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Samsung acknowledges Galaxy S4 swelling battery issue, offers free replacements

0. phoneArena 16 Oct 2013, 08:57 posted on

The story began when many owners of the Galaxy S4 started bringing theirs to the carrier, complaining from overheating, endurance degradation, and even straight-out swelling of the unit. Half a year since introduction, the issue seemingly reached endemic proportions, with carrier insiders reporting up to 30% of their Galaxy S4 customers coming with such complaints, so not isolated incidents...

This is a discussion for a news. To read the whole news, click here

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 09:17 10

7. promise7 (Posts: 887; Member since: 03 Jul 2013)

A example of the benefit of a removable battery. Would be such a pain to these customers if they would've had to ship it to Samsung and wait for repair or replacement.

posted on 03 Dec 2013, 04:29

60. s2law (Posts: 5; Member since: 21 Oct 2013)

That depends. The phone would still be covered under the manufacturers warranty, therefore they'd be entitled to a brand new phone as a replacement instead of a new battery. So it wouldn't be that bad would it?

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 09:18 4

8. Slammer (Posts: 1515; Member since: 03 Jun 2010)

This validates my ongoing rant why removable batteries are so important. How many other batteries are suffering from this but would never know because a person can't remove them and inspect them? Many flickering screen issues and blackouts are caused by swollen and Shorted batteries. Customers should be able to render this simple fix themselves rather than being finacially strapped to the manufacturer for this easy repair.

John B.

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 15:53 1

35. darkskoliro (Posts: 1079; Member since: 07 May 2012)

but yet we havent seen reports of any or anything close to 30% of peoples batteries swelling inside phones on the likes of lg motorola or htc....

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 17:00

36. Slammer (Posts: 1515; Member since: 03 Jun 2010)

People are noticing the swelling because they actually have visual proof when they open their cover. Granted, this is a quality control issue on the part of the battery OEM. However, How would you tell if your battery is swollen when you can't inspect it?

In 52 years, I've never seen people defend batteries in phones as I have today. Just because someone likes the look of a device, doesn't mean batteries don't fail. I see it every day. Cars are the same. They look better and are more sophisticated. Yet, they still use a very old technology designed battery.The young Jedi of today need to realize that the basic design of batteries hasn't changed in 40 years. The more you charge the battery, the weaker it gets. The larger the battery, the longer its on a charge. This leads to eventual fail.

Just in the last 15 years alone out of 27 that I've been a cellphone user, I've had three phones that suffered battery failure outside the warranty period.

Since I get a new phone every two years, that means that I have purchased 7 phones in the course of 15 years. Out of those 7 phones, 3 experienced battery failure. That's a pretty good percentage not to ignore when purchasing a device that has no access to batteries. At least I could purchase a new battery at more than half of what a deductable cost.

John B.

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 17:24

37. ardent1 (Posts: 2000; Member since: 16 Apr 2011)

40 years ago would be 1973.

Today, rechargeable lithium ion batteries is now the standard for consumer electronics goods.

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 17:38

38. darkskoliro (Posts: 1079; Member since: 07 May 2012)

Oh, you can definitely tell if its swollen or not. Say for instance the iPhone. The whole back cover lifts off, and when a battery is swollen, the user is definitely more prone to dangers.

And for your experience of phones and battery issues - thats totally aside the point. Why? Because you are talking about batteries in phones you had used so long ago. Sure you had your bad experiences, but we are in 2013, not 2000s or the 1990s. I had a swollen battery on my Motorolla Razr myself, but that was okay. But given today's standards, that wouldn't be okay. You need to realise that your argument needs to be more in context.

For example, you can't say that all V8's are very fuel inefficient because you drove a V8 10 or 20 years ago. Nowadays, BMW V8s are amazingly fuel efficient, and that just can't be compared to V8's in muscle cars back in the day. Kapish?

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 18:37 1

41. VZWuser76 (Posts: 4638; Member since: 04 Mar 2010)

He's talking about the design of batteries, not the materials used. We have found better materials since then, which helps eliminate memory problems and such, but the actual design/layout is the same. Until we can find a more efficient design, all we're doing is putting larger patches on the leak, not repairing the hole itself.

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 20:00 1

43. Slammer (Posts: 1515; Member since: 03 Jun 2010)

You are trying to parry my argument which isn't going to change the layout of the common battery. In the very end of the 50's, General Motors had come up with a designed carburator that would push close to 150 miles to a gallon of gas. It was no surprise that these design blueprints mysteriously disappeared, never to be heard of again. Imagine the oil companies that would suffer at the hands of this. The common battery is no different. It is the electronic version of oil. Imagine the loss that battery companies would lose if they made them last far longer from failure rates.

