SEOUL -- The durability of Samsung Electronics' foldable phone came into question on Thursday after the world's biggest smartphone maker admitted it had received "a few" reports of damage to the main display of samples sent out to reviewers.
"We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter," Samsung said in a statement after media reviewers reported flickering screens and distortion to the display after a day or two's use.
Removal of a protective layer on the handset's display might have caused the damage, Samsung suggested. "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," it said. Samsung has warned not to remove the protective layer.
However CNBC, the U.S. cable channel, said on Wednesday its reviewer had experienced problems even though the protective layer had not been removed. "When opened, the left side of the flexible display, which makes up a large 7.3-inch screen, flickers consistently," it said. "Samsung started taking preorders for the Galaxy Fold last weekend, but quickly ran out of availability, suggesting supply is constrained at least until its retail launch on April 26. Folks who ordered it might want to reconsider at this point.
The problems mark a setback to Samsung's ambitions for the foldable phone, the industry's biggest innovation since the launch of Apple's iPhone in 2007 and which is expected to help rejuvenate excitement in a sector suffering a three year slump in global mobile sales.
Samsung spent seven years developing its flexible phone, and is facing aggressive competition in this segment from China's Huawei, which launched its own foldable smartphone just days after the South Korean company last February.
Samsung offers the Galaxy Fold at a price of $1,980, while Huawei's Mate X is even more expensive at 2,299 euros ($2,603).
Durability of these foldable phones has been a question since both were launched. At the unveiling in February, some reviewers claimed they had spotted creases in the screens of the launch models of both phones. Samsung had boasted that its phone could be folded at least 200,000 times in its lifetime, or roughly 100 times a day for five years. Huawei did not give similar figures.
Samsung said on Thursday that the issues affected a limited number of early Galaxy Fold samples that had been provided to media for review.