The $2,000 Samsung Galaxy Fold was slated to come out April 26 in the US. It was supposed to be a triumph of Samsung’s display technology—a product years in the making that would redefine the smartphone. Instead, it’s being delayed. A report from The Wall Street Journal says the phone has been delayed until “at least next month.
Samsung was suspiciously protective of the Galaxy Fold in the run-up to launch. It was announced alongside the Galaxy S10 in February, but while the S10 was put on display to be touched and tapped, the Galaxy Fold was only shown in a glass box. It wasn’t until last week that people outside of Samsung were finally able to try the Galaxy Fold, when Samsung handed out review units to select members of the press. There were always durability concerns about the folding display, but when devices in the hands of reviewers sometimes lasted a single day before the displays died, the alarm bells started ringing.
The report from the Journal says, “The new rollout is expected in the coming weeks, though a firm date has yet to be determined.” Apparently Samsung has flagged the current hinge design as one of the issues causing an early death. “Though the company’s internal investigation remains ongoing, the Galaxy Fold phone’s reported issues stem from problems affecting the handset’s hinge and extra pressure applied to the internal screen,” the report says.
So far Samsung has not responded to the report. At least two Galaxy Fold press events have already been delayed. April 23 and 24 were supposed to be the dates for launches in Hong Kong and Shanghai, but Engadget reports that those press events have been officially cancelled. Samsung has already taken pre-orders for the Galaxy Fold—so many pre-orders the phone is “sold out“—so the company will have to start communicating to customers soon, as they are still expecting that April 26 ship date to happen.
Samsung said it has spent six years and over a hundred million dollars to develop the folding display technology in the Galaxy Fold. Late last year the company said this display technology was stolen, though, and sold to competitors in China. With companies like Huawei and Xiaomi also demoing foldable phones now, it would not surprise me to hear that Samsung was trying to rush the Galaxy Fold out the door to keep its title of “first foldable” from a mainstream manufacturer.
One of the Galaxy Fold’s problems was that there was no clear communication that the screen protector on the front of the display should not be pulled off. Some reviewers removed this front protective layer before their screens died. The launch delay would give Samsung more time to change the in-box messaging instructing users to not remove this protective layer. If the Galaxy Fold delay is only a few weeks, there wouldn’t be time to change much more than the box messaging, though. And if there is a more significant problem with the Galaxy Fold display, it would take longer than a few weeks to sort out.