Report: Rush to Beat Apple Led to Note 7 Battery Woes

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Samsung has lots of experience making smartphones, so how could the Korean tech giant so royally screw up on the Galaxy Note 7 and accidentally release a handset that explodes? By rushing the development process, according to a new report.

Bloomberg, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, on Sunday reported that Samsung executives — including phone chief D.J. Koh — "decided to accelerate the launch of a new phone" after hearing that the next iPhone wouldn't have any major changes.

"They pushed suppliers to meet tighter deadlines, despite loads of new features," Bloomberg reports. But as the company has learned: more work in less time is a recipe for disaster.

Just two weeks after releasing the Note 7, Samsung was forced to recall the phone amid reports of exploding batteries.

A leadership gap likely didn't help the matter. As Bloomberg notes, Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-Hee has been absent since suffering a heart attack in 2014, but his son and apparent heir Jay Y. Lee "hasn't taken his father's title because Korean culture precludes such a move while the elder Lee is alive."

"With Chairman Lee in the hospital, the younger Lee and co-vice chairman G.S. Choi huddled with Koh and executives of other Samsung affiliates," Bloomberg reports. "They went ahead with a slew of new features that had been on the company's product road map, including an improved screen and stylus — and then approved a launch date 10 days earlier than last year."

A Samsung spokesperson did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment about the report. When contacted by Bloomberg, the company declined to confirm whether it moved up the Note 7 launch after hearing about the next iPhone.

"Timing of any new mobile product launch is determined by the Mobile business division based on the proper completion of the development process and the readiness of the product for the market," the company said in a statement to Bloomberg.

In years past, Samsung has released its newest Note phablets at the IFA trade show in Berlin, which typically takes place the first week in September. Last year, however, it moved up the launch of the Note 5 to early August, about a month before the iPhone 6s launch, and did the same thing this year.

Those who own a Note 7 should power them down immediately and seek a replacement. Customers have a few choices: exchange their current Note 7 for another Note 7 once it's available or exchange the Note 7 for the Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge; Samsung will give customers a $25 gift card to those who take advantage of either option. Major US carriers, meanwhile, are also giving Note 7 owners the option of swapping their Note 7 for a different smartphone entirely, Samsung or not. Those who are fed up entirely can also just get a full refund.

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