In Depth

Samsung Galaxy Fold: launch delayed over major screen failures

Korean tech giant recalls reviewer handsets following reports of flickering screens and mysterious bulges

Samsung is delaying the launch of its new $2,000 (£1,600) Galaxy Fold smartphone amid reports of display problems with the handset. 

The Korean tech giant had been planning to release the supposedly foldable phone in the US on 26 April, and then in the UK on 3 May.  But the launch window has now been pushed back so that the firm can “run more tests” into screen faults experienced by reviewers, The Guardian reports. 

Samsung said it would announced a new launch date in the “coming weeks”.

The problems first came to light last week when Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman posted an image showing that less than half of the screen of his Fold review phone was functioning, with the remainder blank. 

A similar issue occurred on the review sample used by CNBC’s tech correspondent Steve Kovach, who posted a video that showed the left side of the device’s screen flickering on and off. 

Meanwhile, The Verge’s Dieter Bohn said a small “bulge” had appeared near the bottom hinge on his Fold’s display. 

Samsung claims that its foldable phone can be “opened and closed more than 100,000 times without breaking”, the BBC’s Chris Fox reports.

“But in the real world, reviewers have destroyed Samsung’s device in less than 48 hours.”

What’s causing the problems?

It appears that most of the issues are the result of reviewers mistaking a thin protective layer that covers the Fold’s display for a screen protector.

Tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee, who has around 8.5 million followers, said in a tweet that he began peeling back a “layer that appears to be a screen protector” before his phone’s screen “blacked out”.

“I thought I was dumb for messing with it,” he said, but added that the number of reviewers experiencing the same issue proves “how delicate this layer is”.

However, The Daily Telegraph says that “several other technology reviewers” who reported similar problems claim they had not removed the protective film.

CNBC’s Todd Haselton, who temporarily used Kovach’s Fold, claimed that the screen failed despite leaving the protective layer in place.

Meanwhile, the bulging display issue reported by The Verge’s Bohn appears to be an anomaly. A small piece of clay that he used to prop up the phone for video recordings might have fallen through the thin gaps at the back on the device and become lodged under the display, Bohn says.

But “whatever happened, it certainly wasn’t because I have treated this phone badly”, he adds.

How has Samsung responded?

Samsung recalled all reviewer handsets shortly after the reports of the screen issues emerged. A company spokesperson said the firm would “thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter”.

“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,” the spokesperson added.

“Removing the protective layer or adding adhesives to the main display may cause damage.”

Samsung says it will “ensure this information is clearly delivered to our customers” when the device hits the market.

The company has told Wired that some of the screen problems may have been caused by impacts to “the top and bottom exposed areas of the hinge”. 

“There was also an instance where substances found inside the device affected the display performance,” a spokesperson said, in what may have been a reference to the bulging display on Bohn’s device.

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