Last week, news broke that the Samsung Galaxy Fold could be in serious trouble. Multiple reviewers reported that the device was fragile and prone to breaking, even without being dropped or otherwise injured. In several cases, reviewers acknowledged removing a plastic screen protector that Samsung says is not supposed to be removed (whether the product packaging needs to be updated in some way to reflect this is one of the questions that’s been raised). But at least two devices appear to have broken without any kind of screen protector issue.
Samsung promised a thorough investigation of the devices. Now, it’s announced a delay to the April 26 launch, PCMag reports. Samsung also delayed two media events it had planned for the Fold, one in Shanghai, and one in Hong Kong.
Breaking: Samsung is delaying the rollout of its Galaxy Fold smartphone until at least next month after reports that test devices malfunctioned https://t.co/Ghx9YTHZUC
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) April 22, 2019
“A limited number of early Galaxy Fold samples were provided to media for review. We have received a few reports regarding the main display on the samples provided. We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter,” Samsung said in its earlier April 18 statement. “Separately, a few reviewers reported having removed the top layer of the display causing damage to the screen … Removing the protective layer or adding adhesives to the main display may cause damage. We will ensure this information is clearly delivered to our customers.”
Probably the Right Call
After reports broke of four devices failing right off the bat, we’ve been watching carefully to see if any new reports would surface. Four phones breaking immediately could be a sign of a huge problem — or just bad luck in an age of social media.
As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Launching a Galaxy Fold that breaks too easily could anchor the idea that folding devices are too fragile for use in the minds of consumers. Samsung recovered from the Galaxy Note 7 debacle in part because it had launched six previous Notes without problems. Launching a broken first-generation part risks poisoning long-term consumer perceptions of the product family after the company has spent years and hundreds of millions of dollars attempting to bring the technology to market.
Samsung knows that the Fold is a prototype — at $1,980, it’s as much proof-of-concept for the tiny number of people likely to buy it than a mainstream product. But when you’re attempting to break into the market with a brand new part at a sky-high price, putting your best foot forward is essential. Holding the launch off to fix problems is less risky than launching and having to recall the product line to fix it.