At the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, Samsung made a massive deal about the screen. Unlike its predecessor the Galaxy Fold and Motorola’s Razr, the folding screen on the Z Flip is said to be extra-thin glass, rather than plastic.
But the latest torture test from Zack Nelson (aka JerryRigEverything) shows that, in terms of durability, the Z Flip may be no better than that which has come before it.
As usual, Nelson’s first test involves a series of Mohs hardness picks to see at what level the screen gets damaged. Most modern smartphones with gorilla glass coating will see “scratches starting at a level six, with deeper grooves at a level seven.”
Here, you can see marks at level two, and proper grooves at level three. At level four, “I can physically feel the tip of the pick start to cut the surface open.” Oh dear.
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Pressed by The Verge over what’s going on here, Samsung offered a slightly confusing statement that ended with the comment that “Galaxy Z Flip has a protective layer on top of the Ultra Thin Glass similar to the Galaxy Fold”.
That suggests that Nelson was merely cutting through a protective layer rather than the screen itself, but whether that’s true or not is kind of a moot point: if your screen is scratched by impact, it doesn’t really matter if a layer is left in tact underneath where you can’t see it. In practical terms to the buyer, this doesn’t feel any more rugged than the Galaxy Fold.
However, the company did tell the site that it is planning to provide a screen replacement service in the near future, where customers can buy a one-time replacement for $119 (~£91). This will be available at select ‘U Break I Fix’ stores, or via a postal service, the company explained adding that “the screen protector will be applied by a specialist with the proper equipment to align and apply it.”
It’s a pity, because in terms of the rest of Nelson’s torture tests, the Z Flip actually copes pretty well. The flame test obviously does more damage to the screen than you’d expect with a glass display, but even trying to bend the handset open the wrong way takes quite a lot of force before the frame breaks – and even then the screen remains in tact.
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On top of this, Samsungs promises about the hinge coping against dust and grit – the Achilles Heel of the original Fold design – appear to be correct. Although it sounds a little resistant at first, after blowing out the particles, the phone is back to normal.
Still, Samsung’s promise of glass rather than plastic does lead to expectations that, on the evidence of this video at least, simply can’t be met. If you’ve bought one, maybe treat your Z Flip with as much care as you would any other folding phone, rather than assuming the glass has got you covered.