In 2018, Samsung made headlines, but not for the reasons they would have hoped: Galaxy Note7 devices were exploding. Now, Samsung is facing an equally embarrassing, yet far less dangerous issue with Galaxy S20 owners beginning to experience screen failures.
The current issue with the screens is in its early days but looks to be an equally wide issue. The issue with the Galaxy Note 7 came about because of a problem with the power system that Samsung had implemented into the phones. Originally, it looked like possibly bad batteries. But, after a replacement with batteries from an entirely different manufacturer, the problem did not go away. Later, the company recalled the devices and remotely disabled the remaining phones in the wild.
With the Galaxy S20, users are reporting a more gradual failure than going up in flames. It is starting with a few scan lines across the screen, followed by an ultimate engulfment, generally into either white or green. From there, the screen is completely useless for viewing but does seem to accept touch commands.
The initial signals of this issue appeared a few months ago, with an owner of a Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G posting a video showing a green tint appearing on his phone over top of a white background. The issue had gotten to this point following some flickering on his screen more than a month earlier. Now, the number of owners is growing, with people taking to online forums like Reddit to discuss the problem. Many have posited theories for what is happening, but one thing is consistent: they all claim to have never dropped or damaged their phones. Currently, the more expensive models seem to be experiencing the issue at greater rates, but all models have seen problems.
For now, everything is speculation, as Samsung has not officially responded to, or recognized the issue as systemic. However, this is the same behavior we saw in 2018 with the Galaxy Note 7. Those devices were eventually banned from trains, planes, and many public spaces, even before Samsung officially responded. In this case, as it is a less damaging situation for the brand, hopefully, Samsung will respond quickly. In past cases of screen issues with phones, companies have simply issued recalls or given free repairs of those screens.
The problem, of course, is that a wide-scale issue like this one indicates that there might be a greater flaw at play. The behavior, as described by users, sounds familiar to those who have worked in the industry for an extended period. It is often associated with laptops, and occurs when the ribbon cable that runs through the hinge and controls the display, gets crimped or damaged in another way. You'll experience lines, unexpected colors, and eventually complete failure.
As the Galaxy S20 devices don't have a hinge, it is not likely to be an identical situation. However, something else could be causing damage to this cable. We have the Galaxy Note 7 history showing that Samsung can have issues with heat. The company also made changes to its heat dispersion system in the current models. Heat could potentially damage the video cable, but so could puncture. If there is something internally that is sharp, motion could cause friction, and the cable could be damaged.
Whatever the cause, Samsung will need to investigate before the problem gets out of control.