How robust will the screen be in the next-gen Galaxy Z Flip foldable phone?

It’s fair to say that the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 foldable smartphone has greatly changed how I use a mobile phone.

It’s not just the foldable aspect even though I get a huge kick out of using the Flip 4 for Zoom or WhatsApp video calls where the L-shape I fold the phone into lets me sit it on a table and enjoy real hands-free chats.

I bought mine in August 2022, an upgrade from a Z Flip 3 I’d bought the previous May. I’d written a lengthy review in June of that previous model which I updated in October to reference my purchase of the later one.

One of the biggest pros of the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and 4 for many people including me is its unique form factor. When folded, it’s small enough to fit in my back pocket; when unfolded, it has a large display that’s perfect for watching videos, reading digital publications, and engaging on social networks.

This applies to both the 3 and the 4 which are very similar in functionality. The 4, though, improves the device in significant areas compared to the 3 such as a more powerful battery and, most of all, a more powerful processor.

The phone also has a stylish design that does turn heads. Comments I get are often along the lines of “Wow, that’s a very cool device!” It usually comes after I demonstrate how the fold works.

And that brings me to the heart of the matter – the fold.

It’s not uncommon to read reviews or comments on social networks where the fold is the most criticised aspect, focusing mainly on the risk of damage if the folding glass screen breaks in a device that you will open and close a lot every day. Samsung really have pushed the envelope with folding glass but they did also talk about testing the fold with opening and closing a phone 200,000 times – about 5 years’ worth of folding, they said.

Be that as it may. In my experience, I’ve had no problems at all with the fold in my Z Flip 4 since buying it eight months ago. Until a few days ago.

That’s when I noticed what looks like the glass screen protector beginning to peel from the main screen on the right-hand edge, right by the hinge in the fold. I noticed it last Sunday morning when light caught the screen at a certain angle.

You can see it clearly in the photo I took, below.

Main screen of Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 showing screen protector peeling in the fold.

You can also see it, perhaps better, in this short video clip I made.

I have a Samsung Care+ insurance policy which covers me for accidental damage to the Z Flip 4. But this isn’t that – there has been no accident. This is more a manufacturing defect, I would say, meaning it should be covered under my two-year manufacturer’s warranty.

And that’s precisely what Samsung UK agreed when I called them on Sunday. Without any fuss, they organised a courier for the next day to call and collect the device, take it away for examination and repair (or replacement if they think that’s the best solution), and to return it when done. I should expect it back in a week or so.

So I prepped the phone for return to Samsung by copying everything on it to my S10 Lite backup phone (I have this in case of a situation like this!) via the very good Smart Switch software, then factory resetting the Z Flip 4 and putting it into maintenance mode.

And a DPD courier arrived on Monday morning. The driver knew what to do – he had brought a special package in which to place the phone: just the phone, without cover or any accessories – and off he went. I received an email from Samsung yesterday acknowledging they had received it.

Key UX

While I am disappointed at this event and being without my Z Flip 4 for a while – and having to get used again to a huge rectangular slab in my pocket – I accept the reality that a device like this is getting close to the bleeding edge of next-generation mobile devices that are starting to enter the mainstream.

I do take care when using the phone, and a protective case is absolutely essential, in my view – this device is gorgeous-looking but very slippery in your hands without a case that gives you good grip.

While this warranty repair is an event still in progress, as it were, I am impressed with how Samsung responded to this. How they address a problem like this is instrumental in one’s overall ranking and rating of a manufacturer in terms of overall user experience.

With the next generation model the Z Flip 5 expected to be announced by Samsung this coming August, I would also expect news of further improvements with the fold and the folding-glass screen protector, in addition to the likely big news about a larger front screen.

In the case of the fold, rumours are that Samsung will be introducing a new hinge design with the Z Flip 5, something that would help make the seam across the display look less visible. And hopefully more robust.

Predictions are that the overall market for foldable devices will really take off this year as brands such as Huawei, Motorola, Xiaomi and OPPO bring new foldable products to market to challenge Samsung’s supremacy. Some reports have said to expect compound annual growth rates for foldables of more than 25% in the decade 2021-2031.

A good time to be a consumer.

(Photo at top via Android Authority.)

My warranty claim had a great conclusion

My ZFlip 4 went back to Samsung on Monday 17 April. On the morning of Sunday 23 April, it arrived back, as new, with a new screen protector.

As I shared in a tweet:

This was a warranty claim that Samsung dealt with swiftly and without fuss. Not only did they do the repair, but they also ran detailed diagnostic tests on the device, and all passed. And all at no cost to me.

Samsung diagnostics report.

As I mentioned in the tweet, that’s what I call customer service.

All of this is a proof point for me that validates why I have bought Samsung devices for getting on for 20 years, starting with a feature flip phone around 2003, to various Galaxy S-model smartphones and tablets from 2011 onwards.

It’s highly likely that this relationship will continue.