Quit making excuses just because phones look prettier with fixed batteries. The batteries haven't changed and will fail because they are designed to by default. Sealing the battery will now cost the common consumer far more money to repair and elevate the revenue for manufacturers. Do you like paying more to repair your already expensive device? I don't know what part of this tech geeks don't understand. If anyone should understand this, it should most definitely be the ones that "supposedly" have far better knowledge of technology such as technology geeks.

John B.

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 20:29 1

44. darkskoliro (Posts: 1079; Member since: 07 May 2012)

What excuses am I making? Here we have the article on removable batteries having faults, and wait...whats this? Oh right, there have been no reports on faulty batteries in sealed devices. Personally, I want a removable battery myself but this doesnt change the fact that you're making assumptions that consumers are paying so much for repairs that don't even exist! How about this, find a report saying that consumers are paying so much for their battery issues in sealed phones next time you reply. Honestly, you're making claims based on your own judgement when the answer is right in front of you. There are battery faults in the S4, which should not exist, and you're defending it with the fact that sealed phones are costing consumers so much, when there have been no reports!

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 20:59

45. Slammer (Posts: 1515; Member since: 03 Jun 2010)

ardent, I'm quite aware of the time span and the implementation of materials decided to be used in place of older elements within the battery.

My point is that 3 basic materials that make a rechargable battery function are the Anode, cathode and electrolyte. Their function is the same as it was for many decades. The type of materials used to manufacture these components may have changed, but please note and ascend to my point that the common rechargable battery is essentially the same. Forcing electrons one direction, only to allow them to expel in another direction within the current design, is unstable and the battery seeks to balance itself. Over time, these components degrade. The battery is essentially designed to fail within a certain time.

Modern technology used in such as phones may have engineered their devices and software to compensate for power consumption to placate the battery for longer use on a charge, but the basic battery principle is the same.

John B.

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 21:53

47. Slammer (Posts: 1515; Member since: 03 Jun 2010)

I'm not defending the faults of Samsung's battery issues and I truly am not trying to purposely argue with you. I'm just trying to point out that this is proof why establishing battery accessibilty is important. This crap can not only happen, it does happen and having easily accessible placement of the battery cuts down on time, money and frustration for the consumer. However, you asked a fair question and I will return it with a question: How do we know that sealed battery devices returned to the store are or are not related to battery issues? We hear about Samsung's issue because it is essentially a big deal, given it is currently a high profile and popular phone. But, generally, battery failures are common place and almost accepted normality.

The industry is trying to groom the consumers for the direction of sealed batteries because of the profit margin and revenue from such. Keeping the battery out of sight out of mind, helps this process. However, if you truly acknowledge technology weaknesses, Blank screens, flickering screens, software lagging during high usage, loss of memory, phones randomly resetting or rebooting on its own, overheating are a few things that batteries can be culprits for. You won't hear of these problems from fixed battery phones now because 9 times out of ten, the phone is always sent to the manufacturer for repair and written off because the customer is pacified with a different device never knowing what the cause was. High insurance claims is indication of customers paying more. Yes, devices are more expensive to cover, but design doesn't help. The harder it is to repair a phone such as sealing the battery, results in higher service rates due to labor and higher insurance. As it has been from the beginning, most phone issues are caused by batteries sealed or not sealed. Talk to any engineer and they will tell you the same as myself. Google removable batteries vs sealed. Many engineer discussion forums will point out the pros and cons with batteries being the focal point of the cons. You would not be doing yourself any favors by denying that the battery is the weakest link of any electronic device.

Lastly, since I've been around technology most of my life, I am always open minded with new courses in direction. However, knowing that battery technology hasn't really progressed past the anode, cathode design in close to 40 years, I can't endorse sealed battery trend until the design of batteries has completely reinvented itself to be far more stable.

John B.

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 22:08

48. dmakun (Posts: 328; Member since: 06 Jun 2011)

Jeez!! Are you really that dumbfounded think the point Slammer is making is in defence of Samsung & this one article? Get out of your silly fanboy hole and learn a bit of objectivity. Let me try and help you; THE POINT SLAMMER IS MAKING ISN'T ABOUT SEALED AND REMOVABLE BATTERIES ALONE. IT'S ABOUT THE STAGNANTING INNOVATION OF BATTERY TECHNOLOGY.

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 23:51

49. ardent1 (Posts: 2000; Member since: 16 Apr 2011)

You are missing the point -- lithium-ion batteries are NOT a homogeneous product.

