Samsung has officially revealed faulty batteries caused its flagship Galaxy Note 7 phones to catch fire and has announced steps to avoid repeat incidents in the future.

The announcement came more than three months after Samsung scrapped the short-lived competitor of Apple's iPhones, wiping $US5.3 billion (NZ$7.4b) off its operating profit in one of the biggest tech failures in history.

Investigations by the company and independent organisations found the batteries were the sole cause of the Note 7 fires, Samsung mobile chief Koh Dong-jin told reporters during a briefing in Seoul on Monday.

The major headache for Samsung provided a big opportunity for its competitors to gain an edge in the increasingly competitive smartphone wars.


Consumer confidence was always going to be rattled by Samsung's exploding phones debacle, so which companies actually gained from Samsung's loss?

Surprisingly Samsung's biggest rival, Apple, did not benefit from the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco in Australia as Aussie consumers sought other Android smartphone brands in the wake of the global recall.

That's according to figures released by consumer website which measured "brand intent" among Aussie consumers comparing smartphones and mobile plans on the market.

"We measured brand intent via our mobile phone plan engine, which is a page consumers visit to either switch phones and/or plans,"'s technology commentator Angus Kidman told "Our data shows Aussies' first handset preference, reflecting brand intent. This data does not indicate purchases or sign-ups."

This photo taken on September 13, 2016 shows a blown-up Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone in Gwangju, 270km south of Seoul.
This photo taken on September 13, 2016 shows a blown-up Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone in Gwangju, 270km south of Seoul.

From August to September (when the first incidents of the Note 7 catching fire occurred), brand intent for Samsung dropped by almost a third. It moved from 32 per cent of mobile comparisons involving Samsung devices to 23 per cent. It steadily decreased over the rest of the year, finishing at a low of 19 per cent brand intent in the month of December, the company said.

That interest shifted from Samsung phones to other Android devices with Google being one of the big winners with the release of its first smartphone.

Google brand intent almost doubled among Australian consumers, growing by 86 per cent, according to the analysis.

Interest in Huawei doubled, increasing by 101 per cent while Oppo saw an increase in searches by 53 per cent.

Apple remained the first smartphone preference for Australians with brand intent sitting at an average of 62 per cent, followed by Samsung at a 25 per cent average in 2016 and all other manufacturers at 13 per cent.

However Apple brand intent among Australians remained relatively steady over the year.

Most Android phones are cheaper than Apple's iPhone, which is probably why Apple failed to gain a major boost from the Samsung fallout.

Mr Kidman also believes Australian consumers are creatures of habit, preferring to stick with a familiar operating system.

"For many, choosing a new phone is swayed by the operating system. We're creatures of habit and like the comfort of knowing our way around our phones. A new OS means figuring out how to do the simplest of tasks like changing your ringtone," he said.

There was also many consumers who reported being underwhelmed by the latest Apple iPhone.

"There weren't many major design changes in the iPhone 7 compared to previous generations, and one of the most notable was also highly controversial: eliminating the headphone socket," Mr Kidman said. "For someone switching from Android, that could feel like a deal-breaker, especially when there is such a wide range of Android devices to choose from."

- With AAP