More bad news befell Samsung's beleaguered Galaxy Fold on Monday after several incidents with screens last week left early-production review units unusable. Samsung confirmed it's delaying Friday's scheduled launch of the foldable phone, saying it will announce a new released 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," Samsung said in a statement. "To fully evaluate this feedback and run further internal tests, we have decided to delay the release of the Galaxy Fold."
News of the phone's delayed release was reported earlier Monday by The Wall Street Journal. That report follows a tweet from Engadget's Richard Lai on Sunday about the postponement of launch-related events in Hong Kong and Shanghai scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.
The incidents with the Fold's plastic screen have caused a kerfuffle among tech lovers, casting doubt on the durability of Samsung's $2,000 foldable phone and on the concept of bendable devices in general.
CNET's Galaxy Fold review unit has remained intact, and we've been in contact with Samsung about the reported screen issues.
Frequent mobile tipster Ice Universe corroborated on Sunday the postponement of "two events" — presumably the launch events — and suggested that shipments of the phone itself could be pushed back. SamMobile reported Sunday that Samsung was attributing the Shanghai event delay to problems with the venue, citing "someone claiming to be familiar with the matter."
Samsung's Galaxy Fold woes began Wednesday, two days after it distributed a small number of review devices to reviewers, including CNET.
Reviewers discovered that peeling the plastic film off the Galaxy Fold's 7.3-inch interior screen, which is made of a thin sheet of bendable plastic rather than glass, instantly made the phone unusable. Another discovered that the left half of the Galaxy Fold strongly flickered, and another noticed a bulge under the screen that caused noticeable distortion in the screen's image, possibly from debris that worked its way under the display.
"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," Samsung said Monday. "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."
Now playing: Watch this: Samsung Galaxy Fold problems explained 3:56
Foldable phones are a brand-new concept rocking the phone world. The design is supposed to give people double the screen space on a device that's small enough to carry around, unlike today's pocket-busting devices. But the enormous expense — the Galaxy Fold starts at $1,980 — and concerns over the durability of a bendable screen and hinge could threaten the ability of foldable phones to get off the ground. Huawei has also announced a foldable device, the Mate X, and Motorola is rumored to have a foldable Razr in the works.
The incidents with the Galaxy Fold are also putting Samsung under intense scrutiny as consumers and industry pundits draw parallels with Samsung's double recall of 2016's Galaxy Note 7, after numerous reports that its battery overheated and sometimes caught fire. Screen issues tied to the Galaxy Fold have "broken" the phones, but have not been reported to cause a fire or any other damage to people and property.
Samsung said last week in a statement that it's investigating the review units in person to determine the cause of the screen issues: "A limited number of early Galaxy Fold samples were provided to media for review. We have received a few reports regarding the main display on the samples provided. We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter."
The company also told CNET in a statement last week: "We are taking all necessary measures to ensure that information about protective layer is clearly delivered to our customers. Materials in the Galaxy Fold box, including the quick-start guide, will include information about the protective layer. Samsung.com will have a dedicated Galaxy Fold FAQ for consumers to learn more about caring for the Galaxy Fold, including information about the protective layer. Retail representatives and customer care are trained with information about the top protective layer."
CNET is keeping an eye on developments with the Galaxy Fold. While we're continuing to review the early production device, we will not assign a rating until after we test the final production phone we ordered. See how it's going with our Galaxy Fold so far.
We went hands-on with the Galaxy Fold, and here it is 63 Photos
Originally published April 21.
Update, April 22 at 7:52 a.m.: Adds the WSJ report about the launch delay.
Update, April 22 at 10:22 a.m.: Adds confirmation from Samsung.
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