Introduction

Well, we’ve finally got the Samsung Galaxy Fold on our teardown table. This is, without question, an ambitious first-generation device—the idea of having both a smartphone and a tablet in your pocket at all times is pretty exciting! That said, a number of early reviewers had some durability issues with their review units, ultimately leading to a launch postponement. Are these temporary setbacks? Or are we headed for a full-blown AirPower-style product cancellation? We have no idea—we’re just here for a teardown.

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This teardown is not a repair guide. To repair your Samsung Galaxy Fold, use our service manual.

  1. We're pretty excited to get inside this new fold-y phone, so let's get these specs out of the way: One 7.3" dynamic AMOLED Infinity Flex main display (2152 × 1536 resolution, 362 ppi), and one 4.6" super AMOLED cover display (720 × 1680, 399 ppi)
    • We're pretty excited to get inside this new fold-y phone, so let's get these specs out of the way:

    • One 7.3" dynamic AMOLED Infinity Flex main display (2152 × 1536 resolution, 362 ppi), and one 4.6" super AMOLED cover display (720 × 1680, 399 ppi)

    • Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 64-bit octa-core processor

    • 12 GB RAM with 512 GB internal storage

    • A total of six cameras, from front to back: 10 MP "closed" selfie camera, 10 MP "open" selfie camera, 8 MP RGB depth camera, 16 MP ultra-wide rear camera, 12 MP wide-angle rear camera, 12 MP telephoto rear camera

    • Capacitive fingerprint sensor / Bixby button combo

    • USB Type-C power/data port (but nary a headphone jack to be found)

  2. If you haven't seen one of these in person, here's how it stacks up: In "folded" configuration, it's narrower, taller, and much thicker than a Galaxy S10+. In "unfolded" form,  however, it's ... big.
    • If you haven't seen one of these in person, here's how it stacks up:

    • In "folded" configuration, it's narrower, taller, and much thicker than a Galaxy S10+.

    • In "unfolded" form, however, it's ... big.

    • It's not quite iPad mini 5 big, but the bezels are tiny—so in terms of usable screen real estate, these two devices are actually pretty comparable.

    • It also folds more easily than an iPad Pro, and without the shower of glass shards.

  3. Unlike the dull slabs of glass we're used to, this smartphone/tablet hybrid has lots of potential entry points—and not the good kind. To achieve the fold, the thin bezel that surrounds (and protects) the screen leaves a gap where the two halves meet. You don't notice it until you notice it ... And then you can't help but "test ingress." Don't try this at home.
    • Unlike the dull slabs of glass we're used to, this smartphone/tablet hybrid has lots of potential entry points—and not the good kind.

    • To achieve the fold, the thin bezel that surrounds (and protects) the screen leaves a gap where the two halves meet. You don't notice it until you notice it ... And then you can't help but "test ingress." Don't try this at home.

    • This 7 mm gap doesn't seem like a huge deal, but it leaves the display exposed—so should something accidentally enter, it's curtains for the screen. (Oops.)

    • When closed, the screen is protected—but the spine is flanked by massive gaps that our opening picks hop right into. These gaps are less likely to cause immediate screen damage, but will definitely attract dirt.

    • It's been a while since we've seen a phone with this many gaps, with the industry trending away from moving parts and towards sealed slabs. It'll be interesting to see how future folding designs overcome these weaknesses.

  4. Did we mention it's thick? Folding phones are cool in theory, but somewhat bulgy in your pocket. The hinge area packs the bulk of the, uh, bulk—partly because the screen doesn't fold completely flat. It closes more like a binder than a book, making contact only at the outer edge. Putting the fold on the inside rather than around the outside makes for a tighter radius and a whole different set of camera placement problems than, say, Huawei's approach with the upcoming Mate X.
    • Did we mention it's thick? Folding phones are cool in theory, but somewhat bulgy in your pocket.

    • The hinge area packs the bulk of the, uh, bulk—partly because the screen doesn't fold completely flat. It closes more like a binder than a book, making contact only at the outer edge.

    • Putting the fold on the inside rather than around the outside makes for a tighter radius and a whole different set of camera placement problems than, say, Huawei's approach with the upcoming Mate X.

    • In its unfolded form, the main screen sports a slightly raised bezel, meaning there's a noticeable lip around the edges that you can feel under your fingers. This likely protects the display when it's folded or resting face-down on a table.

