Earlier today multiple reports emerged online from tech reviewers who were dealing with extremely borked Samsung Galaxy Folds mere days after receiving them.
One of the primary reasons for the device breaking seems to have been from the plastic film being removed from the screens.
As it turns out, you're really not supposed to.
Peeling off the plastic on a phone screen is an urge that most of us are probably familiar with. Usually it's fine because it's just a humble screen protector. Until you drop it, anyway.
But when it comes to the Galaxy Fold, there's a whole lot more to it.
Flexible glass isn't a thing yet, so for the time being the Fold is able to bend thanks to a plastic display on top of an OLED display.
But as we seem to be discovering from Thursday's news stories, removing it has the potential to do serious damage to screen usability. To put it in more familiar terms, peeling off the plastic will probably have a similar outcome to removing the glass screen from your regular phone.
PSA: There's a layer that appears to be a screen protector on the Galaxy Fold's display. It's NOT a screen protector. Do NOT remove it.
I got this far peeling it off before the display spazzed and blacked out. Started over with a replacement. pic.twitter.com/ZhEG2Bqulr
— Marques Brownlee (@MKBHD) April 17, 2019
The phone comes with this protective layer/film. Samsung says you are not supposed to remove it. I removed it, not knowing you’re not supposed to (consumers won’t know either). It appeared removable in the left corner, so I took it off. I believe this contributed to the problem. pic.twitter.com/fU646D2zpY
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) April 17, 2019
While images of a warning label regarding the plastic have cropped up online, it appears that they will be shipping with the retail devices. Meanwhile, there are assertions from The Verge about review units not containing it. Android Central also confirmed this.
Dear future #GalaxyFold owners, I know I always say "No one ever read the instructions"... PLEASE READ THIS ONE!!!
(This is the wrap over the screen of the Galaxy Fold) pic.twitter.com/LuQPRfDZIE
— Des (@askdes) April 17, 2019
But removing the plastic may not be the only reason why the Fold is having issues. Some articles and social media posts have stated that the screen has bugged out even with the film firmly attached. Dieter Bohn from The Verge reported that the screen began to bulge at the hinge, and that whatever was causing the issue eventually pressed so hard against the screen that it broke.
— Todd Haselton (@robotodd) April 17, 2019
After one day of use... pic.twitter.com/VjDlJI45C9
— Steve Kovach (@stevekovach) April 17, 2019
SUPER YIKES: something happened to my Galaxy Fold screen and caused a bulge. I don’t know how it happened, and I’m waiting to hear back from Samsung. It’s broken. https://t.co/p1014uB01D pic.twitter.com/3FZJkWtSKr
— Dieter Bohn (@backlon) April 17, 2019
At the time of writing Samsung is yet to release a statement globally about any of the reported screen issues. But while it is perhaps pertinent to wait for an official explanation, the number of professional reviewers having such major issues within one or two days is concerning.
At this point, it seems like the technology behind the Fold is extremely flimsy. When workability potentially hinges on a thin layer of plastic that is so easily removable, one has to ask how it's going to perform long-term for regular consumers.
The device has been positioned by Samsung as have the ability to be opened 300 times a day for two years with no issues.
It will be surprising if this hiccup doesn't shake consumer confidence in foldables as a new product category in 2019. And with the Galaxy Fold already being sold out in pre-order in the U.S. we are expecting to see requests for refunds if Samsung can't do some serious damage control from a marketing perspective.
In the meantime, we will have to wait with bated breath and see what the electronics giant has to say.
Update 13:39: Samsung has now released a statement about the issues.
"A limited number of early Galaxy Fold samples were provided to media for review. We have received a few reports regarding the main display on the samples provided. We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter," said Samsung Electronics.
"Separately, 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."
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