The issue of the physical nature of smartphones has been front and center since the Galaxy Note 7 began catching fire and, eventually, forced a humiliating and costly recall by Samsung.
Last week, a very interesting report focusing on device failure was released by the Blancco Technology Group. Contrary to what most people almost certainly expect to be the likely conclusion, Blancco found that Android devices are more stable than iOS smartphones from Apple.
The story at BGR on the report makes it clear that “failure” is widely defined. It includes “apps crashing, connection difficulties and overheating.” The sense is that the blanket term is fluid and means everything from potentially dangerous situations to mere inconveniences.
Those wide parameters notwithstanding, Blancco found that 62 percent of iOS devices “failed” during the past three months, compared to 47 percent of Android devices. The devices experienced different problems. The report said that 17 percent of iOS devices overheated, 15 percent saw apps crash, and 11 percent experienced headphone headaches. In North America, app crashes accounted for 72 percent of device failures.
On the Android ledger, Samsung led with an 11 percent failure rate. It was followed by Xiaomi, which has a 4 percent failure rate, and Lenovo and Sony, at 3 percent each.
Samsung, of course, is the poster child for physical failures. Digital Trends illustrates what can happen to a company once it has an incident – termed a “debacle” in the story – that eviscerates trust. News reports say that the Galaxy S7 line also has flawed and dangerous batteries. It is worth asking if these reports are true and if they were primed by people’s knowledge of the Note 7 problem. They certainly are worth looking into:
One of the more recent incidents involved a Galaxy S7 bursting into flames while in its owner’s pocket. Due to the incident, the owner ended up with second- and third-degree burns, and says he plans to bring a lawsuit against Samsung. Going back a bit further, an anonymous tipster who claimed to be an employee of a large U.S. carrier alleged a customer arrived to the store and said his Galaxy S7 Edge caught fire.
In the bigger picture, Samsung has a lot on the line. Three key questions must be answered. It is important to note that two are technical and the third, which is the most important, is aimed at the marketing department: How flawed were the Note 7 batteries? If there was a problem, is it really affecting the rest of the company’s flagship line? What damage has been done to the company’s image and the perception consumers have of its trustworthiness, regardless of the answer to the first two questions?
Problems seem to crop up with some regularity. For instance, a flaw in the Nexus 6P that was highlighted in a YouTube video and described at Phone Arena concerns the phone randomly shutting down. The only way to get it powered up again is to plug in into the charger and wait for the battery icon to appear.
Today’s smartphones pack a mind-boggling amount of functionality into very small containers. All of that squeezing leads to a variety of problems. It’s understandable – but a factor that should be considered when researching a corporate purchase.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at [email protected] and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.