    • The phone ships un-folded—but fold it even once, and that crease becomes pretty easy to spot if you're looking.

    • Right, so, this is supposed to be a teardown, and unfolding it doesn't count. Time to pick a point of entry and go for it! Arm iOpeners!

    • Experience tells us that Samsung likes to build their phones from the front, and stick the back cover on last—so we start there.

    • To our surprise, just a little heat from our iOpener softens the glue up nicely, and the first of the two back covers comes right off. Just like that, we're in.

    • The angles of Samsung's usual curved edge can be a bear to pry under, so this flatter point of entry is a welcome relief.

  5. Even lightly-glued back covers are a repair headache—but with that out of the way, these screws are a treat. Wacky phone design, meet mercifully boring ordinary Phillips fasteners. Our first jab below the surface reveals pretty standard-looking Galaxy smartphone parts. First out: the wireless charging coil and antenna assembly. This half looks like a pretty complete phone all by itself—it just needs a speaker and vibration motor.
    • Even lightly-glued back covers are a repair headache—but with that out of the way, these screws are a treat. Wacky phone design, meet mercifully boring ordinary Phillips fasteners.

    • Our first jab below the surface reveals pretty standard-looking Galaxy smartphone parts. First out: the wireless charging coil and antenna assembly.

    • This half looks like a pretty complete phone all by itself—it just needs a speaker and vibration motor.

    • So, what's hiding in the other half?

  6. Hey look, there's a phone attached to this phone! We set about opening this phone's other half. That didn't take long—not quite so easy as the back cover, but this non-folding front screen comes off with a little heat and very little drama, for a Samsung. It's helped by the fact that the display is pretty small—and the flat edge actually makes it harder to stab into the OLED panel.
    • Hey look, there's a phone attached to this phone! We set about opening this phone's other half.

    • That didn't take long—not quite so easy as the back cover, but this non-folding front screen comes off with a little heat and very little drama, for a Samsung.

    • It's helped by the fact that the display is pretty small—and the flat edge actually makes it harder to stab into the OLED panel.

    • Flipping the display over reveals the OLED panel is made by Samsung, to the surprise of no one.

    • Along for the ride is Samsung's own S6SY761X touch controller, last seen in pretty much every Samsung teardown.

  7. One battery, two batteries, way-too-much-glue batteries. In typical Samsung fashion, they come out with isopropyl alcohol and a lot of swearing. If dimensions are your thing, the taller, front-facing battery is 42.2 x 76.15 x 3.8 mm, and the battery in the rear-facing section with all the cameras measures 42.7 x 64.3 x 4.6 mm. But really, here's the measurement that matters: 8.22 and 8.65 Wh, respectively, or 2135 mAh and 2245 mAh.
    • One battery, two batteries, way-too-much-glue batteries. In typical Samsung fashion, they come out with isopropyl alcohol and a lot of swearing.

    • If dimensions are your thing, the taller, front-facing battery is 42.2 x 76.15 x 3.8 mm, and the battery in the rear-facing section with all the cameras measures 42.7 x 64.3 x 4.6 mm.

    • But really, here's the measurement that matters: 8.22 and 8.65 Wh, respectively, or 2135 mAh and 2245 mAh.

    • Those are each less potent than the 11+ Wh power packs in any of the S10 phones, but in tandem they provide 16.87 Wh of power.

    • That's less than most tablets, including the 19.32 Wh cell in the new iPad Mini—but since this is technically a smartphone, that's ... impressive?

  8. You probably could have spent your $2,000 USD on a pretty nice DSLR or mirrorless camera, so it's slightly appropriate that this phone folds six cameras into its frame. Consolation prize? The only other time we've seen this many cameras in a smartphone is Huawei's latest, the P30 Pro. We line up the unblinking eyes:
    • You probably could have spent your $2,000 USD on a pretty nice DSLR or mirrorless camera, so it's slightly appropriate that this phone folds six cameras into its frame. Consolation prize?

    • The only other time we've seen this many cameras in a smartphone is Huawei's latest, the P30 Pro.

    • We line up the unblinking eyes:

    • Rear-facing 12 MP telephoto and 12 MP wide-angle cameras

    • Rear-facing 16 MP ultra-wide camera

    • "In-the-fold" 10 MP selfie cam (top) and 8 MP RGB depth cam

    • "Folded" front-facing 10 MP selfie cam

  9. Let's check out the left-side board. Are those silicone seals around the flex cable connectors? It sure looks like it. We first spotted these ingress-protection measures way back on the iPhone 6s, but they're not a common sight on Samsung products. When the chassis isn't water or dust-proof, this is how you build in a little board protection. Meanwhile, here's the silicon we found on this board:
    • Let's check out the left-side board.

