The first folding telephone is available in the Netherlands. The Galaxy Fold from Samsung gives an impression of what we can expect from folding phones, but the idea is not yet fully realized.
Last April I held the Galaxy Fold for the first time in my hands. A month later the device had to come on the market. When American tech journalists demolished the screens of the Galaxy Fold because they removed a foil that had to stay on it, Samsung took longer to tinker with the device.
Samsung improved the design so that the screen no longer breaks. The hinge was reinforced and a piece of plastic ensures that dust or sand does not cause problems. In other words: this is the Galaxy Fold as it was intended. “We are changing the entire future,” writes Samsung.
The Fold has a small screen of 4.6 inches on the front.
The Galaxy Fold has two screens. When folded, a small screen of 4.6 inches is present on the front, with which the phone can be operated completely. When the phone opens, a 7.3 inch screen unfolds on the inside.
When closed, the device feels like an old mobile phone. It is somewhat thicker (two smartphones on top of each other) and elongated. I immediately notice the hefty weight of 276 grams. For comparison: the Galaxy Note 10 Plus weighs 196 grams and the iPhone 11 Pro Max weighs 226 grams.
- Screen size: 4.6 inches (closed), 7.3 inches (open)
- Small screen resolution: 1680 x 720
- Large screen resolution: 2152 x 1536
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
- Working memory: 12GB
- Storage: 512GB
- Rear cameras: 12MP standard, 12MP zoom and 16MP wide angle
- Front camera: 10MP standard
- Cameras inside: 10MP standard and 8MP depth
- Battery: 4,380 mAh
- Operating system: Android 9.0
- Price: 2,020 euros
Hassle with screens
The telephone is remarkably handy. In recent years, telephones have become bigger and more difficult to operate with one hand. Thanks to the Fold, I realized that a large screen is often unnecessary. If necessary, I unfolded it.
An open app is automatically magnified. The keyboard is then also more usable, because typing on the small screen feels pretty dull. I couldn’t get used to it. Unfolding the screen for each message felt like unnecessary trouble.
Expanded, the device offers a 7.3-inch screen.
Not all apps are suitable for the device yet
Not all apps are automatically enlarged. Frequently used apps, such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, do. Instagram shows how things can go wrong.
On the small screen, the Stories fit well into the picture, but when expanded, images are cut off because the ‘tablet screen’ is more square. This is where photos in the Instagram news overview stand out better, but the comments of others are truncated on the small screen. To use the app optimally, I always had to fold.
In addition, I found some teething problems in the software. Apps sometimes just ended and the Bluetooth connection was delayed, causing the YouTube image to skew with the sound.
The full screen comes in handy for playing videos.
Teething in the software
One of the apps that convinces is YouTube. With a Fold folded, I search for a video, choose one, and then unfold the device to continue playing the video on the larger screen without delay.
I do wonder what we will gain with this form. The image is especially wider compared to, for example, a Galaxy S10 Plus. Videos appear a bit larger on the Fold, but it doesn’t really save much.
A wider device comes in handy if you place apps next to each other. I shrink a YouTube video and place it on the right so that it continues to play, while I open WhatsApp on the left side of the screen. It works, but both apps become very small, especially with the keyboard in view. It looks messy quickly, even when unfolded the screen is too small.
Apps can be placed side by side on the Fold for multitasking.
Thanks to the Galaxy Fold I see the added value of a folding screen. I only opened the phone when I really needed more space. The small screen on the Fold should have been larger to be fully usable and the large screen is too small to function optimally as a tablet. I miss the ideal format.
In terms of technology, the Galaxy Fold is a feat. The device feels strong, the fold is barely visible when used, but I felt it a bit.
At the moment, the device is not worth its high price of 2,020 euros. The Fold still feels like a concept. If this is the future according to Samsung, I’d rather stay in the past.