At the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Samsung showed off the company’s state-of-the-art flexible display for mobile. It got everyone excited and the world waited in anticipation for it to make an appearance on a commercial phone.
Unfortunately, Samsung, which took more than five years to make it a reality in 2019, faced a hurdle in April. Early review units had issues with display durability.
The screen had a protective shield, which was not supposed to be peeled, but the reviewers, unknowingly removed it, thereby rendering the phone useless.
This forced Samsung to recall Galaxy Fold units and investigate, and they put off the release to October in India. Recently, we got our hands on the unit and here’s our take of what is purportedly Samsung’s most ambitious mobile, the Galaxy Fold.
Display, design and build quality:
Despite concerns on display durability, we felt that the Fold’s design is more practical than rival phones. It folds inwards, protecting the bigger screen from daily wear and tear. It has a separate cover display, which is tiny, but workable for operating in one-hand, read and reply to messages, emails and answer calls. The keyboard is a bit congested, but my fingers' muscle memory kicked in within few hours of usage and was able to work with ease. On the other hand, the rival Huawei Mate X, which folds outwards is vulnerable to damage more easily.
It can be noted that Samsung made changes to the original Galaxy Fold after it recalled the units earlier in the year. It has plastic cover all around the edge of the screen and also a T-shaped shield at the bending point so that the display's protective shield remains intact.
Also, the space between the screens and the hinge is reduced so that there is less chance of dust or tiny particulates such as sand don't get inside the phone.
But, it is advisable for the owner not to take the device anywhere close to the beach or any water body, as it does not come with any Ingress Protection (IP) certification.
The Galaxy Fold comes with a good pair of magnets in the edges on the right and the left sides and it holds the screen attached strongly so that you have to put an effort to open it with two hands. This is a good design principle to protect the inner screen from damages and doesn't open easily.
It also comes with a very sturdy metallic hinge in the middle and is probably one of the factors why the device is a bit heavier (276g) to hold.
The Galaxy Fold sports a 4.6-inch HD+ AMOLED-based cover display and when unfurled, it opens into a full-fledged mini-tablet with 7.3-inch Infinity Flex QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED screen.
It has a folding crease in the middle, but only gets noticed when the screen has light wallpaper. If you are using a dark theme-based wallpaper like the Butterfly in the below picture, it gets camouflaged.
Also, the beautiful dynamic QHD+ OLED display offers immersive viewing experience and makes you forget the crease even exists.
Despite the additional protective gear, the crease may raise doubts about the durability of the screen. But, Samsung says the device's display has been tested vigorously in the lab for one full week. It apparently outlasted 200,000 folds and unfolds, which is equivalent to five years of use, if used 100 times a day.
That's quite an extensive test, but given the short duration of time given to me for the review, I am still sceptical about the longevity of the Galaxy Fold.
For now, I'll just have to take Samsung's word for it. (If only Samsung let me spend more time with the Galaxy Fold).
Also, Samsung is offering shell cases with the retail package to protect the phone from scratches. There is a one-year Infinity Flex display protection, which includes accidental damage coverage with one-time protection, genuine parts, expert repair service, and Galaxy Fold’s display. It entitles customers who accidentally damage their display to get it repaired for a discounted fee of Rs 10,500.
Samsung's Galaxy Fold houses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 octa-core processor with 12GB RAM and 512GB storage. It works buttery smooth be it multitasking, playing games, watching multi-media content, web browsing, photo session, and other day-to-day tasks.
It scored an impressive 4,47,597 points AnTuTu performance benchmarking application. Also, on Geekbench 5.0 it got 714 and 2,498 points on single-core and multi-core tests, respectively.
It also offers a split-screen view feature and with this, the user can work on three apps on the same screen simultaneously and help you be more productive.
Also, with the Samsung Dex feature, you can connect the Galaxy Fold to any monitor or a Windows/Mac PC to work on projects, create or edit keynote presentations and transfer them seamlessly between the phone and the computer.
As far as the security is concerned, the Galaxy Fold boasts both facial recognition and fingerprint sensor. The former works fine in natural light condition, but struggles in pitch darkness.
Thankfully, the ergonomically placed fingerprint-sensor at the edge (right side), just below the power button works flawlessly at all times. To avoid accidental activation, the latter works only when the user presses the power button.
Due to its unique form factor, Samsung has incorporated six cameras in three places, one 10MP (F2.2) sensor on the front cover display, two (10MP + 8MP depth sensor) inside the wide-screen and the final three (16MP + 12MP wide-angle +12MP depth) on the rear-side.
With this, Samsung has ensured the device owner can capture pictures without having to lose time to open the widescreen. Though the cover display is small and I trusted and took several photos. They were really good and are on par with any flagship phones' in the market.
The selfies too, are decent and the company offers filters and beautify features to adjust skin tone, smoothness (remove acne scars), jawline and eyes, to make the subject photogenic and share it on social media platforms.
The company has optimised the hardware and software for efficient use of power. The Galaxy Fold comes with a 4,380mAh battery and under normal usage, it lasted more than a day.
Have to tell, that the presence of the cover display is one of the major factors for long battery life. I could open the message inbox to read or reply instantly. I usually opened the wide screen to browse news feed on social media apps and to watch multimedia content and the rest I managed to do on the front display, thus saving a lot of battery power.
Like the Galaxy S and Note series, the Fold too supports fast charging, wireless charging and reverse charging. You can even power up Samsung's AKG earbuds (comes with retail package) by just putting the pod on the back of the device.
If I have to say in three words, the Galaxy Fold is ' fragile but revolutionary'. It’s been far too long since we saw any innovation on mobile screens. Samsung’s Galaxy Fold is refreshingly good and marks a new shift in the mobile industry. We expect this to be the new normal in the near future.
Yes, there are concerns over the display's durability but Samsung deserves appreciation for the brave design innovation and we shouldn't be apprehensive about the Galaxy Fold.
This unique phone offers a tablet-like big-screen viewing experience and still can fit in a normal pocket with ease.
Given the South Korean company's prowess in making the Galaxy Note series, a success story, the Galaxy Fold will definitely find traction. But, it will take some time and the price has to come down for the masses to embrace the new Galaxy Fold.
Realistic foldable display design language
Excellent viewing experience
Long battery life
It's fragile-- have to take really good care of the device (keep away it from water)
Key specifications of Samsung Galaxy Fold:
Main display: 7.3-inch QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED (4.2:3)
Cover display: 4.6-inch HD+ Super AMOLED (21:9)
OS: Android 9.0 Pie
Processor: 7nm 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 octa-core processor (Max. 2.8 GHz + 2.4 GHz + 1.7 GHz)
Storage: 512GB (UFS 3.0) User memory is less than the total memory due to the storage of the operating system and software used to operate the device features. Actual user memory will vary depending on the operator and may change after software upgrades are performed. *No MicroSD slot
Cover camera: 10MP Selfie Camera, F2.2
Rear triple camera: 16MP Ultra Wide Camera (F2.2 aperture) + 12MP Wide-angle Camera, Dual Pixel AF, OIS, (F1.5/F2.4- variable aperture )+ 12MP Telephoto Camera (PDAF, OIS, F2.4, 2X optical zoom)
Front dual camera: 10MP Selfie Camera, F2.2 aperture + 8MP RGB Depth Camera, F1.9
Battery 4,380mAh; Fast Charging compatible on wired and wireless; Wired charging compatible with QC2.0 and AFC; Wireless charging compatible with WPC and PMA
Colors: Cosmos Black (in India), Space Silver, Martian Green, Astro Blue
Price: Rs 1,64,999