Samsung to launch foldable smartphone after major delay

Samsung senior vice president of product marketing Justin Denison speaks about the new foldable martphone during its product launch in San Francisco, California on February 20, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 05 September 2019

Samsung to launch foldable smartphone after major delay

  • The world’s largest smartphone maker spent nearly eight years developing the Galaxy Fold
  • But Samsung had to hold its launch in April after reviewers reported screen problems within days of use

SEOUL: Tech giant Samsung has said it will launch its hotly anticipated first foldable smartphone on Friday, months after faulty screens forced an embarrassing delay of its release.
The world’s largest smartphone maker spent nearly eight years developing the Galaxy Fold, but had to hold its launch in April after reviewers reported screen problems within days of use.
It was a major setback for the firm, which was hoping to spark demand for its high-end phones with the launch of the $2,000 device, with profits plunging in recent quarters in the face of a weakened market and strong competition from Chinese rivals.
After months of “refining” the Galaxy Fold — which is ready for use on high-speed 5G networks in some markets — Samsung said it will release the smartphone in South Korea on Friday, followed by select countries including the United States, Germany and France.
The firm will also offer a program to Galaxy Fold users under which the company would cover 70 percent of the cost of screen repair once within a year of use.
The Galaxy Fold has been widely promoted as the “world’s first foldable smartphone,” while rivals such as China’s Huawei have been racing to bring similar devices to market.
Samsung has a history of humiliating setbacks with major products, most notably a worldwide recall of its Galaxy Note 7 devices in 2016 over exploding batteries, which hammered its reputation.
The firm has also been caught up in the intensifying trade war between Japan and South Korea stemming from World War II disputes.
The row saw Tokyo impose tough restrictions on exports crucial to South Korean tech giants in July, and Samsung vice chairman Lee Jae-yong — who called the situation a “crisis” — has visited Tokyo to secure materials.
Analysts have said the trade dispute will affect the delivery of Samsung products — among them the Galaxy Fold as it relies on a chemical film produced by Japanese firm Sumitomo Chemical.
Lee is currently facing a retrial over his role in a massive corruption scandal that brought down former president Park Geun-hye.
He was initially jailed for five years in 2017 on multiple convictions including bribery, which was reduced to a suspended sentence on appeal, only for the Supreme Court to order a retrial last month.
Analysts say the ruling could pose a serious challenge for Samsung.


China appeals to Washington for quick end to trade war

Updated 1 min 26 sec ago

China appeals to Washington for quick end to trade war

  • Beijing says it will buy more American goods but has yet to confirm the details
  • Tariff hikes by both sides on billions of dollars of imports have battered factories and farmers

BEIJING: China appealed to Washington for a quick end to their trade war but gave no indication Thursday what additional steps Beijing might want before carrying out what President Donald Trump says is a promise to buy up to $50 billion of American farm goods.
Trump agreed Friday to delay a tariff hike in exchange for Chinese purchases of US exports. Beijing says it will buy more American goods but has yet to confirm the details, leaving companies wondering whether Chinese leaders have other demands including a possible end to punitive US tariffs before that goes ahead.
Negotiators are “striving to reach a consensus on the text of the agreement as soon as possible,” said a Ministry of Commerce spokesman, Gao Feng. “I can’t disclose the specific details.”
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters Wednesday that officials were still ironing out details of a preliminary agreement.
Companies welcomed the deal as a small but promising possible step toward breaking a deadlock in the 15-month-old fight over China’s trade surplus and technology ambitions.
Tariff hikes by both sides on billions of dollars of imports have battered factories and farmers, weighing on global economic growth. Trump delayed a tariff due to take effect Tuesday on $250 billion of Chinese goods but another increase on $160 billion of imports still is scheduled for Dec. 15.
Economists warned the truce fails to address more basic complaints about Beijing’s plans for government-led creation of global competitors in robotics and other technologies.
Washington, Europe, Japan and other trading partners say those violate Chinese market-opening commitments and are based on stealing or pressuring companies to hand over know-how.
China wants “economic and trade relations back on the right track at an early date,” Gao said at a weekly news briefing.
Achieving results will “restore market confidence and also is highly significant for stabilizing the global economic situation,” he said.
On Tuesday, a foreign ministry spokesman said China would “further speed up procurement” of American farm exports but gave no scale or time frame.
China has bought 20 million tons of US soybeans and 700,000 tons of pork this year, according to the spokesman, Geng Shuang. China imported about 33 million tons of American soybeans annually before the tariff fight and collapsed to 16.6 million tons last year.