Samsung still doesn’t have a confirmed ship date for its troubled folding phone, and there are new signs the wait may be lengthy indeed. An email sent to pre-order holders says that Samsung is still “enhancing” the Galaxy Fold after multiple review units failed in a matter of days. Perhaps most telling, the email update requires customers to opt-in to keep their pre-orders. Anyone who doesn’t confirm will have their order canceled at the end of the month.
The Galaxy Fold was the first foldable phone to be unveiled with Google’s blessing. The device contains a flexible OLED screen on the “inside” of the fold measuring 7.3-inches. When closed, the phone works in a more traditional manner with the 4.6-inch external OLED. At the time of its announcement, Samsung said it had extensively tested the hinge mechanism to ensure it would not fail during the phone’s expected lifetime. However, that wasn’t the Fold’s downfall. It was that flexible screen.
Shortly after Samsung handed out Folds to a select group of reviewers, the displays began failing one after another. Some developed bulges and lines, and others began breaking down as the organic layer of the OLED oxidized. Something was clearly wrong, so Samsung halted plans to release the nearly $2,000 phone in April.
In Samsung’s email update, it offers numerous ways customers can avoid spending $2,000 on a phone that still lacks a release date. They can ignore the email and have their order canceled in a few weeks, they can cancel it immediately on Samsung’s site, or they can cancel it in the coming weeks (or months?) of waiting before the phone is done. No one will be charged for the Galaxy Fold until it actually ships.
I just received an email update on the Samsung Galaxy Fold. No update on the relaunch of the device, which isn't the most reassuring sign.
The most interesting thing to note is that you have to OPT-IN to keep your order or it will automatically cancel. Also, not a good sign pic.twitter.com/ZkOmlO0tFj
— M. Brandon Lee | THIS IS TECH TODAY (@thisistechtoday) May 7, 2019
The ongoing delay suggests the problems with the Galaxy Fold are not an easy fix. A now-deleted teardown by iFixit showed that dust and debris might be able to infiltrate the screen in the hinge area, and that could cause damage to the OLED panel during repeated folds. If that’s the case, Samsung might need to undertake a major redesign to protect the fragile internal display. Some phones may also have failed because the top screen protector layer was not supposed to be removed, but some reviewers did so out of habit. Samsung says it’s looking at ways to make it clear that’s part of the screen and not a shipping film.
Automatically canceling pre-orders isn’t a good sign, but it’s probably for the best if Samsung can’t even nail down a release date after studying the problem for weeks.
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