It’s been a few days since Google started shipping Pixel Folds to customers, and now, the devices are broken. Is it time to panic? Not yet.
The Google Pixel Fold is a $1,800 foldable smartphone similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold series. It has a 7.6-inch display inside that folds in half but has a layer of ultra-thin glass and a plastic protector on top for some amount of protection.
The first example of a broken Pixel Fold comes from Ron Amadeo of ArsTechnica. Four days later, his review unit malfunctioned due to a microscopic puncture in the display in an area not covered by the plastic screen protector. The OLED panel is still covered with ultra-thin glass, but the exposed area took an unlucky hit that killed the display.
On top of that, at least two Pixel Fold customers broke their new foldables after just a day or two. On r/PixelFold, the first story came from u/crazymojo83, who saw their display crack at the fold and deteriorate over time. The panel itself still works, but obviously, this is a big problem for a device that’s only been out of the box for a few hours.
Now, u/floatingOnTheForth describes a similar situation.
Their Pixel Fold unit was left damaged in the same way after just one day of ownership, with the same horizontal cracks growing under the screen protector.
So far, that’s two broken Pixel Folds, both not the result of user error. Obviously, this is concerning, especially considering only a limited number of Pixel Folds have shipped so far. But, at the same time, it feels obvious that it will always happen.
Folding phone technology has improved significantly in the years since Samsung’s first Galaxy Fold, but it still has its drawbacks and weak points. After all, how could it not? We are talking about a screen and glass which is folded in half. Foldables are more durable than people seem to give them credit for, but the Achilles’ Heel of it all is that foldables can spontaneously and unexpectedly break. This is an inherent and well-known risk of purchasing this new technology.
In 2021, my Galaxy Z Flip 3 review unit broke on its own, and it was a good reminder that when things go wrong with a foldable, they go. very wrong
Fortunately, that’s no longer the norm, even for Samsung’s foldables. The first two generations saw broken devices in large numbers despite fewer customers, whereas the latest generations see fewer reports despite more and more people buying these devices. It still happens, of course, but less often.
Broken Samsung foldables and Pixel Folds will always have a bigger impact online because, after all, someone spent the better part of $2,000 on a device that’s now broken – and through no fault of their own.
Pixel Folds will break. They will always break, but the appearance of a few broken devices does not necessarily mean that there is a big problem – yet. That may change, but let’s not raise the alarm just yet. Wider availability, especially at retail, will be the real turning point for this story.
Instead, the more immediate problem depends on how Google handles the situation. And that’s where things get complicated. Samsung has been less than stellar in handling broken foldables. In 2020, Ryan Whitwham, the former review editor at Android Policedetailed the horror story of a lost shipment and poor customer service at Samsung while trying to exchange a Galaxy Z Fold 2, and he’s not alone in that.
In the case of the Pixel Fold, there’s an uphill battle.
Google is notorious for poor customer support, with examples of customers turning to Reddit for help, and those issues date back to the first Pixel. And, with the Pixel Fold, it doesn’t look that different. u/floatingOnTheForth explains that Google Support somehow sent a replacement device to the wrong address (in another state) and said it couldn’t be changed. And that’s for one customer who had two Folds on their credit card, totaling nearly $4,000.
Google needs to be better at handling Pixel Fold issues, more so than anyone else.
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