Arguably, the Samsung Galaxy Fold was one of the most hyped phone launches we’ve had in a long time. People around the world had fallen in love with the foldable design of the phone and praised its uniqueness. The slim, folding design meant that users could enjoy a large screen size without worrying about finding a place to stick it when it’s not in use. And in unless you have large pockets or a big purse, most of Samsung’s giant smart phones aren’t fitting anywhere. “We didn’t want to compromise the screen size that so many of our users love and it’s become something we’ve been known for. However, we also understand the impracticality of toting around such a large device. This led us to the foldable design; it appeals to both audiences of large and small devices, performing double duties,” Samsung said.
The fold, which was tested and reviewed by a number of tech journalists, was supposed to be released April 26, 2019. However, the phone not only isn’t on shelves anywhere, but it’s also been delayed indefinitely according to sources. These same sources told The Wall Street Journal that a new rollout could be announced in the next coming weeks. As far as to an exact date, nobody seems to know. The term coming weeks is also used loosely; we don’t know if we’ll have information in 1 week or 6. The news came just one day after the Galaxy Fold’s launch was delayed in China. Many believed however that the US launch of the smart phone would proceed as expected, but it clearly didn’t.
Before we talk about the reason why the phone didn’t make its launch, let’s look at the device itself and some of its features (just in case you’ve been living in a cave.)
What is the Galaxy fold?
The Galaxy Fold is another in a long list of giant smart phones released by global tech giant Samsung. The folding design is a trend that the mobile tech community has been preparing itself for a long time. “A massive influx of folding phones is right away the corner. We’ve been talking about them for years, but tech companies are finally finding ways to actually produce them and get them out to the general public,” say many techies. The first of which was supposed to be the Galaxy Fold.
In addition to being the first of its kind, the Fold is loaded with all of the latest tech: 7nm processors, 12GB of ram, and 512GB of storage that can be upgraded. Despite the fact that it folds, something that many expected to compromise the screen and its quality, Samsung refused to bend on the display. The phone boasts an impressive 7.3-inch Dynamic AMOLED display that delivers crisp true to life colors. Samsung has been known for their stunning AMOLED displays and fans were excited to see the technology continue on with the Fold.
The phone can be folded down to 4.6”, making it a perfect fit for pockets and purses. However when you want more screen, the phone easily unfolds to a full 7.3” and Samsung boasts that when unfolded, you’ll become far more immersed and you’ll be able to multitask as well as seamlessly transition apps from the front display. “We sought to turn a tablet into a smartphone. We wanted to include all of the features of a tablet such as large screen size and display, but we wanted to also pair it with the convenience of a smart phone. By making the design foldable, we’re giving users the best of both worlds,” Samsung remarked.
The phone also features a hinge that’s been inspired heavily by watch mechanics. The hinge allows the Galaxy Fold to open smoothly and consistently like a book, while closing flat with a satisfying click. Samsung also remarks that the hinge has been tested up to 200,000 folds and remains as crisp and flawless then as it did when it was brand new.
And not to be outdone by Apple, but Galaxy is also including a pair of their Galaxy Buds. The Buds work via Bluetooth to deliver hands-free music and you can even charge them wirelessly inside their case. Galaxy also includes a Slim Cover that protects your phone from dust and damage. It’s made of a feather light and durable Kevlar. And considering the fact that the phone costs a staggering $1,900 that Kevlar is much desired; the last thing you want to do is even put a tiny scuff into that phone.
Why was it delayed?
Officially, the phone has been delayed by Samsung following some seriously negative reviews from early users. According to these reviews, the phone needs some major improvements and has a lot of issues. To say the least, people around the world were shocked when the brand pulled its latest innovation from the market just a day shy of its release. “You’d expect these kinds of kinks to have already been worked out by the time the phone is about to be released. Sure there’s always last minute bugs but those are usually resolved with a swift update made shortly after the phone’s launch. To actually delay its release right before its launch is weird. It must have had some serious problems, but why did it take them so long to announce the delay?”
According to tech journalists and YouTubers, Samsung conducted an extremely limited review program for the fold. Only a few technical teams were given access to the device for a hands-on session and even then, their time was limited. “We were given an hour to look the phone over and play with it. For such a high profile smartphone, we expected to have a lot more time than just an hour; typically we’re granted a few days or even a week with a device. And since the Fold is so revolutionary, we were all expecting to get to hang onto the device for a good amount of time. And an hour isn’t enough to give us an accurate depiction of the device,” said some of the teams.
However, this really shouldn’t have been all that surprising. At the phone’s initial launch at the Galaxy Unpacked even back in February of this year, the Fold was actually kept behind glass. Many remarked that it was barely visible. “We couldn’t get a clear view of the phone and its design. It was hard to make out the features and the folding aspect wasn’t really clear. For such a hyped device, we expected to at least have a team member demonstrate some of its functions to us.”
Currently, Samsung hasn’t made any comments regarding how long the launch’s delay will take. “We’ll have a new release date for you all in the next coming weeks. We have a lot to think about and we don’t want to release a product that’s anything less than the absolute best to our customers,” they said in a press release.
Less than great reviews and a number of issues
As mentioned earlier, the phone received less than glowing reviews. Those did have access to the phone had little to nothing positive to say about it. In fact, they were quick to point out a number of significant issues that would impact its everyday use and performance.
