Snippet: RIP to My Pixel Fold: Dead After Four Days ☇

Shared on June 27, 2023

Ron Amadeo for Ars Technica:

The flexible OLED screen died after four days. The bottom 10 pixels of the Pixel Fold went dead first, forming a white line of 100 percent brightness pixels that blazed across the bottom of the screen. The entire left half of the foldable display stopped responding to touch, too, and an hour later, a white gradient started growing upward across the display. […]

This plastic layer is critical to the OLED’s survival, but it doesn’t stretch to the edges. Every company that builds these screens leaves a margin around the perimeter of the display where there is no plastic layer, just a raw, exposed OLED panel peeking out into the world. We would normally expect a foldable to break along the crease, where the screen sees the most stress. But mine died due to this exposed OLED gap.

The tiniest bit of something got in there, and when I closed the display, the pressure of the other display side was enough to puncture the OLED panel. It didn’t see or feel anything when closing the device, but the display pixels started freaking out. After going over the device with a magnifying glass, I think I found where the puncture was.

A tech writer with a review unit is typically the most careful use case, as one wants to evaluate the device, take some pictures, and send it back in as good of condition as one received it. Nonetheless, this whole segment suffering from this design should make it a nonstarter for almost everyone. Phones take quite a bit of abuse and considering that foldables don’t really work well with cases or actual screen protectors and are killed by dust (which tends to exist in pockets), how can manufacturers expect the average person not to destroy their phone shortly after receiving it?

The cost of the devices alone will drive a lot of people away, but for the price of most of these, I can get a high-end iPhone and an iPad and both will be more durable to boot.

Manufacturers keep wanting to brush off the significant durability issues of flexible OLED displays, thinking that if they just shove the devices onto the market, everything will work out. That hasn’t been the case, though, and any time you see a foldable phone for sale, you don’t have to look far to see reports of dead displays. I’m sure we’ll see several reports of broken Pixel Folds once the unit hits the general public. Corning may save us with an exterior foldable glass cover, but until then, buying any foldable feels like a gamble.

Yeah, I’ll take my slab-shaped phone with a hard, glass screen, slap a cheap screen protector on anyway, and then throw it all in a somewhat slim case.

Snippets are posts that share a linked item with a bit of commentary.