Report: Samsung probe blames Galaxy Note7 fires on faulty batteries

After months of recalls, scares, and device-killing software updates, Samsung is finally ready to reveal the results of its investigation into the exploding Galaxy Note7s. According to a report from Reuters, the electronics giant will detail its findings on Jan. 23, and to the surprise of no one, it has concluded that the battery is the culprit.

According to the report, however, the design of the handset didn’t contribute to its woes, as other reports had surmised. Sources told Reuters that “Samsung was able to replicate the fires during its investigation and that the cause for the fires could not be explained by hardware design or software-related matters.” The company is expected to detail its findings next week, the day before it reports its fourth-quarter earnings, which are expected to be Samsung’s highest in three years.

Originally, Samsung blamed a bad batch of batteries for the fires and implemented an exchange program to replace them. That plan was quickly jettisoned after newer devices began to catch on fire as well, leading to a massive global recall. Most recently, the company announced that more than 96 percent of all handsets had been returned, and the FAA lifted requirements for airlines to announce the Note7 ban on all flights.

However, the exact cause of the burning batteries is still unknown. An independent investigation by engineering firm Instrumental concluded in December that Samsung’s push to make the case as thin as possible put extra pressure on the battery, compressing it to the point where it became unsafe. Presumably, Samsung will meticulously detail the results of its own official investigation when it reports its findings next week, and discuss the steps it is taking to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

The story behind the story: Just as one scandal seems to be wrapping up, another is just beginning. Over the weekend, it was reported that South Korea’s special prosecutor was seeking an arrest warrant for Samsung Group chief Jay Y. Lee in a massive corruption probe. According to Reuters, the special prosecutor’s office accused Lee “of paying bribes total 43 billion won ($36.42 million) to organizations linked to Choi Soon-sil, a friend of the president who is at the center of the scandal, in order to secure the 2015 merger of two affiliates and cement his control of the family business.” So, it would behoove Samsung to be as forthright and contrite as possible with its report, so as to put the whole issue to rest and start on the road to restoring consumer trust.

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