The Galaxy Fold was supposed to be a celebration of Samsung ingenuity when it comes to mobile innovation. But the phone was dead on arrival the minute Samsung launched. In just a matter of days, we were shown foldable phones that looked a lot better than the Galaxy Fold, including its most important rival, the Huawei Mate X, which has a gorgeous design by comparison. Samsung worked on the Fold for years, and it already faced terrific competition out of the gate. And that’s before people got their hands on either device. That’s when disaster truly hit. Samsung’s Fold turned out to feature a few unexpected design choices that lead to almost immediate screen destruction. And screen integrity was our biggest worry for foldable phones, no matter who made them. The phone, supposed to launch on April 26th, was sent back for repairs, with Samsung failing to announce a new launch date — or what it did to fix the problems. But it looks like that may change soon.
At least two distinct manufacturing issues lead to screen issues, early reviewers proved. The first one seems to be a glaring design oversight from Samsung. Particles of dust would find their way into the phone via gabs flanking the hinge, and that’s apparently enough to damage the screen — and what happens if water gets inside the phone?
The other problem concerns the screen film placed atop of the screen, which resembled one of those screen protectors that you can remove and replace. It’s also a design flaw, but at least Samsung put warnings against the removal of said film layer. People being people ignored the warning, even early reviewers who should know better than to pull at the film. And the display went dark forever.
These problems can’t be easily fixed. Samsung spent years perfecting the Fold’s design, and manufacturers made parts and assembled them according to Samsung’s specifications. Repairing the phones, and ensuring the screen will survive these incidents, can’t happen overnight. Not to mention that Samsung has to retest the phones before being able to sell them in stores.
That’s probably why we still don’t have a new launch date for the phone. Samsung still wants to sell it this year. Failure to ship the Fold this year would be a massive blow for Samsung, maybe as big as the Galaxy Note 7 disaster from a few years ago. According to a Samsung exec, the Fold launch is imminent.
“Foldable phones are ready for volume production, and we are also on standby,” Samsung Display vice president Kim Sung-chul said at an event in Korea, Business Korea reports. But the exec didn’t provide an actual launch date, not that he should be in a position to do so.
Meanwhile, Samsung, Best Buy, and AT&T have all canceled Galaxy Fold preorders in the US, with the carrier awarding customers who preordered the handset $100 for their patience.
Samsung will unveil the Galaxy Note 10 in early August, so it’ll be interesting to see whether the Fold launches until then, or whether Samsung will use the upcoming Unpacked event to relaunch the foldable phone. After all, Samsung will have to convince people the Fold is safe to buy and use, that it’s worth spending $2,000 on it.