iFixit’s Galaxy Fold teardown reveals its biggest design flaw

Although it is not technically the first time we have seen the insides of the Samsung Galaxy Fold now delayed, the disassembly of the folding device of iFixit is absolutely the most informed and detailed we have seen. Continuing with his post, speculating on the possible causes of the various screen breaks we have seen in the review units, the disassembly analysis of iFixit seems to reveal a fundamental design commitment that Samsung had to make, one that may have condemned the phone.

It seems that Samsung focused a bit on ensuring that the hinge mechanics were a solid and reliable mechanism for folding and unfolding a screen. However, for whatever reason, the Galaxy Fold does not have enough protection against debris entry. And since that screen is incredibly delicate (like any OLED if it is not protected by something like Gorilla Glass), that represented a significant risk.

It was a risk that did not bear fruit, since no less than three different revision units developed protuberances under their screens on the hinge. Our unit exhibited the problem, as did the unit that was given to Blick as well as the unit given to Michael Fisher . One of those protuberances, that of our review unit, damaged the screen.

We still can not know the full reasoning behind Samsung's decision to delay the launch of the phone, but this debris / rubble problem feels much more fundamental than the fact that the protective layer on the top looks like a screen saver that should be peeled (but, once again, should not be what breaks the screen too). Most of the rest of the reviewers who had broken screens tried to eliminate that layer: a natural inclination since the package of the review unit had no warning.

ifixits galaxy fold teardown reveals its biggest design flaw


In any case, iFixit The disassembly reveals that the hinge mechanism for folding and unfolding the phone is incredibly robust and, from a certain perspective, is well designed. Certainly, it seems plausible that the hinge itself can cope with the 200,000 robot deployments without Samsung's problem. As iFixit writes there are two types of separate hinges: a central hinge that "distributes the opening force equally, ensuring that the two halves of the telephone open synchronously" and two side hinges that "allow certain horizontality to play to absorb any torsional force. "

Although the hinge itself can be strong and stiff enough to prevent the screen from being damaged directly by bending or bending, it seems that Samsung could not create a design that would keep dust or debris from entering it. When looking at the front of the phone, there is a gap of 7 mm between the screen and the edge of the phone just at the top and bottom of the fold. For some reason, Samsung did not try to place a flexible rail on that part of the screen to prevent dust from entering.

However, the gap is probably not the biggest problem. No, the biggest problem seems to be the gaps in the back of the hinge. iFixit points out that "the spine is flanked by huge gaps in which our opening peaks open.It is less likely that these gaps will cause immediate damage to the screen, but they will definitely attract dirt".

I can not say with any degree of confidence that those gaps in the back are the way the debris went into my review unit, but that is my current work theory. I can not help but think about the silicone protective layer that Apple finally added to the MacBook keyboards and if Samsung should have considered adding something like that to the fold.

At the time of writing this report, Samsung has not yet informed us of the debris. That's what broke our review unit, but at this point, it hardly seems to matter if it was sand, lint, the molding clay we used briefly (and cleaned thoroughly) to hold the phone, or something completely different. The bottom line is that it seems as if the basic design of the Galaxy Fold made the debris too easy to place under the screen. And although the device specifically does not have an IP rating for dust, it looks like the next iteration should get one.

As for the rest of the disassembly, it's worth reading. Much of this emerges as the disassembly of a smartphone with all the usual chips and the rating of the battery and the hostile repair sticker. But because this is a completely new form factor, there are completely new design elements in sight, the kind of things we have not had on a phone in a long time. Many of Samsung's design decisions are surprising, but one thing is not: iFixit's reparability score is discouraging, and predictably, two out of ten.

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