Samsung Galaxy Fold delayed amidst screen problems

24 April 2019   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

The new flagship folding smartphone was expected to launch commercially in America this week and in the UK next week.

However, some early reviewers of the device reported the folding screen cracked after only a few days of use.

The Galaxy Fold was due to be launched as an exclusive EE product in the UK on Friday 3 May, with pre-orders due to go live on 26 April.

Samsung have so far given no indication when the launch will now take place.

samsung smartphones
© Samsung

Embarrassment for Samsung

Samsung were eager to become the first company to launch a folding smartphone, amidst competition from Huawei and Xiaomi.

In preparation early review devices were given out, but several reviewers found the display broke within 48 hours, rendering the screen unusable.

Samsung's initial response suggests impact damage to exposed hinges might be responsible, although they also say they found "substances" within the devices which might have impacted its performance.

They also said that some reviewers had removed a layer of the screen by accident, mistaking it for the type of disposable screen protector common to modern smartphone devices.

The company promise to fully evaluate the feedback and run more tests to determine what's causing the issue.

Whatever went wrong, it's worrying that Samsung claim their laboratory tests showed the Galaxy Fold can be opened and closed 100,000 times yet some reviewer handsets struggled after only a few days.

As a phone with a price tag of £1,800, the Galaxy Fold is a luxury purchase and any early adopters would expect it to work correctly.

Neither Huawei or Xiaomi have supplied launch dates for their folding smartphones yet, and will be taking note of Samsung's PR disaster before they rush their devices to market.

Reminiscent of the Galaxy Note 7

This isn't the first time Samsung have faced embarrassment over the high-profile launch of a new device.

In 2016, the Galaxy Note 7 was released to great fanfare before being discontinued just three months later following problems with the batteries catching fire.

2.5 million phones were recalled in September 2016 due to complaints of overheating devices and exploding batteries.

There were two distinct issues identified with the batteries supplied by one of their affiliate suppliers and a Chinese company.

Some batteries contained a design error which led to negative electrodes being deflected within the device due to a lack of space.

Meanwhile, other batteries had insufficient insulation protection, leading to positive tabs impacting with negative electrodes.

While Samsung later stated that only 0.1% of sold devices were impacted by the problem, their reputation was damaged, and they took a hit of up to £4.3bn thanks to the issue.

EE customers waiting

EE were placed to be the first UK mobile network to bring a folding smartphone to the UK, but the delay has left them in limbo as they wait for Samsung to fix the issue.

This is a blow to EE who are trying to position themselves as the top mobile network in UK through their efforts to be the first provider with a 5G phone on the market.

They remain the fastest 4G network available in England and Scotland according to the most recent figures from Tutela, although Vodafone had higher speeds in Wales.

While the delay of the Galaxy Fold isn't as much of an embarrassment to EE as it is to Samsung, it's still unfortunate the device has been postponed just days before pre-orders went live and the week before launch.

Read our full review of EE's mobile network here.

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