The Samsung Galaxy Fold may have a serious fragility problem. Reviewer Dieter Bohn noticed something on the underside of his Galaxy Fold, underneath the crease. In less than two days, whatever the bit of material was had broken the screen altogether. He writes: “a piece of debris distorting the screen on a $1,980 phone after one day of use feels like it’s on an entirely different level.”
This could, of course, be a nothing but a bad unit. This happens, particularly at the beginning of a product launch. Except it’s happening to more than one person. Here’s reviewer Steve Kovach:
— Steve Kovach (@stevekovach) April 17, 2019
Some reviewers apparently damaged the device by removing a polymer layer from the top of the phone that isn’t supposed to be removed. Kovach, it should be noted, does not have this problem — but some reviewers did and Samsung apparently didn’t communicate about the need to leave the layer alone.
The screen on my Galaxy Fold review unit is completely broken and unusable just two days in. Hard to know if this is widespread or not. pic.twitter.com/G0OHj3DQHw
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) April 17, 2019
More than one early adopter has made the mistake of removing the polymer layer, which seems to look like the same sort of screen protector that people are used to removing from their devices. Removing this layer from the phone apparently promptly causes problems. Don’t do it.
Four immediate failures is not a great look for what’s meant to be a flagship product launch, but it’s impossible to tell if we’re looking at the beginning of a major problem or just some early flaws sorting themselves out. Samsung does seem to have screwed up by not telling people more prominently about the protective film on the display, but the other two failures could be random chance. As with the original Note 7 battery fires, it’ll take a few more data points to know if we’re dealing with a serious problem or the magnifying effect of social media.
As The Verge notes, however, the fact that this problem essentially appeared at the back of their phone, without warning, is troubling:
Before I saw this bulge, my impression was that this phone was much more durable than I expected. The hinge always felt solid and well-built. That impression of (relative) durability is obviously as broken as the flexing screen now.
If I’m right and it’s debris, it means that not only do you need to treat your phone with care, but you also have to worry about stuff getting in underneath the screen. If I’m wrong and it’s some kind of defect in the hardware, well… then we’re in entirely different territory. Either way: yikes.
Samsung has already taken possession of the Verge’s phone for in-depth analysis of the problem. Hopefully, these issues are minor and temporary and don’t represent any kind of flaw that would sabotage the device’s launch.
We have reached out to Samsung for comment and will update this story if and when we hear back.
Update (4/18/2019): A Samsung spokesperson has contacted ExtremeTech to communicate the following:
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.
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.
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