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Samsung Galaxy Fold hands-on round-up: Optimism prevails

By Shawn Knight · 14 replies
Apr 15, 2019
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  1. Samsung’s first foldable smartphone, the aptly named Galaxy Fold, launches on April 26 following months of teasing and hype. Up to this point, virtually everything we’ve seen and heard about the Fold has been dictated by Samsung as nobody outside the company’s walls has had an opportunity to play with the device (or been authorized to speak on it publicly).

    That all changed this weekend, however, as Samsung invited select journalists to a hands-on session with the Fold. Here’s what they’re saying following the embargo lift earlier this morning.

    The Verge’s Dieter Bohn cut right to the chase with a TL;DR summary:

    Here’s the TL;DR most of you are waiting for: it feels much more stable and polished than I expected going in, but there is still some work to be done on the software. Okay, here’s what you are really waiting for: you can see (and feel) the crease on the folding screen, but it’s really not that noticeable and perhaps worth the trade-off of having a big screen that you can fold up.

    Lauren Goode from Wired gets a feel for the folded Fold:

    When it’s closed, the Galaxy Fold looks like two elongated phones pressed together, attached by a hinge on one side. It’s made of aluminum, and the front and back of the phone—how to best describe a phone that is a single phone but has separate physical elements—are constructed of Gorilla Glass. I managed to squeeze the folded-up Fold into the side pocket of one of my most fitted jackets, but it’s inelegant in this state. You can hold it in one hand, sure, but it feels like carrying a TV remote.

    The display on the face of the phone has a 4.6-inch diagonal, and occupies a relatively small portion of the available space. During the brief time I used it, I tapped the bottom of the phone many times when it was closed, expecting a virtual home button to be there. But it’s much higher up on the face of the phone, because of where the touchscreen display starts. There is a learning curve with the Fold.

    Fast Company’s technology editor, Harry McCracken, shares his thoughts on what it’s like to open and close the Fold:

    You open the Fold like a book, pulling back its top half from the right edge until the device is a slab rather than a screen sandwich. As you unfold, the hinge, with a diamond-cut Samsung logo designed to create prismatic effects as it reflects light, disappears behind the two halves of phone, which is a pretty nifty trick in itself. Samsung has engineered the mechanism within—which actually consists of two hinges with interlocking gears—to survive 200,000 openings and closings without flinching: “You can fold and unfold it a hundred times a day for five years, guaranteed,” says Koh.

    The whole opening-and-closing maneuver feels solid and satisfying, like slamming the door on a luxury car. As I unfolded the phone, however, I was prone to accidentally pressed the fingerprint scanner, which doubles as a Bixby button—thereby summoning Samsung’s not-so-great voice assistant. With time, I’d presumably learn to pry the Fold open without any unintended consequences.

    TechRadar’s John McCann on the unfolded Fold:

    The larger, tablet display features an advanced composite polymer layer, which is stuck to the body with a foldable adhesive, allowing the display to bend, flex and stay on the device. It's also the thinnest display Samsung has ever made.

    When folded out, you're greeted by a 7.3-inch, QHD+ Super AMOLED display with is bright, clear and crisp with plenty of color fired directly into your eyes. It also supports HDR10+, providing an enhanced viewing experience with supported video.

    However, there is one fairly major point to note about this display. The crease.

    Looking at the display at an angle, and there's a noticeable crease running down the entire length of the screen in the middle, where it folds. It's not something that came be remedied, and you'll have to accept the fact it's there if you do opt to splash the cash on the Galaxy Fold.

    Eli Blumenthal and Edward C. Baig from USA Today go beyond the folding aspect in their analysis:

    There is no headphone jack, though Samsung does include a pair of its wireless $129 Galaxy Buds in the box.

    While there is a 5G model in the works for the U.S. market (and one will be sold overseas) the version of the Fold launching next week in the States will only work on AT&T and T-Mobile's 4G LTE networks. There is also no unlocked model in the U.S. for use on Verizon or Sprint.

    Unlike other recent Galaxy phones, the Fold is not water resistant either. Living on the edge requires you to make some sacrifices.

    Jessica Dolcourt with CNET dishes on cost:

    Foldable phones will start off ultra expensive -- the 4G version of the Fold starts at $1,980 and the Mate X costs about $2,600 -- and there may be kinks to work out. (UK and Australian prices are TBA, but $1,980 converts to about £1,500 or AU$2,750.) But if enough people clamor for a device that puts a big screen in a little body, then a foldable phone design has the chance to change the way people use their phones: multitasking, interacting with the device and possibly even making other devices, like a tablet, obsolete. I've said it before: foldable phones are the wild west.

