SEJONG, Feb. 6 (Korea Bizwire) – Announcing the results of an investigation into the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco Monday – which backed Samsung’s ruling that the problem phones had faulty batteries – the government also introduced plans to improve safety measures to prevent similar catastrophes from recurring.
To begin with, lithium-ion batteries will be subject to inspection by the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards every two years, temporarily, for the next five years.
This new measure surpasses current regulations that only mandate safety inspections of new batteries before mass production begins. After passing the initial inspection, batteries were deemed ‘safety confirmed’ and were no longer subject to government checks.
The KATS will be revising the Electrical Appliances Safety Control Act by October so that battery products are also included for periodic inspection, officials said, adding that which smartphone batteries in distribution will be subject to the guidelines will be determined after considering various factors, such as battery density.
Furthermore, the safety standards for smartphone batteries will be strengthened, with the government planning to introduce new inspection categories (i.e. overcharging, mechanical shock, vibration) by April, in addition to including official safety guidelines specific to controlling the temperature of smartphone batteries, which is currently not evaluated by the KATS.
“The first of the li-ion batteries that will be subject to the new safety measures will be from mobile phones, laptops, and tablet computers with high energy density, and with most concern for potentially harming consumers,” a KATS official said.
The government is also looking to revise the Product Safety Act related to smartphones, which affects the recall process, so that it can more swiftly intervene and advise consumers to stop using a product suspected of malfunctions resulting in physical injuries.
On Monday, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced the KATS investigation results into the faulty Galaxy Note 7s, concluding that the overheating, and the subsequent explosions of the batteries were caused mainly by a defective internal structure (for Samsung SDI batteries) and a lack of insulation tape (for batteries manufactured by ATL).
The ministry added, however, that no hardware or software defects were found in the smartphone itself – the same verdict presented by Samsung Electronics in January.
Meanwhile, officials said that the domestic return rate for Galaxy Note 7s stands at 97 percent, with some 30,000 phablets yet to be recovered, and once again advised owners to hand in the devices for their own safety.
By Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)