Is it safe to buy one of the new Samsung S8 smartphones?
This question was answered on April 26, 2017. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.
Samsung’s well documented issue with exploding batteries in its Galaxy Note 7, rightfully has many consumers concerned about newer phones having the same issue.
In what has to be one of the worst PR nightmares in tech history, Samsung had to recall the phones not once, but twice as a result of a faulty design and a manufacturing defect.
Why Batteries Explode
Lithium Ion batteries used by all smartphone manufacturers can become unstable if they overheat, so technically any device that uses this type of battery could experience a similar result.
Related: How safe are portable battery packs?: https://goo.gl/A7gKgU
We’ve seen similar issues with overheating batteries that catch fire in everything from laptops to hover boards and Tesla cars, so this isn’t unique to Samsung.
What’s Changed at Samsung
For obvious reasons, Samsung knows it has to release their new flagship phones (Galaxy S8 & S8+) without a hitch.
According to Samsung, the primary change to their manufacturing process is they now thoroughly test each batch of batteries from their suppliers with what they are calling an ‘8-Point Battery Safety Check’ (https://goo.gl/NF0qQT).
Under the new testing process, if they encounter a single faulty battery in a production batch, as many as 15,000 can be rejected and sent back to the supplier.
So much is riding on the launch of Samsung’s new smartphones, I’d be very surprised if we see any real issues with the battery.
The review unit that I’ve been testing from Verizon has run cool to the touch, even when it’s charging unlike several of my other Android devices.
The design of the S8 series is beautiful and the ‘bezel-less’ display design makes it seem like you’re just holding a screen in your hand.
They’ve gone to ‘virtual’ buttons, so the entire face of the phone is glass making for a stunning display that runs over the edges. When it’s placed next to a similar size iPhone, the increase in screen real estate becomes more obvious.
The larger S8+ is the same width as the S8 but taller, so it fits in your hand the same despite the much larger display.
Samsung wanted to make it possible for the average person to stretch their thumb across the entire screen for one handed use even with the larger screen.
The fingerprint scanner is on the back next to the single camera lens, so you may find yourself needing to wipe the lens if you choose to use it as your unlock mechanism.
The greatly improved, but not perfect facial recognition can unlock the phone as long as there is enough light for it to properly recognize you. Some reviewers have claimed that they were able to fool it with a picture and Samsung says that it’s not as secure as the other options, but it‘s really handy when it works.
Should You Be Afraid?
I wouldn’t be afraid of buying the new Samsung phones based on the past battery issues, but as with any new technology, letting a few million ‘early adopters’ be the guinea pigs for you is always a safe bet.
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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on April 26, 2017