As we reported earlier, Samsung decided to release a redesigned version of its folding smartphone this September after being forced to cancel the initial launch of the Galaxy Fold last month when major design issues in its flexible display were revealed by early adopters.
So far, the assumption was that both U.S. carriers, AT&T and T-Mobile, that were confirmed in the initial April release of the Galaxy Fold will also carry the newly redesigned Galaxy Fold 2 when it launches again in September.
However, to everyone’s surprise, T-Mobile—which $26.5 billion merger with Sprint has recently been approved by the Department of Justice (DOJ)—confirmed to The Verge that it will not carry the improved $2,000 smartphone this time around.
“T-Mobile will not carry the Galaxy Fold because we already offer customers a wide range of the latest smartphones. Please reach out to Samsung for any further inquiries,” said a spokesperson for the U.S. mobile carrier which headquarters are located in Bellevue, Washington, in the Seattle metropolitan area.
We also reached out to T-Mobile for clarification and will update this report when we hear back from them. We’ve also contacted the U.S. offices of Samsung and AT&T to find out more. The South Korean company has not replied yet as of this writing while AT&T is thought to still be working with Samsung on the launch of the Fold 2.
“Regarding this device [the refreshed Galaxy Fold], we do not have anything to share right now,” confirmed to me Mike Makoid a senior manager with AT&T’s industry analyst relations.
Last April, the South Korean company was forced to cancel the initial launch of its foldable phone, after several design flaws were uncovered including the peeling of the thin layer of plastic that protected the foldable display which can then let substances get between the display and the protective cover, causing the phone to ultimately fail, as well as a small opening on the back of the display created by the small lift of the screen when opened and closed, also causing particles to get in.
Late last month, Samsung confirmed that it has corrected the issues in its folding smartphone with the following design and construction improvements:
- The top protective layer of the Infinity Flex Display has been extended beyond the bezel, making it apparent that it is an integral part of the display structure and not meant to be removed
- To protect the Galaxy Fold from external particles while maintaining its foldable experience, Samsung did 3 things including 1/strengthening the top and bottom of the hinge area with newly added protection caps, 2/ reinforcing the protection of the display with additional metal layers underneath the Infinity Flex Display, and 3/ reducing the space between the hinge and the Galaxy Fold body
Atherton Research Insights
No matter how you could downplay T-Mobile’s decision to not carry Samsung’s $2,000 folding phone, this is a major blow for the South Korean electronics giant as, according to our analysis, more than 80% of mobile devices bought in the U.S. are sold using wireless carrier financing, while close to 100% of the premium smartphones—$999 or more—are either sold by the mobile carriers or the manufacturers themselves.
This is why you should avoid buying a first-generation device
Although we still expect AT&T to be a Galaxy Fold launch partner with Samsung this September, Sprint or Verizon could surprise us by adding the folding phone to their launch roadmap this year to ride the folding phone wave, even as they prepare for the launch of the new Apple iPhones.
In any case, from a consumer standpoint, it’s hard to recommend buying the Galaxy Fold because of the fragility of its flexible screen design—we actually recommend Samsung to increase the warranty coverage to 2 years or more to help ease consumer anxiety over using the phone—the lack of water resistance and of course it’s huge $2,000 price tag.
Lastly, for the would-be buyers of the Galaxy Fold, we recommend to carefully read the fine print of the extended device protection plan to avoid any unwanted surprises.