Given that most conventionally designed phones and laptops struggle to get a good repairability rating from iFixIt, you probably didn’t have high hopes for a device with a folding screen. And sure enough, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip – already under pressure for its easily scratchable screen – is now the not-so-proud owner of a 2/10 for repairability.
In a break from the site’s usual approach of taking apart a device just to see what makes it tick, iFixIt began by actually breaking the device. Although the Galaxy Z Flip doesn’t promise water or dust resistance, Samsung made a big deal about the so-called “fiber shield” which supposedly traps stray dust, protecting the hinge. In iFixIt’s test, that proved not to be the case, and the phone simply stopped opening when shaken with some bright purple dust.
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Upon opening it up, it became pretty clear that the fiber shield had not done its job. “The ‘sweeper technology’ brushes performed hilariously poorly in our dust test,” the site writes. “Though the test wasn’t exactly demonstrative of real-world use, the amount of dust trapped in the brushes (very little) wasn’t exactly confidence-inspiring.”
On top of this, there are other problems that will be familiar to anyone familiar with other teardowns. The glued-down glass panels are difficult to remove, and “poorly-routed cables and the lack of stretch-release adhesive” makes replacing both batteries a bit of a headache.
It’s not all bad though. A regular Phillips screwdriver is good for all of the screws on the phone, and the site notes that Samsung has made plenty of the components modular, allowing them to be replaced independently.
Overall, though, the prospects for the Z Flip being a device that can survive the rough and tumble of daily life don’t look great. “The components involved in the folding process are likely to wear over time (even if you don’t bathe them in purple dust), necessitating eventual replacement,” the site concludes.
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IFixIt does also offer its own insights into the mystery of the folding glass. It looks like our hunch may be correct: “The top layer is indeed plastic, which sorta defeats the purpose of a ‘glass’ display—i.e., its scratch-resistance,” the site notes. But there is definitely glass in there: “You can tell the middle layer is glass because of the way it shatters when we poke at it. Oops.
“Overall, we rate this glasstic display a solid meh,” the section concludes. Probably not the response Samsung wanted when it first announced it had done the impossible and manufactured folding glass.