Despite a slew of broken review units, Samsung still planned to proceed with the release of its new phone tablet hybrid, the Samsung Galaxy Fold, which was slated for Friday, April 26. In a April 18 statement to Inverse, Samsung said it would “thoroughly inspect these units” but indicated to the Wall Street Journal that “there are no changes to the plans — we are launching in the U.S. on April 26.”
Samsung’s inspections appear to have identified some cause for further concern, however. On Sunday, Reuters reported that the company had delayed two media events devoted to the Fold, one in Shanghai and one in Hong Kong. This report was followed shortly by a Wall Street Journal story reporting that the company would also be pushing back its April 26 U.S. launch by about a month.
Shortly after the Journal story broke, the company itself confirmed that it would be delaying the release of the Galaxy Fold. A new timeline for the device will be available “in the coming weeks.” Here’s the full statement from Samsung about the delay:
We recently unveiled a completely new mobile category: a smartphone using multiple new technologies and materials to create a display that is flexible enough to fold. We are encouraged by the excitement around the Galaxy Fold.
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.
To fully evaluate this feedback and run further internal tests, we have decided to delay the release of the Galaxy Fold. We plan to announce the release 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.
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.
We value the trust our customers place in us and they are always our top priority. Samsung is committed to working closely with customers and partners to move the industry forward. We want to thank them for their patience and understanding.”
Until recently, it looked like Samsung might have been able to pull of Friday’s launch, despite several reports from some of the world’s most influential tech reviewers that their units had already broken. Inverse spoke to several pre-order customers about broken units who said they had no intention of requesting refunds and, if anything, viewed the scandal as something of a positive. By bringing to light the most likely point of confusion among consumers, pre-order customers argued, the broken units may end up benefitting the Fold in the long run.
“Happy that the whole ‘protective film’ issue was discovered ahead of release,” one customer said. “I can totally see myself pull[ing] that screen protector off because that’s what I have the habit of doing with buying phones.”
Some of the initial reviews were also shockingly positive. Dieter Bohn, the executive editor of The Verge, said that he has “never used a device with this many problems that I have liked this much.”
It does look like the Fold’s problems extent beyond consumer warnings about its deceptive screen protector. The company’s explanation for the ruptured displays — and that they “could be associated with impact on the top and bottom exposed areas of the hinge” — suggests that one of the Fold’s key innovations, the system of interlocking hinges that allow the Fold to fold, needs further refining.
Samsung’s Galaxy Fold was geared to be the first experimental smartphone design to make it to market. Other companies have showcased next-gen smartphone concepts, including screens that unfurl like scrolls and other folding handsets that alternate between tablet and handset-sized displays. But these devices have not yet made it to market.
When it does launch, Samsung’s Galaxy Fold will start at $1,980. If you’ve signed up to pre-order the device, we’d love to hear from you.
This story has been updated to include comment from Samsung.