LONDON >> Samsung’s highly anticipated folding phone will go on sale Friday, after the original launch date was delayed by months because of embarrassing problems with the screen.
The South Korean tech giant had put the Galaxy Fold’s launch on hold after reviewers encountered problems with the device’s innovative folding screen, which the company said today have now been resolved.
“During the past several months, Samsung has been refining the Galaxy Fold to ensure it delivers the best possible experience,” with improvements to the phone’s “design and construction,” the company said in an announcement at the start of a consumer electronics fair in Germany where it was showcasing the device.
The nearly $2,000 phone will launch on Sept. 6 in South Korea, and Sept. 18 in France, Germany and Britain, with versions for next generation 5G networks available in the latter two countries.
Other markets including the U.S. and Singapore will follow, but the company did not specify dates.
The Galaxy Fold’s original April launch was pushed back after reports that some reviewers’ phones were breaking.
Journalists who had received the phones to preview said the folding screen started flickering and turning black before fizzling out. Two reviewers mistakenly removed the screen’s protective outer plastic layer.
The Galaxy Fold is slightly longer and narrower than a standard smartphone when folded, but opens up to the size of a small tablet, with the internal screen display bisected by a crease. It also has another screen on the outside so it can be used when closed.
Samsung has said the composite polymer screen can be opened and closed 200,000 times, or 100 times a day for five years.
“We’ve had to make some really high-tech adjustments in how we’re going to make this device,” said Mark Notton, Samsung’s European portfolio director.
They include adding protective caps to the top and bottom of the hinge, extending the screen protector to better ensure sure it stays in place, and slimming down the hinge and narrowing the gap between the hinge and the body when the phone is closed, Notton said.
The delay was a setback for Samsung and for the broader smartphone market, which had been looking to folding screens as one way to catalyze innovation in the industry.
China’s Huawei also announced its own folding screen phone, the Mate X, at around the same time, but it hasn’t yet set a launch date.
Samsung’s 2016 launch of its Galaxy Note 7 was also troubled, with the company forced to eventually recall the phone because its batteries were catching on fire.