SAMSUNG’S DAMAGE CONTROL division is going to be fighting a lot of fires today. Thankfully not in the literal Note 7 sense this time, but its new baby – the Samsung Galaxy Fold – appears to be having some teething problems. The kind of teething problems where it breaks after just a couple of days of use.
Generously, that would give you a price of around $41.25 per hour of use, though that would assume you weren’t sleeping at all after parting with your $1,980.
To be clear, the Galaxy Fold isn’t actually out yet: the affected units – four confirmed by our count, plus an extra unconfirmed possible – are in the hands of reviewers and YouTubers.
We don’t know how many review units there are, so five could be anywhere between a massive share of the total units or just an alarming level. Even taking that ‘glass half full’ (albeit, in this case, of urine) attitude, it’s been two days since the device arrived with reviewers, so who knows how bad the problem will look in a week’s time?
The problem seems to come in two flavours, and one of these come under the category of ‘your own damned fault.’ Y’see, Galaxy Fold units come with something that looks like a screen protector on the main screen but that absolutely isn’t designed to be removed: a load-bearing plastic sheet if you will.
On retail units, it looks like it will have a big old warning telling you not to take it off, but apparently, this was missing on review models, leading to at least two failures.
Dear future #GalaxyFold owners, I know I always say “No one ever read the instructions”… PLEASE READ THIS ONE!!!
(This is the wrap over the screen of the Galaxy Fold) pic.twitter.com/LuQPRfDZIE
— Des (@askdes) April 17, 2019
The phone comes with this protective layer/film. Samsung says you are not supposed to remove it. I removed it, not knowing you’re not supposed to (consumers won’t know either). It appeared removable in the left corner, so I took it off. I believe this contributed to the problem. pic.twitter.com/fU646D2zpY
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) April 17, 2019
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
But that only seems to be the tip of the iceberg, and can’t be blamed in every case. The Verge‘s unit developed a bulge along the bottom of the screen, and eventually whatever was inside burst through the layer like the Alien in John Hurt’s chest causing the display to break. The plastic film was left intact.
Likewise, CNBC‘s Steve Kovach found his model started flickering uncontrollably. Again, this was with the plastic layer untouched.
After one day of use… pic.twitter.com/VjDlJI45C9
— Steve Kovach (@stevekovach) April 17, 2019
And an anonymous source told prolific leaker Evan Blass that they too were facing Folding pains:
“As usual can’t talk in public about it: my fold test unit shows a large white hollow on edges of the screen. This effect is actually growing every hour.”
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) April 17, 2019
This is far from ideal for a device that sold out its limited pre-order allocation within hours of going on sale.
Samsung has put out a statement addressing the issue, writing that: “A limited number of early Galaxy Fold samples were provided to media for review. We have received a few reports regarding the main display on the samples provided. We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter.”
“Separately, a few reviewers reported having removed the top layer of the display causing damage to the screen. The main display on the Galaxy Fold features a top protective layer, which is part of the display structure designed to protect the screen from unintended scratches. Removing the protective layer or adding adhesives to the main display may cause damage.
“We will ensure this information is clearly delivered to our customers.”
It may be a little early to be picking up possible lessons from this, but we’re going to have a stab at one anyway: maybe if your phone design is so fragile it requires a thin layer of unsightly removable plastic to keep working, it’s not ready to go on general sale?
That said, and to give credit where it’s due, most phones don’t even survive one fold. In that sense, this is an undeniable triumph. µ