Thanos said it best in Avengers: Infinity War, “reality is often disappointing.” When it comes to first-generation technology, that statement is nearly always true.
With its new Galaxy Fold phone featuring the company’s first-ever infinity flex display, Samsung hopes to break that trend of first generation woes and deliver a device that will shake up the notch-driven phone market, and usher in a new era of phone-tablet hybrids. In some ways they did, but in many others, Samsung has a long way to go.
Its launch mirrors that of Nike’s first auto-lacing sneaker, the HyperAdapt 1.0. On paper, the sneaker granted every sneakerheads wish of being Marty McFly in Back to the Future Part II, but the $720 premium price tag and slightly bulky design wasn’t the Air Mag we all hoped for until the Adapt BB.
After spending about a week with the new phone, we’ve done enough testing to see if the Galaxy Fold is the new king of the market and answer the question on everyone’s mind: is this groundbreaking flex display worth $1,980? Let’s take a closer look.
Samsung Galaxy Fold Specs: Top of the Line
When it comes performance, the phone has very little issues. The Galaxy Fold is equipped with Samsung’s top-of-the-line specs including their latest Snapdragon 855 chip, 128GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage for extremely fast performance. Maneuvering through the phone is a breeze, having three apps opened simultaneously on screen is smoother than ever, and winning matches in Fortnite at a solid 30fps never felt better on a phone.
The 4,380 mAh batter is also very impressive. It lasts well over eight hours of screen on-time and can easily go a full day on a single charge without worrying about turning down screen brightness or turning on battery save mode.
The Fold also includes not one, not two, but six cameras that all take very good photos. Mirroring the Galaxy S10, the phone features an ultra-wide, regular, and telephoto lens on the back, a selfie camera on the front display and dual-selfie cameras on the inside screen. All six cameras are just as good as the rival Apple iPhone X, but still fall short of the Google Pixel 3 and Huawei P30 Pro’s best-in-class cameras.
Like the Galaxy S10, the Fold features wireless charging, reverse wireless charging, and a USB-C port. The only two things missing, and I’m nitpicking here, is a headphone jack (still featured on all other Galaxy phones) and the beloved S-Pen that has become a staple on the Galaxy Note series. For a display this size featuring fluid performance of a tablet, why not include it?
Samsung Galaxy Fold Display: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
The main attraction for the Fold is obviously the groundbreaking 7.3-inch flex display. Visually, it doesn’t disappoint, and closing and opening the phone is extremely satisfying. Samsung has built a reputation of having the best-looking displays on the market and their win streak continues here. Serving as a mini-tablet, a bit smaller than the iPad mini, the foldable screen features a beautiful dynamic AMOLED display with HDR 10+ popping with color. Unfortunately, the flex display comes with its fair share of deal-breaking issues.
The main one has been widely reported: it’s simply not durable. In less than a week of testing from reviewers, many reports have surfaced claiming the Fold’s display breaking in a day or two of use. In one case, confusion by reviewers led to the removing of what appears to be a screen protector on the the display, which led to the screen breaking almost immediately. Other reports from The Verge and CNBC involve bumps or air bubbles forming around the crease of the fold area. Samsung has issued a statement saying they would look into the matter and will delay the launch of the phone until they find solutions. So, as of now, the display is currently too unreliable for a major release.
Editor’s note: Our Galaxy Fold did not have any of the issues stated above during our time testing the phone.
The issues don’t stop there. Smaller complaints with the display include the permanent crease where the phone folds, which is noticeable to see and feel. For some, it’s easy to look past, but it won’t be for everyone. Even worse than the crease is the dual camera notch. Yes, even in a nearly $2,000 phone we can’t escape the notch plague. The thin rectangular eye-sore intrudes onto the screen taking up more than it should. It’s highly visible when watching YouTube or Netflix as the notch covers up part of the video.
Moving from tablet display to the regular front phone display, it delivers the opposite of everything we want in a phone display in 2019. It’s extremely small at 4.7 inches, it has huge bezels, has an awkwardly long and thin build, and is heavy to hold. In a phone that has such a groundbreaking tablet screen on the inside, its front display seems very dated even if its purpose is for quick on-the-go use.
Samsung Galaxy Fold Software: Perfect for Tablet
One of the biggest highlights of the Fold comes in its software features, especially the ones tailored for the tablet experience. App continuity makes intuitive, seamless transitions between the cover and main display of the phone, letting users pick up right where they left an app or video. As Galaxy Fold opens and closes, apps will automatically show up where you left off. A few apps don’t use the feature, but that can easily be fixed in a software update from app developers.
To get the most out of the tablet, the multi-active window makes multi-tasking a breeze. For the first time, users can open and run up to three active apps simultaneously on the main display including video calling, Google Maps, and texting. It’s not as elegant as the iPad Pro’s iOS software, but Samsung’s One UI still offers a fluid and smooth experience on the Galaxy Fold.
So, is the Samsung Galaxy Fold Worth $2,000?
In conclusion, Samsung’s Galaxy Fold is a fast, powerful machine equipped with the top-of-the-line specs a 2019 smartphone should have. Its flex display is as satisfying to close and open as it is to look at, and the multi-active window functionality and strong battery life make it stand out from traditional smartphones and even rival’s mini tablets. But is it worth paying $1,980 for?
Like the original Nike HyperAdapt 1.0, the Fold’s flex technology is a step in the right direction but comes with too many first-generation problems and a premium price tag. From the foldable screen’s reported issues to the awfully small front display, to the notch and screen crease, the Galaxy Fold just isn’t ready for commercial use just yet. For almost $1,000 less, you can pick up the Galaxy S10 that has the best display on the market, a mostly identical spec sheet, same camera set up and software without the major issues.
All that said, I’m still excited for the future of the Galaxy Fold series. Its flex display is groundbreaking, and will undoubtedly improve overtime. As we switch back to our previous phone, we will continue to wonder about the potential possibilities this technology will offer us in years to come. The future is bright for Samsung’s new baby, and hopefully it involves an S-Pen.