Since JerryRigEverything's Zach took his picks to the Galaxy Z Flip, there's been a lot of debate around the web concerning Samsung's claim that it's using an ultra-thin layer of glass in the folding phone's display. Thanks to a new teardown by PBKreviews on YouTube, we now have confirmation that there is indeed a sheet of flexible glass in the Z Flip, but it's not as durable as you might hope.
Samsung has always said that the display is glass, but with a plastic film applied to it for extra protection, and this explains why the screen scratches so easily in Zach's testing. In the video below, PBKreviews takes the phone apart and peels the plastic coating away from what turns out to legitimately be glass. Both layers together are flexible to an extent but push the glass too far and it inevitably shatters — as you can see when the two are separated. This leads to numerous dead pixels but the display does keep working, at least.
According to well known Samsung leaker Ice Universe on Twitter, Samsung's UTG (Ultra-thin glass) is supplied by the German manufacturer Schott and has a thickness of just 30μm, 16 times thinner than the glass you'd find in a typical smartphone screen. Since the glass is so thin, it stands to reason that it would also be fragile, which is why it needs that protective PET film over the top. The brittle nature of the material can also be seen in the below tweet by a Galaxy Z Flip early adopter named Amir — his display has already shattered down the center fold line.
Received my Samsung Galaxy Z Flip just now. Opened the box. Removed the protective/instruction film. Flipped the phone as you would do since it’s a flip phone and this happened. I heard the crack as well. 😰 cold weather?#SamsungGalaxy #ZFlip #samsung pic.twitter.com/j8KLL2vm8d
— Amir 💎 (@mondoir) February 14, 2020
The most obvious question is why would Samsung bother using ultra-thin glass if it needs to be covered with a less scratch resistant plastic layer? The display clearly doesn't exhibit the more durable qualities of a conventional glass display, so what it's actually made of is arguably irrelevant. If the phone's screen can be so easily damaged, it may be no better than the entirely plastic panel of the Galaxy Fold. Glass certainly sounds better from a marketing perspective, though, doesn't it.