Design Con 2015

Samsung’s Galaxy S5 production issues

-April 02, 2014

Were you hoping to get your hands on a Samsung Galaxy S5, scheduled to launch on April 11th? Well, you might have to wait a little longer due to a major fire in March at the factory in Korea that manufactures the printed circuit boards (PCBs) for the new handset.

Samsung hasn’t officially delayed the release of the Galaxy S5, but they did announce that the fire might affect the overall volume of the handset. It is estimated that over $1 billion in equipment and components were destroyed in the fire. Thankfully, Samsung sources its PCBs for the Galaxy S5 from multiple locations, so the impact due to the fire should be marginal.

 


Figure 1  Factory fire at the PCB manufacturer for Samsung’s Galaxy S5

 

As if the factory fire wasn’t bad enough, there seems to be another production issue related to the coating process for the lens module of the S5’s 16 megapixel camera. They are not thin enough to fit into the handset’s case without damaging the lens.  With each new release of the Galaxy series of smartphones using thinner and thinner PCBs, connectors, and chips, it should come as no surprise that issues such as this would arise. Is it just me, or don’t you think Samsung should have found these issues long before now, with the worldwide release only a few weeks away?

On the upside, the Galaxy S5 also utilizes new chip-based antenna technology from Ethertronics. The EtherChip EC303 is a combined antenna switch and antenna tuner with embedded RAM in a single substrate.  Ethertronics has supplied antennae to Samsung for at least the last three Galaxy S generations, but the Galaxy S5 will be the first to use their new RF switch antenna tuning chip to provide improved antenna performance and reduced size.

With each new generation of smart phones expected to offer higher performance, better quality displays, higher resolution cameras, longer battery life, … all at a cost less than its predecessor, production issues seem to be inevitable. Well, the good news is that regardless of whether Samsung delays the release of the Galaxy S5, you don’t have to wait until April 11th to try out the smartphone’s new features.

Samsung has launched the Galaxy S5 Experience app that runs on Android 4.0 or higher devices. The app provides an interactive introduction to the Galaxy S5’s new features for wearable devices and is available to download from Google play.


Figure 2  Galaxy S5 Experience App


Will you be buying the new Galaxy S5? Myself, I am waiting for the iPhone 6 to come out. Rumor has it that it will have a five inch or larger screen similar to the 5.1” one of the Galaxy S5. Some are referring to it as a phablet, a cross between a phone and a tablet. That is exactly what I have been waiting for.


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