Benjamin Braun speaking at IFA for Samsung

Samsung relaunches troubled Galaxy Fold smartphone

Image credit: E&T Magazine

Having delayed the planned launch of the Galaxy Fold smartphone due to faults with its folding screen, Samsung has announced that it will finally go on sale in the UK and other markets this month.

Speaking to delegates at the IFA consumer electronics shows in Berlin, Samsung European CMO Benjamin Braun announced that the phone would go on sale in South Korea on 6 September 2019, with other worldwide markets following throughout the month. The announcement today was met with mild applause from the packed room full of delegates.

“Now smartphones are as big as they can get and still fit in their pocket, but we know that our customers want even bigger screens, so we have developed a screen that folds,” he said. “And today we are proud to announce that the Galaxy Fold will go on sale this month.”

“I am convinced that folding screens will be the start of a new exciting era for the industry.”

The Fold is one of a small handful of smartphones which allows users to expand their standard screen to a single, continuous screen the size of a tablet by ‘unfolding’ it. This novel approach to phone design attracted considerable attention earlier this year at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress.

The Fold appears to be a long, thin smartphone while folded (6.3x16.1cm cover screen), but takes on the appearance of a tablet when unfolded (11.8x16.1cm screen). With the screen unfolded, up to three apps can be used at once and users may also find this expanded screen design more comfortable when using their phones for work, video and gaming.

In April, reviewers started to complain of serious technical issues with their sample handsets, reporting that their foldable displays broke in various ways after just days of use, despite Samsung having boasted that the Fold can withstand being opened and closed at least 200,000 times (equivalent to 100 times a day for five years). The planned April launch date was suspended to give Samsung engineers the opportunity to investigate and fix the faults.

In July, it was hinted that Samsung was planning a September release date.

The phone will be released first in South Korea, with releases in Singapore, US, UK, France and Germany to follow throughout September. UK customers should be able to access the Galaxy Fold from 18 September.

The Galaxy Fold will come in Cosmos Black and Space Silver and in both LTE and 5G versions. The retail price will begin at £1,800 (€2,000 in the EU and $1,980 in the US), with the 5G version likely to be significantly more expensive. This will make the Galaxy Fold one of the most expensive smartphones on the market.

In a statement, Samsung said: “We learned from the feedback we received and not only applied those lessons to the Galaxy Fold’s design, but also took the time to rethink the entire consumer experience from purchase to unboxing and post-purchase service.”

According to Samsung, changes that have been made to the Galaxy Fold in recent months include additional reinforcement; the protective layer of the display has been extended to beyond the bezel to discourage people from removing it; the top and bottom of the hinge have been strengthened with protection caps, and the space between the hinge and body has been reduced. Samsung will also be introducing a “Galaxy Fold Premier Service” to give users access to Samsung experts at any time to help with problems they encounter with their handset.

Samsung is expected to complete in the limited foldable phone market with Shenzhen-based Huawei, which is set to launch its own foldable Mate 20 X later this year at a similar price point.

Also speaking at IFA, Samsung’s Nicole Ng announced that the company would be providing 5G compatibility for a range of devices: the budget Galaxy A90 5G, the flagship Galaxy S10 5G, the Note 10+ tablet and the Galaxy Fold 5G.

“This demonstrates our commitment to democratising 5G by offering it at more price points than any other brand,” Ng said.

This comes after the South Korean government reportedly pressured Samsung recently to reconsider its decision to hold back a 4G-capable version of its Galaxy Note 10 model in favour of a 5G model for the domestic market.

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