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Samsung chief: Galaxy Fold delay was 'embarrassing' -- but no new launch date in sight

The mea culpa stopped short of apologizing to preorder buyers.

A new interview sheds some light on what went wrong with the Galaxy Fold.
Angela Lang/CNET

Update, Sept. 5: We've gone hands-on with Samsung's revamped Galaxy Fold ahead of its revised release later this month. Original story, last updated in July, follows.

Samsung mobile chief DJ Koh admitted on Monday that he rushed the $1,980 Galaxy Fold to market before the foldable phone was fully ready. But he stopped short of apologizing to preorder buyers who never received their device. 

Koh didn't reveal a new release date for a phone that's now been delayed for 67 days. Samsung paused the Galaxy Fold release more than two months ago, a few days before its originally-planned April 26 sale date. 

"It was embarrassing. I pushed it through before it was ready," Koh said during a meeting with journalists including The Independent in Seoul. "I do admit I missed something on the foldable phone, but we are in the process of recovery." 

Samsung delayed the Galaxy Fold after some reviewers testing the device experienced a series of problems with the phone's foldable screen (CNET's review unit was unaffected). When closed, the Fold features a 4.6-inch traditional phone display, and opens to reveal a 7.3-inch tablet-sized screen inside. 

Now playing: Watch this: Our Galaxy Fold didn't break. Here's what's good and...

Koh said that the company has "more than 2,000 devices are being tested right now in all aspects," going on to say that "we defined all the issues. Some issues we didn't even think about it but thanks to our reviewers, mass volume testing is ongoing." Koh added that an update would be provided "in due course" and asked that those interested in the Fold "give us a bit more time."

Another statement was less conciliatory. "Our brand philosophy is 'do what you can't'," Stephanie Choi, Samsung's global marketing strategy head, told the group. "We make what can't be made, and do what can't be done. This [Galaxy Fold issue] is unfortunately sometimes part of this process," The Independent reported.

This is not the first time that Samsung has admitted it made a mistake for an issue affecting one of its phones. Most recently, Samsung apologized for the Galaxy Note 7, which the company voluntarily recalled in 2016, twice, after reports that the phone's battery overheated and caught fire. As a result of investigations into the Note 7's design and manufacturing processes, Samsung announced a more secure battery protocol.

While the Galaxy Fold's screen issues have shades of the same internal review, the foldable phone never posed a health risk to buyers or reviewers. 

Samsung did not respond to a request for comment. 

Originally published July 1, 2019 at 7:22 a.m. PT.
Update, 3:35 p.m. PT: Adds more context.
Update, July 2, 2019 at 2 a.m. PT: Adds Stephanie Choi's statement.