Are folding phones too fragile?

In the past couple of days, Samsung Galaxy Fold smartphones breaks have literally “broken” the news. A handful of early versions sent to media outlets have developed tears, or its dual screen just ceased to function. This has saddened many folding phones enthusiasts who are eagerly anticipating the US release of the device on April 26. Price tag: $1,980.

Tech personalities react

Some of the biggest consumer electronics testers and influencers didn’t mince words about their initial unboxing experience.

Marques Brownlee later published a thorough video in which he elaborates on his experience as well as his peers’. He does specify Samsung promptly sent replacements.

“The Broken Galaxy Folds: Explained!’ by Marques Brownlee, YouTube.

Protective film confusion

Jessica Dolcourt from CNet asks a straightforward question: “Did Samsung say you’re not supposed to remove the film?” She believes it is notclear if Samsung briefed every reviewer who received a phone about the screen protector layer. “There was no instruction in my box — no literature at all, in fact — but also no other indication, like a pull tab, that you should remove it.”

On Tuesday, she emailed Samsung requesting more information on the layer on. A spokesperson responded with the following remarks: “Galaxy Fold is manufactured with a special protective layer. It is not a screen protector — do not attempt to remove it.”

The company elaborated on its views:

“A few reviewers reported having removed the top layer of the display causing damage to the screen. The main display on the Galaxy Fold features a top protective layer, which is part of the display structure designed to protect the screen from unintended scratches. Removing the protective layer or adding adhesives to the main display may cause damage. We will ensure this information is clearly delivered to our customers.”

Desmond Smith, director of creative content and a tech evangelist at T-Mobile, tweeted, using bold language, that the carrier’s final production models will come with a warning on the wrap that goes over the device’s screen.

Yet some testers like Dieter Bohn from The Verge reported a “bulge” forming within the screen and other anomalies despite leaving the screen protector on.

Did Samsung rush into the release? Does it even matter?

“The Galaxy Fold is the most daring technical innovation we have seen in smartphones for some time. But it was not intended to be a volume driver this year,” he said. “Samsung does tend to innovate in this low-risk way, where its cutting-edge technology tends to sit in a different device to its tried-and-tested flagships.” says senior analyst Ben Stanton at Canalys.

Stanton likens the device to Samsung’s first shot at a curved display with the Galaxy S6 Edge. On the other hand, Apple tends to mostly innovate with its most important flagship devices. Case in point: Face ID is only a feature on its latest models. “Samsung, unlike Apple, doesn’t need to get it right the first time. It has invested heavily to develop folding displays and it is only just getting started.” he added.

“Their devices will be held up to the same scrutiny, or even held under a harsher light, to see if their quality can hold up,” Llamas said. “It’s the price of playing in this market. They need to be ready for that.” IDC research director Ramon Llamas denotes.

Of course there is some ethical concerns with a smartphone which costs about US $2,000 and potentially comes several technical issues… but that is another conversation topic.