First there was Bendgate. Now there is … Foldgate?
Several reporters with early access to Samsung’s Galaxy Fold — a luxury foldable smartphone that turns into a tablet — say their new devices broke after just a few days of use.
Reviewer Mark Gurman from Bloomberg said his “review unit is completely broken and unusable after just two days in.” In a series of tweets, he documented how his screen broke after he removed the protective film on the screen. Meanwhile, The Verge’s Dieter Bohn called out a “small bulge” on what he said was a defective hinge.
Other reviewers have indicated a constant flickering screen. The reports unnerved investors, and Samsung shares finished 3% lower in Seoul on Thursday.
The company announced Wednesday that the Galaxy Fold had sold out on its website, though it declined to say how many phones had actually been sold. The smartphone will be available on AT&T and T-Mobile starting April 26. It’s unclear as of now if the issues with the reviewers’ devices could hurt ongoing pre-sales.
A Samsung spokesperson said in a statement that the company has received a few reports regarding Galaxy Fold devices provided to media outlets for review, and that it will “thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter.”
The spokesperson also said some of the device reviewers “reported having removed the top layer of the display causing damage to the screen.”
“Removing the protective layer or adding adhesives to the main display may cause damage,” the spokesperson said. “We will ensure this information is clearly delivered to our customers.”
The Galaxy Fold is a 4.6 inch-smartphone that opens up into a 7.3-inch tablet. The device, which will cost $1,980, will run on Android 9.0 and be available in four colors (black, silver, green and blue).
Samsung (SSNLF) announced the Galaxy Fold in February at its annual smartphone press event. Analysts and gadget lovers applauded the company for taking a risk in a smartphone market that seems to have plateaued in terms of both sales and innovative new features.
But any problems with the phone could pose a real problem for Samsung, which is still recovering from the debacle that was the Galaxy Note 7, millions of which had to be recalled due to reports of exploding batteries.
Samsung has a reputation for taking risks — it was one of the first companies to roll out larger-sized smartphones — but these efforts don’t always work.
However, Ben Wood, research director of CCS Insight, said when the Fold was announced that a foldable could help Samsung stand out as an innovation leader.
“Unveiling a product ahead of rivals is an important milestone,” Wood told CNN Business ahead of the launch event. “It feels like we’re in the Stone Age when it comes to products with flexible screens. We’re seeing the first very tentative steps toward the implementation of a technology that may seem to be a solution looking for a problem now, but is likely to become a pillar of designs of consumer electronic devices in the future.”