A report from The Wall Street Journal suggests Samsung could be pumping the brakes on the Samsung Galaxy Fold, the bendable device that some people have found a little too flimsy.
This isn’t the first rumor of a delay for the phone. Over the weekend, SamMobile reported a delay for the launch of the phone in China, with Samsung citing a problem with the venue, while SamMobile noted related events had also quietly been shuttered.
Wall Street Journal’s sources appear to be separate from SamMobile’s and refer specifically to a delay of the Galaxy Fold in the United States. The Galaxy Fold was supposed to launch April 26th here, and as of now, pre-orders are completely sold out online. Though how many units were expected to be shipped is unknown. It could have been 200,000 or 200.
The Galaxy Fold has been plagued with bad press since its announcement. The first issue was a truly nitpicky one—people didn’t like the size of the outer display that is used when the phone is folded up.
Early last week Samsung seeded review units to tech journalists and a spate of influencers and more significant issues cropped up. First, a number of people felt it necessary to peel the Galaxy Fold like an orange, removing any film, including a sturdy looking one that appears to be more like the protective aftermarket one your mom puts on her iPhone than the thin film used to protect a device during shipping. According to Samsung, this film is necessary for the device to function properly, and it should not be removed.
That’s an easy enough fix if Samsung adds a DO NOT REMOVE warning in the packaging and people who pre-order read the countless stories since written about the film. Given that these people are spending two grand on a phone they’re probably a little more tech obsessive than the average consumer and hopefully more savvy than apparently the average tech critic.
The other problem, as detailed by The Verge’s Dieter Bohn, is more concerning. Bohn’s unit stopped functioning not long after arrival, but not because he removed the film that mustn’t be removed. Samsung is still investigating what went wrong with his device. It could be a one in a million flaw or it could be the indicator of a larger problem with the Galaxy Fold that needs to be rectified before shipping.
Either way, it’s probably a good idea that Samsung is waiting just a little bit. While it was delightful to see Samsung commit to the Galaxy Fold’s launch date last week, I kept finding myself thinking of the Note 7. Like the Galaxy Fold, it was a flashy new device featuring fresh technology. After countless units of the device burst into blames owing to a battery issue, it was subject to a worldwide recall. It was later reported that Samsung rushed the product to market. Rushing unfinished wares to customers had burned Samsung before, and it seemed the company was on the cusp of doing it again.
Waiting to make sure the kinks are worked out is probably a safer bet than launching a flashy new device that then becomes a laughing stock. Because a good way to make sure no one makes a folding phone for the next few years is for the most prominent folding phone to be a fuck up fresh out of the gate.
Look there’s always a price to pay when you’re an early adopter. The tech is more expensive and more prone to failing miserably. Yet ideally the tech should be sturdy enough that most people are still okay with spending exorbitant amounts of money on the dang thing. With this new report that Samsung is backing down it appears that the Galaxy Fold, in its current state, just isn’t there yet.
Though it should be noted that Gizmodo’s review unit is still going strong, as are the units held by a number of analysts and critics. So this really could be a case of Samsung trying to avoid any additional bad press on a device that has been inundated with the stuff.
Currently, Samsung has not confirmed that the delay is actually happening. Nor has AT&T and T-Mobile, its partners for releasing the Galaxy Fold in the US. We’ve reached out all three for more details and will update when we learn more.
Update 1:o3pm EST — Moments after publication Samsung issued this statement confirming the delay. The Galaxy Fold will now release “in the coming weeks” instead of this week.
“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.”