While much of my focus here at Android Central is on Chromebooks and tablets, I've been an avid foldable phone user. Ever since I was able to get my hands on the Galaxy Z Fold 2, I've upgraded on a yearly basis.
And unlike others, I hadn't run into any of the problems that you see on the r/GalaxyFold subreddit. That is, until about a month ago when my Galaxy Z Fold 4's main screen just stopped working.
What happened to my Fold 4?
As soon as last year's Galaxy Unpacked event concluded, I (virtually) ran over to Samsung's website and got my preorder in for the Galaxy Z Fold 4. Knowing that there's always a chance that something could happen, I also signed up for Samsung Care Plus, thinking that it would save my bacon in the event that disaster struck.
Since receiving it, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 has either been my primary or secondary phone for the better part of the last year. That's even with either receiving or picking up other phones like the Pixel 7 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max, and Galaxy S23 Ultra. There's just something about the versatility that the Fold 4 offers that is simply unmatched, so I never left it behind, even if there wasn't a SIM card in it.
One morning, I was enjoying some breakfast and unfolded the phone to look something up, got what I was looking for, then closed it and put it on my desk. About 30 minutes later, I went to use it again, and the inner screen was just completely black.
In the time that I used it, put it down, and picked it back up, it just rested on my desk. So it's not like the phone fell onto my carpet or was knocked into anything. It was just... there.
What's weird is that when I went to pick up the phone, the cover screen turned on, just like it always does. But after I found that the inner screen was black, I closed the phone and the cover screen wouldn't turn on.
It wasn't until I plugged into the charger for a bit that the cover screen came to life, letting me know that the battery was dead. Thinking that the inner screen problems were just a random "glitch" or something, I excitedly powered the Fold 4 back on, unfolded it, and saw the black screen of death again.
Adding even more mystery to the saga is the fact that there are times when I go to open the phone, and I can feel a vibration. This is presumably the "your fingerprint isn't recognized" vibration that happens when trying to unlock the phone with anything other than a registered fingerprint. It happened all the time since the scanner is embedded into the power button, which is really the only reason why I was able to put two and two together.
So at least the phone is still functional.
Booking a repair
There are two ways that you can try and get your phone fixed through Samsung. The first of which is through the company's one-year warranty, which would result in you having to send the phone out, hoping that it gets there and that it can be repaired. The other is to go through uBreakiFix, as this is touted as being a "Samsung Authorized Repair Provider." It's also the same company that Google has partnered with for repairs on Pixel devices, including the new Pixel Fold.
Naturally, I went with the second option, thinking I could just make an appointment, head to one of the two uBreakiFix locations near me, and have my Fold back in working order. I don't feel exactly comfortable with shipping my phone out as there are plenty of horror stories about phones never getting received.
Before I was even able to make my appointment, I quickly figured out that the online process for making claims or appointments through Samsung is enough to make me want to give up. If you head over to the Samsung Care Plus landing page, there's nothing on the page telling you where to go if you want to file a claim.
Instead, you're met with buttons telling you to "Buy Now" or "Compare Samsung Care Plus Products." It's not until you get to the very bottom of the page that you see a "Learn more" button for "24/7 Expert support or start a claim."
But here's the thing, Samsung doesn't actually take care of these claims itself, and instead partners with a company called "Servify." So you're taken to another website that thankfully has the "File a Claim" buttons that I was looking for.
Once I reached this point, it was only a few minutes of entering different pieces of information, such as my phone type, what was wrong with it, and actually setting up the appointment. I received my confirmation email and breathed a sigh of relief after being frustrated.
Getting the runaround for weeks
The next day, I went to uBreakiFix at my scheduled appointment time, and after a few minutes, I was left shaking my head. For one, almost none of the information that I entered into the Servify website to book my appointment was in the uBreakiFix system.
All they knew was that I had an appointment, along with my name and an apparent "Reference ID" number. There was nothing in the system about what phone I had, let alone what the problem was. I even demonstrated the problem with my Fold 4, and they determined that I was going to need both the main and cover screens replaced.
Then, they went to look and see if the parts were available. A few minutes later, they came back out just to verify the color of my Fold 4. Little did I know that ordering the Graygreen Z Fold 4 would end up causing such a headache. As you might suspect, they were all out of stock, but the order would be put in so that the parts could arrive within a couple of days.
Those couple of days went by, and I still hadn't heard anything. So I called up the location, gave a different associate my name, and was promptly told that they didn't know what I was talking about, and after checking with someone else, no new parts had arrived for my phone.
I decided to wait a couple of more days before driving back down, hoping to get an answer as to what was going on in person. Apparently, all of the Graygreen Z Fold 4 parts are on backorder, but the associate was going to call another manager to try and see if another location had the parts and could bring them down.
To my absolute surprise (not really), another week went by, and I heard nothing.
Enough is enough, or so I thought
After calling again and getting nowhere with the uBreakiFix location, I decided that enough was enough. After finishing work for the day, I called Samsung Support and managed to finally get away from the robotic phone systems to speak to a real person.
