Samsung Cannot Fix The Galaxy Fold’s Biggest Problem. Huawei’s Issue Is Worse

The one saving grace from the whole Galaxy Fold mess is that the biggest problem with this device category is going to hurt Huawei far more than it is going to hurt Samsung. Samsung has delayed indefinitely the launch of the Galaxy Fold while it tries to fix some of the issues encountered by reviewers when they got their hands on the device for the first time. This includes:

First, screen protection: The Galaxy Fold had a surface layer on the screen which many reviewers mistook for a screen protector and removed causing screens to catastrophically fail. This will now be more deeply integrated into the chassis of the device such that no one will mistake it for a removable layer

Second, hinge: One reviewer found that lint was able to enter through gaps in the hinge and press up against the underside of the screen. This also caused the screen to fail. Gaps in the hinge will be decreased in size to prevent a re-occurrence of this problem.

This is all well and good, but it does not fix the biggest problem of all which remains scratch-ability.  Most smartphones today use tempered glass to protect the screen from scratching.  On a flexible screen, this is obviously not possible which is why everyone is using plastic.

The Mohs scale measures the hardness of materials (scratch-ability) and tempered glass scratches at level 6 with deeper grooves at level 7. Plastic, by contrast, scratches at a level 2 meaning that the screen of a foldable phone could end up being 3-5x more scratchable than a regular smartphone.

This is why Samsung made the suboptimal decision to put the screen on the inside of the device with another glass protected screen on the outside. However, Huawei’s is on the outside meaning that the plastic screen will be subject to the full force of keys, coins, lint, and handbag contents. If Huawei’s screen is very easy to scratch, this will prove to be a much bigger problem, than the one that Samsung is facing today.

When it comes to making and understanding smartphone screens, Samsung is the undisputed global leader and so this is why it has rejected the idea to put the screen on the outside. Hence, when the Mate X arrives in the hands of reviewers, it will suffer as badly, if not worse than the Galaxy Fold. If Huawei is smart, it will pull the launch now and have a close look at what it can do (if anything) to make the Mate X, a viable product.

I continue to think that it will really struggle to do so further underlining the fact that folding screen smartphones are not yet ready for the primetime. This delay in folding screen viability is likely to mean that the replacement cycle continues to lengthen meaning a decline in the smartphone market in 2019 and stabilization in 2020. There is still no reason to own anything related to the selling of smartphones (except Qualcomm) this year

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