Updated 21/10: This week at Qualcomm’s annual 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong the company quietly shelved the planned launch of the next generation of its fast charging technology, a move which suggests the fallout from Samsung’s debacle over the defective battery in its Galaxy Note 7 has been felt far beyond South Korea.
A Qualcomm representative said it was not disclosing any information on Quick Charge at this event, even though the topic was on the agenda with an embargo of 9:30am the next day.
Keith Kressin, Qualcomm’s SVP for product management, acknowledged that there is now more attention on battery management and companies need to be vigilant, but added that the industry already is very focused on safety.
The representative told Mobile World Live that in light of Samsung’s global recall of the Note 7 and subsequent halting of production, it has delayed the launch, which would likely push it to early November.
With the Note 7 banned from aircraft, and Samsung announcing it was setting up exchange booths at airports around the world, Qualcomm obviously wanted to wait until the images of burning smartphones faded before announcing its upgraded Quick Charge.
But the delay is more understandable after the Financial Times, citing a source familiar with the problem, said the battery overheating could be due to changes to the Note 7’s processor to speed up charging.
While one version of the Note 7 has an 820 Snapdragon chipset as well as other Qualcomm power management chips, the company said in a statement that it doesn’t provide any of the electronics that manage power to the battery of the Note 7 during charging, Fast Company reported. It added that the power management chips, which control things like power to the processor and GPS chip, are used by many other smartphone makers, which haven’t experienced any overheating issue.
Samsung said in early September it determined the defective batteries were manufactured by Samsung SDI, but that batteries made by its other supplier, Amperex Technology, did not face the same issues. A few weeks later Samsung issued a software update that limits Note 7 batteries from charging to more than 60 per cent.
Following the second batch of fires in early October involving replacement models (with a different battery), industry observers now reckon the problem isn’t limited to the battery alone. Samsung needs more time to investigate the root cause of the overheating, find a solution and quickly reassure its customers that the issue was a one-off with the Note 7.