In Depth

Samsung Galaxy Fold fiasco: smartphone to go on sale in September following screen fix

The foldable handset’s original launch was pulled at last minute amid reports of flickering displays and mysterious bulges

Samsung’s long-awaited Galaxy Fold will hit shops in September, five months after a major screen fault forced the tech giant to postpone the launch. 

Announcing the new launch date, the Korean tech firm said that its engineers had “taken the time to fully evaluate the product design, make necessary improvements and run rigorous tests” on the revised flexible handset.

The news comes almost three months after critics reported major screen issues with their review devices. Many of the problems turned out to be the result of users peeling back a thin plastic layer of the screen in the mistaken belief that it was removable screen protector.

The fiasco erupted just days ahead of the planned 26 April launch in the US, with the phone due to go on sale in the UK on 3 May, and led to Samsung pulling the smartphone at the last minute.

Samsung chief executive Dong-Jin Koh described the problems as “embarrassing” during an interview with The Independent earlier this month. 

“I do admit I missed something on the foldable phone,” he said, but insisted that Samsung had “defined all the issues” by testing more than 2,000 handsets.

What happened?

The problems first came to light a week before the handset was due to go on sale in the US. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman shared an image on his Twitter feed, showing that less than half of his Galaxy Fold review phone’s screen was functioning, with the remainder completely blank.

It quickly became apparent that Gurman wasn’t the only critic experiencing issues. CNBC’s tech editor Steve Kovach and YouTuber Marques Brownlee were among many reviewers to report similar screen failures.

The problems stemmed from reviewers “peeling off a protective film”, which CNet says “looked identical to a screen protector”.

However, some reviewers claim they experienced screen issues without tearing off the protective film.

The Verge’s Dieter Bohn, for instance, reported a “small bulge” underneath the display of his review device, which was “just enough to slightly distort the screen”.

At first, the bulge appeared to be another problem with the smartphone, but Samsung later claimed that it discovered “substances” inside one of the returned review devices - possibly a reference to Bohn’s handset.

How has Samsung fixed the problem?

Samsung has outlined five key areas that have been reworked on the Galaxy Fold, including fundamental hardware improvements and upgrades to the overall user experience. 

According to TechRadar, Samsung has:

  • Extended the display’s thin protective layer “beyond the bezel” so that it will appear as an integral part of the screen and cannot be easily peeled
  • The hinge has been “reinforced” to prevent small pieces of debris, such as flint and fluff, from getting into the device
  • Both the top and bottom sections of the hinge now feature “protection caps” to strengthen the handset
  • Fitted additional “metal layers” beneath the screen to improve protection and longevity
  • Finally, the gap between the hinge and display has been reduced

This chimes with claims from company insiders, who recently told Bloomberg that the new protective film will “wrap around the entire screen” and is “almost imperceptible to the naked eye”.

The sources added that the film would be “impossible to peel off by hand” - ensuring Samsung should not see a repeat of the screen failures reported by the reviewers. 

So when will it launch in the UK?

Although Samsung has confirmed that Galaxy Fold will go on sale in September, the company says the device will initially only be available in “select markets”.

There’s no word on whether the UK will be one of those markets, though Britain is often among the first to get Samsung’s latest products.

The Galaxy Fold is expected to cost around £1,800. 

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