There's been a lot of innovation in the field of lithium-ion battery

posted on 17 Oct 2013, 00:02

50. ardent1 (Posts: 2000; Member since: 16 Apr 2011)

Then what is your view of supercapacitors?

posted on 17 Oct 2013, 01:20 1

51. darkskoliro (Posts: 1079; Member since: 07 May 2012)

Yes I agree with you that a phone can be much more easily repaired with a removable back. Many screen-flickering, rebooting and shutdowns in phones are caused by batteries that have worn out indeed, I myself had a phone that had this problem as it became older and older. Never for one second am I going to deny the versatility of a removable battery, because I do want one myself for long nights somewhere without a charger. But yeah, as you said before you recognised that quality control within the OEMs is a major issue in this department. But many OEMs do not face this issue of expanding batteries or dud batteries as such - of course not saying that there are none. I bet there are a few out there that do have problems due to variance and imperfect engineering. Although they use the same technology as the old days, the persistent problems aren't seen as much these days therefore making it more acceptable for the measures of sealing in a battery. But yes, a battery in the end will degrade, and by two years I will probably sell off my phone just because of its shortened battery life that can't be replaced. But in two years time, we will also have industry standards of great cameras, great SoCs, great screens, great build quality. So I'd be more than happy to buy a new phone again in that time..

posted on 03 Dec 2013, 04:35

61. s2law (Posts: 5; Member since: 21 Oct 2013)

30% John. This is a faulty batch from Samsung. Yes batteries will always be prone to failure, but these figures are entirely disproportionate to the failure rates seen by other manufacturers.

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 09:19

9. darkvadervip (Posts: 365; Member since: 08 Dec 2010)

Ok in that case I had the sg2 and went threw a tons of batteries. I'm i getting reimburse for something that goes on with all samsung phones.

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 09:31 1

12. Slammer (Posts: 1515; Member since: 03 Jun 2010)

The sensitivity is always heightened with new handsets. But, truth is, it is not isolated to just Samsung. Every electronic device that requires recharging, is eligible for failures of this kind. Hence why I try to use my experience for preaching to sites like this one and others to re-evaluate the importance of battery accessibilty for consumers.

John B.

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 10:29 1

21. paulyyd (Posts: 338; Member since: 08 Jan 2011)

glad to know you're John B. bro

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 11:07 1

24. Slammer (Posts: 1515; Member since: 03 Jun 2010)

Well, somebody has to remind me that I am John B.

John B.

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 09:37 2

13. kabukijoe (Posts: 102; Member since: 06 Mar 2010)

This is one of things that makes me not want to buy Samsung phones anymore, the GS2 on Sprint did the exact same thing after the ICS update, but it took them like 8 months to acknowledge it with that device. At least this time they're doing something about it early.

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 09:44 3

15. Slammer (Posts: 1515; Member since: 03 Jun 2010)

Evidently, you never owned an HTC device. I loved my HTC devices but they had many battery issues. This is the reason once they went to non-removable batteries, I switched to Samsung.

This is an all encompassing problem with ALL products that require re-chargable batteries; not just Samsung.

John B.

posted on 03 Dec 2013, 04:40

62. s2law (Posts: 5; Member since: 21 Oct 2013)

I've never had to replace a phones battery in 15 years, be it Motorola, Samsung, Nokia, Apple and LG (all with fixed batteries).

Yes all batteries get weaker over time, but not all batteries expand and fail within 6 months of being purchased. This is a fail on Samsung's part for fitting poor quality hardware in their devices. Maybe that's the real reason why they offer a removable battery, because they know that the quality of the equipment is sh1t.

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 10:10

17. orca99 (Posts: 87; Member since: 05 Oct 2013)

There are two mfg. for Samsung batteries. One is made with Samsung cells while the other is made by Hitachi cells. The one with Hitachi cells is the problematic battery (made by Elentec).

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 10:12

18. jan25 (Posts: 470; Member since: 26 Feb 2012)

while Samsung is dealing with the problem the right way (they should, else they will loosing lots of customers), one should acknowledge this as a serious quality issue.

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 10:18 1

20. Android4Ever (Posts: 86; Member since: 12 Aug 2013)

Thank god for removable batteries! Because eventually ALL batteries F up. I change the battery on my S4 at least once a day. This gives my batteries a longer life and keeps me not tied up like a dog on a leash..

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 10:44

23. orca99 (Posts: 87; Member since: 05 Oct 2013)

By the way, this problem is not only related to Galaxy S4 batteries. The problem relates to all batteries made by Elentec using Hitachi cells. In Korea, Samsung admitted the problem for Galaxy S3 as well.

posted on 03 Dec 2013, 04:42

63. s2law (Posts: 5; Member since: 21 Oct 2013)

I feel for you. My Nexus 5 just works.

posted on 16 Oct 2013, 21:10 1

46. mikeguy1981 (Posts: 88; Member since: 23 Jun 2012)

One thing I noticed samsung doing here in the USA is starting with the S4 they were shipping the phones with 2 amp hour chargers. A stock S4 battery is 2600mah or 2.6 amp hour. This combination can fully charge a dead battery in just over an hour and to me is a little too quick. I currently use a 7500mah battery on my S4 and the stock 2amp hr charger works great for that.

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