Motorola: We would’ve caught Samsung’s Note 7 battery flaw

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Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 sent the wireless industry into a frenzy when the phones started catching fire.

Samsung itself recalled and scrapped the phones, and many other companies started looking into their own manufacturing processes. But at least one phone maker held firm with the processes it already had in place.

“Absolutely not,” said Motorola’s Russ Gyenes when asked whether his company made any changes after the Note 7 problem flared up. Gyenes, an engineer who focuses on batteries, was speaking to a group of journalists on Tuesday.

While Samsung has largely repaired its image with the launch of the Galaxy S8, the potentially volatile nature of battery technology remains an issue. The Note 7 incident put a spotlight on how companies in all industries ensure the safety of the batteries in their devices. Samsung, for instance, introduced an eight-point battery check that it shared with the industry in hopes of raising standards everywhere.

When asked about Samsung’s test, Gyenes smirked.

“I looked at that eight-point check,” he said. “Why weren’t they doing it before?”

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 His comments are bold for any company, even one whose legacy in dealing with battery technology goes back to the invention of the first cell phone. Hoverboards, e-cigarettes, electric cars and computer batteries have shown at least isolated instances of batteries catching fire. Boeing fielded questions about the safety of lithium-ion batteries for its 787 Dreamliner. Gyenes noted that Motorola testified as an expert in those proceedings.

The discussion was part of a broader campaign to get Motorola — a historic brand in the wireless world that fell on hard times with the rise of the iPhone — back into the public consciousness with a new brand strategy and phones like the Moto Z.

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