Update, Sept. 18: We now have a retail model of theand have begun to .
Right after I, Samsung's first foldable phone, I said that a foldable phone is . That's because, more than with any other phone, the screen is the foldable's very reason for being. Its entire value rests in its ability to provide you a meaningful experience on a bigger display than one you can have with a 6.8-inch phone like the -- and in a footprint that's half the size of a tablet.
Turns out, I was half right. The screen's integrity is only one part of the bigger picture. The Galaxy Fold didn't have a rocky beginning solely because the plastic screen's. The damage came because the entire design was flimsier than it should have been. The screen became the central point of failure.
Months after putting the Samsung is finally ready to . Plastic and metal reinforcements promise to help bolster the screen to avoid the early problems that make Samsung stomp the brakes on its planned Fold sales. This doesn't mean the screen won't be prone to damage, but plugging design holes could help keep those problems from developing so quickly.on ice,
The Galaxy Fold is the company's first-ever device with a screen that bends in half, and also the first to come to market from any major brand. (Huawei's postponed .) But the rush to be first hurt the Fold, , and cast doubt on the durability of these seriously risky devices. It's a lesson Samsung is unlikely to forget -- and hopefully unlikely to repeat.
The Fold's screen problems began almost immediately, when a handful of reviewers noticed three different issues maligning the display. There were flickering. And in more than one case, a protective layer that looked like a common disposable dust guard proved to break the screen when taken off. The Galaxy Fold was more prototype than finished product, and it showed.. There was
Samsung said it's fixed the Fold's weaknesses by adding plastic and metal reinforcements throughout. It's closed off air gaps where muck can get in, strengthened the screen layers and made that crucial protective film hard to pry off. I went, and found it to be sturdier than the first time around.
I'm reminded of the iPhone, Samsung's archrival in mobile devices. Reviews stretching back 10 years compliment Apple's top-notch build quality. The iPhone feels solid and cohesive. Buttons don't wobble in their housings. You don't see many hairline gaps where dust and crumbs get stuck.
Yes, the iPhone has experienced problems over the years (e.g., Galaxy Note 7 and this delayed Galaxy Fold. Samsung went out on a limb in its quest to be first to be foldable, but in the end, it only set the company back. It would have been better off taking a cue from Apple's construction ethos.), but not to the scale of Samsung's PR nightmares with the fire-prone
Samsung's fixes for the Fold tell us a lot about the design to begin with. Whether it wasn't tested long enough in-house for problems to develop, or whether Samsung accepted taking shortcuts to meet its self-imposed deadline remain unknown.
It's no doubt been a costly mistake. Samsung had to spend more time and money to review the problems and fix them, cancel preorders andfor their trouble (here's ). The company also appears to have scaled back its sales expectations, from the portfolio.
Meanwhile,to see what happens next. have all either announced their intention to release a foldable phone, or are rumored to be in the planning stages.
LG is also hedging its foldable-phone bets with a case that turns a regular. These brands will be sure to avoid the same design weaknesses that lead to the Fold's screen problems in the first place.
Now the trick is to see how well Samsung's improvements work. Plastic end caps and internal metal architecture may help keep the screen healthier this time around, but it doesn't address other potential design issues, like an oversize notch, an external display that's too small to comfortably type on and a fingerprint reader that's awkward to use when the Fold is closed.
Samsung may have shored up the Galaxy Fold's most glaring mistakes, but I'm already looking forward to seeing what better foldable design the brand.
Samsung did not respond to a request for comment.
Originally published earlier this week.