back to article Behold, the insides of Samsung's Galaxy Fold: The phone that tears down all on its own

You'd think a forensic teardown of the first commercially available foldable smartphone – the Samsung Galaxy Fold – may be less challenging than most, given the device's propensity to do it itself. But that isn't the case. iFixit's disassembly turns out to be a fascinating account of the mechanical engineering challenges …

  1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Two screens with an infinitesimally-precise and tiny mating junction

    That was my assumption -^ . Keeping grit out of the mating surfaces would still be an issue, so dispense with the mating surfaces. Have the two sides come together with sharp hard points touching a very hard plate. Very tiny areas for grit, that would be crushed anyway.

    Either that, or just make the whole thing flexible and sealed-up.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Two screens with an infinitesimally-precise and tiny mating junction

      That has some advantages, but runs into the problem that the gap has to be really small to not be noticed when held close to the user's face. When this happens at greater distances, it's more doable, but for a phone, you'd hear a lot of complaining about the phone with a line down its screen. I think that pretty much any way you build this, it's going to have some major problems at first. Admittedly, they might have done a little more to avoid the problems they have.

      1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

        Re: Two screens with an infinitesimally-precise and tiny mating junction

        On the other hand the "notch" was universally accepted.

        This shows two things

        1. Apple can get away with most things

        2. People adapt. For example I've had a crack on my phone for about a year now. Initially it was annoying, but now I hardly notice it

        I think the mechanical issues on folding phones will be insurmountable without some major material science advances. However the desire to have a larger screen, in a small form factor is undeniable, so a compromise solution with two screens that butt together maybe the best solytion

        1. Tikimon Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Two screens with an infinitesimally-precise and tiny mating junction

          "On the other hand the "notch" was universally accepted."

          NO IT WAS NOT. Most real people hate it. The TECH industry insists the notch was accepted, just as they insist we're OK being spied on rather than pay for services (and other self-serving assertions). It's an old propaganda technique. Repeat a lie over and over, then people hear it so often they start to believe it must be true.

          Don't confuse "Lack of choice" with "acceptance". Lots of Windows 10 machines and growing, but it's not because people were eager to use it! You simply can't buy a non-10 Windows machine anymore. On the other hand, plenty of non-"smart" TVs can be found and are selling quite well.

          1. rnturn

            Re: Two screens with an infinitesimally-precise and tiny mating junction

            "On the other hand the "notch" was universally accepted."

            Oh stop it! My sides are hurting. My older LG doesn't have the darned notch. Keep it simple, stupid.

            A folding phone for what! Two freakin' grand?! Are they nuts?

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Two screens with an infinitesimally-precise and tiny mating junction

      make the whole thing flexible and sealed-up

      Well - a brief thought[1] occurs - in similar situations I've seen a corrugated gaiter used (made of silicone or somesuch) - the corrugation gives an element of stretchiness and the silicone makes the seal. It can be bonded to the display under the bezel on either side of the hinge (front and back of the phone) as well as in the area of the hinge itself.

      It would probably be a nightmare to apply during production and (in some environments) might not have a really long lifespan (most flexible materials are quite affected by environmental factors like heat or chemicals) but it would do the job better than not having anything at all.

      Samsung - if you use my idea I'll send you the bill. £20 million should do it quite nicely.

      [1] Hey - I do have one every so often. Quality may go down as well as up and no warranty is given or implied.

      1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

        Re: Two screens with an infinitesimally-precise and tiny mating junction

        You'd better talk with Microsoft: they stole your idea for the Surface book

    3. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      Re: Two screens with an infinitesimally-precise and tiny mating junction

      "Have the two sides come together with sharp hard points touching a very hard plate. Very tiny areas for grit, that would be crushed anyway."

      You must have absolutely zero body hair. I had arm hairs pinched in a gap between the hard part of an airline seat armrest and the soft part. I would have thought the soft part was bonded onto the hard bit, but they were separate and appeared to be independently affixed to a structure underneath.

      I once had the skin on my heal pinched between floorboards that flexed ever so slightly. Luckily it was only about 1 micron of the upper layer, but I've become very wary of any small gaps.