I explained what was going on while also telling them that I subscribe to Samsung Care Plus in the hopes that this would speed up the process. Nope. I was transferred to "technical support," where they asked me to check for an update (already had), force restart the phone, and then see if it was happening again.
They then asked me what was happening just for their records, and then transferred me to what I assumed was Samsung Care Plus. The great thing about some customer service systems is when you get blind-transferred to another department and have to go through the whole rigamarole again. The Samsung Customer Service representative had no idea what was going on, and after speaking with them for about 15 minutes, I was informed that I was speaking with Samsung's Warranty Claims department.
About 45 minutes into the call, I finally started getting some potential solutions to my problem. The first of which was to simply send my phone in for repair, the second was to try different Samsung Authorized Repair locations, and the third was to send my Fold 4 in and get $500 off a new Galaxy S23 Ultra.
While it was definitely a nice gesture, I already have a Galaxy S23 Ultra, so I went with option #2, asking for the Samsung representative to let me know of the different locations nearby. A few minutes later, I had a text message with three different locations; the one that I have been going to, another uBreakiFix, and a Best Buy.
The next day, I made the 45-minute trip to the other uBreakiFix location and had a completely different experience. There were two representatives working, both of which listened intently to what happened while also trying to figure out a solution. One of the employees even went so far as to call someone else to see if any location in the area had the Graygreen Z Fold 4 parts that I needed.
Unfortunately, I was again met with disappointment. But this time, I was informed that none of the uBreakiFix locations have the necessary parts. To add insult to injury, this is because the Graygreen parts are on backorder, and there's no way of telling whether they will ever come back in stock.
They had the necessary replacement parts for the Black and Beige, but not the Graygreen. And because this was a warranty claim, even if it were to be through Samsung Care Plus, the only way that I could get my phone repaired would be to pay out of pocket. How much would this cost, you ask? Almost $600. Out of pocket, regardless of whether I have Care Plus or not.
My next move was to head to the Best Buy location provided by Samsung, hoping that maybe this would be the winner. Nope. After waiting in line for 10 minutes and trying to explain what was happening, I was abruptly cut off and told, "we don't do anything with Samsung." Needless to say, I was furious and spent some time walking around just cool off.
What's the moral of the story
Foldable phones are the most exciting thing going on in the world of smartphones, and I've loved being able to have a phone that folds in half. Maybe I've just tempted fate too many times since originally picking up the Galaxy Z Fold 2, and my run of good luck just ran out.
But this is less of a story about the fragility of screens that fold and more about the sham that is the "repair process." Samsung and Google can tell everyone that you can just walk in and get same-day repairs on your phones. But if you're like me and picked a "special" color because black and white phones are boring, then you're simply SoL.
Since receiving my Fold 4, I've come out of pocket for almost $2,000 between the phone and the monthly Samsung Care Plus insurance plan. And instead of being able to have my phone fixed, it's still sitting here broken and unusable. All the while, I just wanted to get it fixed so that I could trade it in for a Galaxy Z Fold 5.
If Samsung and Google really, and I mean actually, cared, they would be better and do a better job at serving their customers. But the reality is that these are just profit machines, and uBreakiFix's parent company, Asurion, has its own never-ending series of horror stories about "repairing" phones over the years.
Is there a conclusion?
For the sake of trying to get my Fold 4 fixed, I tried once more to see if the parts ever came in and was told no. So I've officially given up and will be calling Samsung again to try and get my phone repaired in some form or fashion.
This likely means sending it out to the repair center, hoping that it arrives safely. Then waiting with bated breath for the repair to be successfully completed and for my phone to be returned to my possession.
To be continued...
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Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.
That's horrible. I wonder if there are similar horror stories with people getting their iPhones repaired. Or Google phones fixed. I guess this is the stuff you have to expect if you want to be on the bleeding edge of technology.Reply
Mine does this about once or twice a week, the VOL Down+Power hard reset fixes it but it's a short term solution. I bought mine refurbished through Amazon, so I have another 5 weeks return window and even though I love the phone, I'm sending it back and getting a Pixel Fold, that unit has a much better form factor.Reply
This was my experience with Samsung as a whole as well. I had the exact same experience with my galaxy watch 4 when their own update was bricking watches. I had my watch 4, still under warranty, brick after restarting it. Samsung acknowledged the problem with their OTA update publicly and I followed their instruction for those with bricked watches. Spent hours on the phone and on chat with Samsung. Finally they told me to take it to a local repair shop(in canada). So of course I did, and the shop told me they don't touch samsung watches and that no one would except samsung......who are of course the ones who sent me there. Samsung even gave me the address. So after trying again for hours trying to get some traction from samsung or what to do next I just cut my losses and moved on. Many many frustrating hours were wasted and I realized they don't have any intention of honoring their warranty or helping me in any way.Reply
I was furious, and quite honestly shocked that a company can do this type of thing.
