Sold in the millions, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 has just come out of the standard 2-year warranty given to buyers who purchased it soon after launch. For some of them, the Z Fold 3’s good user experience ends with the screen suddenly “breaking” in the folding area, apparently without the phone having been bumped or abused.
Even though Samsung has greatly improved reliability, the foldable phone screen remains in the “consumable” category, with wear and tear estimated based on the number of successive folds/folds. Thus, it is only a matter of time before the wear of foldable screens reaches a level where spontaneous failure becomes inevitable, no matter how carefully the phone is handled. But another factor Samsung hasn’t talked about at all is wear and tear over time, resulting from exposure to temperature variations and “aging” of the various layers of adhesives, plastic and ultra-thin glass used to assemble flexible OLED screens. In other words, just like plastic foil that after a while loses its elasticity and becomes brittle, the foldable screens in the Galaxy Z Fold 3 phones seem to inexplicably crack without having been bumped or folded/folded much beyond the manufacturer’s estimated limit.
If we take as an indication that the problem tends to manifest itself shortly after the 2-year warranty provided by Samsung expires, with no obvious correlation to wear and tear on the phone resulting from normal use, we could speculate that the phenomenon will become more and more prevalent as the remaining Galaxy Z Fold 3 units in circulation exceed their screen life.
The problem is that replacing the foldable screen out of warranty costs about $800, with the repair costing about 73% of the phone’s new price ($1,100). Therefore, Galaxy Z Fold 3 copies with the faulty screen out of warranty can be considered “total damage,” with such an expensive repair not justifiable on an old phone.
Unless the testimonies given so far by Galaxy Z Fold 3 owners turn out to be purely coincidental, the premature failure of these hard-won devices (energy and raw material consumption) could well overshadow Samsung’s efforts so far to protect the environment (e.g. by delivering new phone models in recycled paper packaging, without AC adaptor, earphones or protective cover in the accessory pack).