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Some early Pixel Fold buyers report broken screens and other display issues

Published Jun 29th, 2023 6:50AM EDT
Google Pixel Fold smartphone unfolded.
Image: Jonathan S. Geller, BGR

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The Google Pixel Fold has started shipping to early buyers, and, just as I had suspected, the first reports of real-life screen incidents have appeared. During the review period, we saw an instance where the Pixel Fold’s foldable display broke. A tiny piece of debris got trapped in the gutter between the plastic film covering the ultra thin glass and the bezel. When the phone was folded, the bezels applied pressure to that piece of debris, and it punctured the glass, damaging the OLED screen under it.

That sort of accident was a red flag for me, making me lose interest in the Pixel Fold, at least temporarily. I was never going to buy the handset as soon as it came out, but I was interested in it. After hearing the screen can break so easily, I had an even better reason to wait it out than looking for a hot deal. I wanted to see how the Pixel Fold would fare in real-world testing. And it sure looks like the first buyers have encountered display issues already.

Nobody should be surprised to hear that foldable displays can break or malfunction. It’s the risk you take when buying one of these things. But we’re not in the early days of foldable phones. It’s all thanks to Samsung’s mishaps with the original Galaxy Fold.

Samsung’s embarrassing experience forced it to invest more in durability and testing. The Fold models that followed were still more delicate than a traditional handset. But they were a lot more durable.

That’s the kind of design experience that should benefit the entire industry. But it looks like the Pixel Fold might have durability issues. After Ars Technica’s broken Pixel Fold screen experience, I can’t say that I’m surprised to see Redditors detail their display issues on the first day of use.

User cptultor noticed dents and surface imperfections between the bezel and the screen protector. That’s the same gutter area that collected debris at Ars. But this screen didn’t break.

Pixel Fold dents in the display gutter.
Pixel Fold dents in the display gutter. Image source: Reddit

However, a different Pixel Fold user wasn’t so lucky. Redditor crazymojo83 posted images showing the screen protector peeling after five hours of use. That’s one type of broken screen experience with foldable phones. It can lead to damage to the ultra thin glass and the OLED layers. Here’s what the user said about their Pixel Fold breaking:

Just got my Pixel filled today. Did the setup? Everything looked great. 5 hours later my screen protector is peeling and there’s large what looks to be like scratches on the inside. Haven’t even had it long enough to watch a video. Open it a total of three times. If it’s just the screen protector, not a big deal. But those lines scare me. Open the case with Google today. They said it’s going to take 24 to 48 hours to get back to me. I sent them the photos I posted here.

Broken Pixel Fold display: Screen film is peeling.
Broken Pixel Fold display: Screen film is peeling. Image source: Reddit

Finally, Redditor marcusr_uk experienced issues with the OLED panel itself. It’s unclear whether the problem is tied to the gutter accident I mentioned before. But this Pixel Fold got an orizontal pink line that doesn’t disappear.

The user said they plan to return the handset for a refund.

Pixel Fold showing a line of dead pixels.
Pixel Fold showing a line of dead pixels. Image source: Reddit

“We recommend anyone having an issue reach out to support to investigate,” Google spokesperson Alex Moriconi told The Verge.

You could also try to repair the Pixel Fold yourself using genuine parts via iFixit. But I already told you I think that’s a bad idea. And even if you do repair it yourself or via Google there’s no guarantee the screen won’t break again.

That said, it’s unclear how widespread the Pixel Fold screen issues are. We’re just starting to see the first negative reports. And they’re not that many.

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.