‘Peelgate’ raises specter of ‘batterygate’
With the launch of the Galaxy Fold a few days remaining, disputes continue on problems with the bendable phone’s screen, which its maker Samsung Electronics struggles to deal with.
A number of reviewers of the foldable handsets, on sale from April 26 in the United States, have reported broken screens. Samsung responded that they mistakenly removed the protective layer to cause the malfunctions.
“A limited number of early Galaxy Fold samples were provided to media for review. We have 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,” it said.
“Separately, a few reviewers reported having removed the top layer of the display causing damage to the screen. The main display on the Galaxy Fold features a top protective layer, which is part of the display structure designed to protect the screen from unintended scratches. Removing the protective layer or adding adhesives to the main display may cause damage. We will ensure this information is clearly delivered to our customers.”
But reviewers counter that the issues are bigger than protective film as the devices can die in different ways.
Against this backdrop, some including Wall Street Journal tech columnist Joanna Stern declared that the device is not ready to be released to the public.
“It was then that I made a call, too: There’s no point in me writing a straightforward review of a product that’s so clearly not ready,” Stern said.
“I wasn’t going to recommend the phone – but now I’m concerned that it is even coming to market. At the very least, Samsung owes its customers more explanation. Are we beta-testing a prototype here?”
Other experts including Brian Heater at TechCrunch recommend people not to snap up the expensive Galaxy Fold, whose price tag is $1,980, just after its release.
“This sort of thing can happen with pre-production models. I’ve certainly had issues with review units in the past, but these reports are worth mentioning as a note of caution with a product, which we were concerned might not be ready for prime time only a couple of weeks ago,” he said.
“At the very least, it’s as good a reason as any to wait a couple of weeks before more of these are out in the world before dropping $2,000 to determine how widespread these issues are.”
Nightmare again for Samsung?
For Samsung, the Galaxy Fold showcases its technological leadership in the smartphone industry. If the device poses some serious problems for users, it would badly damage the world’s top smartphone maker.
For now, the Seoul-based company is set to launch the device later this week as initially planned despite worries about the new gadget, which critics call “peelgate.”
But the controversies raise the specter of Samsung’s ill-fated Galaxy Note 7 phone in 2016.
Back then, Samsung recalled the doomed jumbo phones and canceled their sales in the world market amid continued reports of the model exploding while charging.
The measure wiped out almost all the profit of the tech giant’s mobile division in the third quarter of 2016.
In this climate, some watchers predict that Samsung would hit the pause button on selling the Galaxy Fold in the U.S. this week. Indeed, Samsung postponed Galaxy Fold launch event in Hong Kong and Shanghai scheduled for this week.
Comments from Samsung officials were not available.