June 21, 2019
Joel Hruska

Samsung Exec: Galaxy Fold ‘Ready to Hit the Market’

When Samsung pulled the Galaxy Fold from launch in late April, it declared it would provide advance notice to customers and the press before relaunching the device. It has not done so yet — but Samsung Display VP Kim Seong-cheol has told Korean industry partners that the phone’s problems have nearly been resolved.

“Most of the display problems have been ironed out, and the Galaxy Fold is ready to hit the market,” Kim Seong-cheol said at a conference held by the Korean Information Display Society.

“Most” is an incredibly interesting word to use in this context. The Fold is marketed as a $1,980 device with the innovative ability to fold the phone into a larger or smaller display panel. When closed, the device switches to an external panel mounted on the front. Open, the screen stretches across both halves.

Samsung pulled the Galaxy Fold for several reasons. The screen protector the company had attached to the device late in its design cycle wasn’t secured behind its bezel, which led some reviewers to believe it was a standard plastic peel-away protector (Samsung had also neglected to warn reviewers not to remove it). Because OLED panels are far more fragile than their LCD counterparts, peeling this cover away destroyed at least one unit.

Fold-Gap

The gap at the top of the Galaxy Fold. Image credit: iFixit

The other issue — and probably the more serious concern — were the large gaps on the sides of the device and at the top. There are/were apertures in the original version of the hardware that allowed dirt and debris unrestricted access into the guts of the device. Material that worked its way back behind the display could then flex directly against the rear of the panel as the phone was opened and closed. OLED fragility being what it is, this type of problem is known to have killed at least one additional test device.

No news has leaked regarding how Samsung has fixed these issues, but the company may not be feeling the heat it was earlier this year. After China stole Samsung’s folding screen technology last year, Samsung seemed to be rushing the Fold to market, no matter what the cost. In the wake of the Trump administration’s total export ban on Huawei, the company has announced that its own folding phone will be delayed for additional software testing — but the question of whether Huawei can even ship the phoneSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce with Android in the first place is under active discussion. For now, the Huawei Mate isn’t expected until September at the earliest, letting Samsung somewhat off the hook until at least then.

Having taken several additional months to work on the device, we’re hoping Samsung can pull off a smooth launch. I’m dubious about folding phones ever hitting price points that would make them more than an expensive toy, but Samsung did the right thing pulling the launch to get the product fixed. If the issues are nearly resolved, we should get to see what the hardware can actually do and make a fair determination about its long-term prospects.

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