Calcium battery”, what is what they WANT/TRY to develop in the project. Calcium is widely abundant but there is not yet any rechargeable battery technology based on it available. Other projects are sodium based batteries. Ca could give higher cell voltage, but I don’t know how it works out, that it has two valence electrons (Ca++)

  27. Erm. Okay. I wish you let me stop you in like, the first paragraph. I’ve designed some LiPo portable devices before, and the line of defense after inherent battery safety (i.e. don’t manufacture metal particulates into your battery) is a FULLY ANALOG, NON-PROGRAMMBLE, protection IC.

    In fact, they are so non-reprogrammable that they are a PITA to purchase, as variations in discharge, charge voltage, charge current, reset times, etc. require you to change part #s, many of which are not stocked. Seiko Instruments Inc. makes a bunch that are stocked on DigiKey. I believe there’s a ton of generic manufacturers as well who make these ICs in China.

    Since they’re typically permanently attached to the battery, they would also need to be very low power as to not drain the battery during monitoring functions – as such, they shouldn’t be digital to begin with, simply because a purpose-built analog circuit would use far less power (and be lower noise), which could be an issue in the undercharge state, where the protection circuit should drain nearly no current as to prevent over-discharge.

    In many systems, there is a second charge controller IC afterwards which does high level charging control. This is software controlled, but the software defined limits are typically even more conservative than the actual safety IC. No amount of software can bypass the safety IC.

    Another possibility is overheating the device via hardware. Well-designed hardware shouldn’t be capable of this, and typically there are multiple analog / non-reprogrammable ICs on board with some sort of safety (including the secondary battery controller IC)

    Anywho, I’ve been really interested in seeing how Samsung’s batteries have been dying, and I found only one vaguely technical reference a while ago (I think forwarded to Korea’s safety commission or something) that it was an issue in some press process for the batteries. I’m going to guess they were pushing battery capacity and battery life, and perhaps there was some step where they just, um, press the batteries until they’re smaller…and maybe that process had a chance of causing shorts. Or maybe they just used a thinner insulator on this particular battery.

  28. They used a thinner separator between the anode and cathode in order to increase energy density. This was not fully tested and failed in the field.
    The galaxy phones sold in China carry a battery made by a chinese cell supplier (which also supplies to apple) and those don’t explode.

  29. too many posts to read em all but i have to say this.

    when a cellphone (sold in my country and USA) are in an emergency telephone call (911 in my country and USA) the cellphone BY LAW has to continue to operate PAST THE POINT OF NO RETURN in regards to minimum battery voltage causing damage to lithium-ion. it is assumed that once this feature is activated DURING A 911 CALL (the point where the phone suddenly goes dead) then after the call is over the cellphone/battery SHOULD refuse to charge as if the battery was stored for years while flat without charging.

    in other words, if your cell has 30 seconds talk time left and you dial 911 then the phone should run for at least 10 mins but NEVER EVER EVER let any electrons INTO the cell so it does not explode…

    if the code or the plans for the protection devices were “hacked” then this “feature” could be re-written to tell the battery protection that 911 mode is on all the time. it would only take hours or days for the reports to roll in, unless this virus were to be remotely activated in “waves”. then all panic could set in.

    it’s not every day that a company tells it’s employees to ONLY communicate with pen and paper between employees for normal day-to-day work. i do not claim to know why, but i do wonder why this happened THE DAY AFTER they started to recieve these reports (of fires)

      1. But there are actually two stages. When the battery discharges to 3.0V (approximate, configurable), PMIC must signal an interrupt and the phone usually shuts down to protect the battery. This should be possible to disable in software for emergency call. Additionally, battery contains its own non-programmable IC that goes down to usually 1.0V, and then hard cuts off the battery from the rest of the device, both for charging and discharging. The battery normally regains some voltage without load, thus being re-connected by protection IC and charging will be re-enabled. However, if a current leak has built up, it will not recover.

  30. I think Samsung systematically over-stresses their batteries. I have owned a S3-mini, and just playing a game for a few minutes was enough to heat the battery such that it started warping and loosing capacity. I replaced the battery thinking it was a fluke, but the new battery had the same issue.

    So, they had it coming!

  31. Maybe it’s just a failure in the charge control IC. The tolerances on 0.1% of the chips could have been a bit off, which makes the battery overcurrent/overvolt/undervolt. Maybe the charge control IC was aiming at voltages too close to the dangerous threshold.

    Or maybe Apple infiltrated someone in the IC factory which provides stock to Samsung, and these guys purposefully put some bad chips among the good ones to wreak havoc. It’s easy to insert a few counterfeit components in huge orders.

  32. Mike Szczys – I have a feeling you know more than your saying with your cryptic comments above. I’m not going there though thank you. But I will say this… could the problem be because the RF power is mysteriously increasing intermittently? Like Diane Sawyer suggested in one of her ABC News documentaries (on a different cell phone subject than this)… turn your cell phone off and remove the battery. She said that for different reasons than this subject matter, but some feel it’s a close to home issue.

    The guy on the airplane CLAIMS he had his Samsung off. But he didn’t remove the battery. So maybe AIRPLANE MODE and POWER OFF is a misnomer these days???? I dunno… I’m just sayin’… :-/

    Ctrl-F "3:05 am"

  33. Man, i already said this shit from day one. Glad to know that everyone is not in the trick bag. I still have my note 7 just got an external battery. I broke it down to my friend like this, with the case of the phone catching fire in Florida. I told him if your phone exploded right now do you think you would be on the news? then asked think what would be the first thing you would do?” I would be looking to find out where i would be able to get a new phone from my carrier”. Enough said this battery story no where close to non fiction.This was the best way for me to explain it to him he has no tech background. All i can say is something is not right. input email N/A XSS ok ill put in a fake one

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.