The release of Samsung's revolutionary folding phone has been a rocky one, and the latest chapter sees the company automatically cancelling customer orders.
Besieged by technical issues and production problems, the Fold has been taken back to the drawing board by Samsung. The company is remaining quiet about when it now expects to deliver the phone.
Samsung has assured those that desperately want the phone that orders can be kept open, if requested. However, with pre-release models reportedly failing after mere days of use, it's a case of buyer beware.
Samsung Fold on Hold
In an official email sent to customers who had pre-ordered the Fold, Samsung stated:
“If we do not hear from you and we have not shipped by May 31, your order will be canceled automatically”.
Customers who want to keep their order of the $2,000 phone must actively let the company know that they're willing to take a chance on the Fold, which has been devastated by bad press from early test samples failing.
Although Samsung has stated it will produce 1 million Fold phones in 2019, Samsung closed pre-orders last month, citing what it called “high demand”. The original release date of April 22nd was not met after issues arose with the Fold when journalists began to receive review samples.
Samsung has stated that the cancellation of orders it to comply with US law, although it hasn't given any update on when we can expect the Fold to hit store shelves.
What Went Wrong with the Galaxy Fold?
After months of heavy rumours, leaks and conjecture, the official announcement of the Galaxy Fold felt like a real event. The smartphone market has remained relatively stagnant for some time, with even heavyweights like Apple finding that consumers were far less excited about new releases than ever, and choosing not to upgrade.
Although the first glimpse of the Fold was nothing more than a 30 second tease, it was enough to show the world that Samsung was serious about mass-producing foldable screen tech.
Samsung was somewhat coy about getting the product into journalists' hands. Many had expressed concerns about the durability of the device – rival brand Huawei even said it had killed a similar design approach, as it had worked so badly.
Still, Samsung reassured the public that the technology was robust, even releasing promotion footage from its testing factory of the phone being folded thousands of times.
Fast forward to the first previews of the Fold, and the early fears were confirmed. Review samples sent out by Samsung quickly failed, with displays cracking and huge glitches appearing on the screen. Just weeks away from the consumer release, Samsung recalled the review samples and promised to work on improvements.
We had our own hands on with the Fold, and while we didn't manage to break it, we were somewhat disappointed with the Death Star trench-sized channel in the middle of the screen.
What Will Samsung Do Next?
Officially, Samsung is working to strengthen the integrated screen shield on the Fold, which it believes is the main pain point of the device. Many journalists tried to remove this thin plastic layer, believing it was a standard protector, found on every boxed new phone.
Samsung's move to cancel orders if it can't deliver them by 31st May gives us some indication that all is not well behind closed doors. With years of research put into the Fold, fixing a critical issue in the space of a month seems a rather tall order. There are concerns that Samsung may scrap the Fold altogether, or it may return in a different form, possibly with a new name.
The last thing Samsung is looking to do is repeat its Galaxy Note 7 debacle, where devices were exploding, leading to the recall of the entire product line.
Whatever its next move, Samsung can't afford to stand still. Many other companies are waiting in the wings to sweep in and sell their own folding smartphones. The most immediate threat comes from Huawei, whose Mate X is probably the closest to production. It may be even pricier than the Fold, but the company is confident that its tech works. With the screen wrapping around the outside of the phone, its taken a different approach, and has openly mocked Samsung's failure.
Could it be the Chinese company that takes the folding phone crown, while the Korean tech giant goes back to square one?