    Max Parker from Trusted Reviews isn’t quite as sold on the Fold as some of his colleagues:

    The hype surrounding the Fold felt like it dipped as soon as Huawei launched the equally foldable Mate X. The Mate X’s single screen folds outwards, as opposed to two external and internal screens on the Fold, and the whole way it fits together feels so much more complete than the Fold as a result. I could see myself jumping straight into using the Mate X, while I think they’ll be some major adjustments needed to help with the Fold feel familiar.

    Geoffrey A. Fowler with The Washington Post is reserving final judgment until he can integrate the device into his daily routine:

    It’s going to take more time to understand whether the Fold is the future or just a Frankenphone. A smartphone and tablet in one could be convenient ... or do both jobs less well. I suspect it has more potential as a replacement for a tablet than as a phone. To find out, I would need to operate the Fold one-handed on my morning commute, try to burn through emails at a coffee shop, and catch up on my Netflix queue on a flight.

    Lead image courtesy Jhaan Elker, The Washington Post

    Permalink to story.

  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,385   +3,775

    $2,000 ???? NO SALE!
    FPSChris and loki1944 like this.
  3. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,888   +2,215

    You were never going to buy it at any price. It's a fringe device aimed at enthusiasts and designed to test the market interest. It's also a "Halo" device used to advertise the brand but also offset marketing costs.
    TempleOrion likes this.
  4. QuantumPhysics

    QuantumPhysics TS Evangelist Posts: 1,237   +896

    I have NEVER seen someone lay a phone flat on a table and use hunt and peck typing.

    The reality is that these devices should be usable with a single hand. A Tablet is larger and bulkier so that breaks the rule.
    seeprime and loki1944 like this.
  5. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,888   +2,215

    As an avide user of phablets, I have not been able to use a phone with one hand for almost 5 years now.
    TempleOrion likes this.
  6. kira setsu

    kira setsu TS Addict Posts: 135   +114

    The idea of a foldable phone angers me, mainly because of the heft and not having a physical keyboard and other things, but mainly the keyboard.

    like why? all these years of shrinking down phones and telling people its great only to bring this monstrosity out.

    I will say the tech is truly amazing, a foldable screen is amazing but with what has been taken away, feature wise from phones over the years only to come back full circle to this form factor(big) sorta hurts.
    loki1944 likes this.
  7. QuantumPhysics

    QuantumPhysics TS Evangelist Posts: 1,237   +896

    Glass don't fold...
  8. dragonherder

    dragonherder TS Rookie Posts: 24   +7

    This is unequivocally untrue. Glass can in fact fold if it is made thin enough. No material will fold 100% flat like some people want, but they are working on fordable glass at corning. The same people that make gorilla glass and have had varying degrees of success.
  9. lazer

    lazer TS Addict Posts: 235   +56

    Oooooooh! eat my heart out! I want one!

    but 2k? gatta wait till the price drops much......
  10. dragonherder

    dragonherder TS Rookie Posts: 24   +7

    Price will eventually come down. This is a device just hitting market and production run is nowhere near high enough yet to warrant lower pricing etc. Frankly no device should cost what it does currently, but as long as people keep buying flagships even with raised prices we will never see a price drop.
  11. XtremeHammond

    XtremeHammond TS Enthusiast Posts: 71   +50

    I love foldable screens as it will introduce screens with no visible bezels.
    I personally don't like this foldable something but maybe the market needs such tablets that can fold like phones. Only sales can tell.
  12. Buhaj47

    Buhaj47 TS Enthusiast Posts: 31   +12

    I feel foldable phones are new goods nobody asked for. What would be really cool are bigger batteries, faster charging, unbreakable screen glass.
  13. MaXtor

    MaXtor TS Maniac Posts: 253   +191

    I can't decide what's uglier, that hinge and crease or Apple's airpods which look like they cut the wires off of regular earbuds. I'm going to go with this, still interesting proof of concept that will be a lot more aesthetically pleasing in a couple generations.
  14. Mudvayne819

    Mudvayne819 TS Enthusiast Posts: 43

    well you maybe have small hands, I had iPhone6 Plus and now iPhone8Plus and I only use one hand most the time. no problem too, I even disable the accessibility feature to move the screen lower when I press the home button because its annoying. Phablet size is the perfect size, not too big, not too small, but this folding abomination is not for my taste
  15. QuantumPhysics

    QuantumPhysics TS Evangelist Posts: 1,237   +896

    If Windows built this exact same device and it had the power to run Windows 10, I might be mildly interested.

    Mini HDMI, bluetooth keyboard/ bluetooth mouse... it could be like one of those mini-PC models.

    But not at $2000.

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