  2. Cavehomme_ Bronze badge
    FAIL

    Not fit for purpose.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Cavehomme_

      Uh oh! You better not let the Samsung fanbois that inhabit these parts hear you say that!

      Samsung and their $3 billion R&D budget can do no wrong in their eyes, despite the fact this whole embarrassing debacle could have been avoided through the use of a $500 afternoon focus group session comprising average Joes plucked off the street.

      1. 404 Silver badge

        Re: @Cavehomme_

        You know... Samsung could build the ultimate foldable phone, where angels sing hosannas in the background during a call, and you're automatically admitted into Heaven - but I wouldn't buy one because Samsung won't support the damn thing past the first year...

        Yeah, I said it.

        1. Cederic

          Re: @Cavehomme_

          They're still supporting the phone I bought over three years ago, with regular security and occasional OS upgrade patches provided over the air.

          Maybe we have different definitions of 'support'.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: @Cavehomme_

        What the report basically says is: the technology does work but they need to find a way to seal the hinge. The result might be less "aesthetically pleasing" but still work and vindicate all the mechanical testing Samsung did.

      3. J. Cook Silver badge
        Go

        Re: @Cavehomme_

        "Samsung and their $3 billion R&D budget can do no wrong in their eyes, despite the fact this whole embarrassing debacle could have been avoided through the use of a $500 afternoon focus group session comprising average Joes plucked off the street."

        Or the average five year old. (#12)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Quite - what a pile of utter bilge.

      Design is simply horrible, execution worse.

      Ugly, pointless, what do you want?

      Something first, or something that actually does the job it says on the tin?

      Nokia and Motorola did great foldables, albeit with only one screen - they MUST have done something right..

  3. Conundrum1885

    Flexit

    Question is, will the Fold ever actually get fixed or will (more likely) get recycled into something else.

    Tbe problem as I see it will be getting the flex mechanism itself not to get debris inside, leaving two

    options: fill the gap with something else like a gel or mount the display to a secondary layer that reduces

    its bend radius.

  4. JohnFen Silver badge
    Stop

    Pholdable?

    "might have to put the pholdable on pause."

    Please, please don't encourage the use of the neologism "pholdable".

    1. Graham Dawson
      Coat

      Re: Pholdable?

      At least it's not a pholdablet.

      1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Pholdable?

        If you're going to do something, do it right: pholderol!

        1. Alister Silver badge

          Re: Pholdable?

          Does that make the holder of said item a pholderee?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Pholdable?

            I love to go a-wandering

            Along the mountain track

            And as I go, I love to sing

            My knapsack on my back

            [All together now]

            pholderee...pholderer...

  5. DrXym Silver badge

    On the plus side

    I bet you can tear down one of these folding phones with a stanley knife.

  6. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "You're folding it incorrectly."

    Hey, someone had to say it!

    Seeing the fuss over the peeling off of the screen reminded me of the old adage, "Never underestimate the ingenuity of a user.". If working in IT has taught me nothing else in the last 35 years it's that users will do the most unexpected things with the tech they're given.

    It's bleeding edge gadget for rich people with more money than sense, Samsung were so desperate to get a folding phone to market before anyone else that the PR droids didn't give the techies enough time to do a complete job. This will haunt Samsung for a while yet, all the time their competitors will making lots and lots of notes and observations at Samsung's expense. Even simple observations of the pictures shows that this thing looks cheap, nasty, has more gaps in it than a kiddies plastic playhouse. Dust, fluff and all manner of nasty detritus will get inside, then again the sort of person who can afford a £2000 mobile phone probably doens't have pocket lint in their designer label clothes I suppose!

    I'm in awe of Samsung pushing technology but this should have stayed a prototype and perhaps the company will think twice before they allow the PR droids to override the decisions of the techies in the backroom when they say it's not ready for the big time.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: "You're folding it incorrectly."

      "If working in IT has taught me nothing else in the last 35 years it's that users will do the most unexpected things with the tech they're given."

      True, but in this case, users peeling off that layer shouldn't have been unexpected at all. We all been trained over years to expect that we're going to be peeling a layer of plastic off of a new screen.

      1. Kanhef

        Re: "You're folding it incorrectly."

        The obvious solution is to put an easily-removable protective film over the protective layer. That way, users will peel one layer off and stop fiddling with it.

