Samsung Electronics Co. will start selling its foldable-screen smartphone by September, following a delayed rollout earlier this year after tech reviewers found structural flaws.
Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker, promised it had dealt with the issues, by altering the device’s top protective layer, strengthening the hinges and adding extra display protection, the South Korean company said on Thursday.
Called the Galaxy Fold, the device—priced at nearly $2,000—promises to offer a radical design shake-up for smartphones, which have retained a similar look for over a decade.
It sports a tablet-size screen that folds in half like a book, giving users the portability of a phone that could fit in a consumer’s hand, pocket or purse. When folded, the phone boasts a second, smaller display on the outside that can perform most tasks.
Just days before a planned April 26 release, tech reviewers who were given early test models of the Galaxy Fold phone encountered problems. Some unknowingly peeled off the top layer of the device’s display, thinking it was a protective cover. Others encountered issues related to hinges or flickering screens.
The product flap with the foldable-screen phone brought back painful memories of Samsung’s 2016 global recall of Galaxy Note 7 devices over faulty batteries that caused some devices to catch fire. The incident tarnished Samsung’s brand and cost the company billions of dollars.
Samsung will release the Galaxy Fold in select markets but didn’t specify where.
Americans who preordered the device before the April delay eventually had their purchases canceled. In a message to those customers, Samsung said it would provide a firm ship-by date closer to the device’s launch. “Right now we’re in the process of conducting final product tests on these improvements,” Samsung said in the note, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The tech giant had pinned high hopes on the Galaxy Fold, seeing it as a way to reassert Samsung’s status as an industry innovator after a tough year. Even with the delay, Samsung’s Galaxy Fold still appears likely to be the first mainstream foldable-screen device, as Huawei Technologies Co.’s rival phone has also faced setbacks due to U.S. restrictions.
Huawei, which has surpassed Apple Inc. as the world’s second-largest phone maker in recent quarters, has matched Samsung on features while offering devices at lower prices.
Samsung’s sales suffered because of Huawei’s advance. During the first three months of 2019, Samsung’s smartphone shipments fell 8%, a bigger drop than the industry’s 6.6% decline, according to International Data Corp., a market researcher.