The release date of Samsung’s new dual-screen Galaxy Fold mobile handset has been delayed after reviewers reported having removed the top layer of the display causing damage to the screen, problems with hinge areas, and debris getting trapped under the screen.
The Galaxy Fold
Announced as the Galaxy X last summer, the Galaxy Fold handset has two inside panels and one outside panel with the two inside panels folding out to form the 7.3-inch OLED screen, thereby giving the user a much larger screen area. The fact that the flexible screen folds in on itself when closed also adds protection for the touchscreen when the phone is not in use.
A number of reviewers, including many journalists, were given Galaxy Fold handsets for trial use. It appears that faults were discovered and were perhaps even caused by many of the reviewers who peeled off what they believed was just a protective layer (despite being warned against doing in the handset’s documentation) that was, apparently, an important part of the screen display’s protection.
Several faults were identified by reviewers and confirmed in a statement from Samsung, including:
- Issues on the display associated with impact on the top and bottom exposed areas of the hinge.
- Substances being found inside the device affecting the display performance.
It has also been reported that some reviewers saw creases on the fold and other display glitches which the folding robot really should have found.
Production Problems – Is The Technology Ready Yet?
Part of the delay in the production of a commercial version of Galaxy’s folding phone from the first sighting of its prototype 7 years ago is thought to be down to production problems in the complexity of developing durable but flexible plastic screens.
Also, the fact that competitors LG and Sony have many patents on foldable mobile displays but have not produced a foldable phone yet has led some commentators to suggest that the technology may simply not be fully ready for use in the current generation of phone handsets.
In Samsung’s own statement about the reported faults the company said that “how the device needs further improvements”.
Another major phone market player (Huawei) also has a foldable phone in the development pipeline. Huawei’s ‘Mate X’ version folds outwards, which some have speculated may leave the most vulnerable part of the device exposed all the time. The fact that Huawei has not yet gone to market with its foldable offering may also be a sign that it too is wrestling with similar screen problems i.e. screen creasing.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
In the phone market, there has been a degree of stagnation as customers delay upgrades while waiting for more innovative models and new features. A folding phone offers value in terms of its versatility as a kind of “2-in-1” tablet and phone, as well as the novelty value and kudos of having a device with the very latest folding screen. As expected, however, the Samsung Folding (when is eventually launched), and competitor folding phone models will have a premium price tag (thought to be around £1,500), and although this would decrease as volumes increase, many businesses may decide to wait a bit longer before they buy one.
The fact that Samsung has called-off the launch and not given a future launch date for the Samsung Folding may indeed indicate that the technology is not quite ready, and that simply introducing a model with design faults just to be first to get a folding phone out there is not something they’re prepared to risk.