Samsung Galaxy Fold Preview: the Future Phone is now fixed
Samsung is the first company to launch a foldable phone to the masses and it's a taste of the future.
Actually, wait... we said the same thing back in April when Samsung was first preparing the launch of the Galaxy Fold. So what's changed? Back then, just as it was about to launch, testers found its design was compromised and debris entered through tiny holes in the phone causing the phone to fail catastrophically after just several days of use. Luckily, the affected units were not ones shipped to actual consumers, but were instead devices handed out to the media. Samsung took all of those devices back, went back to the drawing board and now, in September, it's finally ready with the final and (hopefully) fixed version of the Galaxy Fold.
If you have seen the early coverage, you should know that this is essentially the same phone that we saw in April. Nothing has changed in terms of specs and features: the Galaxy Fold that launches now still rocks the same Snapdragon 855 chip it used to have, along with the same 12GB of RAM, 512GB of storage. The screens are the same tiny, 4.6" AMOLED screen on the front, and the same, massive, 7.3" AMOLED screen on the inside that is the star of the show. And yes, the nearly $2,000 price tag has not changed either. So there are no changes, but there sure are fixes.
Samsung explained that it has made 3 important fixes to ensure the Galaxy Fold will withstand the test of time:
- No more peeling what looks like a screen protector. The plastic part that is an integral part of the screen (the same one that people originally mistakenly thought was a screen protector) is now tucked underneath. This ensures no one will have access to it in case a sudden urge to remove this part appears.
- No more debris entering from the top and bottom areas around the hinge. Samsung has introduced tiny caps at the top and the bottom right where there used to be a tiny gap where debris could enter the screen and damage it.
- No more debris entering from the sides of the hinge. Samsung has minimized the already tiny gap between the hinge and the front and back covers of the phone even further. This is another way to ensure debris does not enter the phone.
And then, there are some not so obvious changes that still make a difference: for example, previously touching the main screen felt a bit flimsy, as if there were tiny bubbles of air underneath and it just felt a tiny bit... wobbly! Now, Samsung has added layers of metal underneath the display to strengthen it and make it feel more solid to the touch. It's a subtle change, but one that is hugely appreciated.
The company has also added one more feature on the software front: the three Android navigation buttons (the home, back and recents keys) are now moved to stay at the bottom right part of the screen by default. This makes it much easier for people to reach all three keys with one hand. Left handed people can change the position to the bottom left, and you can still go in the settings and choose to have them at the center, but this really seems like the least convenient position.
Is the new Galaxy Fold "The Future Phone"?
In many ways, yes! In an endless sea of lookalike phones, the Galaxy Fold is different, it's new, it's exciting. The large screen is such a joy for browsing (we even wondered if we should switch to the desktop version of sites), for gaming, for maps, for images, for video... pretty much for anything and everything.
Split-screen multitasking on the Galaxy Fold is something that people will actually do, unlike the very limited experience that is available on current phones with their smaller screens. You can have up to three apps (plus a floating fourth one on top), but we were just happy to have two apps in a usable size side by side.
The crease is there and you can see it (more under certain angles, less at other angles), and you can also feel it by touch, but it's not a dealbreaker and you quickly get used to it. The same applies to the notch, which seems quite big at the beginning and then you focus on the screen, and don't pay much attention to it.
Samsung Galaxy Fold: The Specs
Samsung has gone all out with specs on the Galaxy Fold with 12GB of RAM and 512 gigs of storage, and we feel that it could have gone with a bit less on-board storage, but that would have saved maybe a couple of hundred dollars. We don't blame it for going with the best specs, though: multitasking on this phone will be much more common and this is one feature that requires a lot of resources.
What we are a bit surprised by is the fact that we see basically the same camera setup as on the Galaxy S10 here. New iPhones and Pixel phones are right around the corner, and despite its troubles Huawei continues innovating in cameras, while Samsung seems to be inert, something that is hard to forgive on such an insanely expensive device where you expect to see the very, very best of everything.
The big unknown
With a 4,380mAh battery inside and a huge screen that would surely draw much more power than your average phone, the Galaxy Fold seems to have a battery size that might turn out to be insufficient.
We are looking forward to testing its battery life in detail soon and we have nothing to share about it so far, but this is one particularly interesting aspect of the Fold.
Price and Release Date
Despite the few month delay, Samsung is not dropping the price of the Galaxy Fold: it's still projected to be around the $2,000 mark.
The release date is set for September 6th in the company's home market, Korea, and interestingly, the second wave of markets to get it will include the UK, Germany, France, and Singapore on September 18th. The United States will get a non-5G version of the Galaxy Fold at a later date. We don't know the reasons behind such a delay for the US, but obviously the company wants to be certain that this new iteration of the Fold will actually prove to be durable.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold is a phone unlike any other.
It is a proof that Samsung can innovate and that it is the true pioneer of this new foldable form factor that holds so much promise. But at a price of $2,000, don't expect the Galaxy Fold to sell in huge quantities. As much as we love it, we were also a bit surprised that months after the failed April launch, Samsung has not given us new software that would highlight the benefits of the large screen even better. Nor has it improved the cameras, and you are basically getting the same camera experience as on the Galaxy S10 series, just as the next generation of smartphone cameras is about to arrive. Last, but not least, we are not fully convinced the Galaxy Fold will survive the wear and tear that phones go through.
Put simply, we can't justify spending $2,000 on this first-gen Galaxy Fold in a reasonable, argumented way, but in a purely emotional one? Hell yeah, it's a freaking foldable phone in real life! This may well be the future and if your wallet can forgive you the spending, you will love the Galaxy Fold to bits.