Samsung has announced today that it has made “improvements” to protect the Galaxy Fold’s screen and will begin selling the folding phone soon. Four months after the company delayed the retail launch of the phone, Samsung now says the Galaxy Fold will be available for purchase at an unspecified date in September. Samsung has confirmed the price will remain the same as before: $1,980.
Here’s what Samsung says it has changed on the new version of the Galaxy Fold:
The top protective layer of the Infinity Flex Display has been extended beyond the bezel, making it apparent that it is an integral part of the display structure and not meant to be removed.
Galaxy Fold features additional reinforcements to better protect the device from external particles while maintaining its signature foldable experience.
The top and bottom of the hinge area have been strengthened with newly added protection caps. Additional metal layers underneath the Infinity Flex Display have been included to reinforce the protection of the display. The space between the hinge and body of Galaxy Fold has been reduced.
Extending the “protective layer” is maybe the most important thing Samsung could have done, as many reviewers thought it was a screen protector and tried to peel it off, damaging the screen. The “additional reinforcements” to protect against “external particles” is likely to prevent the issue we experienced on our own review unit — we suspect debris got in through the hinge and damaged the screen from behind. The same may go for the reduction of the space between the hinge and the body.
Here is a comparison of the two versions of the Fold, with the new one on the left. They’re not very different at first glance!
You can really see the difference in this detail image — the new version is the one in front, positioned below the old one. There’s an extra piece inside the hinge, which would likely prevent debris from getting in and wedging itself under the screen:
And here’s a comparison of the back of the hinge. Again, the new design is in front. Whatever Samsung has changed here, it’s very subtle, at least in these press images:
The original Galaxy Fold very nearly made it to market, but review units — including ours — started developing serious hardware problems almost immediately. Some reviewers peeled off a protective film that was meant to be permanent, damaging the panel. We didn’t do that, but our original unit nevertheless developed a broken screen — possibly because debris got in under the hinge. It was a catastrophic result for a device that was seeded to a very small number of reviewers — such a high percentage of them ran into issues, there’s no telling what would have happened had Samsung released the phone to the general public.
That’s why, faced with multiple, high-profile reports of issues, Samsung officially delayed the release of the $1980 device and cancelled preorders. That was on April 22nd, when the company promised to investigate and resolve the issues with the screen. The intervening months have not been drama-free, either. Samsung requested iFixit pull a teardown from the internet, carriers scrambled to make sense of the situation, and Samsung’s co-CEO kept dropping hints that everything would turn out okay in the end.
If it weren’t for the screen issues, the original Galaxy Fold would have been an intriguing but incredibly delicate device — one that would have struggled to justify anything close to its $1,980 price. Unless Samsung has done something significant to the software and the screen’s overall durability beyond the above fixes, the revamped version could have the same issues. Samsung says that it has been “optimizing more apps and services for its unique foldable UX,” so maybe things will improve. You can be sure we’ll review it when it comes out.
Co-CEO DJ Koh ultimately admitted that the company pushed the original Fold out to market “before it was ready,” adding that “it was embarrassing.” That’s an understatement, but at the very least Samsung got out ahead of the Fold’s problems before it shipped to consumers (reviewers suffered instead, but that’s our job).
That was in stark contrast to how the company handled the fires in the Note 7 fires, which happened to many customers that bought the phone and left Samsung flailing to come up with a speedy and appropriate response. It ultimately did the right thing, pulling the product and issuing a comprehensive and detailed apology.
The company did not apologize for the whole ordeal, but it did thank its fans for their “support and patience,” ending its announcement thusly:
All of us at Samsung appreciate the support and patience we’ve received from Galaxy fans all over the world. Galaxy Fold is a device long in the making, and we’re proud to share it with the world and look forward to bringing it to consumers.
Samsung likely wanted to clear the decks of any Fold news (or Fold questions) ahead of its August 7th “Unpacked” event, when it is expected to announce the Galaxy Note 10, Note 10 Pro, and potentially a smattering of other devices like a new Android tablet and smartwatch.
Whether Samsung can really keep the Fold from clouding the attention it hopes to garner for its other phones is an open question. Today’s announcement was nowhere near as comprehensive or clear as what Samsung provided with the Note 7. That means that consumers who go to buy this device when it goes on sale will be taking a very large leap of faith, trusting in Samsung’s word that it’s solved the Fold’s issues. Even if that’s true, the Galaxy Fold is likely to still be a somewhat delicate device, one that is very unlikely to ever be mainstream.
Earlier today, Sammobile uncovered software evidence that the Galaxy Fold would be released to fewer markets this time around, including “the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and India.”
It was no sure thing that Samsung would really follow through on its promise to fix and re-release the Fold. But now that it has confirmed its plans, the pressure on the company to produce a reliable device is going to be sky high. We’ll find out if Samsung can meet those expectations in September.