Samsung’s Ultra Thin Glass scratches as easily as plastic in Galaxy Z Flip durability test

Samsung’s Ultra Thin Glass scratches as easily as plastic in Galaxy Z Flip durability test

The Galaxy Z Flip was recently announced as Samsung’s first clamshell foldable smartphone, and unlike with the Motorola Razr, there hasn’t been a delay in getting the phone into the hands of consumers. While it’s not a direct successor to the Galaxy Fold, it is a marvel of Samsung’s engineering on its own right. Early impressions of the Z Flip have been positive, with many praising Samsung for offering high-end specifications and seemingly solid build quality at a lower price point than the Razr. One of the reasons the Galaxy Z Flip has been getting praise is its use of Samsung’s bendable Ultra Thin Glass, which users assumed would make the phone durable than older foldable phones. However, it seems that the phone’s durability is not all that amazing.

Popular YouTuber Zach Nelson, who runs the YouTube channel JerryRigEverything, performed one of his signature durability tests on the recently released Galaxy Z Flip. He performed several tests, such as a scratch test and a bend test, on the device. Scratching the phone’s display using his Mohs hardness picks revealed that the device gets visible dents and scratches with just a level 2 pick; a level 3 pick manages to actually scratch the display pretty heavily. Then, a level 4 pick manages to physically puncture the display. These are more or less the same results one would get when testing a plastic display such as the one in the Galaxy Fold and the Motorola Razr.

This means that you can even scratch the display with your own fingernail, which probably isn’t what you would be expecting from a device that is marketed as having a glass display. Customers looking to buy the Galaxy Z Flip and hearing the term “glass” would probably expect durability similar to that of regular smartphones with a glass display, like the recently announced Galaxy S20 lineup.

Ultra Thin Glass isn’t the same kind of glass you’ll find in the average Android smartphone, though, since it needs to be extra thin in order to fold. Thus, it’s not as structurally rigid as normal smartphone glass. Furthermore, just like the Galaxy Fold, the Galaxy Z Flip has an unremovable plastic cover on top for protection, the company confirmed during Galaxy Unpacked. Because of this, it seems that Samsung’s Ultra Thin Glass doesn’t really provide a durability advantage compared to plastic—though it does change how the display looks and feels.

Samsung’s marketing material for the Galaxy Z Flip shows the plastic protective cover as a key part of the display.

There is also the possibility that Samsung’s Ultra Thin Glass is no more than a hybrid glass-plastic polymer, a possibility raised by Mr. Nelson himself, who slammed Samsung for potentially misleading marketing.

In  a statement to The Verge regarding this matter, Samsung said the following:

“Galaxy Z Flip features an Infinity Flex Display with Samsung’s Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) to deliver a sleek, premium look and offer an immersive viewing experience,” a spokesperson said by email. “Samsung’s first-of-its-kind UTG technology is different from other Galaxy flagship devices. While the display does bend, it should be handled with care. Also, Galaxy Z Flip has a protective layer on top of the UTG similar to Galaxy Fold.”

Just as they did with the Galaxy Fold, Samsung will offer a one-time screen replacement for the Galaxy Z Flip that will cost $119. Additionally, Samsung is offering the option to add a screen protector to the device, an option that was not available for the Galaxy Fold:

“As part of Premier Service, we will offer a one-time free application of a screen protector for the Z Flip at select UBIF [U Break I Fix], Samsung branded locations or by sending it to Samsung Premier Service via mail. The screen protector will be applied by a specialist with the proper equipment to align and apply it. The program is rolling out soon.”

As long as you take proper care of your device, though, you shouldn’t have anything catastrophic happen. The device will be kept closed most of the time whether it’s in your pockets or while not in use, which should reduce dust accumulation and scratching while it’s in your pocket. Furthermore, Samsung has implemented additional improvements to the hinge design which should also improve durability and keep most dust and debris intake at bay.

The Galaxy Z Flip has just been released so it’s way too early to talk about its real-world durability. There may be issues here and there that could be going under the radar right now. If you were concerned that foldable phones are still not ready for the mass market, then today’s news will unfortunately not sway your mind. If you are still interested in the device, Samsung’s offering of a screen protector and one-time screen replacement may assuage your fears.

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