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The Galaxy Fold is Back: Bold, Beautiful, Delicate?

by Ken Hyers | 7月 25, 2019

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold is returning for launch in September, 2019, after undergoing several months of improvements to the original design. The first version of the Galaxy Fold nearly made it to consumers’ hands, but the launch was delayed after numerous reviewers encountered problems related to the durability of the Fold’s namesake display technology.

Samsung Galaxy Fold:

 Galaxy-Fold_Space-Silver_Front1 

Design changes for the revamped Galaxy Fold include extending the top protective layer of film to extend beyond the bezel; some reviewers mistook the layer for a screen protector and peeled it off, ruining the display. Also changed are reinforcements to the hinge of the device and the addition of protective caps to prevent particles such as dirt or pocket lint from passing through gaps in the hinge and damaging the display from inside the device.

Galaxy Fold Improved Hinge:

 Galaxy-Fold_Space-Silver_Hinge

These changes were made to fix problems that quickly became apparent when the first reviewers received their devices in the Spring, just weeks before the Galaxy Fold was scheduled to go on sale to the public. They highlighted the speed with which the device was being rushed to market, as these issues would have normally been noticed and fixed if proper testing had been conducted. However, once they came to light Samsung quickly responded by delaying the launch of the Fold and engineering fixes for the problems.

While the Galaxy Fold’s mechanical and design problems that were highlighted when reviewers had the device have apparently been corrected (we won’t know for sure until reviewers get their hands on the new versions of the Fold), the device will remain a relatively fragile device. When folded, it will still have gaps between the two inner halves of the display that could allow items in a pocket like coins or debris to get between the displays and scratch them. The hinge itself will be a weak point requiring users to exercise more care when using than would a standard slab-style smartphone. And it will be expensive, retailing for US$1,980.

All of that said, the Samsung Galaxy Fold is the most exciting smartphone design to appear in the last decade. Since the beginning of the modern smartphone era, Android and iOS phones have been almost universally characterized by a slab-like rectangular design. That design has served consumers well, but has arguably reached its peak, with smartphone innovation at a near-standstill in terms of design language.

The Galaxy Fold (and other folding smartphone designs from Huawei, Motorola and others, as well as additional Samsung folders in the works) is the most original design for a smartphone and one that will drive new smartphone use cases in the 5G era. Samsung’s boldness in launching the Fold, warts and all, is to be applauded. Now the world is watching to see whether Samsung has fixed the Fold’s original teething issues. Here’s hoping they have.

Strategy Analytics’ Device Technologies practice tracks and forecasts smartphone display technologies including display size, display pricing, display resolution, display design and display technologies including foldable displays. Clients can access all of this research here.

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