Tech giant Samsung has been forced to cancel the release of its next generation $AU3300 folding smartphone after tech reviewers reported the screens broke.
The company said on Monday it would delay the release of the Galaxy Fold ahead of one release scheduled for Friday.
Some journalists who were given early access to the phone noticed that half of the screen stopped working while others damaged the device by mistakenly removing a protective layer.
Samsung decided to pull the launch after the issues were flagged.
They said some of the damage was caused by “impact on the top and bottom exposed areas of the hinge”.
The company also noted that a “substance” was found inside one of the test devices which could have affected its performance.
Tech reviewers began posting problems with the device on Twitter last week, but as of Friday the company did not know the root cause of the screen defects, according to Patrick Moorhead, founder of Moor Insights and Strategy, who said he was in direct contact with the company.
About 50 units of the $1,980 foldable device had been sent for review to journalists, analysts and bloggers in the United States ahead of a planned April 26 launch, Moorhead said.
It was not immediately clear how many of the devices were defective.
Four units sent to journalists and a YouTube personality contained problems, according to their posts on Twitter.
Reporters from outlets like Bloomberg, The Verge and CNBC all took to Twitter to share photos of how their supposedly flexible screens were blacking out or breaking at the hinges.
“The screen on my Galaxy Fold review unit is completely broken and unusable just two days in,” Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman tweeted on Wednesday.
The screen on my Galaxy Fold review unit is completely broken and unusable just two days in. Hard to know if this is widespread or not. pic.twitter.com/G0OHj3DQHw
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) April 17, 2019
Attached to the tweet was a photo of the phone with two-thirds of the 7.3-inch screen blacked out.
“When I tap the screen as well with the top of my finger and the fingernail hits it (very common), it also leaves a seemingly permanent indent,” Gurman tweeted shortly thereafter. “There is a very small tear at the top part of the hinge and after I poked at it, the screen got worse.”
Samsung eventually responded to the backlash through a publicly released statement.
“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,” a Samsung spokesperson said on Monday.
Samsung also postponed media events for the device planned for this week in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
It was due to be released in the US on April 26 and then in the UK on May 3.
While Samsung has not said how long the delay could be or whether production of the unit has halted completely, some analysts said the delay was minor compared to the massive recall and production halt that the company endured with its Galaxy Note 7 in 2016.
At that time, the company was forced to halt sales of its Note 7 because the phone’s battery was overheating, catching fire and blowing up in customers’ pockets.
“It’s certainly an embarrassment to Samsung’s reputation but this won’t have much financial impact on them since they created a whole new category of foldables with this product. There is no market share to lose,” said Moorhead, who added that his test version of the phone was working without any issues.
The Galaxy Fold features a tablet-sized 7.3 inch display that bends, allowing it to fold to the size of a regular smartphone with a 4.6 inch screen.
Samsung claims the Fold’s hinge can withstand 200,000 holds. But so far it’s looking like it can hardly withstand two days.
The company unveiled the new model on February 21, declaring the “highly anticipated” phone would create a new category for the industry which has largely been unchanged since Apple Inc released its iPhone in 2007.
“Samsung is writing the next chapter in mobile innovation history by changing what’s possible in a smartphone,” the company said at the time of the launch.
“Galaxy Fold introduces a completely new category that unlocks new capabilities never seen before with our Infinity Flex Display.
“We created Galaxy Fold for those that want to experience what a premium foldable device can do, beyond the limitations of a traditional smartphone.”