Review units of the highly anticipated Samsung Galaxy Fold began malfunctioning last week -- right before its official (and now-delayed) release. An iFixit teardown, released Wednesday, found some possible explanations for what's going wrong with the $1,980 foldable phone.
The phone is "alarmingly fragile," according to iFixit's teardown notes. The fragility makes potential repairs difficult and could account for the quick demise of screens on several phones sent to reviewers last week. iFixit noted that its slim bezels aren't flexible enough to survive constant folding and unfolding and that replacing the screen would be quite expensive.
iFixit also noted in a blog post about the screen failures that the Fold's OLED screen, in particular, is "delicate." The device's hinge and the preinstalled screen protector could also play a role in the phone's troubles. The screen protector isn't meant to be removed, and attempts to remove it will kill the screen.
"The phone ships un-folded -- but fold it even once, and that crease becomes pretty easy to spot if you're looking," the teardown noted. The phone withstood 200,000 fold tests from robots, but humans are using the devices in real-world conditions and aren't as gentle as robots, iFixit said.
Additionally, the lack of "hinge ingress protection" means "large gaps around the spine let dirt right in, possibly getting trapped between hinge and display," iFixit said. These gaps are visible when the device is closed, even though the screen is protected.
Several review units experienced screen breaks, flickering and a bulge in one case. Samsung decided this week to delay the device's April 26 release and recalled the review units. The phone tested by CNET's staff remained intact.
iFixit also found two batteries, front-facing and rear-facing, crudely glued inside the Fold. You can explore more in the full teardown.
iFixit gave the Galaxy Fold a two out of 10 on its repairability scale, with 10 being the easiest to repair.
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