    • Are those silicone seals around the flex cable connectors? It sure looks like it. We first spotted these ingress-protection measures way back on the iPhone 6s, but they're not a common sight on Samsung products. When the chassis isn't water or dust-proof, this is how you build in a little board protection.

    • Meanwhile, here's the silicon we found on this board:

    • MPB02 607RDF 1911TXK, likely a PMIC

    • 52D0S05 607W1R G1912R7D

    • CS3SL40 A0IU1907

    • CS40L25 BIAHI849

    • ASL01 G1909 AAWA3 07R5Z

  10. Double the phone, double the fun! Found on the right side's main board: Samsung K3UHAHA 12 GB RAM layered over Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
    • Double the phone, double the fun! Found on the right side's main board:

    • Samsung K3UHAHA 12 GB RAM layered over Qualcomm Snapdragon 855

    • Samsung KLUFG8RHDA-B2D1 512 GB eUFS flash storage

    • Qorvo 78062, likely a RF Fusion front-end module

    • Qualcomm SDR8150

    • Murata KM9307057

    • Maxim MAX77705C PMIC

    • IDT P93205

  11. And on the final flip side: Skyworks 78160 front-end module
    • And on the final flip side:

    • Skyworks 78160 front-end module

    • Skyworks 77365 power amplifier module

    • Skyworks 13716 low band front-end module

    • Qualcomm PM8150, likely PMIC

    • Qualcomm WCD9431 audio codec

    • Qualcomm QDM3870 RF front end module

    • NXP 80T17 NFC controller

  12. With all the interesting inner bits out of the way, we turn our attention to the star of the show: the foldable OLED display itself. The interior bezel lip—held only by light adhesive—comes up without much of a fight. Normally we overwhelmingly prefer a light touch when it comes to adhesive. And yet, in this case, we can't help but worry these bezels may peel over time, exposing the screen to damage.
    • With all the interesting inner bits out of the way, we turn our attention to the star of the show: the foldable OLED display itself.

    • The interior bezel lip—held only by light adhesive—comes up without much of a fight.

    • Normally we overwhelmingly prefer a light touch when it comes to adhesive. And yet, in this case, we can't help but worry these bezels may peel over time, exposing the screen to damage.

    • These bezels are super slim—when peeled up, they barely cover two millimeters of display.

    • The slim bezels clearly aren't flexible enough to cross the fold. Did Samsung decide this fragile screen could survive in the open? Or was there no sufficient material to be found?

  13. Now bezel-less, the screen is ready for some (amazingly heat-free) prying! The screen assembly is only adhered along the outer edges—probably to allow the screen to float as it opens and folds, which also serves to make removal much easier. That said, replacing this (very fragile) screen will probably blow your budget—if you can ever find one.
    • Now bezel-less, the screen is ready for some (amazingly heat-free) prying!

    • The screen assembly is only adhered along the outer edges—probably to allow the screen to float as it opens and folds, which also serves to make removal much easier.

    • That said, replacing this (very fragile) screen will probably blow your budget—if you can ever find one.

    • Using plastic instead of glass as an OLED substrate means this display is much less likely to shatter—but judging by early reviews, there are plenty of ways for this display to fail.

    • A single ultra-wide display cable connects from the left side of the phone.

    • It appears that The Verge's reported "jelly scrolling" is likely due to the display driver software, not a split display.

  14. Each half of the display is adhered to a thin metal support plate, which in turn is adhered to the phone's frame. This leaves the center spine free of adhesive for a wider-radius fold. Those plates make the display surprisingly rigid, even when separated from the chassis. This rigidity provides the springy feeling when opening the phone. Once removed from the chassis, the display looks completely flat, with no fold or scoring in sight.
    • Each half of the display is adhered to a thin metal support plate, which in turn is adhered to the phone's frame. This leaves the center spine free of adhesive for a wider-radius fold.

    • Those plates make the display surprisingly rigid, even when separated from the chassis. This rigidity provides the springy feeling when opening the phone.

    • Once removed from the chassis, the display looks completely flat, with no fold or scoring in sight.

