If you’re experiencing a particularly cold winter where you are, you may want to leave your foldable phone at home. According to Sam Mobile, the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Galaxy Z Flip are breaking in the face of Seoul’s bitterly cold -18 degree Celsius temperatures.
The photos above show what is reportedly happening to those who’ve taken their foldables out in the cold. While there’s no visible crack, it’s pretty clear that the devices are unusable, with bright splotches appearing in place of the Android OS.
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While it’s impossible to verify that it was a sudden blast of cold that turned these devices into very expensive paperweights, it stands to reason that sub-zero temperatures would do strange things to foldables. The technology in folding phones involves several different layers and materials, and cold temperatures can lead to brittleness that could well impact a foldable’s functionality.
It’s not clear what kind of protection buyers will have against their Galaxy Folds and Flips breaking due to cold weather. While Samsung released a video with plenty of tips for caring for your first foldable back in 2019, there was no mention of use in extreme temperatures, though the international manual (opens in new tab) of the latest Galaxy Z Fold 2 does include the following warning:
“The device can be used in locations with an ambient temperature of 0 °C to 35 °C. You can store the device at an ambient temperature of -10 °C to 50 °C. Using or storing the device outside of the recommended temperature ranges may damage the device or reduce the battery’s lifespan.”
That’s some cover for the company, although it chiefly refers to battery longevity rather than the screen. In theory, owners of Samsung’s Galaxy Fold and Galaxy Z handsets should benefit from the Samsung Premier protection service (opens in new tab), which specifically includes a one-time screen replacement at an “exclusive rate” in the first year of ownership. With this not being an obvious crack, however, it’s not clear it will qualify.
For the time being, this is just a small trickle of cases, and may just be the result of a less reliable batch, or completely unrelated factors. On the other hand, this winter is unusual with so many facing stay-at-home orders in the face of Coronavirus. If more people were out and about, would we be seeing more reports of broken foldables?