The Galaxy Fold is now available in the U.S. shortly after it sold out on its first debut in Korea.
It offers a new smartphone experience that focuses on what Samsung calls "the new beginning of display technology". The company describes the fold as a "phone and tablet" in one device.
It's the first major foldable display handset to hit the market (the first foldable handset was a terrible product), and I've used it as the main phone for a month: here's the full test.
A unique, engaging and productive user experience
When closed, it feels surprisingly good
For most people, it is very curious how the phone fits in the hand when closed. In general, there is concern about the device's unusual thickness. For everyone I've given this device to, it turned out to be not what people thought, and the first comment is often, "Oh wow, it's better than I imagined."
The "candy bar" shape makes the entire handle relatively comfortable, just like you can comfortably hold a tennis racket or a Galaxy S10 phone. Thickness is important, but it is not everything.
Is it the perfect form factor? This is not the case, and Samsung is likely to improve it in the future, but it works well. Much better than it could look.
A fully usable phone in the closed position
Many people ask if they have to keep opening the phone to use it. The short answer is no, but we need to have more nuances.
It's true that you can do absolutely anything with the small 4.6-inch display. However, due to its small size, it is somewhat uncomfortable. Reading small text can be difficult and typing is much slower than a 5.3-inch display.
Keep in mind that the original iPhone had a 3.5-inch display, so everything is relative.
Unlocking the handset in the closed position with the fingerprint reader often fails to be annoying (I registered several fingers to cover all situations). Face Unlock is less secure but can help, so I would recommend using both for a smoother experience.
Placing the fingerprint on the back near the camera module would (in my opinion) be a better position for both closed and open positions.
Once opened, The Galaxy Fold shows its true power
When you open the handset, the true nature of the Samsung Galaxy Fold becomes clear and there is no other phone that likes it from a distance on the market.
Other prototypes have been shown and demonstrated, but there is a big difference between something in the laboratory and shipping to the public. Let's wait and see.
In contrast to cell phones with display glass protection, the OLED of the Galaxy Fold is almost flatbut not perfectly flat.
In most situations, this is not apparent, and if you look directly there are no visual distractions that affect the content. This is especially true if the content is light or white because reflections are not visible.
If you look from the side, you can easily see the irregularities on which the display folds.
There are exceptions: if you have a dark screen with bright light sources around you, you may see that the reflections are not perfectly flat. To be fair, even on a flat screen, strong reflections are annoying, and in general I found that this is not a much bigger problem on the fold.
A real tablet-like experience
The claim that the Galaxy Fold offers a tablet-like experience is entirely valid. In fact, it feels a lot like a charged iPad mini: that's the association that most non-tech people make when I let them play with the fold.
Multimedia experiences (including comics!) Are much better, not only because of the 7.3-inch diagonal, but above all because of the aspect ratio, which is less elongated than standard phones.
"INSTAGRAM LITERAL FEELS 4X BETTER ON THE WRINKLE"
For example, Facebook and Instagram posts with larger images are much nicer. Instagram literally feels four times better to me. Playing YouTube and videos is obviously much better than on smartphones, just because of the size.
Text-based applications like browsing, email, and chat apps show more information, or you can use larger fonts for added visual convenience.
It's so nice to use the Galaxy Fold's big screen that the Galaxy Note 10+ screen looked a bit small at the end of the first day …
Multiple keyboard options
For my hands, the width of the Galaxy Fold is so small that I don't have to use the accordion keyboard, and I type with a normal keyboard in the middle of the screen. It is possible to adjust the width and height of the keyboard to find the optimal size.
I wish the accordion keyboard design had an optimizable middle space separation as it could be the ideal keyboard. Maybe the One UI team can think about it, but they did a great job with the keyboard options.
Multitask like a pro
Samsung introduced split-screen multitasking some time ago, but I rarely use it even with a 6.8-inch screen because two square app areas appear on the display. If you want to use the keyboard, the space becomes too narrow.
With the Galaxy Fold it looks very different: The display is wide and high enough to comfortably run two apps and the keyboard below. A maximum of three apps can be run in separate zones at the same time.
The gestures to open and close multitasking areas are simple and useful. The Samsung One UI team did it. Essentially, you swipe left to right to add another app with multiple windows, and move the dividing line to any edge to close an app.
The multitasking function has one disadvantage: Not every app is compatible with it. In general, system apps work well. However, if you want a particular app, you may need to check it again.
Continuity of use from small to large display (and back!)
If you find interesting content on the small screen, you can open the phone to switch to the large display at the same app location. In the real world, I do it most with email and social media.
Samsung calls it "application continuity" and it should find its way from Samsung's One user interface in Android 10 in the future. A UI 2 was announced last week at SDC 2019.
App continuity is a great feature, but it doesn't work with all current apps. Very popular apps like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Chrome and most preinstalled apps support continuity.
Some apps, such as B. Smartnews, must be restarted each time the screen changes. With Android 10, developers are likely to incorporate the feature into their apps. It is not very difficult.
