One of the biggest questions for consumers is whether Samsung's foldable phone will hold up over time.
Our livestreamed test is over and the results are in: Samsung's new Galaxy Fold didn't make it all the way through our durability test, but it survived around 120,000 automated folds.
After an attempted launch this past spring marred by complaints of screen problems on preproduction review units, Samsung's foldable phone was released Sept. 27 with key design changes and a more durable construction. The phone costs $1,980 and retains the novel feature that made headlines when Samsung teased the device back in November 2018 -- a foldable screen that can bend, flex and open up into a tablet-sized, 7.3-inch screen.
Consumers have shown a lot of interest in the device, but there are legitimate concerns about how well its cutting-edge foldable screen will hold up over time. CNET's Jessica Dolcourt has written in-depth review of the Galaxy Fold, calling it a promising step toward the foldable phones of the future -- but with important issues that still need to be ironed out, including its fragile screen, limited battery life and cost.
To test its durability, SquareTrade, a San Francisco-based company that offers warranties for consumer electronics and appliances, developed a machine that can open and close the Galaxy Fold repeatedly, thousands of times over. CNET used SquareTrade's machine to test the durability of a Galaxy Fold that we purchased for testing. SquareTrade's separate test of the Galaxy Fold also showed that the device failed at around 120,000 folds, with "pixel blob" and "deteriorated hinge action."
Our plan was to fold the phone 200,000 times consecutively to mimic the number times a person would open and close the Fold over five years of use. We livestreamed the event, starting around noon PT on Oct. 3. We expected the test to last until 10 a.m. PT on Oct. 4, which is about how long we estimated it would take for our test phone to hit 200,000 folds. We ended the test around 2 a.m. PT after 119,380 folds left the hinge damaged and half the screen blacked out. That number of folds is the equivalent to around three years of use.
Note that this wasn't an actual-use test. An everyday user obviously wouldn't open and close a Fold for hours on end. But we wanted to see how much the Galaxy Fold could endure before it ran into trouble and at what point we could visibly observe problems with the screen.
Originally published on Oct. 3.
Update, Oct. 4: The test ended at around 120,000 folds.
Clarification, Oct. 4: CNET's video runs around four hours, but the Galaxy Fold testing lasted for about 14 hours.