When Samsung announced it would be releasing a foldable phone back in November, it seemed like an appealing technical novelty. Indeed, as the cellular phone business has been driven by novelty advances for decades, foldable devices had the potential to revive the corporation’s dwindling revenues.
Galaxy-Class Design Flaw
American reporters and technology reviewers began documenting problems with review copies of the Galaxy Fold on April 17. The Verge’s Dieter Bohn discovered a mysterious bump in between the screen and hinge of his Fold after two days use. Initially, the bump only caused minor screen distortions but it eventually cracked the device’s OLED screen.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman noted the Fold he was testing became inoperative in the same time frame. However, he had a different issue than Bohn. Gurman’s unit stopped functioning after he removed what he thought was a screen protector. Technology YouTube Marques Brownlee also made the mistake of removing the Galaxy Fold’s “screen protector” and experienced the same problem.
The screen on my Galaxy Fold review unit is completely broken and unusable just two days in. Hard to know if this is widespread or not. pic.twitter.com/G0OHj3DQHw
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) April 17, 2019
Samsung later explained what Gurman and Brownlee peeled off was actually an integral layer of the smartphone’s display.
Todd Haselton, a CNBC tech reporter, did not remove the smartphone’s protective polymer layer, but his review device also began malfunctioning. Haselton reports the flexible gadget’s screen began flickering immediately after activation. The following day, his Fold’s display went completely black.
Samsung issued an official response shortly after reports of its $1,980 device malfunctioning began surfacing. The South Korean tech giant first explained the thin, easily removable translucent sheet covering was not a screen protector. It also noted that retail versions of the Fold would include a warning about the polymer layer.
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
The electronics conglomerate had no explanations for the problems encountered by Bohn and Haselton. But the firm did pledge to thoroughly review the defective units to figure out why they broke so easily. Despite the fact the smartphone manifested three different fatal errors for three different reviewers, Samsung still plans to launch the Galaxy Fold on April 26.
Though the electronics company seems eerily unbothered by its new flagship device’s issues, investors are not as sanguine. Samsung’s stock price has fallen 3 percent since yesterday.
How the Mighty Have Fallen
Once a dominant force in consumer electronics and semiconductor production, Samsung has had a rough go of things in the last few years. In 2017, the company had to recall millions of its Galaxy Note 7 tablets because of an exploding battery defect. Furthermore, the Seoul-based corporation lost $39.4 billion in market value last year due to a softening smartphone market.
Ironically, Samsung’s recent financial troubles are in part due to the high quality of its products. As recently as 2017, the firm was the world’s best-selling electronic components company. The market’s hunger for new and more sophisticated handsets caused explosive growth in its semiconductors segment.
Unfortunately, consumers began holding off on buying new smartphones last year, partially because their Samsung-empowered hardware had not become obsolete.
With the Galaxy Fold having the apparent ruggedness of tissue paper, the company probably won’t make a big comeback this year.