Saved by the Extended Warranty

An unfolded Galaxy Z Fold 4 showing a scene from the television show, Monk, with the middle section of the screen blacked out

A little under a year-and-a-half ago, I bought an unlocked Galaxy Z Fold 4 on Amazon. I had been eyeing a foldable phone for quite a while—the idea of having a phone with comfortable reading experience was enticing—until finally my wife convinced me to just buy one, so I did.

First off, I fucking loved the thing. My intent to make reading on my phone more comfortable came true (instead of mindless scrolling when waiting in line somewhere, it became extremely natural for me to unfold the phone and read an eBook), and on the rare occasion where I didn't feel like reading, the form factor was great for watching movies or handwriting notes.

Now, it wasn't all bubblegum and roses. The battery life was mediocre, and when folded it felt like carrying around a literal brick in my pocket, but in many ways the pros outweighed the cons.

Early Warning Signs

Until about a month ago, when the manufacturer-installed screen protector started separating from the inner screen (which, in this context, inner means the big screen that gets folded in half). It didn't affect the functionality of the phone, just the visibility (think the bubbles you get from poorly applying an aftermarket screen protector).

After some frantic Googling, it turns out that this is a fairly common problem that is covered by the manufacturer's 12-month warranty (spoiler alert: my 12-month warranty ended 4 months ago). The solution is to just make an appointment for replacement (and drop $20) with a local Samsung-authorized repair shop, which is exactly what I did.

Unfortunately, it was too little too late.

Last night (literally 36 hours before my scheduled appointment), when I went to open my phone and do a little reading while my youngest daughter dozed off to sleep, the screen popped and flashed white, and when it came back on there was a thick black stripe of dead pixels down the center of the screen (right on top of the folding seam) and the touchscreen no longer worked.


Not exactly the thing you want to have happen to a phone you spent $1400 on.

Thankfully, I had the foresight to recognize both the cost of the phone and the risk of having something so expensive on my person at all times, and (for perhaps the first time in my life) bought an extended warranty to protect me from myself.

The terms of the warranty were actually pretty decent. For $10 a month, just about every type of damage you could imagine was covered by either repair, replacement, or (in the worst cases) full reimbursement for the original purchase price of the device.

As soon as my screen murdered itself, I immediately closed it (a weird advantage of having a folding phone in this scenario), looked up my extended-warranty information, submitted a claim (which was immediately approved for the gift-card reimbursement), and paid $100 for the privilege of doing it all.

A New Hope

So, you may be thinking, what's next?

Well, I moved the phone's SIM card back to my old iPhone—Pro Tip: always keep an old phone lying around for situations like this—dropped my Galaxy off at a local shop that facilitates these reimbursements, and now I am patiently waiting for either a check or an Amazon gift card (the messaging has been inconsistent, but I bought the original phone on Amazon and intend to replace it on Amazon, so no harm no foul).

That all said, I don't intend to buy another folding phone.

If you did the math above, you may have noticed that I had my Z Fold 4 for about 16 months. That's two months less than a year-and-a-half before it died of its own accord. I don't know about you, but my phones generally last much longer than that before they start to degrade (and that is typically just the battery life).

For context, my (temporary) iPhone XS Max is 6 years old and is in phenomenal shape (aside from the aforementioned battery degradation).


So, while I've generally decided to lock myself back into the Android (specifically Samsung) ecosystem, I will not be getting another folder, simply because I don't want to deal with this shit again unless it is my own fault.

Having an always-ready reading-friendly form factor was really nice, but having a working phone with minimal maintenance requirements is a hell of a lot nicer, so my next move will likely be Samsung's flagship s24 Ultra (if you have this phone and have thoughts with my conclusion, please shoot me an email, I'd love to hear from you).

And you can bet I will be getting the extended warranty again, at least in this case.


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This is post 037 of #100DaysToOffload