The Galaxy Note 7 is still haunting Samsung and they really need to get over it

A Samsung Galaxy Note 7 emanating from a ghost
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central / Adobe Stock)

Every year, it seems like smartphone charging speeds get faster and faster. As battery sizes ramped up from 1,000mAh — which was very common 10 years ago — to a norm of 5,000mAh for phones like the Galaxy S23 Ultra, it made sense that charging speed would need to increase so it didn't take half a day to charge your phone.

So why is Samsung still so far behind the pack when it seems to lead in so many other areas? Even the best USB-C chargers will still take over an hour and a half to charge your Galaxy S23 Ultra battery from empty to full, while most Chinese phone brands advertise a maximum of 20 minutes for a full charge.

Last year, my colleague Harish wrote about this very topic, essentially saying it's OK because Samsung's batteries last longer than the competition. But the evidence here isn't conclusive and even the American Bar Association — yes, the same group that certifies lawyers that could sue a big phone manufacturer for selling faulty products or lying in marketing claims — says that fast charging is only a big deal if it generates a lot of heat.

Even Motorola is using over 100W charging these days while Samsung users are still stuck at a real max of 25W. Yes, some Samsung phones offer 45W charging but real-world performance isn't actually any better than 25W charging on the same phone. So what's the deal?

Samsung went into its shell in regard to battery tech after the Note 7. Problem is that they forgot to come out again when all was safe.

A recent report from Phone Arena (now unpublished) showed that Samsung's wireless charging speed has gotten slower over the past year instead of faster. Wireless charging is known for getting phones hot when the wattage is too high, so it makes sense for Samsung to be shy about ramping up wireless charging wattage too much.

This wouldn't be such an issue for users if wired charging improved but, alas, wired charging on Samsung phones is still relatively slow.

What's particularly odd about this little glitch in The Matrix is that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset that powers the Galaxy S23 series runs a lot cooler than the processors that power the S22 series, so why would this be the time that Samsung goes backward?

Unfortunately, I don't have an answer for that and it's not likely that Samsung will be particularly forthcoming with that sort of information, either.

Ghosts of the past

A Samsung Galaxy Note 7 lying on a wood table

(Image credit: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

Without Samsung directly admitting it, I think the real reason we don't have faster charging on Samsung phones goes right back to a major incident that happened seven years ago. When the Galaxy Note 7 got recalled over design flaws that caused the battery to swell and potentially catch fire, Samsung (understandably) went back into its proverbial shell for battery tech.

The problem, of course, is that it forgot to come back out when things became safe again.

Heck, Samsung completely killed off the Galaxy Note name because of all this and replaced it with the Galaxy S Ultra series. Even the tablets don't have the name Note in them anymore.

Wireless charging can make a phone hot, but the S23's processor runs a lot cooler than the S22's processor, so why is charging slower on the newer model?

But I do know one thing for sure. If Samsung wants to keep up with the Joneses and continue to claim that its phones are the best, it needs to seriously consider how slow charging speeds are making the company look. Taking two and a half hours to wirelessly charge is hilariously bad, especially in 2023.

The Galaxy Note 7 incident was terrible and no one wants to relive those days — especially not Samsung — but those lessons have been learned countless other companies have proven that ultra-fast charging is safe, effective, and just plain awesome.

Samsung, let the ghosts of the past die. It's time to move on.

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Nicholas Sutrich
Senior Content Producer — Smartphones & VR
Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu