Samsung has started ordering bulk parts for mass Galaxy Fold assembly by the end of the month, reports Korean media, but the maximum yield will be so low that industry sources doubt the phone will have a general release in your typical electronics store at the end of April.
Samsung may be able to produce a maximum of 100, 000 units per month, and probably way less than that once ramp-up and quality control restrictions kick in. Compare that to the scheduled production rate for the Galaxy S10 of 3 million a month, and you’ll see the problem with general availability of the expensive Galaxy Fold. The tepid production volumes come hand in hand with Samsung waxing poetic about “a super-premium device” that “you are not going to see in the stands” so that “a very personal experience” can be offered.
The production problems stem from the complexity of assembly, of course, given that the phone folds in half around a mid-screen fault line, but also from the sourcing of the specific components needed for said bending action. Chief among those are the cover glass, or should we call it cover polyimide (PI) that has to be supplied by the Japanese from Sumitomo Chemical, as well as the special film type adhesive that Samsung has been developing for years. That in-house Optically Clear Adhesive (OCA) can stretch and shrink numerous times without unglueing the screen part or forming bulges.
As you can see, a lot of unorthodox thought and technology is going into Samsung’s first-gen foldable phones, and we can only hope with their proliferation and subsequent editions the pricing will only become lower. Much lower.