Samsung Galaxy Fold: A New Era for Smartphones
As we recently touched upon in our sneak preview of CES 2019, the age of the foldable is now fully upon us.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold was first previewed in November 2018 at the Samsung Developer Conference, codenamed Infinity Flex Display. A heavily disguised prototype popped up, and a few hardware details were discussed on stage.
Samsung chose not to roll out the folding phone at CES 2019, but Fold stole the show at Galaxy Unpacked in San Francisco in late February.
So, first thing’s first, when is Fold coming to market and how much will it cost?
Samsung Fold Release Date and Pricing
This pioneering phone will go on sale in the States on April 26 so you’ve only got a matter of weeks to wait now.
Fold then comes to the European market on May 3.
Starting price in the US is $1980. Yes, you read both parts of that sentence correctly! That’s laptop pricing for the base model. If you want the slated 5G version, you’ll need to dig even deeper.
Pricing in Europe starts at around €2000.
Quite clearly, this is not a phone for everyone, and if you’re reluctant to spend that much on a handset, we’re not here to persuade you otherwise.
For early adopters and executives alike, though, Fold plugs a gap serving as smartphone, tablet and surrogate laptop in one potent device.
Samsung Fold: More Than a Phone
“Ten years after the first Galaxy. We didn’t just change the shape of the phone. We changed the shape of tomorrow.” – Samsung
A fully foldable device, Fold morphs from phone to tablet and back again with a closed display of 4.6 inches and the main display of 7.3 inches. You can run up to 3 apps on screen simultaneously.
It would be doing Fold a disservice to label it merely a phone.
Samsung’s words above are maybe not so hyperbolic as they first sound. Now that the tech giant has cracked the art of the folding phone, what’s next?
Foldable 4K TVs?
For now, it’s time to see how the design holds up and how it’s received once it hits the eager market before thinking too much about what comes next.
It’s time now to focus on what’s already here, the fully foldable smartphone so many have been waiting for.
Since nobody has managed to get their hands on a device yet, we won’t be giving you a hands-on user review. What we can do, though, is outline what we know for certain about Galaxy Fold so we’ll get straight down to business.
We’ll walk you through these 5 core areas of this powerful beast:
- Design and Displays
- Software and Specs
- Apps Redone
- Battery and Charging
Design and Displays
It’s impossible not to lead off with a brief commentary about those twin displays. This, after all, is the unique selling point of Fold.
The main display is at first glance pedestrian and undersized. A mere 4.6 inches, Samsung label this screen its Cover Display.
To get more technical, it’s an HD+ AMOLED with a 21:9 aspect. Resolution is 840 x 1960. You can check apps, media information, and caller ID. You’ll also be able to navigate Android as normal.
Crack open the clamshell and the magic appears…
The hinge slips out of sight behind the display and the two halves of the unit come neatly together to deliver the Infinity Flex Display.
This second 7.3-inch, QXGA+ has a resolution of 1536 x 2152. It’s a Dynamic AMOLED screen with a 4:2:3 aspect.
This second screen comes into its own for watching a video, playing games or using up to 3 apps together in what Samsung calls a multi-active window. Any apps you had running on the scaled-down screen convert to the larger display when you unfold it.
At Unpacked, Samsung revealed that Facebook and WhatsApp along with YouTube and Microsoft Office would all be optimized to make the very most of that real estate.
If you’re worried about fragility, Samsung has tested folding the phone “hundreds of thousands of time” without incident.
While this obviously translates to a fairly bulky device, the new polymer layer Samsung invented makes the screen roughly half the thickness of the regular cell phone.
If you want a pocket-sized phone, Fold is not for you. If, on the other hand, you want a smartphone and tablet rolled into one, it’s got no competition currently save the upcoming Huawei Mate X.
Available in Astro Blue, Cosmos Black, Martian Green, and Space Silver, everything outside looks stunning.
How about the innards, though?
Is Fold just a pretty face or does it have the personality to match?
Software and Specs
Running Android 9 Pie, Google’s latest software, the interface has got a shot in the arm. One UI replaces Samsung’s TouchWiz Android skin, which is great news. That had been in place since 2010 and was starting to feel tired.
