Samsung's folding phone breaks for reviewers
Earlier this week, Samsung sent out its remarkable new folding smartphone to a number of media outlets, including the BBC.
Perhaps now it wishes it hadn’t.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman:
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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
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The Verge’s Dieter Bohn:
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SUPER YIKES: something happened to my Galaxy Fold screen and caused a bulge. I don’t know how it happened, and I’m waiting to hear back from Samsung. It’s broken. https://t.co/p1014uB01D pic.twitter.com/3FZJkWtSKr
— Dieter Bohn (@backlon) April 17, 2019
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CNBC’s Steve Kovach:
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After one day of use… pic.twitter.com/VjDlJI45C9
— Steve Kovach (@stevekovach) April 17, 2019
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Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
Samsung said it had received "a few reports" of damage to the main display, and would "thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter". But it’s a significant setback to the company’s hopes of wowing the world with what, at first glance, was a very impressive feat of engineering.
It appears one explanation for the problems is that some reviewers removed a film that went over the screen, thinking it was the typical protective layer you find on all new smartphones to keep the screen in good condition until you buy it.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman removed his, as did the highly-regarded YouTube reviewer, Marques Brownlee.
Steve Kovach, however, didn’t remove the film – and said he still had major issues.
The device the BBC handled, incidentally, was taken away by Samsung shortly after filming was finished, so our team hasn’t had a chance to see these issues for ourselves. Our reviewer Chris Fox said the way the screen folded together – leaving a small gap – made him nervous about accidents that might occur with small objects.
But if the device struggles to this degree in the hands of seasoned reviewers, the return-rate could be huge, if and when it goes on sale to the wider public. Remember, this is a $2,000 smartphone.
The reviewers having problems insist there’s been no rough-handling of the devices.
"Whatever happened, it certainly wasn’t because I have treated this phone badly," wrote Mr Bohn at The Verge.
"I’ve done normal phone stuff, like opening and closing the hinge and putting it in my pocket. We did stick a tiny piece of moulding clay on the back of the phone yesterday to prop it up for a video shoot, which is something we do in every phone video shoot.”
Samsung stole headlines from its competitors by getting its apparently consumer-ready device out there quicker than anyone, a technological two-fingers in the direction of Huawei, the Chinese firm breathing down Samsung’s neck in the smartphone game.
But it’s no good being first if you get it wrong – and put out a device that isn’t quite ready.