Samsung’s first foldable smartphone, the expensive Galaxy Fold, was supposed to go on sale later this week, but its much-expected debut has been delayed now because reviewers encountered numerous problems with its foldable OLED screen and hinge design.
The Fold was originally due to ship on April 26.
From Bloomberg’s write-up:
Samsung Electronics on Tuesday scrapped what was to have been a crowning achievement, the launch of the world’s first mass-produced foldable smartphone. Instead of trumpeting its April 26 return to the forefront of global consumer electronics, the tech giant is now investigating how test versions of the $1,980 Galaxy Fold developed problems—including screen failures—after mere days of use.
A limited number of early Galaxy Fold samples were provided to media for review. We have received a few reports regarding the main display on the samples provided. We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter.
“The screen on my Galaxy Fold review unit is completely broken and unusable just two days in,” Bloomberg’s Gurman wrote. “Hard to know if this is widespread or not.”
Other people complain about the screen starting malfunctioning after just a few days of use while other people note that a crease in the middle becomes too visible, something we predicted might prove very problematic with the early wave of foldable smartphones.
“When I tap the screen as well with the top of my finger and the fingernail hits it (very common), it also leaves a seemingly permanent indent,” Gurman continued.
At any rate, such issues should not be expected from a $2,000 phone. The fact that the display is exhibiting a number of issues that Samsung somehow failed to spot tells me that quality control took a backseat to Samsung’s relentless desire to beat others to market.
Be sure to watch and read Joanna’s non-review of the Fold.
But it gets worse. The foldable device sports a protective film on the screen that’s so poorly applied that technology reviewers thought it was designed to be removed. Even those who didn’t remove that film during their review, like CNBC, ended up suffering from issues where the screen ended up flickering and turning off and on at a rapid pace.
The phone comes with this protective layer/film. Samsung says you are not supposed to remove it. I removed it, not knowing you’re not supposed to (consumers won’t know either). It appeared removable in the left corner, so I took it off. I believe this contributed to the problem.
According to Samsung:
Separately, a few reviewers reported having removed the top layer of the display causing damage to the screen. The main display on the Galaxy Fold features a top protective layer, which is part of the display structure designed to protect the screen from unintended scratches.
Removing the protective layer or adding adhesives to the main display may cause damage. We will ensure this information is clearly delivered to our customers.
A spokesperson for the Galaxy maker added that the Fold “needs further improvements” before the company releases the phone to consumers
From the Bloomberg article:
Initial prototypes would crack like a dried sheet of paper if folded about 10,000 times, people familiar with the matter said. Still, Samsung recognized its potential.
It started to recruit mechanical engineers who could devote themselves to building a hinge the size of a finger, after the company realized the key to preventing cracks was to evenly distribute pressure. Engineers were encouraged to file as many patents as possible to prevent competition from creeping into a market that didn’t exist at the tim.
The South Korean firm also postponed the China launch event, originally scheduled for April 24 in Shanghai, aside from delaying the release of the Fold globally until further notice.
But reviewers like Gurman have experienced other problems, too:
There is a very small tear at the top part of the hinge and after I poked at it, the screen got worse. I thought perhaps it was another removable layer. Tear may have been caused by removing it. But others are having similar issues without having removed the film.
We will take measures to strengthen the display protection. We will also enhance the guidance on care and use of the display including the protective layer so that our customers get the most out of their Galaxy Fold.
“It’s not like Apple, Samsung etc. actively put a warning not to light your phone on fire or throw it off a roof,” Gurman responded. “You know that will break the phone. Removing a film and a slight tear on the hinge shouldn’t be the difference between a $1980 phone working or not.”
Samsung plans to announce the release date in the coming weeks. It’s currently unclear for when the pre-launch event will be rescheduled or when the phone might be available in China. In addition, the Galaxy maker is now asking journalists to return their review samples.
An anonymous Samsung source told Reuters:
On the bright side, we have an opportunity to nail down this issue and fix it before selling the phones to a massive audience, so they won’t have same complaints.
What do you make of this?
Would you say that these issues serve to underscore that the foldable screen technology is not there yet or is this yet another case of Samsung rushing out a product?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the commenting section down below.