Samsung on Thursday announced the launch of its expensive — and troubled — Galaxy Fold, which will become the first foldable phone to hit the market.
The Fold, which opens like a book, will go on sale in South Korea on Friday. Sales in other countries, including France, Germany, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States, will follow, though Samsung did not specify when exactly the phone will reach those markets.
Samsung (SSNLF) said Thursday that it has spent the past several months “refining” the phone.
“Now, we’re excited to release this pioneering mobile technology, and allow consumers to experience it for themselves,” said DJ Koh, Samsung’s president and CEO of IT & Mobile Communications Division, in a statement.
The 4.6 inch-smartphone’s key selling point is that it opens up into a 7.3-inch tablet. But reviewers complained of several problems, including defective hinges and broken screens, after they mistook the Fold’s protective film for a disposable shield and removed it.
Samsung announced tweaks to the phone’s design back in July. It strengthened the phone’s hinge area and extended the top protective layer to make it more obvious to users that it is not supposed to be removed. The company also added caps to protect the top and bottom of the phone’s hinge.
The early reviews were a setback for Samsung, which is the world’s largest smartphone maker. The company has worked to win back customer trust following its Galaxy Note 7 fiasco in 2016. Millions of those devices were recalled because of reports of exploding batteries. Samsung later halted production and sales of that phone.
Consumers will likely be hesitant to buy the Galaxy Fold because of its hefty price tag and the early reports of broken screens, one analyst noted in July. But he added that is unlikely to affect Samsung’s reputation or market position since there isn’t much demand for foldable devices right now.
Samsung’s new phone will go head-to-head with rival smartphone maker Huawei’s foldable phone. The Chinese tech company is expected to launch its $2,600 Mate X later this year. The phone was delayed so Huawei could test it further. Huawei hasn’t yet revealed an official release date.
Samsung is also dealing with problems in its memory chip business. Global demand has slowed and a dispute between Japan and South Korea threatens to restrict the supply of chemicals Samsung needs to make semiconductors.