Foldable phones are finally real, but the question now emerging is whether they are ready to become mainstream? Well, for now, it doesn’t look like it.
Companies like Samsung, Huawei, and Motorola are out with their foldable screen smartphones — the Galaxy Fold 2, Huawei Mate X, Galaxy Z Flip and the Motorola Razr. All these foldable phones are unique in their own ways, but have their own set of drawbacks too. The Achilles Heel for all is clearly the durability of the folding screen, which in turn allows for this very form factor.
Samsung faced major backlash when the Galaxy Fold was launched last year due to its screen cracking issue. Soon after reviewers highlighted the issue, Samsung acknowledged it, recalled the faulty devices and relaunched a few months later. The company also provided detailed guidelines on how-to-use the Galaxy Fold. Looks like Samsung has learnt from past experience and was careful in building the new Galaxy Z Flip.
Our first impression of the Galaxy Z Flip was that while it is different and stylish, one really needs to be careful while using the phone, thanks to the “Ultra Thin Glass”. The Galaxy Z Flip is different from the Motorola Razr and the Galaxy Fold because Samsung claims it comes with a glass screen. The Galaxy Fold and the Motorola Razr sports a plastic display, which makes these phones prone to scratches. The Galaxy Z Flip’s “glass” screen is supposed to prevent this.
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But JerryRigEverything’s durability test video suggests the glass is not all that strong.
Galaxy Z Flip durability video
The video shows the screen of the Z Flip getting scratched very easily. It shows the Z flip starts registering deep scratches in level two itself — instead of level six or seven usually — which often is the case with phones with plastic screens. The Galaxy Fold and Motorola Razr don’t fare better, but then they have plastic screens.
What Samsung has to say
Commenting on the durability test, Samsung told The Verge that Samsung’s first-of-its-kind Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) technology is different from other Galaxy flagship devices and while “the display does bend, it should be handled with care”. The company also acknowledged that the Galaxy Z Flip has a protective layer on top of the UTG “similar to Galaxy Fold”. XDA’s Max Weinbach tweeted that the company has told him that the Galaxy Z Flip has a protective plastic foil placed on top of the “Ultra Thin Glass”.
Does this mean it was the plastic foil that was scratched and not the glass screen?
Moto Razr issues
JerryRigEverything’s durability test video showed that the Razr too has a fragile screen and wasn’t able to pass level 3 of the scratch test. CNET’s durability test of the Razr showed that the hinge of the phone started acting wonky after around 27,000 folds.
Smartphone manufacturers should be applauded for attempting the new foldable form factor. There are several challenges to build a foldable screen smartphone and slowly the companies are getting there. Samsung made mistakes when it launched the Galaxy Fold. It has applied its learning to the Flip, making the new phone a better and more practical foldable. The Motorola Razr too has its share of issues.
Although foldable phones are fascinating, they don’t seem all that ready for the mainstream yet. Manufacturers will have work on making the experience less problematic for the new form factor to get mainstream adoption. As of now, the process is on.
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