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Some Galaxy S20 Ultra owners say the camera glass breaks easily

Published Apr 30th, 2020 7:31AM EDT
Galaxy S20 Ultra
Image: Framesira/Shutterstock

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  • Some Galaxy S20 Ultra owners say the glass that protects the rear-facing camera module can break with ease.
  • Users claim their devices were protected by a case, and they haven’t dropped the phone.
  • Replacing the broken glass can cost between $100 and $400, depending on whether you have Samsung Premium Care or not.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

When Samsung launched the Galaxy S20 series, it shocked the world with its sky-high prices. The cheapest version costs $999 in the US before any discounts, which is $300 more expensive than the most affordable iPhone. The costliest version starts at $1,399, and that’s the Galaxy S20 Ultra that’s supposed to feature the best camera module Samsung made to date. But it turned out that the S20 didn’t become the sales success Samsung wanted it to be. The novel coronavirus pandemic certainly didn’t help, but it’s not like the Galaxy S20 line would have sold a record number of units in the pre-COVID-19 days. The best proof of that is that Samsung has started discounting the S20 phones a few weeks ago, providing buyers more incentives to buy one of the three new handsets, including a promotion that might make the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s price more bearable. It was a 50% price buyback guarantee, that practically lets you lease the phone for up to two years and then return it for something better. Crucially, the handset has to be in good condition for the promo to work. And it turns out the Galaxy S20 Ultra might have a serious camera problem, one that can’t be corrected with software. Apparently, some S20 Ultra discovered that the camera module lens is prone to cracking.

Several reports emerged this week detailing the problem, as Galaxy S20 Ultra took to Samsung’s own forums to report on their experiences. A thread called Broken rear camera glass s20 ultra was started in mid-March and got more than 12,000 views and 100 replies since.

“While in my pocket, the glass of the camera broke. Like a hairline that goes from one side to another, someone else have the same problem? And what can I do now? There is any warranty that covers that?” user Odannyd asked, starting the thread. The first response came quickly from a different person who said they experienced the same problem. “I contacted Samsung, and they said it’s not their fault. The camera is so fragile that it will break without dropping it. I’m going to get it fixed then return this garbage phone,” the person said.

Image source: SamMobile

A different user said that Samsung Care Authorized Repair Centers, including UBREAKIFIX and Samsung Experience Stores, can deal with the matter. Coronavirus lockdowns, however, might delay repairs. Per SamMobile, Samsung Premium Care holders would have to pay $100 for the repair, while everyone else would have to pay $400. $400 is what you’d also pay for the iPhone SE or the upcoming Pixel 4a, by the way.

“So I got my s20 ultra a few days ago, heard a lot of fuss about the camera glass cracking easily, checked my own phone for fun and mine has a large crack going all the way over the glass…. returning this phone tomorrow,” a user said on a different thread on Samsung’s forums.

The blog notes that most users who experienced these cracks claim they used good quality cases with their phones, and have not dropped the devices. We’ll remind you that the Galaxy S20 phones don’t do so well during drops, so cases are mandatory to protect the front and back glass.

Image source: SamMobile

It’s unclear what causes the problem and whether it’s a design flaw or just a coincidence. However, it appears that some users experienced hairline cracks across the glass, which continue to expand and affect the performance of the camera, including its zoom capabilities. The images featured above show more extreme cracks.

The problem doesn’t seem to be widespread for the time being, but it’s a problem nonetheless, one that Samsung hasn’t yet acknowledged.

Samsung had to fix other camera-related issues with its Galaxy S20 cameras, releasing software updates for the reported problems. The Galaxy S20 Ultra might suffer from a different autofocus issue caused by the way the camera system is built, one that might not be fixed via software.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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