It is also possible to configure app continuity to go in both directions, from small to large and back to small screen. This is useful when you want to take a look at something, but without details. I use it for example for Lyft and Google Maps.
The industrial design of the Samsung Galaxy Fold is of high quality, but at first glance it looks like two short Galaxy S10 + clamped together.
However, it is also a pragmatic design This is functional and meets all requirements for size, screen protection (screen inside), battery capacity and foldability.
This pragmatism, combined with the most modern production capacities, is the reason why Fold is the first to come onto the market.
The first launch in summer was delayed because Samsung slightly modified the design to prevent (as much as possible) dust and dirt from getting into the phone and under the screen.
Although the new design appears to be much more dustproof, it is not certified to be dustproof or waterproof with an IP rating. Therefore, keep it away from dust and water.
It has been in my bags, backpacks for the past month and we haven't seen any problems so it can easily withstand a relatively nomadic lifestyle.
Foldable screens are fundamentally different from dual screen
Many people asked if a dual screen setup like the LG G8x or the LG V50 Dual Screen could offer an alternative to the Galaxy Fold.
From a multitasking perspective, they can offer one partial answer for the Galaxy Fold, but to a limited extent because the keyboard integration is not so good when using dual-screen apps and the physical separation of the visual surround drastically changes the experience.
From a visual experience point of view, a double screen cannot correspond to a large screen, just as two 27-inch monitors with large frames are not as good as a single 43-inch monitor. Dual screen has a place, and we'll review some very soon, but they're not a replacement for foldable displays.
Galaxy Fold Display (s)
The little one 4.6 ”AMOLED The display with a resolution of 1680 × 720 (720P) is not much to report. It has a useful role in making the phone work when it is closed. Technically speaking, if you take it apart, you might see that it's an ultra-thin design. Impressive in a nerdy way.
The main 7.3 ”AMOLED Screen is much more interesting. It is indeed flexible and has a very wide range of colors, like the displays in the Galaxy S10 series. The colors are excellentand we measured a maximum brightness close 1000 NITthat is best suited for outdoor use.
At the 362 PPIThe pixel density is not huge, but it is still higher than the original "Retina" display of the iPhone and offers an excellent user experience. Without a doubt, we expect this number to increase in future generations.
- 4.6 ”AMOLED, 1680 × 720, 550 NIT brightness
- 7.3 ”AMOLED, 2152 × 1536, 985 NIT brightness
Since there is no protective glass, the screen is not as scratch-resistant as other phone screens in this price range. On the other hand, it won't break. I didn't have to be particularly careful, but Samsung said that small particles / objects and unwanted screen pressure should be avoided.
The 7.3-inch display selfie camera is quite large and technically identical to the Galaxy S10 + dual camera, which was highly praised.
In my opinion, the size of the selfie camera is a little over the top, and it even bothers when I want to swipe down to display the notification tray. I could swipe down from anywhere on the home page, but within apps you still have to swipe up.
Samsung will likely switch to a V-notch or punch-hole design for future mobile phones. At the moment it was probably difficult enough to get the flexible display to work without piercing holes in the OLED matrix.
Not an uncompromising camera experience
177Image quality ratingUBER-G SCORESscoring / ranking system nameIQImage quality based rating systemCAMERAMobile High EndCategory based on price2019-02Device startSamsung Galaxy FoldDevice brand and name
The Galaxy Fold has a 3-camera primary system on the back, another camera system on the front (closed) and a 2-camera selfie setup above the large display for A total of six cameras. This way, using cameras for selfies / video conferencing always feels natural.
The two selfie camera systems are comparable to those of the Galaxy S10 (1 camera) and the S10 + (2 cameras), which offer excellent image quality.
The primary camera system is also identical to the Galaxy S10 +, and every shot behaves the same. So it's no surprise: the photo quality is excellent. Just look at the following photo examples:
Samsung Galaxy Fold photo examples
Apart from the quality factor, the Samsung camera is characterized by the fact that it maintains the colors perfectly, especially in low light conditions and for food photos. Other cameras may capture good details and see things that your eyes may not even notice. However, either apply too many filters or have a white balance that is slightly different.
In our full review of the Galaxy S10 + camera, you can see how powerful the Galaxy Fold camera is. The camera system of the Galaxy Note 10 is almost identical, but has a slightly better adjustment of the night photo software in Ultrawide mode. That explains the slightly higher score.
Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 platform, the Galaxy Fold offers the same performance you'd expect from a high-end Android phone in 2019.
For more information on performance, see our Galaxy S10 + review. The two are comparable, but the Galaxy Fold is always a little slower, possibly for cooling reasons.
The overall speed of the app and the graphics performance (games) are within expectations and you are in no way restricted compared to a classic high-end phone.
In terms of storage, the Galaxy Fold is included 512 GB storage and 12 GB RAM. The extra storage could be great to keep things fast if you have a lot of apps and want to push back the "performance cliff" that many phones suffer from as you add more and more things.
