Samsung Galaxy Fold tablet mode on chair

After news broke that early review units of the Samsung Galaxy Fold were easily breaking — and Samsung’s subsequent delay of the device’s worldwide release — many of us were left to wonder why the foldable phone wasn’t holding up.

Even taking into account the problem of reviewers accidentally tearing off a protective layer of plastic covering the interior display, it seems the Fold is very fragile. Although venerable teardown site iFixit never got a Galaxy Fold to take apart, the team has some theories as to why the foldable smartphone is so delicate.

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In a new blog post, Kevin Purdy and other members of the iFixit team examine the known issues that plagued reviewers who did get a chance to use the Samsung Galaxy Fold. The team makes some educated guesses as to what could have caused these problems.

The whole post is definitely worth a read, but here is a quick summary of iFixit’s thoughts:

  • OLED displays are inherently fragile and without a covering of a strong material — such as Gorilla Glass — problems are inevitable.
  • Even the smallest dust particles can cause problems with OLED displays, and the Fold has plenty of areas where dust can easily enter sensitive areas.
  • Although the protective layer fiasco wasn’t totally Samsung’s fault, it does emphasize that tough pressure on a relatively unprotected OLED panel is dangerous.
  • Samsung’s highly-publicized robot folders used to stress test the Galaxy Fold were too methodical, i.e., they didn’t properly account for the variables of human use.
  • The lack of a dedicated crease line down the middle of the foldable display prevents even folding on a consistent basis, putting even more stress on the OLED panel.

Since even the early review units have been returned to Samsung after the announcement of the delayed release for the Galaxy Fold, it might be a while before iFixit can get hands-on with the device and figure out what really went wrong. These hypotheses are as good as we’re going to get for now.

What do you think? Let us know your theories in the comments!

NEXT: Now that the Galaxy Fold is on hold, Samsung should wait for Android Q