A SAMSUNG Electronics Galaxy Fold mobile device. Bloomberg The Washington Post
INTERNATIONAL - Some test models of Samsung Electronics’ new foldable phone suffered defects after only days of use, casting a shadow over this week’s introduction of a $1980 (R28000) device meant to rejuvenate a flagging market and showcase the Asian company’s technology expertise.

Several publications, including Bloomberg News, outlined a bevy of problems with test versions of the device, which folds inward like a notebook. Bloomberg’s review unit experienced issues after a plastic protective layer was removed. By the next night, a small tear had developed at the top of the hinge, where the gadget opens. Then the display failed to operate properly.

The Korean company suffered a black eye with a previous major launch in 2016, when it recalled the Galaxy Note 7 after consumers reported issues with batteries that burst into flames.

The world’s largest smartphone maker is counting on groundbreaking gadgets to propel growth and excite consumers as demand for mobile devices flattens. Pre-orders began on Monday for a marquee device expected to usher in a wave of smartphones that can unfurl into tablets. The Galaxy Fold’s 7.3-inch screen teased how users can juggle three apps at once and view video with more clarity.

“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,” Samsung said. The phone’s commercial launch is still planned for Friday.

In one of the more serious apparent flaws, the inner screen stopped working. First, the left side of the display went dark - then the right side developed problems before also failing completely.

Other reviewers reported similar issues, including flickering visuals and how the area around the central hinge lost viewable pixels. The external display still functioned for Bloomberg’s review team when the phone was closed. Separately, the demo unit’s screen retained permanent marks wherever a fingernail made contact during the course of use.

Other reviewers, however, reported no major issues with the gadgets.

Samsung - which spent eight years on the Galaxy Fold - is also developing a clamshell-like foldable phone and another that folds outward. The company also envisions smartphones with rollable and stretchable displays. 

Bloomberg and The Washington Post