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We finally know why the Galaxy Note 7 loved burning up

Galaxy Note 8 Battery

The Galaxy Note 8 is finally official, and all the rumors that preceded Samsung’s Wednesday event turned out to be true, including battery details. Yes, the Galaxy Note 8’s battery will inevitably be compared to the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7, although we probably know the conclusion: the new Note’s battery must be just as safe as the Galaxy S8’s. But Samsung’s Note 8 event also helps us better understand what happened last year and seems to confirm one of the real reasons why the Galaxy Note 7 exploded.

Samsung blamed battery manufacturers in early 2017 for the Galaxy Note 7 disaster, vowing to never let it happen again. Issues with the actual manufacturing of the battery and the quality assurance process were indeed revealed. But Samsung avoided as much as possible to point the finger to the phone’s design or to its own bold wishes for the Note 7.

Last year’s phone had a massive 3,500 mAh battery, far bigger than what was available on competing devices.

But this year’s Note only comes with a 3,300 mAh battery inside. From the looks of it, Samsung appears to be afraid to go back to 3,500 mAh batteries for the phablet. It’s also worth remembering that the Galaxy Note FE, the safe Galaxy Note 7 that Samsung just launched, has a 3,200 mAh battery.

Talking to Samsung Mobile chief DJ Koh after the event, The Investor asked him why the Note 8 comes with a smaller battery than its predecessor, and whether Samsung plans to stop increasing the battery capacity due to safety issues. Here’s Koh’s response:

There are some reasons why we can reduce the battery capacity. One of them is the 10-nanometer processor that has enhanced the phone’s power efficiency by 30 percent. Users are also allowed to adjust their battery use based on their smartphone use patterns, which increases battery efficiency overall. Now I can guarantee battery safety. The phone will maintain more than 95 percent of battery capacity even after two years of use.

Sure, that’s all true. But Koh doesn’t really respond to the question. Samsung’s actions, however, seem to indicate that pushing battery size above a certain threshold may come with unwanted safety risks, especially for phones that have curved edges. That’s in spite Samsung’s renewed commitment to product quality.

That’s not to say the Galaxy Note 8 will have worse battery life, or that we need 3,500 mAh batteries. It just seems that some of the Galaxy Note 7’s specs may have been decided by execs thinking only of how to outperform Apple and how to have the handset in stores as fast as possible. And that’s the kind of wrongdoing Samsung will probably never fully acknowledge.

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.