I give up on foldable phones

Six months. That’s the time I have enjoyed (and disliked) my first foldable smartphone. I’m going back to the slab form factor. I feel disappointed and even defeated; I truly tried to make it work, but the issues I detected one month after buying the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 eventually became a dealbreaker for me.

In my initial post, I talked about how fragile the inner screen seemed. I mentioned that I started seeing microabrasions on the inner screen protector. By January they had become full-on scratches, wide enough to distort the screen’s light on white backgrounds.

That same month I traveled to NYC, where Samsung has one of the few stores with technical support available. I decided to visit and ask them to change the screen protector. “The first replacement is free, but subsequent replacements will be $20 each,” a technician said. I wondered how often this happens.

Dust accumulates easily when the device is folded, and moving your finger through the inner screen can participate in dragging particles, resulting in those microabrasions. Not surprisingly, the scratches appeared sooner on the area where my thumb usually moves, on the lower right corner.

I had been cleaning the inner screen with my own clothing, but the Samsung technician told me that even a soft sweater or hoodie can cause scratches on the inner screen. I should use a microfiber cloth, he said.

After an hour of waiting at the store, I got my Fold4 back with a new screen protector. Unfortunately, the new protective layer had captured a speck of dust in a corner. When I mentioned it, the Samsung technician answered that they can try again, but “can’t guarantee that the Fold4 will be returned in a better state.

That response was frustrating, especially because of all the warnings that Samsung provides about the inner screen; they make users feel like they shouldn’t try to change screen protectors on their own. If consumers cannot safely change their screen protector at home, this product is not ready to reach critical mass.

I left the store with a new resolution: moving forward, I’d comply and would only clean the inner screen with a microfiber cloth. It’s been two months since that day, and guess what? I can see microabrasions again on the lower right corner of the device. The screen now accumulates more dust than earlier because I try to refrain myself from using my clothes, so I don’t clean it as often.

The Fold4 allowed me to carry a tablet experience in my pocket. Watching videos was a pleasure and multitasking was easier than ever. However, the sight of dust each time I opened the device and the fear of scratching the screen when cleaning it killed the joy pretty quickly.

At this point, I’m convinced that folding phones will not become a serious option for the average user until a new material is readily available; one that is as scratch resistant as glass and as flexible as plastic. Until then, foldable phones like the Fold4 are just an expensive experiment.

Continue reading how this story started: Why foldable phones are not the next big thing

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Original photo by Onur Binay on Unsplash

One thought on “I give up on foldable phones

  1. Thank you…. Ivan

    It is nice to have an objective opinion! And know that such expensive cell have that kind of problems!



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