Samsung readies Galaxy Fold for September release

When it was unveiled onstage, the Galaxy Fold was heralded as the next big thing. Samsung seeded units to reviews and prepared for launch. And then a funny thing happened on the way to a smartphone paradigm shift: it started breaking. Multiple review units were sent back to Samsung with busted screens.

It was a small sample size, to be sure. First Samsung blamed reviewers themselves. Ultimately, however, there was enough concern to cause the company to pump the breaks entirely. Now, nearly three months to the day after the device was set for release, Samsung’s finally got concrete information on the long-delayed foldable. The company just announced a September (of 2019, presumably) launch date for the device. No concrete date just yet — but at least that’s better than the “coming weeks” line we’ve been hearing about for a few months now. 

The fixes are pretty much what we’ve expected from the outset, but here’s the full breakdown straight from the company:

  • The top protective layer of the Infinity Flex Display has been extended beyond the bezel, making it apparent that it is an integral part of the display structure and not meant to be removed.
  • Galaxy Fold features additional reinforcements to better protect the device from external particles while maintaining its signature foldable experience.
  • The top and bottom of the hinge area have been strengthened with newly added protection caps.
  • Additional metal layers underneath the Infinity Flex Display have been included to reinforce the protection of the display.
  • The space between the hinge and body of Galaxy Fold has been reduced.

The first bullet point is a direct response to those reviewers who peeled off the protective layer, thinking it was temporary. Again, Samsung put the onus on reviewers there, but ultimately shouldered the blame for a top layer that looked almost exactly like the laminate Galaxy devices ship with to avoid scratching. This fix hides those corners — and the temptation to peel them.

The next three, meanwhile, are reactions to a larger design flaw with the initial Fold, which allowed particles to fall between hinges. Once trapped behind the display, pressing the touchscreen would cause it to push up against the particles, damaging it in the process.

“Samsung has taken the time to fully evaluate the product design,” the company writes, “make necessary improvements and run rigorous tests to validate the changes we made.” The phone maker has, hopefully, learned a lessen from the Note 7 debacle from a few years back. After being too eager to get the product back to market, Samsung was ultimately forced to issue a second recall for the phablet and ultimately discontinued the product altogether.

This issue will likely have less of an impact on the company’s bottom line, as it was discovered before the product officially came to market. It has, however, been viewed by many as an indictment of the nascent foldables category. It was also apparently enough to cause Huawei to hit pause on the release of its own Mate X foldable, which has since been subject to additional rigorous tests.

A number of retailers have since canceled preorders. Likely the initial hiccup has also left many early adopters second-guessing the decision to drop $2,000 on an unproven product. Samsung seemed ready for the Fold to be something of a niche product regardless, but the ongoing saga could ultimately compound that.

More release details are being promised “closer to launch.” Turns out Samsung might have exactly the right stage for that big announcement a few weeks from now.

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