Flexible screen failed on several £1,800 tester devices in run-up to public release
The screen at the heart of Samsung’s new Galaxy Fold phone, which literally folds in half, has been failing in testers’ hands within days, prompting concerns about the durability of the £1,800 device, according to The Guardian.
The company distributed the device to publications across the US on Monday before its release to the public on 26 April. But within two days testers were reporting that the all-important central flexible screen started to break under normal use.
Unlike traditional smartphones, which have screens covered in rigid protective glass, the Galaxy Fold has a flexible plastic layer, which can be replaced by Samsung to repair a screen scratch without having to replace the whole display.
Some of the devices failed because journalists testing them peeled off that crucial top layer leaving sensitive components of the new multilayer screen exposed – but other devices appear to have failed through normal use.
CNBC’s Todd Haselton, who did not peel off the film, found half the Galaxy Fold’s screen failed.
The device used by the Verge’s Dieter Bohn failed after a lump formed between the display and the hinge behind it, which is designed to support the articulation of the two halves of the phone.
In a statement, Samsung said: “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.”
Samsung said the phone was durability tested to withstand being unfolded at least 200,000 times, or about 100 times a day for five years.
Other device testers have not reported the screens failing on their Galaxy Folds, but it is unclear how many of the phones have been distributed and therefore the failure rate of the devices.
The Galaxy Fold sold out of preorders in the US within days of going on sale, but will not ship or reach stores until 26 April. The phone, which will also come in a 5G variant, is planned to go on sale in the UK and other parts of Europe on 3 May, with preorders starting on 26 April.
Whether the devices shipped to customers will have the same issues as the preproduction versions given to testers remains to be seen. Samsung expects to produce 1m Galaxy Folds.
Sold as an ultra-premium device – $1,980 in the US, £1,800 in the UK and €2,000 in Europe – the Galaxy Fold comes with various accessories in the box, including a protective aramid case and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds truly wireless earphones. But it also comes with an insurance scheme called Samsung Care+, which covers repairs of the device for screen breakages or water damage. Unlike most other top-end smartphones, the Fold is not water-resistant.
Samsung’s last high-profile failure was the Galaxy Note 7, which had battery problems in 2016, causing the phone to explode and leading to two recalls and eventual shelving.
The South Korean multinational, which is the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer, will be anxious to avoid another extremely costly disaster.
Other companies, including China’s Huawei, are snapping at Samsung’s heels in pursuit of the new category of folding phones, with the Mate X expected to go on sale in the next 6 months.