    • The "top layer" of this new flexible display has been causing quite a ruckus for some early reviewers. Samsung calls it an "Advanced polymer protective layer," and says it is not to be removed.

    • What's curious is how it looks so similar to the pre-installed screen protectors that ship with Galaxy S10 phones. Why not extend this layer under the bezels to hide it from peel-happy folks like us?

    • In all known cases (including ours!), removing this layer kills the display. The display could technically function without the layer, but it is so tightly adhered and the display is so fragile that it's difficult to remove without applying display-breaking pressure.

  15. Next up: the magic hinge that makes all of the engineering wizardry possible. Let's count it down: Four spring-loaded clasps lock the display in the "open" position. The system is well-engineered and likely to last a long while. Two hinges, secured to the spine—one at the top and one at the bottom—allow for some horizontal play in order to absorb any torsion force.
    • Next up: the magic hinge that makes all of the engineering wizardry possible. Let's count it down:

    • Four spring-loaded clasps lock the display in the "open" position. The system is well-engineered and likely to last a long while.

    • Two hinges, secured to the spine—one at the top and one at the bottom—allow for some horizontal play in order to absorb any torsion force.

    • One center hinge, which sports a gear system. This distributes the opening force equally, ensuring that the two halves of the phone open synchronously.

    • Two well-routed flex cables serve as the corpus callosum between the phone halves. Each end of the cable is held securely in place before the bend, giving the cable consistent room to flex freely.

    • Routing flex cables through hinges is a serious reliability concern over the long haul. This one looks designed to hold up—but if it doesn't, at least the cable itself is modular, unlike some others we've seen recently.

    • And here's that beautiful spine in motion!

    • At the top: the single rounded sliding hinge.

    • Just below that: one of the springy clasps, for latching the phone open.

    • And towards the bottom: the gear array, stabilizing the center and distributing force.

    • Samsung says they folded these phones more than 200,000 times, and with this hinge system we don't doubt it. But, maybe humans aren't quite as gentle as Samsung's robots are ...

    • One thing we didn't find was any hinge ingress protection—those large gaps around the spine let dirt right in, possibly getting trapped between hinge and display.

    • While it might fall back out again, anything that gets lodged between the fragile display and its hard metal backplate could become a fatal pressure point when the phone is unfolded.

  16. Like a beautiful butterfly, our Fold's life was tragically short.
    • Like a beautiful butterfly, our Fold's life was tragically short.

    • Also like a butterfly, this thing is alarmingly fragile. Hopefully it can metamorphose into something a bit more robust to avoid the windshield of fate.

    • Maybe with their extra time, Samsung can add a bit more reinforcement and some ingress protection, so these glorious wings may flap another day!

    • While the phone was easier to get into than some, the overwhelming fragility is a bad sign for repair.

    • In case you missed it, we did a post-mortem on the review unit failures with our best guesses (at the time)—and the teardown pretty much bore that out.

  17. Final Thoughts
    • A single Phillips driver takes care of all the screws.
    • Many components are modular and can be replaced independently.
    • The mechanics involved in the fold are likely to wear over time, causing stress to hinges and display, necessitating eventual replacement.
    • The lack of protection and fragility of the main display mean you'll almost certainly be replacing the screen before long—a pricey repair.
    • Battery replacements are possible, but unnecessarily difficult—solvents help, but risk damage to the display supports.
    • Glued-down glass both front and back means greater risk of breakage, and makes repairs difficult to start.
    Repairability Score
    2
    Repairability 2 out of 10
    (10 is easiest to repair)

22 Comments

Now how did you get your hands on that little thing? Aren’t the folds supposed to be in the hands of tightly controlled tech reviewers? Don’t you risk being sued by samsung?

Pierre Gabory - Reply

Sued by Samsung? Since when did disassembly become illegal? Have I missed something?

charkel -

Disassembly is legal. Trafficking in stolen goods is not.

Aaron Wright -

The moment the phone goes on sale, they have teams around the world that fly, drive and swim to go get them. These devices were announced and released … to the public, but they were pulled.

They’re not a flagship devices, hense there isn’t the hype and fan fare around them like a S10 and such.

Cameron Walker -

What would you recommend Samsung do in order to protect against ingress of debris at the hinge (including the small gap between the screen protector and the display when partially open)? Would some kind of silicon or mesh be sufficient? Just trying to theorize what could be done to resolve the issue.

Brodie Woods - Reply

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