Talk about high expectations and low performance. This is apparently the issue with the Samsung Galaxy Fold, a nearly $2,000 hybrid tablet-and-smartphone with pre-orders available on April 26, 2019 (Friday). The worldwide release is set on May 3, 2019.
What’s the specific issue with the hybrid device? According to many reviewers who were provided with test units, its screen actually folded! In some cases, the smartphone/tablet became useless because of design defects.
The foldable design allows its user to transform the Samsung Galaxy Fold from a 7.3-inch tablet into a 4.6-inch smartphone. But its foldability may also be the root of its issues including the screen breakage.
These early issues definitely aren’t doing the embattled electronics company any favors. Nearly three years before, Samsung dealt with the exploding batteries of the Galaxy Note 7, which was initially recalled three times before it was finally discontinued.
Reviewers from the likes of Bloomberg, CNBC and The Verge as well as YouTube star Marques Brownlee reported significant display issues soon after receiving their review units. According to The Verge review, its Fold developed “a bulge” that appears to be due to something between the hinge and screen.
The internal 7.3-inch display should bend without any sign of damage, if it’s working as well as expected. Samsung even explained in detail the flexible polymer display and dual-axis hinge mechanism that makes the flip design possible. But herein lies the rub – the primary problem lies in the main display.
Many reviewers also used words like “unusable”, “broken”, and “flickering” that caused an online frenzy, especially on social media sites like Reddit and Twitter. Many photos posted on these sites also show the extensive damage on the device, from bubbled device with half of the screen blacked out to completely blacked-out screen.
But it must also be noted that many of these issues were likely caused by the users’ failure to follow instructions. For example, the screen’s protective film shouldn’t be removed. But many of the testers didn’t know about it – Samsung didn’t apply too much effort in communicating it on the packaging – or couldn’t resist the temptation to peel it off.
In an official statement addressing the issue, Samsung said that the top protective layer is “part of the display structure” intended as protection against scratches. The removal of said layer or the use of adhesives on the “main display may cause damage.” The company then goes on to say that it will ensure the information will be “clearly delivered” to its customers.
As proof that it pays to read the instructions manual, CNET’s Galaxy Fold review unit functioned well because the testers didn’t peel off the protective covering.
There’s also the divider line visible on the display when viewing the internal display at a certain angle. But for people used to it on the iPhone, it isn’t such a big deal.
Yet another issue of concern is the fragility of foldable phones with the current technology. The idea itself is noble but the execution often leaves much to be desired, and the Galaxy Fold seems to be the poster child.
In theory, foldable phones are designed to maximize screen size but keep their overall size within certain limits. Think of the Galaxy Fold as similar in design to an old-fashioned flip phone and you get the idea.
In its fully-opened tablet mode, it can be used as a handset. Afterwards, it can be snapped closed for easier carrying around and for faster performance of minor tasks, such as answering calls, tracking messages, and using navigation features. The two-in-one functionality is also part of its appeal.
The Fold has a horizontal clamshell design that, again, resembles a flip phone but with the fold lengthwise instead of crosswise. It then opens and closes in a sideways manner instead of in an up-and-down manner.
The two hard glass halves provide protection for the more fragile plastic display inside while a case adds protection to the glass exterior. The case is in the box and it can be installed as an option.
Beyond these display issues, the Galaxy Fold has several promising features that tech-savvy users will likely appreciate. The hybrid device has two displays – the inner 7.3-inch QXGA+ Dyanic AMOLED display and the 4.6-inch HD+Super AMOLED panel. The outer display can be used for regular phone functions from surfing the Net to calling and texting.
On the inside, the Fold has a 7nm processor, 512GB of base storage, and 12GB of RAM. There are six cameras – three rear cameras, two front cameras, and a cover cameras – so every photo opportunity won’t slip through the shutter bug and the selfie fan.
But with the reported breakage, Samsung has postponed the press events in China particularly in Hong Kong and Shanghai until further notice. The press events were originally scheduled for April 23 in Hong Kong and April 24 in Shanghai.
But the April 26 launch in the United States will proceed as scheduled.