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Has the Galaxy Z Flip’s plastic screen coating been hiding in plain sight all along?

Just a week on from the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip’s launch, recent history appears to be repeating itself. As was the case with the disastrous Samsung Galaxy Fold, serious questions are already being asked about the Z Flip’s screen.

Unlike the Fold, which has a plastic screen, Samsung says the Z Flip’s display is made of glass. A “first-of-its-kind”, “bendable Ultra Thin Glass”, to be precise − or ‘UTG’.

Here’s a reminder of what Rebecca Hirst, Samsung UK’s head of mobile product marketing, said at the Z Flip’s launch:

“With this phone we’ve done the impossible and created ultra-thin glass that folds.

“You might think that foldable glass would be brittle, but this glass is built to last, and it protects your screen from scratches.

“It’s so durable you can fold and unfold your phone over 200,000 times. And every time you fold it, you’re not just bending glass, you’re bending the laws of physics.”

Unfortunately, these claims don’t seem to match up with reality.

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The Z Flip did spectacularly badly in a durability test performed by YouTuber Zack Nelson (JerryRigEverything), who found that it scratches just as easily as… plastic.

It was so plastic-like, in fact, that Nelson even managed to damage it with his fingernails. What’s more, when he held his lighter up to the screen it changed shape − something you’d expect from a plastic display but not glass one.

“I don’t know what this material is, but Samsung definitely shouldn’t be calling it glass and I’m disappointed,” he said, theorising that the display may be made of a hybrid plastic polymer “with little specks of glass ingredients inside”.

Since the video went up, Samsung has issued a vaguely worded a statement that seems to suggest that Nelson was cutting through a (presumably plastic) protective layer rather than the screen itself.

“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,” a spokesperson for Samsung told The Verge.

“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.”

It isn’t the most satisfactory response, and as far as I’m aware this is the first time that Samsung has mentioned any sort of protective layer on top of the screen.

However, it may have made a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance during Samsung’s official introduction video for the Z Flip. Fast-forward to the 20-seconds mark in the video embedded below:

Samsung wouldn’t confirm or deny if that is a plastic screen coating, when we asked for clarification.

“Galaxy Z Flip has a protective layer on top of Samsung’s Ultra Thin Glass (UTG). Galaxy Z Flip’s new folding glass display also underwent all the necessary testing and manufacturing protocols to meet Samsung and third-party partner quality assurance guidelines to ensure users have the best possible mobile experience,” a spokesperson for Samsung told Trusted Reviews.

“Also Galaxy Z Flip’s display has been tested and verified by Bureau Veritas, successfully passing 200,000 fold test simulating life-time use reliability.”

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