SEOUL • Samsung Electronics said it has received a few reports of damage to the displays of samples of its upcoming foldable smartphone, raising the prospect of a less-than-smooth entry for the splashy US$1,980 (S$2,700) handset.
The Galaxy Fold, on sale from next Friday in the United States, resembles a conventional smartphone but opens like a book to reveal a second display the size of a small tablet at 18.5cm.
The design, matched by Huawei Technologies' Mate X, was hailed as the future in a field that has seen few surprises since Apple's iPhone in 2007.
Yet ahead of the launch, journalists supplied with review samples reported malfunctions after only a day or two of use.
"We will thoroughly inspect these units... to determine the cause of the matter," Samsung said.
Analysts said malfunctions from the first batch of a test model were of little surprise.
Moreover, the handset's in-folding design is likely to be less durable than Huawei's out-folding approach, they said.
BNK Securities analyst Park Sung-soon said: "In-folding is more difficult to make than out-folding, as it adds higher pressure to screens, which people have worried about."
Technology journalists took to Twitter on Wednesday to report instances of the screen either cracking or flickering.
Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman tweeted: "The screen on my Galaxy Fold review unit is completely broken and unusable just two days in. Hard to know if this is widespread or not."
Mr Gurman had removed a plastic layer on the screen and the phone malfunctioned afterwards.
A wrapper around the device featured "Attention" in uppercase letters and warned against removing the layer, according to a tweet from another sample recipient.
Samsung yesterday said removing the protective layer might result in damage, and that it would clearly inform customers of the issue.
Mr Dieter Bohn, executive editor of The Verge, said a "small bulge" appeared on the crease of the phone screen, which appeared to be something pressing from underneath.
He said Samsung replaced his test phone but did not offer an explanation for the problem. He did not remove the protective layer.
Samsung had said it planned to make at least one million Fold handsets, versus the total 300 million phones it produces annually.
It had closed Fold pre-orders due to high demand.