Smartphones have become boring? Maybe, but not all of them. The Samsung Galaxy Fold has the potential to shake up the whole market. In our first hands-on, the folding smartphone aroused enthusiasm - but at this price, the comedown is real.
The Fold costs as much as two Galaxy Notes
One has almost gotten used to the fact that top smartphones now cost $1,000 and more. Not pretty, but that's the way it is. But the Samsung Galaxy Fold 5G is the crowning glory. The market leader's first folding smartphone will cost a proud €2,100 at its launch on September 18 in Europe. It doesn't matter that a few Samsung Galaxy Buds and a case are included in the price. The luxury smartphone is just as much a budget burden as a Galaxy Note 10+ and a Galaxy Note 10 combined - and these were only introduced last month and are Samsung's absolute flagships. The slightly slimmed down 4G version of the Samsung Galaxy Fold will initially be offered in Europe exclusively in France.
Flexible and robust - that works!
The Samsung Galaxy Fold and its design is a long story! The first version of the folding smartphone had a few weak points, as was apparent shortly after the presentation, namely openings in the hinge and a protective layer over the sensitive flexible OLED display that was too tight. Samsung has eliminated both with the revised design, it seems. In the middle of the display there are new plastic closures at the top and bottom to prevent dirt and dust from penetrating. The hinge itself has been rebuilt and now apparently does not have any openings.
The folding mechanism of the Samsung Galaxy Fold was very stable during our test. When closed, the hinge holds both sides of the folding mobile phone firmly together; when opened, it locks in place noticeably. The protective layer above the display now protrudes under the frame so that it can no longer come off unintentionally and even careless users are not allowed to remove it.
The Galaxy Fold looks altogether much more robust than I expected. In its closed state, it's as thick as a laptop at over 17 millimeters, but it's also quite slim and disappears quickly into your trouser pocket. 276 grams is, of course, a lot, but the weight fits the folding smartphone, it doesn't seem too heavy.
When folded out, you might actually think you have an almost square tablet in your hand - nothing wobbles or rattles. I usually held the Galaxy Fold with one hand and operated it with the other. With only one hand, of course, nothing works - unless you are just folding it. The fingerprint sensor on the right side is not necessarily easy to reach, but worked perfectly in our first test.
Two displays, but only one is important
The Galaxy Fold has two displays, with the 4.6-inch Super AMOLED panel on the front being less exciting. For quickly checking a message or similar this is enough, but usually you will open the smartphone and use the big screen. It's a full 7.3 inches - or 7.1 inches if you take out the rounded corners - and looks great. The resolution is 2,152 x 1,536 pixels. Of course, this is not as high a resolution as with some high-end smartphones, but 362 ppi is perfectly sufficient for a sharp display.
One of my big question marks with the Galaxy Fold was the crease in the middle of the display, and the hands-on session immediately calmed me down. Yes, a small elevation is visible and perceptible here, but so minimal that you will quickly get used to it. The panel is not soft or easy to push in, this part of the Galaxy Fold also makes a stable and durable impression. Whether photos, videos, websites, texts or games, this display is a real dream!
The software is also flexible
In order for the Samsung Galaxy Fold to develop its qualities, the software must play along. Two things in particular are important here, where Samsung has adapted its One UI for the folding smartphone: switching from outside to the inside display and the possibility to use three apps at the same time.
The switch is called Samsung App Continuity. This means that you start and use an app on one of the two displays and simply switch it to the other display when the Galaxy Fold is opened or closed. This works surprisingly well, even with games like Asphalt 9. A pause or other delay is not to be noticed. That impressed me a lot! In the Preferences you can specify for each app whether it should switch automatically or not, that's pretty handy.
On the large display of the Fold you can run two or three apps in parallel. The screen will then be split accordingly. The apps can be moved and the windows can be resized. This is fun and should save a lot of work in many cases. In our first test of the Samsung Galaxy Fold, I didn't notice any difference in the speed of the apps when three ran simultaneously.
Galaxy Fold with full power
The performance of the Samsung Galaxy Fold was impeccable when first tried out, everything ran smoothly and smoothly without big jerks or slowdown. No wonder, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 has plenty of power and can also access a full 12 GB of RAM - that should be enough for a while. The internal memory is 512 GB, but cannot be expanded. We have not yet been able to carry out benchmark tests with the Galaxy Fold, but of course we will catch up once the smartphone has landed in our editorial office.
Six cameras in three places
The Galaxy Fold has a total of six cameras on board . A 10-megapixel selfie camera with f/2.2 aperture sits in the front, a dual selfie camera with 8 and 10 megapixels (normal focal length and wide-angle) inside over the large display. The main camera on the rear has a 16-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens with f/2.2 aperture, a 12-megapixel variable aperture camera (f/1.5 and f/2.2) and OIS, and a 12-megapixel dual zoom telephoto lens, f/2.4 and also OIS. The quality of the cameras in the Samsung Galaxy Fold will be examined in more detail in our detailed test.
The battery life depends on you
The Galaxy Fold has a rechargeable battery with 4,235 mAh - or better two, because the capacity is distributed over two interconnected rechargeable batteries in the two halves of the case. How long the runtime will last will depend heavily on how you use it, especially how extensively you use the big screen - trust me, you'll use it VERY extensively. During my 45 minutes with the folding smartphone, the charge dropped from 89 to 84 percent. We can only provide further information on battery life once we have received the Galaxy Fold for testing.
Samsung Galaxy Fold technical specifications
|Battery size:||4380 mAh|
|Screen size:||7.3 in|
|Screen:||2152 x 1536 pixels (362 ppi)|
|Front camera:||10 megapixels|
|Rear camera:||16 megapixels|
|Android version:||9 - Pie|
|Internal storage:||512 GB|
|Removable storage:||Not available|
|Chipset:||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855|
|Number of cores:||8|
|Max. clock speed:||2.8 GHz|
|Connectivity:||HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0|
A great smartphone!
No other smartphone in years has inspired me as much as the Samsung Galaxy Fold in the first test. Yes, the thing is terribly expensive, when folded it is quite thick, and whether you need this giant display at all in the long run remains to be seen. But one thing seems clear to me. This new form factor will enrich the smartphone market, and I'm looking forward to it!