When Samsung released the Galaxy Z Flip, its newest folding phone, at midnight this past Friday, I was one of many who wasn’t able to snag one due to low stock here in New York City. So here I am, refreshing my order page while I watch the lucky few who did manage to get one put them through their paces online.
Though most YouTubers and reviewers seem to be enjoying the phone, durability is a question, and at $1,380 here in the U.S., it’s a good one. At Unpacked, where Samsung announced the Z Flip, the company made a big deal about the “Ultra Thin Glass” that covers the display. One could be forgiven, then, for assuming that the display has all the scratch-resistant properties of glass, but in a durability test by JerryRigEverything on YouTube, that doesn't seem to be the case.
In the video you can see Zack’s (the YouTuber) tools and even fingernails leaving permanent scratches in the display. It should be noted that the Z Flip comes with several warnings that specifically tell the user not to use hard objects on the screen for exactly this reason, but if the display is actually glass, it’s certainly not performing like it.
Some, like Max Winebach, a writer for XDA, have noted that Samsung usually ships their phones with thin plastic films, or factory-installed screen protectors, but to my eyes that’s not what we’re seeing in Zack's video. Whatever the display is made out of, it’s definitely not acting like glass with a plastic screen protector on top.
As someone who personally pre-ordered the phone, this is a little disappointing but not wholly unexpected. Flexible screens are new technology, and new technology always comes with some measure of compromise. Samsung’s claims about “Ultra Thin Glass,” though, are a little harder to swallow now.
Update: Samsung responded to The Verge's request for comment on what the deal is with the display. The company said:
Galaxy Z Flip features an Infinity Flex Display with Samsung’s Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) to deliver a sleek, premium look and offer an immersive viewing experience,” and that “Samsung’s first-of-its-kind UTG technology is different from other Galaxy flagship devices. While the display does bend, it should be handled with care. Also, Galaxy Z Flip has a protective layer on top of the UTG similar to Galaxy Fold."