        1. defiler Silver badge

          Re: "You're folding it incorrectly."

          Cue massive breakages in the second-hand market.

          Maybe it'll need to be like tear-off strips on racing visors. Lots of them on top of each other, with the pull-tab on alternate corners.

    2. defiler Silver badge

      Re: "You're folding it incorrectly."

      then again the sort of person who can afford a £2000 mobile phone probably doens't have pocket lint in their designer label clothes I suppose!

      Don't be so bloody silly - I have a man to remove that for me!

      /me wanders off, muttering about the proles...

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: "You're folding it incorrectly."

        No,no.

        People who wear designer label clothes do not have people. People who have people go to the kind of tailor who puts his label in the inside pocket so as not to spoil the lining.

        £2000 phones are indeed for people who wear designer label clothes. But the people with real money probably leave the choice of phone to their social secretaries who, after all, make most of their calls.

        1. defiler Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: "You're folding it incorrectly."

          You're absolutely right. I'm paraphrasing from somebody I used to know (sadly deceased) who was asked at the airport, "did you pack your own bag, sir?" :)

          He wouldn't have a clue what the hell to do with a mobile phone. Had his secretary deal with his email. Had the best stories to tell after a few drinks though.

          RIP, Alistair. I'll raise a drink to him just now.

  7. tallenglish

    Folding is not the right way I think.

    I still think the rolling screen idea is far better for this type of phone.

    Like has been shown in various movies and would look more like a scroll - only issue with that is the touch screen bits.

    Obviously they would then have to protect the back from nicks from desk, etc.

    The other option is having a screen which folds around your wrist (like a watch, but as a phone in landscape).

    Obviously issue with this is the amount of bend as evryones wrist is different width and would be hard to get it to fit correctly.

    I don't think this current style will last as humans are too clumsy and break things easily - I guess one drop of this device will be fatal.

    One drop of water will also be fatal.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Folding is not the right way I think.

      > I still think the rolling screen idea is far better for this type of phone.

      Yup

      > Like has been shown in various movies and would look more like a scroll

      Tekwar tv series "PDA" springs to mind. That design even gives something to hold onto.

      > - only issue with that is the touch screen bits.

      The only real issue there is having sufficient rigidity to stop it flexing too much.

  8. DougS Silver badge

    Did they copy Apple's butterfly keyboard design?

    It seems to have the same fatal flaw that it works best when used only in a cleanroom.

  9. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

    "Start with the Customer experience and work back to the technology"

    I suspect this is a case where Samsung has some technology and they are looking for a way to market it. See this video from at least 1:30 onwards:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FF-tKLISfPE&feature=watch-vrec

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So we have a Samsung product that's incomplete and rushed to market...

    Colour me unsurprised...

    A bit like when they were found to be storing fingerprint images in world readable jpeg files.

  11. Mark Lawson

    pholdleslab

  12. AK565

    My idea for this tech.

    Ok, you saw it here first: i want a phone with tje Blackberry 9900/9930 form factor with a screen that folds out/up to give a larger viewing area when needed.

  13. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Sagsmug indeed.

  14. Stuart Halliday
    Facepalm

    Shockingly Incompetent?

    Samsung obviously can't get real Testers that they listen to.

    Something smells rotten in their test department. I suspect a few people are getting sacked.

  15. Zola
    FAIL

    iFixit have taken down their teardown at Samsung's request

    Link

    Samsung are in Cupertino-esque damage limitation mode, but only making things worse for themselves... So you fscked up? Just deal with it - there's no point getting all p1ssy and trying to censor/hide it from the world & dog hoping we'd all forget.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: iFixit have taken down their teardown at Samsung's request

      "[...] hoping we'd all forget."

      The strategy works for politicians.

    2. Gordon M

      Re: iFixit have taken down their teardown at Samsung's request

      So, the iFixit report on the Galaxy Fold has been taken down?

      Someone needs to tell Samsung that you can't push this stuff down the memory-hole anymore - there's this new thing called "the internet"...

      https://web.archive.org/web/20190424094552/https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Samsung+Galaxy+Fold+Teardown/122600

      Samsung can ask the Internet Archive to pull it's copy too, but by now I'm sure others have mirrored the teardown... I know I have ;-)

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