The Escobar Fold 2 is sold by Escobar Inc, which was founded by Roberto de Jesus Escobar, who claims to be the biological brother of the notorious cartel kingpin. After a highly publicised launch last month, reviews of the device began to emerge this week, with each one claiming that the phone is just a rebranded Samsung Galaxy Fold.
Costing $399, the Escobar Fold 2 is just one fifth of the price of the Galaxy Fold, yet features an identical design and manages to cram in the same high-end specs.
Escobar Inc highlighted such a drastic price undercut in a promotional video titled ‘Rest in Peace Samsung’, which showed a woman in a bikini smashing up Galaxy Fold devices with a sledgehammer. The firm also own the domain RIPSamsung.com, which redirects to the Escobar Inc homepage.
The website describes the Escobar Fold 2 as "the best foldable smartphone deal in the world".
YouTuber and gadget reviewer Marques Brownlee claimed that the price reduction was only possible by not shipping the phone to the majority of customers. Mr Brownlee, who has more than 10 million subscribers on YouTube, ordered one device under his own name and another device under a pseudonym, however only received the device ordered using his real name.
Mr Brownlee claimed that this was because Escobar Inc selectively shipped its phones to tech reviewers and social media influencers.
“This piece of tech we’ve reviewed already, it’s the Galaxy Fold... it just has gold tin foil on the back,” he said in a video posted to his YouTube channel. “So the interesting part now becomes the behind-the-scenes part, which is the company that’s maybe trying to sell some of them and also not ship most of them. They’re trying to scam you.”
Using a small knife, Mr Brownlee scraped off some of the gold material from the hinge of the device to reveal the Samsung logo. He was also able to remove the gold from the rear of the phone using the knife, which he also claimed could be taken off by applying heat to melt the adhesive.
“It’s a really poor rebranding job,” he said. “If you’re reviewing an Escobar Fold 2, you’re really just reviewing a Samsung Galaxy Fold with a gold sticker on the back and some weird pre-installed mug shot wallpapers.
“My theory is that they are going through orders, finding the names of YouTubers or just people in tech media or people they think will talk about the phone if they get it, and shipping those, and then just not shipping the rest.”
Several popular YouTube channels reviewed the device in recent weeks, though most tech publications that covered the Escobar Fold and Escobar Fold 2 did so with caution.
In January, the world’s largest technology tradeshow denied Escobar Inc booth space. Organisers of CES 2020 in Las Vegas claimed the company was “not a good fit” for the conference.
Neither Samsung nor Escobar Inc responded to a request for comment.