Overview

Over the past few years, Samsung has been struggling with Samsung Galaxy S series phone malfunctions. The malfunctions are due to an array of issues from faulty batteries that cause fire hazards, over sensitive touchscreens that affect the phone’s interface, security issues and other glitches. The issue with Samsung and its Galaxy S series phones are that the company shows a lack of urgency to fix the problems while continuing to make new generations of the phones at a quick pace without fixing previous issues. When the faulty battery problem first occurred in August 2016, users of the Galaxy S series phones began to contact Samsung about the problem. A month and a half later, Samsung officially issued a statement that they had switched suppliers of lithium ion batteries, and began to recall Galaxy S series. To date, Samsung has not officially released why the problem has occurred (Selyukh and Hu). Although the Samsung Galaxy S series phones are popular within the smartphone market, users of these phones are becoming disappointed and are switching to different brands.

Context

Recently, the news and media have been covering stories about Samsung’s faulty lithium ion battery. The issue with the lithium battery is that “lithium-ion particles can move easily between electrodes, volatile and flammable chemical compounds are pressurized inside battery cells. The problem is that when a battery is charged and recharged, it generates heat. If that heat is not controlled properly, it can cause the compounds inside the battery to burst into flames or even explode. Those compounds can become similarly unstable if something punctures the battery cell” (Folwer and Mozer).This is a major concern because the lithium battery powers the interface and if this malfunction happens, it shuts down the phone’s interface and potentially causes harm to the owner of the phone and others around the area of the hazardous phone. Although Samsung has recalled the lithium ion battery, over 2.5 million Galaxy S series phones, they and other companies still use the batteries in other developed devices.

Another issue that the Samsung Galaxy S phone series are having are over sensitive touchscreens. “The screen is just too sensitive, causing users to accidentally open an app or select other elements of the interface” (Lanaria). The over sensitive touchscreen issue causes the phone to open the interface without permission of the user, like a “ghost”. There are a few fixes to this problem online, although none of the suggested fixes are from Samsung. “Until Samsung tones this down a bit, the only [Samsung] solution right now is to get a case that can provide a better grip on the handset” (Lanaria). Not only does this over- sensitive touch screen cause a problem with the phone’s interface due to changing access, it also causes a hindrance to the phone’s owner because they have to purchase special equipment (i.e. protective phone cases, screen protectors, etc.) to resolve this issue.

Yet another issue with the Samsung Galaxy S series phones are security problems. “According to University of Michigan, technological researchers have discovered that multiple design flaws in Samsung’s SmartThings platform that could allow a malicious app to unlock doors, set home access codes, falsely set off smoke alarms, or put devices on vacation mode, among other attacks” (Carman).  Samsung claims that the security problems of the phone are caused by “primarily dependent on two scenarios – the installation of a malicious SmartApp or the failure of third party developers to follow SmartThings guidelines on how to keep their code secure” (Carman). The SmartApp and SmartThings are interrelated technological applications for the Samsung Galaxy S series phone, they both protect the user’s’ private information that is on their phone and their home (i.e. remotely locking and unlocking doors, turning lights on/off, opening and closing the garage door, etc). “The owner of the phone who uses the SmartThings platform can receive important notifications about what’s happening at home, control your smart devices with a simple tap, and automate your home to react to your unique preferences” (smartthings.com). Samsung claims that they oversee the SmartThings platform to have satisfactory security to users.

There are other issues and malfunctions that the Samsung Galaxy S series phones continue to deal with that the company is trying to fix. However, in some instances, the company is skipping this step altogether to increase sales in newer phones and create a higher profit for themselves.

Theory Inflected Analysis

Samsung continues to crank out smartphones without fixing the previous problems, which could lead to additional problems with the product once it is in the hands of the users. Sensitivity touch issues, security breaches, and a battery that unexpectedly combust and sets the phone a blaze are all negative complications that would deter any consumer. The physical problems the Samsung smartphone line has are a chain reaction that causes poor interface design. Having too many complex interfaces could actually be the Achilles heel to all our current technology. The purpose of these device are to keep us connected at all times and if we take away these “interfaces”, we are left with a plastic brick to stare at. The functionality of a phone is what sets competitors apart — who has the better, faster, and more user-friendly operating system.

