Samsung’s proclaimed that it has “done the impossible” with its Galaxy Z Flip, that the smartphone even “bends the laws of physics.” But now a new durability test video has us questioning whether its screen really is made of that ultra-thin glass that’s supposed to set it apart from the company’s other bendable phone, the (originally disastrous) Galaxy Fold.
As part of his YouTube channel JerryRigEverything, technology reviewer Zack Nelson puts every new smartphone through a rigorous series of tests to see what kind of tough love they can endure, and—more importantly—whether that stacks up with industry claims concerning its durability. A video released Sunday shows his assessment of Samsung’s second attempt at a foldable phone, and—as you probably guessed from the headline—the results didn’t inspire much confidence.
That “Ultra Thin Glass” I mentioned before appeared to respond to stress tests suspiciously similar to how a plastic screen would. When scratching its screen with a set of Mohs hardness picks to test its durability, the Galaxy Z Flip began to show signs of damage at levels 2 and 3. Glass displays typically scratch at a 5 or 6 in his tests, much as the phone’s exterior display—also purportedly made of glass—does. (For comparison, sapphire typically becomes damaged at around 8 or 9, and diamond scratches at 10.) The screen also momentarily warps when he takes a lighter to it, much in the same way plastic reacts under intense heat, and he’s able to leave scratches with his fingernail.
Admittedly, Samsung does include a warning telling users to avoid pressing too hard on the screen or folding it close with any debris inside. But with how fragile Nelson showed it to be, it really brings into question Samsung’s claims about the strength and durability of its so-called “first-of-its-kind” ultra-thin glass.
At one point in the video, Nelson floats the idea that maybe the Galaxy Z Flip’s screen is made out of “hybrid plastic polymer with little flecks of glass ingredients inside,” and that the company’s simply calling it glass. The problem with that is, though, as he goes on to say:
“I can’t go make a pile of mud, sprinkle in some chocolate chips, and then call my mud a cookie just because it has some of the ingredients of a cookie.”
Samsung did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment. In a statement to the Verge, a spokesperson explained a bit more about what the Galaxy Z Flip’s bendy display is made of:
“Galaxy Z Flip features an Infinity Flex Display with Samsung’s Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) to deliver a sleek, premium look and offer an immersive viewing experience. Samsung’s first-of-its-kind UTG technology is different from other Galaxy flagship devices. While the display does bend, it should be handled with care. Also, Galaxy Z Flip has a protective layer on top of the UTG similar to Galaxy Fold.”
That last part seems to imply that if scratches do occur, they’re limited to the phone’s outer protective layer. However, the statement doesn’t really fly with what you can see in Nelson’s torture test, because some of those cuts look pretty damn deep.
If needed, Samsung will offer a one-time screen replacement for $119, the company told the Verge. As part of the repair, “[t]he screen protector will be applied by a specialist with the proper equipment to align and apply it. The program is rolling out soon,” the spokesperson continued.
For a $1,380 phone that sells itself as the first bendable glass phone on the market, that fee may be a hard pill to swallow for some users.