Samsung Galaxy Fold first impressions

Credit: Samsung

As the world’s first mainstream foldable smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy Fold feels special - so I’m willing to make an exception. 

Ordinarily, I like to take at least a week - sometimes a little longer - using a smartphone as my daily-driver before penning any sort of review. Give the device a little time to breathe and give myself some time to marinate in my thoughts about it. I meditate about the price. I play around with the key features. I think about the kind of person who would get the most out of any given product. 

Unfortunately, due to forces outside of my control, Samsung are only giving me about four days with the Fold. 

So I want to be upfront about this and afford you the proper context - because I’m going to try and write something close to a review anyway. I don’t know how long it’ll be before I have the chance to spend more hands-on time with this particular device and - given that it is already on-sale - I want to have some sort of buyer’s advice for it on the site.

I’m not super thrilled to work within these limitations but, at the same time, we’re heading into the holiday season and the Galaxy Fold is one of the most talked-about smartphones of the year. It’s the elephant in the room and a sneak peek of what the foldable future of computing could look like. 

However, much like this review, the Galaxy Fold ultimately is something of a work-in-progress.

It’s not the disaster the original Fold probably would have been, but with a superior second-generation effort less than twelve months away and Samsung’s reputation for depreciating devices, it’s difficult to recommend everyone go out of their way to throw down $3000 to buy this thing right this second. 

In fairness, the Fold might well surprise many skeptics but it feels like it’s just as likely to spurn early adopters expecting a main course rather than an appetizer. 

galaxy-fold-home-100788852-orig.jpgCredit: Samsung
galaxy-fold-home-100788852-orig.jpg

Foldable phones are probably going to get way better than this but the Fold is the only one you can buy right now. Like I said in my initial hands-on of the device, it’s a problematic fave at best and your individual mileage here is going to vary based on what you actually use the Fold for. 

Sure, the redesigned Galaxy Fold does things that no other phone can do. And, yes, the high-end specs leave it standing tall as the best smartphone Samsung has released this year. But as with the Galaxy Note 10, you really do have to be in a situation where the additional flexibility and unique hardware capabilities of the Fold help justify the price. 

And assuming you can afford it, whether or not you should invest in the foldable revolution ahead of time is ultimately going to come down to whether or not you think a screen that folds is better than one that doesn’t. 

After only four days with it, I honestly can’t tell you which way I lean. I'm convinced that foldables have a future but I don’t know if I’m necessarily keen enough to recommend buying the first-gen product that the Fold ultimately is.

Samsung gave me four days with the Galaxy Fold, so I’m gonna give you four concluding thoughts on the world’s first mainstream foldable. 

Number #1: I feel cheated. 

I stopped using my Huawei P30 Pro for about a month after I reviewed the Google Pixel 3a because the experience of using that device on a day-to-day basis was so delightful that I honestly didn’t care if I missed out on flagship features and 10x lossless zoom. 

More than just limiting my time to actually test and use the device, having to hand my Galaxy Fold back after four days with it cheats me of truly or honestly knowing whether or not I really would recommend living with the caveats and going all in on Australia’s first foldable phone. 

Number #2: The Fold Effect is real.

Back in April, reading overseas reviews of the original Fold, there was one intriguing idea that caught my attention. In my brain, I started thinking of it as The Fold Effect. When the (brief) opportunity to use the Fold as my daily-driver arrived, I was delighted to find the phenomena intact. 

In subtle ways, the design of the Fold makes you want to use it less. But it also makes you think about the way you’re using your phone more. For all that the Fold gets wrong and right, this quality remains absolutely fascinating and utterly exclusive to it. 

Number #3: The price.

There’s a lot I like about the Galaxy Fold but it’s so hard to separate it from how much it costs. 

Price is always such a murky thing to write about because $2999 doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. For some people, this is a straight-up crazy amount of money to spend on a phone. For others, the Fold expensive but it’s still something they can afford - be it through a monthly plan or a salary sacrifice arrangement with their employer. 

Credit: Samsung

Everyone’s financial situation is different, though the questions you have to ask yourself before buying the Fold remain the same. What price do you put on having a phone that’s genuinely different to everything else out there? How much are you willing to pay to beta test the phone of the future?

Finally, Number #4: This is what the future looks like.  

Samsung, more than most other smartphone manufacturers, likes to play on this fantasy of convergence. The one device to rule them all. The Fold isn’t that. But it’s not difficult to see how it gets us to that in the near future. 

Even as someone who has spent the last few days reckoning with the myriad caveats attached to to Galaxy Fold, the idea of having to carry one thing instead of two things is oh-so-simple but utterly intoxicating. Samsung's DeX mode tried to tackle this problem through software. The Fold tries to do it though hardware. 

I’m a little on the fence about recommending people rush out to drop $2999 on a Fold of their own but I’m solidly convinced that better and cheaper versions of this product have a future in my life. It's good enough that I'm happy to make an exception when it comes to reviewing it but not so much so that I'd outright recommend it without making mention of the inescapable caveat that is the price.

I want a Fold but, after four days with it, I don’t know if I really want this Fold.

This article was originally written as part of our Galaxy Fold review. We’ve since updated that article to reflect a longer testing period, read it here.

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Tags samsungGalaxy FoldSamsung Galaxy FOld

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Fergus Halliday
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