Breaking, Literally: Samsung Has a Fold Problem

Posted on April 18, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile with 36 Comments

Credit: Mark Gurman

The folding displays of at least four Samsung Galaxy Fold handsets have failed just days after tech reviewers started evaluating them. Yep, Samsung may have another debacle on its hands.

Samsung made big news for itself when it announced the Galaxy Fold back in November and then officially unveiled the hybrid handset, with its folding internal display, in February. Costing an astonishing $2000, the Galaxy Fold isn’t for casual users, and while the first generation wasn’t expected to sell particularly well, this week’s reliability issues are sure to put a further damper on that.

The chief concern, of course, is that crazy folding display. But Samsung had previously tried to allay fears in the reliability of the Fold’s unique display by claiming that it will last for at least five years of normal use, or about 200,000 folds.

As it turns out, at least four early reviewers have experienced massive display failures of various kinds, in some cases within just 24 hours.

Among the victims is Bloomberg gadget report Mark Gurman, who documented the issues with his review unit throughout yesterday in a series of tweets that was almost as mesmerizing as the recent fire at Notre Dame.

“The screen on my Galaxy Fold review unit is completely broken and unusable just two days in,” he tweeted, posting photos of the damage. “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 later admitted he had removed a protective layer or skin that Samsung had placed over the display, assuming it was just a screen protector. But it was apparently added by Samsung to prevent what is now thought to be a common issue with the folding display.

But it’s not just the screen protector. Other have experienced problems unrelated to that weird added layer. The Verge’s Dieter Bohn, for example, experienced a weird bulge in the folding display that eventually pushed its way through the screen protector on its own.

Samsung says that it has no plans to cancel or delay the Fold’s April 26 release date. But this situation is fluid, and as we saw with the firm’s Note 7 catastrophe, things can change quickly.

“A limited number of early Galaxy Fold samples were provided to media for review,” a Samsung statement explains. “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. 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.”

While the display issues are troubling, Samsung isn’t alone in pushing forward to folding displays. Both Xiaomi and Huawei have announced similar—some have said “superior”—designs in the months since Samsung’s November reveal, and other smartphone makers are likely to jump into this nascent new market soon as well.

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