I had their product, still under warranty, that was turned into a brick by their own software update, that they admit to, and they send me on a wild goose chase leading no where. With nothing left to do, I literally had no recourse other than to just swear off samsung products. It has actually been a relief.
This is not the first samsung I have ever had fail on me under warranty either. I've had 4 samsung products fail on me over the years, only 1 ever got fixed.
I have not bought a single samsung product for myself or as a gift since, and never will. They are literally dead to me and don't even exist as a consideration when buying any product. I will never EVER buy a tv, fridge, monitor, watch, phone etc. etc. if it has the samsung name on it. I've even gone as far as looking at products that have the least parts that may have been sourced from samsung.
I wish the world would do the same and abolish this horrendous company!
Sooner or later the author will figure out he has to ship his special order color phone to Samsung for a repair, as it is the option he has avoided.Reply
This is the EXACT experience I had with my Fold 3. I started to get the dreaded peeling of the inner screen protector right at the top where the screen folds. One day, a huge air bubble ran right down the left of the middle of the screen. I didn't open it after that point and immediately looked into repair options. I too went to ubreakifix. I had a BLACK Fold 3. I went in just to get the screen protector replaced. That's all I needed and they said they were out, but like you, said they'd order me one. Two weeks pass with me calling every few days. I finally had enough. There was no way I was going to just use the outer screen and I also didn't want to risk taking the screen protector off. There's so many mixed responses as to whether that voids your warranty or not. I ended up trading it in for an S23 Ultra instead and I'm honestly way happier for it. Folding phones are fun and all, but I hate the case options for them. I hate that the S Pen isn't in the phone. I hate how careful I felt I had to be. Hell, I babied that phone and the inner protector STILL started peeling. Samsung, in particular, really needs to get a handle on this. Screen protectors and screen replacements shouldn't be back ordered at the ONE official repair partner you have.Reply
And before someone says it, yes I know I could have probably sent it in for Samsung to repair, but how can I do that? Not everyone has replacement phones laying around and I need mine for work. I couldn't be without a phone for however long it would take Samsung to fix it.
Why, exactly, should he have to? Why can't the "authorized repair partner" order it and get it within a few days?parksanim said:Sooner or later the author will figure out he has to ship his special order color phone to Samsung for a repair, as it is the option he has avoided.
Also I had a black Fold 3 and they were still out of screen protectors.
I agree, Samsung dropped the ball. But the writer also dropped the ball and is being a bit obstinate. It was a special order phone in a special color. If he would have stuck with something more normal at the time, and not a special model of a cutting edge phone that .05% of Samsung owners actually own, furthermore in a color that another small percentage own, he likely would have had no troubles getting it repaired at any of those stores. But that doesn't take these "authorized centers" off of the hook, even soon after COVID when parts delivery was scarce.Duffin said:Why, exactly, should he have to? Why can't the "authorized repair partner" order it and get it within a few days?
Also I had a black Fold 3 and they were still out of screen protectors.
Look, I feel for the guy, but he literally bought a high-end Lamborghini from an online dealership -- and at a time when most businesses had issues getting parts. And he never bothered to send it in for repairs, as was an option.
i live in Korea and work around Samsung management (not in phone division) almost every day. They all have Fold 4's given to them for free by the company. Soon they will all have Fold 5's. I also have Samsung stores all over the place, so I have confidence in being able to fix something the same day that I need it fixed. So I'm spoiled. But even with all this, I don't have any interest in buying one of these folding phones because of the demonstrated screen issues people have had. I'm surrounded by hundreds of Korean univ students (mostly Flips) who have these things and I see the screens crack and break in the middle at the fold, the edges come up, and enough things wrong with them in 2 to 3 years that I don't want one until I see a few more years of non-breakage.
Resale is a pittance on these things because of the 2 to 3 year screen breakage. Samsung is offering ridiculous trade-in deals (in some countries, you can trade a Fold 4 to a Fold 5 and pay just $100, as Marcus the YouTuber talks about). They are desperate to lock people into this new form factor (and I would argue they WANT to sell phones with a shorter shelf life, as they last too long, these days).
Been happy with my Fold 4 and decided not to get the Fold 5Reply
In all seriousness, the trades direct from Samsung are so good going from 4 to 5 in many places, it would be foolish not to. MLB said the trade made it $100 to update a Fold 4 to a 5. And university students can get a further discount on top of that.mustang7757 said:Been happy with my Fold 4 and decided not to get the Fold 5
I could trade in my Fold 4 for the 5 at 719.00 but just don't feel the need to . They have good trade in and if was around 400-500 I might of bite just for it being at that price but I'm good, I currently using my pixel 7 pro/Google Fold/s23u/Fold 4 and iphone 14 pro max , I think that's enough to keep me in place lolparksanim said:In all seriousness, the trades direct from Samsung are so good going from 4 to 5 in many places, it would be foolish not to. MLB said the trade made it $100 to update a Fold 4 to a 5. And university students can get a further discount on top of that.