Many were quick to attack the phone’s design and “lack of thought” put into the folding design. Roel Vertegaal, who is the CEO of Human Media Lab, Inc. is no stranger to folding phone designs. He’s been toying with both folding and flexible displays for over 15 years. He believes that Samsung’s decision to have the phone close on the inside, much like a book, is not only a poor design choice aesthetically, but is also likely the cause of a lot of the phone’s technical issues. “We’re still limited with what we can do. Samsung is trying to push the envelope too far and this design just doesn’t work. Regardless of how bad you want it to, it just doesn’t. At the end of the day, we can only do what we can,” he said.
Others were quick to agree with Vertegaal’s statement. “If you look closely at the design you’ll realize that the device doesn’t actually close. And there’s a good reason for designing it that way; you can’t crease a screen in the way that you would a piece of paper. Bending or folding a screen in that same manner would kill it. This is why others, like the PaperFold, have designed the fold to be on the outside. Plus, it gives you a much thinner, more attractive fold.”
Several tech outlets and online experts reviewed the Galaxy Fold and they also had less than positive things to say. They insisted that one of the phone’s biggest issues is its screen appearance. “I mistakenly peeled out what I originally thought was just a screen protector. Most phones come out of the box with these on them to protect the screens during shipping. So I naturally assumed that what I was looking at was a protective film. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a screen protector and I messed up the inside display. It severely malfunctioned,” said one of the reviewers. Others chimed in with the same issue and some claimed the device stopped working once they accidentally peeled this section off.
However, the phone’s screen issues weren’t limited to the film removal; others noticed that after several days of use, one side of the display would flicker. “I’ve had this phone for awhile now and one side of the display is flickering; that side is unusable for the most part. I take good care of my devices and I’m not overworking the Fold; it’s getting a normal amount of use. You don’t expect this kind of issue to crop up days into your purchase or even a year for that matter, but here it is,” said one of the reviewers in a Tweet.
Another insisted they were having what they referred to as a “jelly” problem. One side of the phone was responding far faster than the other, causing a significant amount of lag to happen on one half of the device. This often occurred while looking at webpages that occupied both sides of the screen. Scrolling vertically also seemed to exasperate the problem.
All of these negative reviews caused Samsung to take immediate action, preventing the device from hitting the shelves. And unfortunately, all of the complaints listed above are just what we know what’s wrong with the phone; the actual extent of issues remains to be seen.
Possible reason for the screen issues
Once the decision to delay the Fold’s release was made public, Samsung began gathering up all of the phones that were currently lent out. “Some of the devices are in the hands of reviewers, tech journalists, and others. We’re currently working on retrieving all of them,” the company remarked.
However, this didn’t stop one review site, iFixit, from doing its usual job of reviewing devices. On their repairability scale, meaning how easy it is to fix and how often it breaks, they gave the Fold a 2 out of 10, putting it on the same level as the latest iPad Air. While Samsung was less than thrilled with the review, they should definitely be grateful because thanks to iFixit’s look at the device, they have also discovered the source of its problems.
When looking at the repair teardown, it’s easy to see where the design probably went wrong. At step three, the website closely inspects the device’s fold from the front. In this step, they noted that there was a small gap in the device’s bezel. This gap was also very close to the bend. Since bezels interfere with bends, this area has to remain uncovered. But by leaving it exposed, they’ve also given dirt and small particles a way of accessing and entering the device. “It’s easy to believe that even a small particle of dust or cat fur could screw up the entire display. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if this was truly the source of the phone’s issues. A small particle could easily lead to the issues causing the recall of this device and its review units,” said one YouTuber.
Many are confident that this is the source of the phone’s issues. Thus it would seem like the problem is extremely easy to fix; just plug up the gap. However, this is definitely one of those circumstances in which it’s easier said than done. For starters, the material used to plug the gap would need to be incredibly flexible; after all, it’s supporting a bend. It would also need to be both tough and durable since it’s going to be withstanding the repeated stress of bending.
Will it eventually be released?
Because of the super fast delay of the Galaxy Fold and the fact that they’re now recalling all of their tester units, many suspect that this is the end of the device altogether. “It’s sad that this stellar, revolutionary phone design is dead before it even hit the water. This would have changed the phone market for sure and I was looking forward to seeing all of the other companies adapt,” laments a few Twitter users.
However, Samsung and other tech websites encourage the public to remain positive and not to give up hope. “This isn’t the end of the Samsung Galaxy Fold,” the global tech giant said. “This is just our way of pulling a product back that wasn’t completely finished and wasn’t ready for the market. We’re going to make significant improvements, address issues, and get back to you all with a much better device.” Others insist that this is Samsung’s way of protecting itself. “The company doesn’t want any negative reviews regarding their devices; especially something as new and unique as the Fold. That’s why they’re taking extra care and they won’t give us an official date. They want to take their time and make sure it works,” say some.
The phone still could potentially be released this year, but we’ll have to wait for Samsung to make the official release date. Since there seems to be a number of issues with the phone and some of the problems seem to be a little tougher to fix, we anticipate that it’s going to take several months in the least to get the device ready for release. Until then, we’ll just hold our breaths and wait for Samsung to update us within the next few weeks on the phone’s status.
What are your thoughts?
Even though the phone has technically been “indefinitely delayed” do you believe that it will hit the markets within this year like many suspect or do you think that the device’s current issues will prove to difficult to solve and it’ll be scrapped altogether? We also want to know what you think about the phone’s features in general. Is this design something that you’re interested in? Would you consider purchasing it? And if so, what do you think about the price point of the device? Let us know in the comments!