Remember a little over 7 months ago when I told you that you shouldn’t get excited about Samsung’s first foldable phone? Well, here we are.
Samsung has plenty of strong suits. It is the top-selling smartphone vendor in the world, after all. It makes gorgeous AMOLED screens for mobile devices. The company also makes some of the best components in the world and has a booming chip business. One thing Samsung is not good at, however, is first-generation products. In fact, “not good” is far too kind… Samsung is awful at designing first-generation products.
We’ve seen it time and time again. Samsung’s strength is refinement, as evidenced by its Galaxy S and Galaxy Note smartphone lines. Early generations were terrible, plasticky iPhone copycats. Now Samsung’s current-generation flagship phones are market leaders in so many ways. The Galaxy S10+ might be the best all-around Android phone I’ve ever tested, and the Note 10 sounds like it will be even more impressive. But the Galaxy Fold is nothing short of an absolute disaster, just like I said it would be. In fact, the only way the Galaxy Fold launch could possibly be any worse is if batteries start exploding like they did back in 2016 when Samsung had to cancel production of its Galaxy Note 7 and recall every single phone it sold.
It’s official: the first widely available smartphone with a foldable display is a piece of junk. Feel free to check it out when it hits store shelves next Friday. But for the love of whatever or whomever you pray to, don’t buy one.
Yesterday I briefly touched on the huge new issues facing Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. The company gave out phones to bloggers for review, and a shockingly high percentage of those phones are breaking. Anything above a 0% failure rate would be shocking for review units of a new smartphone, to be frank, and a quick search yielded more bloggers complaining of broken phones than bloggers who said their Fold units were working fine. That’s insane.
Many of the issues we’ve been hearing about stem from the fact that the Galaxy Fold appears to have a screen protector pre-applied on the display. As with all Android phones that ship with cheap plasticky screen protectors, the first thing reviewers did when they got the phones was peel it off. The problem, as we now know, is that Samsung failed to tell most of them that the plastic layer in question is actually an integral part of the display. Long story short, peeling it off breaks the phone.
PSA: There's a layer that appears to be a screen protector on the Galaxy Fold's display. It's NOT a screen protector. Do NOT remove it.
I got this far peeling it off before the display spazzed and blacked out. Started over with a replacement. pic.twitter.com/ZhEG2Bqulr
— Marques Brownlee (@MKBHD) April 17, 2019
Now, there are a few glaring issues here. First, can you imagine a company being so horrible at design that it’s going to sell a $2,000 smartphone with an integral plastic film on the screen that can easily be peeled off? Can you imagine a company being so naive as to think that some customers won’t end up peeling it off even with better messaging? And what happens when the phone has been used for a while and the adhesive at the edges of that film inevitably begins to peel on its own?
This is one of the worst smartphone design decisions I have ever seen. It’s absolutely unforgivable.
Then there were other bloggers who found that the screens on their Galaxy Fold review units were malfunctioning without having touched that stupid film at all. That’s right, the displays are spontaneously breaking on a new smartphone that has one major selling point: the display. The foldable OLED screen on the Galaxy Fold is literally the only thing about the phone that is exciting. And it’s breaking for no discernible reason.
Here’s the thing: the Galaxy Fold would be a horrible phone even if it didn’t have these issues. The design is terrible, with a giant notch bitten out of the top corner for the front-facing cameras. And I do mean GIANT, as you can see in the image above. On top of that, the crease at the center of the display is visible while you use the phone, it doesn’t fold all the way closed, it’s uncomfortably thick in your pocket, and the outer screen is ridiculously tiny with giant bezels above and blow it.
This phone is junk.
The idea of foldable smartphones is cool and exciting, but it absolutely is not ready for primetime right now. The Galaxy Fold never should have seen the light of day. Samsung rushed to be the first company with a widely available foldable smartphone, which is nothing new for Samsung. It often rushes to be first with a new type of product, and the results are garbage each and every time.
Maybe Huawei will have better luck in a couple of months when it releases the Mate X. It certainly sports a far better design than the Galaxy Fold, and the construction seemed vastly superior when we played with it briefly at MWC 2019. But we won’t know for certain until we get our hands on a review unit.
In the meantime, do yourself a favor and keep your wallet in your pocket when the Galaxy Fold is released next week.