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Conflict of Interest? Samsung Tested Note 7 Batteries In House

Samsung still hasn't gotten to the bottom of why its Galaxy Note 7 exploded or caught on fire, which led to the recall of more than 2.5 million devices worldwide and 1.9 million in the U.S.

But there are new questions about how the company tests its phones before bringing them to market.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Samsung self-tests its batteries at facilities it owns, which makes it unique among smartphone makers.

MORE: 21 Most Hilarious Galaxy Note 7 Memes

Apple told the publication that it uses third-party labs certified by the CTIA (the U.S. wireless industry's trade group) to test its batteries. Motorola tests batteries at its own labs but uses third-party labs for CTIA certification.

When asked why a company might use its own labs instead of a third party, the chair of the IEEE's working group that wrote the battery certification standard, Jason Howard, said that it can help get products out to market faster.

But that's exactly what some analysts have speculated: that Samsung rushed the Note 7 to market in order to beat the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus to the punch.

However, Lynetta Luna, a principal analyst at Current Analysis, doesn't see internal testing as an issue. "As long as it followed testing standards, I don’t see that as being a conflict of interest," Luna told Tom's Guide. "It’s only been brought to light now because of exploding batteries."

To be clear, the labs that Samsung have been using are CTIA certified, and the company has been using them since 2009. But that doesn't mean the company won't be looking at relying on third parties to ensure that its products are safe going forward. For now, the company isn't commenting on whether it will do just that.

Should Samsung change course going forward? That would probably be wise, even if the company didn't do anything wrong by self-testing in the past.

"I can see Samsung changing course primarily because of public perception, said Luna. "It has to articulate new and additional quality controls to gain consumer trust."

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for nearly 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.