Samsung’s Galaxy Fold is finally available after months of redesigning and tweaking to address durability issues. The first real foldable phone on the market is still more fragile than your average smartphone — Samsung filled the packaging with warnings about that. Naturally, people are trying to figure out how fragile it is by breaking it. The latest to give it a shot is Cnet, which found the phone failed much faster than Samsung claims.
The Galaxy Fold almost launched last spring, but the first handful of review units started failing after just a day or two of use. Samsung recalled them and set to work tweaking the phone’s design. Through it all, Samsung has maintained the flexible OLED panel and hinge in the Galaxy Fold would be good for around 200,000 folds. It estimates that’s enough for five years of daily use.
Samsung released a video showing robots folding the phone repeatedly, suggesting that’s the basis for their 200,000-fold estimate. Cnet bought a Galaxy Fold and borrowed a phone-manipulating robot from SquareTrade to run its own test. In a video live stream yesterday evening, the robot folded and unfolded the device 2.5 times per second with someone checking every now and then to assess the phone for damage.
At the 100,000 mark, everything seemed to be going fine. The OLED panel still worked, and the phone’s hinge felt solid. However, just a little later at 119,380 cycles, half of the OLED screen was dead. The hinge has also lost its snappiness. That’s far short of Samsung’s claimed 200,000 folds. This also matches the results from a separate SquareTrade test, which found damage to the screen and hinge around 120,000 folds.
— CNET (@CNET) October 4, 2019
120,000 folds might not live up to Samsung’s claims, but it’s still nothing to sneeze at. You could open the Galaxy Fold 100 times per day for more than three years before hitting that threshold. However, these are all folds being executed by a perfectly balanced robotic arm. It’s possible a human would put uneven pressure on the hinge or screen. Indeed, that may have contributed to the failure of early units last spring.
All we have to go on now are these synthetic tests. There are so few Galaxy Fold units in the wild, and people haven’t owned them long enough to see them fail organically. It’s possible the phone might prove more durable than we expect.
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