Samsung Electronics said on Thursday that it would investigate possible problems with its new foldable phones after reviewers reported that the units were malfunctioning before their release next week.
The South Korean company, the world’s largest handset maker, first unveiled a prototype of the foldable phone, the Galaxy Fold, at a conference for software developers last year.
In February, it shared further details about the device, which costs nearly $2,000 (Dh7,345) and has two screens with a hinge in the middle. Users can fold or unfold the phone like a book to decrease or increase the phone’s screen size.
When folded, the viewable screen measures 4.6 inches. When unfolded, the device has a 7.3-inch display, about the size of a tablet screen.
Samples of the Galaxy Fold were provided to journalists for review, and some reviewers reported that parts of the foldable screen were damaged. Asked for a response on Thursday, a Samsung spokesman reissued a statement that had been provided to reporters on Wednesday, saying the company had “received a few reports regarding the main display on the samples provided.”
“We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter,” the statement said. “Separately, a few reviewers reported having removed the top layer of the display causing damage to the screen.”
The statement said the main display has a top layer that is designed to protect the screen from scratches. Removing it, or adding adhesives to the main display, can damage the screen, it said.
“We will ensure this information is clearly delivered to our customers,” the company said.
The spokesman did not provide a response to follow-up questions, including whether there was any change to the dates the phone was expected to be made available: April 26 in the United States, May 3 in Europe. There was also no further information about how many of the samples provided to reviewers had been described as damaged or malfunctioning.
Samsung has been known to take risks when introducing new technology. In 2016, the company discontinued its Galaxy Note 7, a smartphone that was more complex to produce than past models, after reports that several of the devices had exploded. Samsung concluded that the device shipped with faulty batteries.
In a review published on Wednesday in The Verge, the site’s executive editor, Dieter Bohn, said after “normal use,” he detected a bulge in the hinge area of the screen on the phone he was provided.
“Whatever happened, it certainly wasn’t because I have treated this phone badly,” Bohn wrote. “I’ve done normal phone stuff, like opening and closing the hinge and putting it in my pocket.”
He said an object might have become lodged in the device through a tiny gap. “Or maybe it was pieces from the hinge itself breaking loose and working their way up into the screen. I don’t know,” he wrote. “I just know that the screen is broken, and there was no obvious proximate cause for the bulge that broke it.”
“We’ve seen worries about scratches on expensive phones and debris breaking the keyboard on expensive MacBooks, but a piece of debris distorting the screen on a $1,980 phone after one day of use feels like it’s on an entirely different level,” Bohn added.
Mark Gurman, who reports on technology for Bloomberg, wrote that the device he reviewed had a “very small tear” at the top part of the hinge.
He published a review and posted some of his observations on Twitter, saying he might have contributed to the problem by removing the protective film. The review also said the inner screen stopped working.
A review of the device by CNBC demonstrated the display problem within two days, without removal of the protective film.
Huawei, the Chinese technology company, has introduced a competing foldable device called the Mate X. It will cost about $2,600 and be available around the middle of the year outside the United States.