The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip is the first smartphone to ship with a foldable glass display. And while it turns out the screen may not actually be that much more durable than plastic, it certainly looks nice and early reports are that it feels nicer than the foldable plastic OLED screen on the new Motorola Razr smartphone.
But soon you may not have to buy a Samsung device to get your hands on a foldable glass display — Samsung says it plans to sell the technology to other companies and that “the glass is expected to be adopted by other foldable electronic devices.”
According to Samsung, the glass is only 30㎛, which aids in its flexibility. But it’s also “injected with a special material” to “achieve a consistent hardness.” Nonetheless, the company covers the glass with a protective layer to help prevent damage… to the glass at least, if not necessarily the cover.
At this point foldables have gotten mixed reviews. On the one hand, they enable new form factors such as phones that unfold to become tablets or phones that fold up to become… smaller phones. But they’re also expensive and more susceptible to damage than phones with fewer moving parts.
It’s unclear how the initial reports of the fragility of Samsung’s flexible glass displays will affect sales to third-party device makers. I’m still hopeful that some of the issues affecting early foldables will be worked out in the years to come. But at this point I’d be reluctant to pay a premium price for a phone that’s more prone to scratches or cracks than a mid-range phone that costs less than a third as much.
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