Samsung has confirmed reports from earlier today that it is postponing the release of its $2,000 Galaxy Fold foldable phone only days before it was originally scheduled to go on sale. “We want our customers to have the best experience possible which is why, after initial feedback, we have decided to delay the release of the category-changing Galaxy Fold to make sure it measures up to the high standards we know you expect from us,” the company said. “We plan to announce the [new] release date in the coming weeks.”
Earlier today, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Fold won’t hit shelves until sometime in May at the earliest, but Samsung is giving itself plenty of leeway with its non-committal timeframe. In an email to customers who have already preordered the Fold, the company said they can expect a revised update on shipping details in two weeks (which would be May 6th). US carriers AT&T and T-Mobile are also slated to carry the premium device.
The Galaxy Fold’s durability has come into question after several review units failed in quick succession due to issues with their displays. Some units broke after the confusing “protective layer” was mistakenly pulled off the screen. But in other cases (such as The Verge’s own), the Fold catastrophically failed after just a day or two of normal use. With our first unit, debris seemingly made its way into the hinge and underneath the inside display. CNBC’s review device also failed for no obvious reason.
“Initial findings from the inspection of reported issues on the display showed that they could be associated with impact on the top and bottom exposed areas of the hinge. There was also an instance where substances found inside the device affected the display performance,” Samsung said on Monday. The company “will take measures to strengthen the display protection,” which reads to me like some re-engineering of the hardware itself might be in order. If that’s the case, it might be quite some time before Samsung makes a second attempt at releasing the Fold. Are we still talking spring? Maybe summer? Does this thing make it out before the Galaxy Note 10? We should know more once Samsung’s promised update comes a couple weeks from now. “Your preorder guarantees your place in the queue for this innovative technology,” Samsung told customers.
Samsung also addressed the other point of controversy in its statement on Monday: that weird protective layer. “We will also enhance the guidance on care and use of the display including the protective layer so that our customers get the most out of their Galaxy Fold,” the company said. Samsung had previously confirmed it would include written warnings to consumers urging them not to remove the layer, which resembles a traditional screen protector. T-Mobile’s retail version of the now-delayed device had a sticker right on the screen itself.
Though disappointing to consumers who had already placed an order for Samsung’s one-of-a-kind, futuristic phone, this delay is certainly the right move. Shipping a product that was overly fragile would have done damage not just to Samsung’s reputation, but also to this entire emerging category of mobile devices with folding screens — if the extremely high starting cost wasn’t already enough to dissuade consumers.
But aside from fixing the Fold itself, Samsung must also assess how this phone came so close to shipping with what seem to be severe design flaws. If not for a wave of negative press hitting just before it was too late, who knows where we would’ve ended up.
Samsung’s entire statement on the Galaxy Fold delay is below:
We recently unveiled a completely new mobile category: a smartphone using multiple new technologies and materials to create a display that is flexible enough to fold. We are encouraged by the excitement around the Galaxy Fold.
While many reviewers shared with us the vast potential they see, some also showed us how the device needs further improvements that could ensure the best possible user experience.
To fully evaluate this feedback and run further internal tests, we have decided to delay the release of the Galaxy Fold. We plan to announce the release date in the coming weeks.
Initial findings from the inspection of reported issues on the display showed that they could be associated with impact on the top and bottom exposed areas of the hinge. There was also an instance where substances found inside the device affected the display performance.
We will take measures to strengthen the display protection. We will also enhance the guidance on care and use of the display including the protective layer so that our customers get the most out of their Galaxy Fold.
We value the trust our customers place in us and they are always our top priority. Samsung is committed to working closely with customers and partners to move the industry forward. We want to thank them for their patience and understanding.
Update April 22nd 2:30PM ET: The article has been updated to include more details from an email that Samsung sent to Galaxy Fold preorder customers.