iFixit says the phone's screen is fragile and that gaps along the spine may let in dirt. It's now removed its teardown at Samsung's request.
Shelby BrownEditor II
Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
She received the Renau Writing Scholarship in 2016 from the University of Louisville's communication department.
Review units of the highly anticipated Samsung Galaxy Fold began malfunctioning last week -- right before its official (and now-delayed) release. An iFixit teardown, released Wednesday, found some possible explanations for what's going wrong with the $1,980 foldable phone. Now those findings are gone.
"We were provided our Galaxy Fold unit by a trusted partner," iFixit said. "Samsung has requested, through that partner, that iFixit remove its teardown. We are under no obligation to remove our analysis, legal or otherwise. But out of respect for this partner, whom we consider an ally in making devices more repairable, we are choosing to withdraw our story until we can purchase a Galaxy Fold at retail."
Samsung didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
The phone is "alarmingly fragile," according to iFixit's original teardown notes. The fragility makes potential repairs difficult and could account for the quick demise of screens on several phones sent to reviewers last week.
iFixit noted that its slim bezels aren't flexible enough to survive constant folding and unfolding and that replacing the screen would be quite expensive.
iFixit also noted in a blog post about the screen failures that the Fold's OLED screen, in particular, is "delicate." The device's hinge and the preinstalled screen protector could also play a role in the phone's troubles. The screen protector isn't meant to be removed, and attempts to remove it will kill the screen, as happened to several reviewers.
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"The phone ships un-folded -- but fold it even once, and that crease becomes pretty easy to spot if you're looking," the teardown noted. The phone withstood 200,000 fold tests from robots, but humans are using the devices in real-world conditions and aren't as gentle as robots, iFixit said.
Additionally, the lack of "hinge ingress protection" means "large gaps around the spine let dirt right in, possibly getting trapped between hinge and display," iFixit said. These gaps are visible when the device is closed, even though the screen is protected.