Some Galaxy S20 Ultra Owners Claim Camera Glass Spontaneously Shatters

Image credit: Samsung Community Forums

Samsung made a big deal of the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s camera at the announcement earlier this year, but reviews have been tepid. The camera setup on this $1,400 phone might not live up to expectations, but perhaps Samsung will address that with software updates. One thing updates can’t fix is shattered glass, and an increasing number of S20 Ultra owners say their camera modules have cracked for no apparent reason

The Galaxy S20 Ultra has a humongous camera module on the back with a 108MP primary sensor, 12MP ultra-wide, 48MP 4x telephoto, and a time-of-flight 3D sensor. Like other phones, the camera sensors are under a piece of scratch-resistant glass. However, even the latest versions of high-end Gorilla Glass can crack under the right conditions. 

Numerous S20 Ultra owners have taken to Samsung’s forums and Reddit to complain about mysterious damage to their camera glass. Most of the images they’ve shared show small “punctures” directly over the camera lenses. Other users complain of hairline cracks that appear seemingly out of nowhere. All the victims of this damage swear up and down they didn’t drop their phones, and many claim the damage happened spontaneously while the device was in a pocket or bag.

Even though Samsung’s S20 sales are reportedly not meeting expectations, they’re still selling a lot of phones compared with any other OEM. There will inevitably be some people with defects or accidental damage making noise on the internet. Admittedly, the shattered glass on these phones looks very unusual. I don’t think I’ve seen a phone break in this way before. 

The S20 Ultra’s giant camera assembly (far right), courtesy of iFixit.

Hardened glass does get weaker as panel size increases, but manufacturers compensate for that in screens by bonding the glass to the OLED or LCD panel underneath. It’s possible that the S20 Ultra’s oversized camera module is just too big, making it easier to damage the glass simply by carrying the phone around. 

Damage to the glass makes the cameras behind them essentially useless, so most have reached out to Samsung for help. Naturally, Samsung support has given these customers the cold shoulder. The company’s warranty doesn’t cover cosmetic damage, so the only option is to pay to have the camera glass replaced. Samsung’s official repair centers have quoted customers $400 for a fix, or $100 for those with Samsung Premium Care subscriptions. At that price, it’s likely Samsung will replace the entire camera module rather than just the glass. The company has thus far refused to admit there’s a problem with the phone, and forum moderators have removed many of the complaints. It’ll take a much more widespread pattern before Samsung changes its tune.

Top image credit: Samsung community forums

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