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Samsung is trying to keep their Foldable Smartphone Hinge Issue out of the Public's Eye

1 cover foldable phone hinge
Side Note: Our cover graphic is simply illustrating a generic folding smartphone hinge for this category of report.   

Samsung could report its worst profit in 14 years this week, as prices for memory chips, its biggest business, continue to fall, while demand stays weak, reports CNBC. The bad news doesn't stop there. Today we're learning about another issue for Samsung which is brewing in the background that could hurt future sales of their premium priced foldable smartphones, an area of future growth that they're banking on.

According to a new BusinessKorea report this morning, "A hinge problem involving Samsung Electronics’ premium foldable Galaxy Z phone series has resurfaced. Due to the nature of a foldable phone, it should fully unfold to 180 degrees, but sometimes it doesn't. If this problem continues to take place, a phenomenon occurs where black lines appear in the folded area in the middle of the foldable phone’s screen.

In fact, on the Samsung Electronics Members Community website, users have complained about this hinge problem on Galaxy Fold 4s, Galaxy Z Flips, and Galaxy Fold 2s. All of the complaints are the same, that the foldable Samsung phones do not fully unfold.

The main problem is that Samsung Electronics is not properly informing consumers of this issue. It has only been confirmed that consumers who visit service centers with the foldable phones in question get free repairs after confirming that the phone didn’t suffer from any external shocks. A sign in front of the service center’s repair department says that the hinge parts of the Z Flip and the Z Fold series may cause screen abnormalities if they suffer a shock."

The report further notes that "Some observers say that the matter is far from being a problem because of the free repair services Samsung provides. However, a service center official says otherwise. "There are some people who use Samsung foldable phones for a while because there is no problem using them at first,” he said. “But if they drop or scratch their phones later, they are highly unlikely to receive free repair services at service centers."

Some people criticize Samsung Electronics, saying that the company is passing on the unfolding problem to consumers. This is because neither the retailers nor service centers mention the possibility of a problem with the foldable phone itself; the Korean smartphone maker officially only warns that opening and closing the phone beyond the warrantied angle may cause a strain on the product. Source.

Google may have been aware of this issue with Samsung's foldable smartphones. Prior to their Pixel Fold smartphone coming to market, Google has made it unofficially known to the press that the Pixel Fold will have the “most durable hinge on a foldable” phone. That line was presented in a Patently Apple report just last week.

This could be one of many reasons why Apple is holding back on introducing their first foldable phone. Considering that a folding smartphone's price is in the premium+ space, Apple has to ensure that they could deliver a sound winning design so as to not tarnish their reputation.

With the revelations found in today's BusinessKorea article, we could understand why Samsung has tried to keep their hinge issues out of the press. Samsung will now have to address the hinge issue for their upcoming Galaxy Fold updates coming in August. If not, consumers could be hesitant in paying a premium price for a product that's not really ready for primetime.

In 2022, foldable smartphones only held 1.2% market share and news of faulty hinges and black lines appearing in the fold area over time isn't going to win over many consumers sitting on the fence regarding foldables. In fact, it makes the Samsung ad aimed at Apple iPhone fans, titled "Time to get off the fence," look rather stupid in this new light. 

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