Samsung was the first manufacturer to get a foldable smartphone to market with the Galaxy Fold (opens in new tab), but in its rush to claim the title, the Korean company botched the launch after reviewers found problems with the screen and the hinge (opens in new tab) on the device. Samsung ended up delaying the release (opens in new tab) in a bid to fix the issues before the smartphone got into the hands of the public, and with the launch of its second foldable - the Galaxy Z Flip (opens in new tab) - precautions have been taken to ensure it doesn't make the same mistakes again.
The Motorola Razr (opens in new tab) was also delayed, although this was apparently due to an overwhelming demand in pre-orders, rather than to shore up any design flaws, but now both companies foldable phones are under scrutiny as users are finding the same faults that plagues the Fold in both companies' new handsets.
- Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 will leave Z Flip in its dust with 100% screen and 0% notches (opens in new tab)
Both phones are expensive, costing well over £1,000, so having a phone that expensive fall to bits on you isn't ideal. As well as being underwhelming, the Razr has got more problems to content with after a report from Input's Raymond Wong (opens in new tab) that the screen on his $1,500 device was peeling away from the chassis at the hinge after just one week.
"We always try our best to not be alarmist, but when a giant horizontal air bubble appears literally out of nowhere and starts separating the top lamination and the display panel, we have to wonder why anyone would be optimistic about foldable phones," he said, not unreasonably.
Wong describes receiving the handset in pristine condition, which he popped into his pocket for his commute, and when he pulled it out, discovered the offering bubble stretching the width of the screen. As well as being unsightly, it's also affecting touch screen functionality, making the affected area "virtually unresponsive".
Wong speculates that the change in temperate that the phone was exposed to could be the culprit, as it hadn't been exposed to anything else that could damage it. His suspicions are further fuelled by a Twitter user (opens in new tab) who received their Galaxy Z Flip with an almost identical issue.
Received my Samsung Galaxy Z Flip just now. Opened the box. Removed the protective/instruction film. Flipped the phone as you would do since it’s a flip phone and this happened. I heard the crack as well. 😰 cold weather?#SamsungGalaxy #ZFlip #samsung pic.twitter.com/j8KLL2vm8dFebruary 14, 2020
This is bad news for Samsung, especially in light of the Fold's many, many troubles. And it gets worse, after a teardown video revealed that the bristles Samsung has implemented this time around to prevent dust from getting into the hinge, may not actually be that effective.
YouTube channel iFixit (opens in new tab) doused the Z Flip in purple dust before taking it apart to see just how much use the fibre shield actually is. obviously, the phone is unlikely to be exposed to that many small particles at once, but the test did reveal something interesting.
The hinge was littered with purple powder - so much so that the phone was unable to properly unfold. Most surprising is that the fibre shield's bristles looked remarkably clean after being dunked, indicating they did little (of anything) to protect the hinge. You can take a look at a screenshot from the video demonstrating this below, with iFixit outlining the bristles in white.
Samsung's also been getting flack over the durability of the Z Flip's Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) that is even getting scratched from something as innocuous as as a fingernail (as demonstrated by YouTube channel JerryRigEverything (opens in new tab)) leading to speculation that the 'glass' is actually plastic.
Samsung responded by saying that "UTG technology is different from other Galaxy flagship devices. While the display does bend, it should be handled with care. Also, Galaxy Z Flip has a protective layer on top of the UTG similar to Galaxy Fold."
JerryRigEverything's Zack Nelson has mused whether the display is actually a hybrid plastic polymer that has tiny particles of glass mixed into it, which would explain the extent of the damage in the video, and also explains how Samsung could continue to market the material as 'glass'.
Either way, this isn't a promising start to the second round of foldable smartphones, and it seems like everyone is struggling to release one that isn't riddled what what now feel like inevitable faults.
Oh well, if you learn best by making mistakes, Samsung will surely cover itself in glory with the Galaxy Fold 2 (opens in new tab). It's nailed on.
Source: The Verge (opens in new tab)