In the book The Humane Interface, author Joe Raskin defines an interface as the way you accomplish tasks with a product, what you do and how it responds (1993). Samsung has come up short on the functionality of the phone, either with the fire hazard or touch screen sensitivity issues, that would lead the consumer unable to accomplish any task, which leads us to believe that Samsung’s interface has failed to do its job. Raskin also states that the first and most important step to any advancement in technology would be that the interface must work hand in hand with the entire system yet this step somehow always is omitted from the process. For example, layout of an interface is decided on after the functions of the interface and that leads to an unfriendly user experience because in order for the interface to do what the engineer envisioned, there are multiple steps or awkward design. Interface and software design should to be done concurrently where both teams are consulting each other to make sure these designs function together. The interface should be looked at more closely and given more respect in the development process. A good interface is when the user understands how to use it by the design (Norman, 2013). In The Design of Everyday Things, Donald Norman also states that discoverability and understanding are two important factors to a good design. Discoverability is figuring out what actions are possible and where and how to perform them. The relevant components must be visible and they must communicate the right message. The Samsung phone must have clear and easy interface instructions for the user to have a positive experience, not hinder his or her interaction with the phone.

Student Analysis

Samsung and the Galaxy Series phone has been flooded by negative media coverage and has even been banned from all airlines. Through the media coverage, consumers have learned how the lack of organization and design has turned an innovative company into a hazardous company. Samsung is trying to keep up with the Apple empire and turned out new devices that were simply not ready to be released to the market. Having multiple design flaws has left many consumers with a sour taste in their mouth. These flaws exist because the interface process was rushed or not cared about  enough to where they spent any time or budget on it. Samsung believed releasing something is better than not releasing anything and the hastiness shows with their line of Galaxy phones. When getting a phone, tool, or anything for that matter, consumers want it to work out of the box. This could be a valuable learning curve for the company to make sure that all areas of making a product go through the correct process to ensure usability.

Interfaces need to be simple and user friendly. A consumer shouldn’t have to worry about their phone exploding due to the lithium battery, having glitches where there is no “official” remedy and an unfriendly interface. Less can actually be more when it comes to smartphones, where the user is less confused and overwhelmed by not knowing how the product is supposed to be used, what do all the controls, buttons, and settings mean. The easier it is for someone to learn how their phone works, the more likely to not only keep using it but also find more uses for the phone and stay loyal to the brand, which results in long-term profits and customer retention for the company.

Works Cited

Carman, Ashley. “Researchers Say There Are Serious Security Problems in Samsung’s

SmartThings.” The Verge. The Verge, 02 May 2016. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <http://www.theverge.com/2016/5/2/11540246/samsung-smart-things-security-study-critical-flaw-apps>.

“How It Works.” SmartThings. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.

<https://www.smartthings.com/how-it-works>.

Fowler, Susanne, and Paul Mozur. “Samsung’s Recall: The Problem With Lithium-Ion

Batteries.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 03 Sept. 2016. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/03/technology/samsungs-recall-the-problem-with-lithium-ion-batteries.html?_r=0>.

Lanaria, Vincent. “Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge Problems: Oversensitive Touch

Screen, Bluetooth Stays On, Overheating, Slow Wi-Fi And More.” Tech Times. Tech Times, 19 Mar. 2016. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <http://www.techtimes.com/articles/142340/20160319/samsung-galaxy-s7-s7-edge-problems-oversensitive-touch-screen-bluetooth-stays-on-overheating-slow-wi-fi-and-more.htm>.

Norman, Donald A., and Inc Books24x7. The Design of Everyday Things, Basic Books,

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Raskin, Jef. The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems,

Addison Wesley Professional, Boston, 2000.

Selyukh, Alina, and Elise Hu. “In Samsung’s Messy Phone Recall, Lack Of

Transparency Takes Center Stage.” NPR. NPR, 18 Oct. 2016. Web. 01 Dec. 2016. <http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/10/18/497949435/in-samsung-s-messy-phone-recall-lack-of-transparency-takes-center-stage>.

Spence, Ewan. “Samsung’s Definition Of Insanity: Its Disastrous Smartphone Strategy.”

Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 6 June 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2015/06/06/samsung-failing-smartphone-strategy-galaxy-s6-edge/#5b4b3f153ada>.