Samsung delays Galaxy Fold indefinitely: ‘We will take measures to strengthen the display’

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

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.

Comments

iT cOsTs 2000$ aNd I cAn FoLd iT

Unfortunately, some Samsung employee is about to get Note 7ed.

All the time and resources spent producing and marketing this product, when resources could have been allocated toward a concentrated effort on getting the stellar Galaxy S10 devices in more consumers’ hands.

Instead, Samsung spent all that time creating a $2,000 smartphone, that fucking breaks.

Except the S10s aren’t really stellar, they aren’t terrible but aren’t market leading even in the android space like they used to be.

Who is market leading, then?

The S10 has the latest internals, best-in-class display, and an excellent, if not quite best-in-class, camera.

Features like UX and the physical design are obviously subjective, but have been received positively thus far.

Its only real weakness is time-to-Android-software-updates, but that’s a problem for most non-Pixels too.

What’s your definition of a class-leading Android (or heck, let’s include iOS too) phone?

It’s biggest weakness is that they put a hole on the screen and called it a feature. It’s like a scene from Idiocracy

How is a weakness the fact that, all allegedly, they call the hole a feature? Would it be the perfect phone if they called the hole a hole?

Don’t feed the troll, it only makes him keep coming back.

Those internals are irrelevant when a oneplus 6t runs faster – seriously, use them side-by-side and the oneplus device will feel faster. Scrolls smoother, opens apps quicker. Sure the display is better, but at this point the display game is like splitting hairs. All modern AMOLEDs are insanely vibrant and bright, entirely usable in sunlight. The camera on the 6T isn’t class leading, but the s10 loses to the pixel as well.

The only thing I’m trying to say, for most consumers the difference between the $549 chinese phones and the $749 flagship-lite is… narrow.

Everything is subjective, but hard disagree. The S10 and especially S10+ are the best phones around right now IMO. No other phone has as many upsides and so few comparative downsides. Great software, battery, cameras, display, size, weight, build quality, features, and design.

And no, Samsung does not market the selfie cam hole punch as a ‘feature’. The hole punch, again imo, is the best of current solutions that allow a close-to -bezelless display (though, of we’re being honest, all current solutions are inherently imperfect to varying degrees).

Read the Ars Technica review. The hole punch is objectively worse that the notch. Just because you can do quirky things with a hole in your screen doesn’t excuse how bad the hole punch is.

Also, here’s the big downside: $1000 starting price.

No. That is an opinion. Maybe not one you or Ars Technica agree with, but an opinion nonetheless.

That’s actually false. Aesthetically, to many like myself, a notch is worse.

Throwing more resources at a problem is a trap that most companies learn to avoid the hard way. It sounds good on paper, but more often leads to confusion and more delays. Too many cooks, and all that.

Also a company the size of Samsung is working on dozens of products all the time. The idea that the development and launch the Fold had any impact on the teams working on other Galaxy S10 phones is a little ridiculous, especially since the Fold isn’t even a mainstream product line yet.

For when you want to spend $2000 to either have a bulky-yet-tiny-screen phone paired with a too-small-with-a-huge-notch-tablet, the only thing that can save you from yourself is catastrophic device failure.

I had a hunch this wasn’t ready for an April launch when they wouldn’t let people touch it at Unpacked. Hopefully they get it out in a decent form before the year ends.

It had nothing to do with the product readiness and everything to do with Samsung’s desire to protect its hinge technology from Chinese copycats as long as possible.

How, exactly, would chinese copycats copy anything if they were being watched like hawks by attendants in the hands-on area?

It had nothing to do with the product readiness and everything to do with Samsung’s desire to protect its hinge technology from Chinese copycats as long as possible.

Judging by how quickly it breaks itself they should have let them copy away.

The delay they took to get in front of this I think damaged their entire launch of this. Perhaps giving it a few weeks and a relaunch will save it, but not getting in front of this to damage control the media will cost them in the long run.

I have a feeling that this will turn into a bigger delay. These phones were already manufactured and basically on their way to customers, what are they going to be able to change in a few weeks to fix this smattering of issues that cropped up with seemingly everyone after the phone was in their hands for two days or less?

Of course the launch is damaged, however, it would have been much worse if they didn’t issue the delay. I don’t understand Samsung sometimes. I’m sure that they were under pressure to be first to market with this technology, but surely they realized that this product wasn’t ready and what a hit their brand could take if they launched it. Before it landed in reviewer’s hands, I mean.

Makes you wonder about Samsung’s QC standards. Unless all these review units were pre-prods – which seemingly isn’t the case.

How did they miss all of this during testing?

As someone who works in QA its possible it was caught in testing and the higher ups wanted to push ahead anyways. Happens all the time smh.

Great point. I work in Quality Engineering and this sounds like a classic case of "yes, there are probably some huge gaps in our testing but we just GOTTA get this out there!" from execs. Ugh.

One has to think any pressure was self imposed though. I don’t think there’s a huge need to be the absolute first to the market for this device. I don’t think demands through the roof and the price is such that it’ll remain a niche device for some time. I honestly feel there’s more pressure on say Apple sorting it’s issues out with Qualcomm so they aren’t later to the 5G game at a time where thats a marketing point for carriers and companies. Folding displays however? They could ship it next year and they’ll still be one of the first companies to the market and in the mean time I don’t think there’s many people not buying a phone because they’re sick of the current form factor and absolutly must have a folding display.

If anything this device in a way made their mass consumer devices seem less interesting? As others had suggested regaining from mentioning it might have been the best thing from a PR perspective until it was ready to ship.

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