One UI lends to an immersive app experience we’ll outline more fully below. In essence, you can transition seamlessly from screen to screen with no lag or impairment. You’ll also be able to run multiple apps at the same time.
To make things even better, Google has hinted it will bake in support for foldable screens directly into the Android OS. This is to prevent the inevitable fragmentation that would follow with many manufacturers sure to jump on the folding bandwagon. Expect to hear more about this at Google IO in May.
You’ll get 12GB of RAM along with the latest Snapdragon 855 7nm processor. This renders the Galaxy Fold among the most powerful phones at your fingertips. Internal storage is only 512GB, fit for purpose but half that offered on the line-topping S10 Plus. There’s no microSD slot either, something of a disappointment. UFS 3.0 is supported so the handset can read data in a flash.
There’s a fingerprint scanner in place on the side of the handset. This allows you to access it whether you’ve got the phone open or shut.
Galaxy Fold will come in 4G or 5G versions.
For photography fans and selfie lovers, Galaxy Fold delivers admirably with no less than 6 cameras in place:
- Triple Rear Camera
- Front Dual Camera
- Cover Camera
How do they shape up?
Triple Rear Camera
The trio of cameras is housed on the Fold’s rear.
There’s a 16MP ultra-wide camera, a 12MP wide-angle camera, and a 12MP telephoto camera with 2 x optical zoom to keep even the keenest snapper happy.
The ultra-wide camera comes in very handy for landscapes and panoramas and adds an extra edge to your photography.
This set-up is very similar to the layout on the Galaxy S10 Plus.
Front Dual Camera
When the phone is closed, there’s a 10MP camera ideal for selfies along with an 8MP RGG Depth camera for portrait photography with effects.
The single selfie camera on the front of the Fold is also 10MP and completes a mighty package.
There are 2 notable features when it comes to apps on the Galaxy Fold:
- App Continuity
- Multi-Active Window
You’ll naturally often find yourself using an app on the smaller screen then want to transfer to the larger display.
Whether you’re browsing through Instagram or checking out an address on Google Maps, when you unfurl the Fold, you can seamlessly continue using the app optimized for the more substantial screen.
This allows you to do the spadework on the smaller display and make full use of the larger canvas when you want to zoom in for a closer look.
The multi-active window allows you to run up to 3 apps on-screen simultaneously.
For keen multi-taskers and business users, this small tweak is invaluable.
Battery and Charging
The Fold boasts a pair of batteries with a combined capacity of 4,380 mAh.
One battery is found in each half of the device since batteries clearly aren’t designed to fold. By placing one either side, balance is maintained.
Run time is projected to be in excess of 12 hours. The S10 Plus has already been shown to run for more than 12 hours, and the batteries in place on Fold are even more powerful (although the screen is larger).
You can charge Fold wirelessly. It also packs Wireless PowerShare but what does that mean?
Well, you’ll be able to give other devices like your earphones or watch a boost by popping them on the back of Fold.
Fold will also charge itself and another device when connected to a charger so this feature is more than just a gimmick. In effect, Fold operates as a wireless charging mat for Samsung devices allowing you to leave your second charger at home.
With that eye-popping price tag, Samsung Galaxy Fold is clearly a niche handset.
Price alone, though, will certainly not deter wealthier early adopters from ordering up a Fold or two the moment it hits the shelves.
We can’t claim Fold is a phone you strictly need, but when did need to enter the equation with tech?
For business users, it’s easier to justify Fold. The ability to merge two devices into one is an obvious selling point if you’re always on the move and want to travel light without compromising your ability to work. The multi-active window lets you get more done in less time, and you can leave the tablet at home so minimizing your carry-on.
We’ll reserve judgment until we get a Galaxy Fold in our hands but based on evidence to date, we have to agree with Samsung and admit we’re now looking at the “foundation for the smartphone of tomorrow.”
How things will evolve from here only time will tell. 5G will be a huge factor and we’ll be looking at that early next week along with more of the latest smart home news.