A 4380 mAh battery capacity is pretty big in the smartphone industry. However, it needs to power a much larger display area: + 60% compared to the Galaxy S10 +, which is already quite large!
As a result, the timely screen with the The 7.3-inch display consumes more powerand you can expect a shorter battery life than an S10 + or Note 10, for example. It is not unexpected and we expect all foldable phones to face the same problem.
I took the Galaxy Fold with me for a few business trips and generally managed to make it to the end of the day on one charge, but I had to take my battery status much better than if I had a Note 10, for example.
With the PCMark Work 2.0 battery test we did 7 hours and 32 minutes of continuous use with a brightness of 200 NITs. For comparison: The Galaxy S10 + has 12h25mn and the Note 10+ 10h44mn. That is a significant difference.
When you need to charge, the Galaxy Fold can charge its battery at a speed of 50 mAh / mnThis corresponds to the S10 or iPhone 11 Pro, but is far below the Galaxy Note 10 with 80 mAh / mn or the P30 Pro with 100 mAh / mn.
Of course, the fold offers both fast wireless charging and wireless reverse charging for charging accessories.
Things that could be better
Being innovative doesn't mean being perfect, and there are potential points of friction that could be improved.
- Form factor: Changes to the hinge, the thinness and the utilization of the internal volume lead to an optimized design
- Weight: At 263 g (9.3 ounces), the Galaxy Fold would be lighter. I think Samsung started with an extremely stable hinge, but will learn to make things easier along the way.
- Fingerprint sensor: should be moved back near the camera. The position to the side is too susceptible to misinterpretation.
- Larger front display: The 4.3-inch display is usable, but a bit small. Ideally, the phone should function like a "normal" phone when closed (think of S10e).
- Battery life: With a 60% larger screen area than the Galaxy S10 +, it is legitimate to use more power, but users don't want to worry about the screen becoming scarce.
- Faster charging: Increasing the charging speed (from 50) to 80 or 100 mAh / mn can significantly increase the battery life.
Galaxy Fold Premier Service
Given the premium positioning of the Galaxy Fold, Samsung has launched a premier service that automatically registers all fold customers.
Part of this service includes live onboarding, which can provide help to switch from another phone or learn how to use / set up the new phone.
Customers can get support around the clock by phone or through the Samsung Members App. Video chat is also available, but only during office hours in US Eastern Time.
To reassure customers and if something should happen to the primary 7.3-inch screen, Samsung would replace it for $ 149. There are fine print, but it seems like a reasonable option.
I used the Galaxy Fold as the primary handset for about 4 weeks at home and abroad. The Samsung Galaxy Fold is the first large mobile device that fulfills the promise of foldable OLED displays: a tablet-like experience for bags. The Galaxy Fold was once a science fiction product and is now a real product.
The design makes no compromises in terms of processor speed and camera performance. Both are world class in today's technology landscape.
The 7.3-inch AMOLED display increases the smartphone's visual experience to a new level and is de facto the benchmark for future foldable handsets.
This is a completely new phone experience. If you use your phone frequently with two hands, you should feel completely comfortable. I don't expect people who primarily want a one-handed experience to like this device.
"ONCE ONCE IF SCIENCE IS FICTION, GALAXY FOLDING IS NOW A REAL PRODUCT."
I have shown this phone to many people in and outside the (electronics) industry in several countries: The response (to the concept) was mostly positive except for the price.
$ 1980 is a high price tag, and the fold is undoubtedly a handset designed for power users and early adopters, but there are competing 512GB phones that sell for ~ $ 1500 and don't offer anywhere near what that fold offers. I recommend checking it in a shop before you get it.
The Galaxy Fold proves that foldable displays work and have enormous value. Maybe one day all smartphones will be foldable phones, just like today's smartphones are almost all "big screen phones", a category that was ignited in 2011 by the original 5.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Note.
Galaxy Fold FAQ
- Does Galaxy Fold work on Verizon?
- Yes, the unlocked version of the Galaxy Fold works on the Verizon network.
- Will Sprint get the Galaxy Fold?
- AT&T is currently the only carrier to sell the fold in the United States. T-Mobile was originally a carrier partner, but not after the summer delay.
- Will Galaxy Fold have 5G?
- There is a 5G version of the Galaxy Fold, but availability depends on your country. We haven't seen it in the U.S. at the time of release.
- Is Galaxy Fold waterproof?
- No it is not. Keep it away from water.
- Does Galaxy Fold have dual SIM?
- Does Galaxy Fold have a 3.5mm audio connector?
- This isn't the case, but it does come with Galaxy Buds, which are wireless earbuds
- Is there a stylus / pen / S-Pen with Galaxy Fold?
- Does Galaxy Fold have wireless charging?
- Yes, fast wireless charging is integrated
- There is support for Samsung DEX
Overall product rating: 9/10
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