Samsung Galaxy Z Flip’s 'ultra thin glass' put to test in new durability video

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
(Image credit: Future)

One of Samsung's most exciting design evolutions on the Galaxy Z Flip would have to be its foldable Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) display, which is said to be a significant step-up from the plastic screen the company used on its Galaxy Fold.

While the use of the world 'glass' might suggest a display that's tougher than the plastic we've seen on previous foldable devices, including the new Motorola Razr, it's apparently just as susceptible to damage, according to a new durability test video from YouTuber Zack Nelson at JerryRigEverything.

In the video demonstration above, Nelson subjects the Galaxy Z Flip's screen to a series of increasingly hard picks from Mohs' Hardness Test Kit, which distressingly begins to show scratches and indentations in the display from the second level onwards. 

According to The Verge, scratches typically start to appear around the test's sixth hardness level on most modern smartphones, with "deeper grooves" emerging after that.

Nelson goes on to apply a naked flame to the display, which begins to warp like plastic after a few seconds. Finally, Nelson uses a fine point to poke holes through the screen, which does not shatter like regular glass, but does permanently destroy the pixels underneath, leaving lines across the length of the display.

Following his durability test, Nelson offers the theory that the Galaxy Z Flip's display is likely made of “hybrid plastic polymer with little specks of glass ingredients inside,” which would certainly be considered misleading on Samsung's part given the heavy emphasis on glass in its advertising around the device.

Samsung's response

Responding to a request for comment from The Verge, Samsung says that its “first-of-its-kind UTG technology is different from other Galaxy flagship devices," further stating that, "while the display does bend, it should be handled with care."

Samsung also goes on to add that the "Galaxy Z Flip has a protective layer on top of the UTG similar to Galaxy Fold."

If that is indeed the case, it's possible that many of the test's early scratches and markings may be happening to the protective layer alone, which is why the damage is occurring exactly as it would on a plastic screen.

Of course, that wouldn't explain why the 'glass' refrains from shattering when a hole is poked straight through it.

Samsung goes on to state that it will be offering Galaxy Z Flip owners a "one-time screen replacement" for $119 (£99 / around AU$177). It'll also be launching a program soon for a free screen protector that "will be applied by a specialist with the proper equipment to align and apply it."

Should you be worried?

At $1,380 / £1,300 (around AU$2,050), the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip is an expensive device, so the idea of its screen getting scratched and damaged easily is understandably unsettling. 

That said, it's unlikely the average Galaxy Z Flip owner is going to end up inflicting their device to such punishment – especially when you take into consideration that the chamshell's screen is quite well protected when shut (which would be the majority of the time).

Of course, the real question is whether the Galaxy Z Flip will succumb to scratches and indentations during daily use – particularly when it comes to fingernailspressing on the display.

Our advice? Be extra mindful of how you handle the Galaxy Z Flip when open, and avoid pressing down hard on the display with your fingernails.

Stephen Lambrechts
Senior Journalist, Phones and Entertainment

Stephen primarily covers phones and entertainment for TechRadar's Australian team, and has written professionally across the categories of tech, film, television and gaming in both print and online for over a decade. He's obsessed with smartphones, televisions, consoles and gaming PCs, and has a deep-seated desire to consume all forms of media at the highest quality possible. 

He's also likely to talk a person’s ear off at the mere mention of Android, cats, retro sneaker releases, travelling and physical media, such as vinyl and boutique Blu-ray releases. Right now, he's most excited about QD-OLED technology, The Batman and Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga.