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.
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 a 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.
Should I buy the Samsung Galaxy Fold (2019)?
The Fold doesn’t come across like a first draft but it feels far from a final one as well.
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.
Foldable phones are probably going to get way better than this. The Fold is just 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.
The Fold is innately compelling, truly innovative and impossibly expensive.
Price when reviewed
In Australia, the Samsung Galaxy is available for as little as 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.
Again, disclaimer, I only had access to the Fold for a handful of days but truth be told I’m not overly worried about this device breaking quite so quickly as the original did. The Fold 1.5 has been out in the wild for about a month now. If it was just as breakable as the first model, you probably would have heard about it by now.
Still, the reality is that, yes, due to its unique design the Fold is fundamentally more prone to breakage than a non-foldable phone is. It should be noted that all phones can be scratched, smashed or otherwise broken. But if you ask your local Samsung representative whether this thing is OK to take to the beach during the summer, you’ll likely see them strongly advise against doing so in a way they wouldn’t with the S10 or an iPhone.
There are strings attached to owning the world’s first foldable phone. This is a phone you can’t take to the beach and while that’s just one example, it does demonstrate how the Galaxy Fold forces you to think about and consider durability in a way that’s taken for granted in more-mainstream devices.
CNET might have done the hard work of folding a Fold 120,000 times until it broke but you kinda 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 feels more like the start of something new and exciting than 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 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). 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 price of flagship phones has risen so much in the last 24-months that maybe it's not quite as expensive as you might think.
Aside from getting it outright through Samsung, you can also buy the device on an in-store plan through Optus, Vodafone or Telstra.
Next Page: Design, Performance, The Bottom Line
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