Pixel Fold screens are breaking a day after launch. Here's Google's response

From dead pixels to uncertain crackling, things aren't unfolding well for Google this week.
Written by Kerry Wan, Senior Reviews Editor
Google Pixel Fold on a table.
June Wan/ZDNET

Since the very first market-ready foldable phone, buying a flexing-display handset is very much a bet on the manufacturer to produce a robust, functional device. It's a bet that they've done their research and engineered a sandwich of thin glass that won't succumb to the unpredictable use cases of consumers. It's a bet. So it doesn't always work in the customer's favor.

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Just one day after launch, multiple users are reporting broken Pixel Fold screens, from unexpected scratches to dropped pixels to the pink line of death that's plagued several other foldables in the past

A scan through Reddit forums and testaments from reviewers reveal most of the problems are stemming from the alignment of the Pixel Fold's flexible OLED panel, the screen protector above it -- which manufacturers advise you to never remove, and the gap between the display and the surrounding bezel. 

Because there's a small yet still significant bit of OLED exposed on the edges of the display, dust and debris can seep into the panel. (Remember, the Pixel Fold is rated IPX8, meaning while it's resistant to splashes of water and lighter submersions, it's not certified for dust resistance. At the time of writing, the Motorola Razr Plus is still the only foldable to offer that.)

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The real damage occurs when users close the two sides shut and, therefore, press dust and debris against the flexible, fragile display. That results in dead pixels, scratches, and a $1,799 phone that just lost a good chunk of value.

The fix? A Google spokesperson, Alex Moriconi, told The Verge, "We recommend anyone having an issue reach out to support to investigate." For the Pixel Fold, Google offers both walk-in and mail-in repair services for quality checks, display problems, and all. The question is whether or not the company has improved from its rather disappointing track record of customer service.

In this instance, it's not a matter of what's happening, but how Google handles it. Stay tuned for updates.

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