Foldables are our future; there’s no getting around that. Smartphone design has mostly gone stagnant, which is why companies like Samsung, Motorola, Huawei, and TCL started putting R&D money into finding a way to change up the game. But, as with most new pieces of technology, the first couple of attempts are doomed to stumble and potentially fail. We’ve already seen what happens when a foldable is rushed to market, and Samsung may be tempting fate by repeating history with the Galaxy Z Flip.
Update, Feb. 16, 2020, 8:45 p.m. ET: As if on cue, several Galaxy Z Flip customers have reported issues with their day-old foldable smartphone. One customer started to notice wear at the bottom of their device’s display and the other found a broken screen during the unboxing process.
But most alarming, the JerryRigEverything YouTube channel found during a stress test that the foldable glass might actually be made out of plastic. When asked for comment by The Verge, Samsung stated, “… [the] Galaxy Z Flip has a protective layer on top of the UTG (Ultra Thin Glass) similar to Galaxy Fold.” That doesn’t answer many questions, but the company also stated that it plans to offer a free specialized screen protector through its Premier Service as well as a $119 screen replacement if it’s ever needed.
Samsung ruled the headlines in April 2019 when it was the first to market with the Galaxy Fold. This innovative smartphone takes on the traditional candy-bar handset design and folds out to be the size of a 7.3-inch tablet. But, the day after sending units to reviewers to check out, the news shifted. Instead of admiration and joy, units were breaking left and right.
The South Korean smartphone giant took 5 months to fix the display flaws of its nearly $2,000 foldable, but it did come back to sell the first-gen device to devoted fans. If the company hadn’t provided units to publications before the Galaxy Fold hit store shelves, Samsung would have had an even larger PR nightmare on its hands. Customers around the world loudly would have been shouting on Twitter about how they purchased a crappy product.
Another five months later and Samsung has announced the Galaxy Z Flip. Going hands-on with the device, it’s easy to see where the company made much-needed adjustments. Not only is the internal display now made out of glass instead of plastic, but Samsung installed a brush-like system inside of the device to keeps debris out.
We were sold after only spending 30 minutes with the phone.
But, just three days after revealing the Galaxy Z Flip, Samsung rushed out the door and started throwing the foldable at every customer that was willing to spend $1,380 on the device. Did you notice a difference in this launch? Yeah, units weren’t given to many reviewers. And, those who did get early access to the handset definitely couldn’t have put it through its paces in less than 48 hours.
Theoretically, there’s nothing wrong with this plan. If Samsung chose to start selling the Galaxy S20 tomorrow without a single review written about it, customers would still buy the flagship and be happy with their purchase. But, with the Galaxy Z Flip, we’re talking about the (sort of) successor to last year’s biggest flop and a foldable phone that will likely wear much differently than it did in lab tests.
Look no further than the Motorola Razr if you don’t think foldables need to be thoroughly tested by reviewers before they hit the market. Within a day, display units at Verizon stores were destroyed. Within a week, customers were complaining about the loud and discomforting creaking noise the phone made every time it was opened. Now that publications have had time to test and review the device thoroughly, I haven’t seen one that recommends it.
Look, like I said previously, I’m sold on the Galaxy Z Flip. Hell, there was a high chance that I might have bought one if they hadn’t immediately sold out across the country. I just think that most customers should hold off on purchasing one until someone has used the foldable for at least a week. Remember, it only took reviewers a day to destroy the Galaxy Fold. If there’s a significant flaw in the Flip, people will find it.