Samsung Galaxy Fold review: Show Off
The expensive, foldable smartphone of the future finally arrives
- Versatile and unique form-factor
- Great specs and performance
- Makes you think about how you use your phone
- Ridiculously expensive
- Inconsistent app continuity
- Limited durability
The Fold is innately compelling, truly innovative and impossibly expensive.
Should I buy the Samsung Galaxy Fold (2019)?
Look, the Samsung Galaxy Fold might be the world’s first foldable smartphone but it’s also a smartphone that’s gonna cost you a clean $3000. The math here isn’t hard to grasp but it’s one of those things you’re gonna have to do for yourself.
Sure, the Galaxy Fold is better than it has any right to be, but at the end of the day, it’s still a first generation product. The underlying tech is cool but it’s not difficult to see how Samsung could improve on what they’ve got here. That being said, the combination of high-end specs and innovative design make it a compelling contender for Samsung’s best phone of the year.
We've updated this review to reflect a longer review period with the device, you can read our original thoughts on the Galaxy Fold here.
If you’re game to pay the price, roll the dice and own one of the first foldable phones, go right ahead. If you’d rather wait for things to get cheaper and better, I wouldn’t blame you because, honestly, I’m probably going to do the same.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold sets a high bar for the first wave of foldable smartphones but its appeal is ultimately limited by that same framing. It’s a good start but the smart money says that the best is yet to come.
Price when reviewed
In Australia, the Samsung Galaxy is available at an RRP of AU$2999.
Samsung Galaxy Fold (2019) full review
As the name might indicate and as you have no doubt already heard about, the Samsung Galaxy Fold is a phone that does what no other phone can: it folds. Samsung revised a ton of the details here after the Fold's failure to launch back in April. However, the broad strokes of the form-factor remain the same.
There’s a 4.6-inch HD+ Super AMOLED on the outside and a larger 7.3-inch Infinity Flex Display on the inside. On short notice, the external display is perfectly usable but you can easily open it up like a book and use the larger display when needed.
Learning from the mistakes of the original Fold, Samsung has reduced the space between the hinge and the body of the device. They’ve also extended the protective film on the display beyond the bezels and added a set of protective caps that should help prevent detritus from getting underneath the screen.
When you set up the Galaxy Fold for the first time, you also get bombarded with a bunch of special warnings telling you not to press too strongly on the display or place any objects, such as cards, coins, or keys, on the flexible screen. Nevertheless and to my surprise, I’m actually a lot more confident about the overall durability of the Galaxy Fold than I expected to be.
Yes, the hinge-based form-factor here is inherently and always going to be more prone to damage than a non-foldable phone would be. And the plastic screen on the inside of the Fold is in a similar situation. It’s a lot more susceptible to scratches and microabrasions than a glass display would be. Samsung are also strongly warning against taking this thing to the beach in a way that they don’t with any of their other flagships.
There are strings attached to owning the world’s first foldable phone. But after a few weeks messing with the device and particularly after seeing it survive the sweaty mosh pit of a Reel Big Fish concert, I’m a lot less worried about Samsung’s first foldable falling apart on me.
Of course, it should be noted that all phones can be scratched, smashed or otherwise broken. The odds of an iPhone 11 surviving a drop onto concrete might be better than that of a Galaxy Fold but they’re probably not that much better. It only takes one particularly bad drop to wreck most modern phones and, in that respect, the Galaxy Fold isn’t all that exceptional.
CNET might have done the hard work of folding a Fold 120,000 times until it broke but you also have to ask yourself whether that number - which Samsung says is equivalent to 3-4 years of regular usage - is an acceptable one. Three grand is a lot of money but four years is still a long time to rely on a single device. It’s rare to find something truly different in the flagship smartphone space - and the Galaxy Fold is exactly that.
It’s the start of something new but don’t confuse it for the be-all end all.
Whether or not you’re willing - or able - to pay the sizable surcharge to get your hands on the future early depends how invested you are in where the technology itself is at right now. In some ways, it doesn’t feel all that different to buying a game that’s in Early Access on Steam. Some people are going to be more interested in that than others.
Even if it is Samsung’s best phone of the year, the Galaxy Fold still often feels like a work in progress.
In Australia, Samsung's first foldable smartphone carries a price-tag of AU$2999.
That’s more expensive than even Apple’s highest spec iPhone 11 Pro Max (AU$2499) but, then again, it’s not that much more. Don’t get me wrong, the Galaxy Fold is an exorbitant and expensive luxury device. However, the reality is that the average price of flagship phones has risen so much in the last 24-months such that, in context, it’s that much more expensive.
Aside from getting it outright through Samsung, you can also buy the device on a plan through Optus, Vodafone or Telstra.
Next Page: Design, Performance, The Bottom Line
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