Tech Talk: Close But No Cigar
When Samsung first introduced its Galaxy Fold, the smartphone was the talk of the media. After all, it is the first foldable smartphone to “hit the market”—but it didn’t get that far. Not long after the phone was announced, it was put on a release hold due to problems with its plastic screen. Nonetheless, the device, priced at $1,980, is impressive: it features a front cover with a small, 4.6-inch display intended for single-hand use, with the option to fold open the phone, like a book, to access a 7.3-inch display bearing the likeness of a small tablet. It also features six pro-grade cameras, allowing users to take photos and videos from any angle. Samsung claims the phone can support something like 200,000 different uses—and by “uses,” it means opening and closing movements. (According to Deloitte’s 2018 Global Mobile Consumer Survey, people check their phones an average of 52 times per day, which equates to nearly 20,000 times per year. At this rate, the phone will be able to sustain about 10 years of open-and-close movements.)
The company has since updated its original product, which had an unusually bulky and unsuccessful screen protector that was prone to cracks, but there’s still improvements to be made before the new-and-improved version hits retail, and even more before consumers start trusting it. So far, the screen protector has been updated so that it’s virtually impossible to remove, and new caps have been placed at the top and bottom of the phone’s hinges to prevent debris from corroding the display. Unfortunately, the screen can be dented by fingernails over the course of a few months to a year, which Samsung is offering to replace for a $149.99 fee. Perhaps the biggest concern, however, is that the phone is not dust- or water-resistant—likely a major concern for users across the board—and if placed near a magnet, the screen is likely to shut off. Because of the updates that need to be made, Ad Age has described the phone as more of a beta test product than having bestseller potential. Nonetheless, the 4G model is currently available at retail at Best Buy, AT&T and at select Samsung Experience stores, and can only be purchased in person. T-Mobile initially released plans to sell the phone, but later announced it will not.
But in the world of branded promo, one thing is crucial: getting your brand out there and seen. And this is also a problem with the phone. According to Slash Gear, the Galaxy Fold features “Samsung” written along the “spine” of the fold, but the lettering has a major design flaw: it can easily fall off. Understandably, this has left consumers questioning why Samsung, a company with a net worth upwards of $215 billion, doesn’t paint or etch its logo on the phone like its competitors. The case of the falling letters has been traced to the phone being too hot, affecting the letters’ adhesive, or the back of the display touching the raised parts of the letters, causing them to fall off. Either way, even though it’s important that Samsung has updated its original product, it’s also important to ensure the branding is permanent, especially on a product the company is pioneering.
Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.