Samsung has let media get its hands on the new Galaxy Fold foldable smartphone, and here’s my take on one of the most unusual handsets coming this year.
The Galaxy Fold has gone through a series of teases detailing a fair amount of what the device would offer, but never produced it for any hands-on time. Now, it has, and I got to check it out for myself. While I will be reviewing this at a later time, here are some takeaways.
First, the primary details. The Galaxy Fold is a foldable phone that essentially has two screens. When folded, there’s a smaller 4.6-inch display with an odd 1960 x 800 resolution and narrower aspect ratio. When folded out, there’s a 7.3-inch QXGA+ display with a 2152 x 1536 resolution.
That’s the obvious centrepiece of the device. The crease, or “fold” as Samsung likes to call it, is what really gives it its unique look. So does the advanced composite polymer used for the larger display. No one has figured out how to make glass fold back and forth the same way, so Samsung is using the hardened plastic instead.
The screen isn’t as vibrant as that of the Samsung Galaxy S10, but looks nice in any case. The additional real estate makes multitasking possible with up to three apps at once. Video plays well, and does feel more like a quasi-tablet than a phone in those instances. I know the word “phablet” has been thrown around for years, but this is altogether different.
If you remember old flip phones from days gone by, there was always a clap when you closed it. That’s back again, and personally, I found it very satisfying. I also tried opening up the screen by flipping it the other way, so the flap would swing open and lock into place. I wasn’t as successful in that regard. Still, over time, it will be more than possible to learn to open and close this thing with one hand.
The 4380mAh battery inside is bigger than the Samsung S10+, but it’s hard to see the Fold lasting longer per charge. Two screens, with the same processor and 6GB of RAM, leads me to suspect the device will have a tough time staying on for a full 24 hours.
Galaxy Fold hinge examined
The Galaxy Fold hinges on the very hinge holding it together. It serves a major functional purpose, yet also comes with stylistic elements. Gold and silver will be the two options to coincide with the four other colours Samsung announced for the device.
The hinge is built to handle up to 200,000 flips before it starts giving out. Do the math on how often you look at your phone in a given day, and you’re not likely to get near that in two years. I was surprised at how sturdy the hinge felt, even when I purposely dangled half the phone.
It was hard not to notice the crease in the middle when looking at the screen. Not surprisingly, Samsung chose darker wallpapers to blend it in more, but it became more noticeable with brighter content. Without thoroughly testing it, it’s hard for me to gauge whether it would pose a problem or not over time.
The quality—or lack thereof—of the smaller 4.6-inch display means you will be opening it up often. The smaller screen is fine for basic navigation, messaging, app downloads and calls, but is demonstrably not good for video. Shooting with the camera seems pretty straightforward, but only further testing will prove how good it is.
Camera layout for Galaxy Fold
There are six cameras on the Galaxy Fold. They are all basically the same as those in the Galaxy S10+, along with one more selfie lens when the phone is folded. The user interface and camera features are otherwise carried over from the Samsung S10+, so no real surprises here.
Usually, it’s harder to prop up a phone to shoot on a timer for selfies or low-light long exposure shots. The Galaxy Fold presents interesting opportunities to capture photos a little differently because of its crease. I’ll be testing that in due time.
Including Galaxy Buds
In a nice move, Samsung will include the true wireless Galaxy Buds in the box with the Fold. The black earbuds will come with the black Fold, while white earbuds will come with the other colours. These aren’t different versions of the existing Buds, either. Samsung is basically just throwing them in with the Fold.
This is an entirely different product—a sub-category smartphone. It’s not your typical black slab, it’s something else. Other foldable phones will come, but as in any first-generation product, there will be kinks to work out here. As always, I reserve final judgment until I fully test it out.
Look for more information to come out about the Samsung Galaxy Fold, which is coming soon. For all other Samsung mobile devices, check them out here.