Hands-On, Smartphone

Samsung Galaxy Fold Hands-On: The First Mainstream Foldable Phone

The Samsung Galaxy Fold is finally here in Malaysia, and despite the rocky launch earlier this year, it is basically the first mainstream foldable smartphone that you can buy right now. Without a doubt the Fold is a technological marvel; who knew foldable smartphones would become a reality this soon?

However, as it has always been with new technology, the Galaxy Fold does have its fair share of shortcomings. I got my hands on the foldable phone, and while it’s an impressive device, it’s not the most practical one.

As its name suggests, the Galaxy Fold has a foldable display. On the outside, it has a more conventional (and tiny) 4.6-inch 1680 x 720 Super AMOLED display with a tall 21:9 aspect ratio. But once you’ve “unfolded” the Fold, you’ll be greeted by the stunning 7.3-inch 2152 x 1536 Dynamic AMOLED “Infinity Flex” display.

While the 7.3-inch display sounds big, it has a squarer 4.2:3 aspect ratio, so the Galaxy Fold has the form factor of a small tablet. It’s small enough to hold with only one hand comfortably, and the whole device doesn’t feel particularly unwieldy either.

However, as the whole display folds when you close the Galaxy Fold, there is a crease running down the middle of the 7.3-inch screen. Looking straight at the display, you won’t notice the crease, but you’ll definitely see it at an angle. Is this a huge issue? Not really, given that it’s almost invisible in normal use.

What is potentially a huge issue is the long-term durability of the Galaxy Fold’s polymer screen (which is basically plastic). Before you can even use the device, there’s a disclaimer in the setup process detailing how to take care of the display; it’s quite an exhaustive list.

In fact, one of it even warns users to avoid pressing hard on the screen. This could result in indentations on the display, especially if your fingernails are in contact with the soft, plastic screen. If you want to keep your RM8,388 phone in pristine condition, consider cutting your fingernails on a regular basis.

Thankfully, the Galaxy Fold comes with a Premier Service that offers a number of benefits. The most important one is the Care Pack Coverage: those who registered their Galaxy Fold with Samsung Members will receive a one-time accidental screen crack replacement or repair within a year from the date of purchase.

As for the screen quality itself, it’s fantastic. After all, the primary display is a Dynamic AMOLED panel. It supports HDR10+ standard, so it has deep blacks, very vibrant colours, and excellent brightness.

Okay, enough with the Galaxy Fold’s flexible display; what about other aspects of the phone? Well, the build quality of the hinge, for one, is really quite impressive. It feels solid whenever I open up the phone, and it closes with a reassuring “thud,” thanks to the use of strong magnets. Rest assured, the phone won’t accidentally open up once you’ve closed it.

However, with the Galaxy Fold closed, it’s…a very thick device. The hinge part is 17mm thick, while the other side measures 15.2mm. It can still fit into my jeans pocket, but there will be a pronounced bulge. Besides that, there’s also a tiny gap when the device is closed – the screen simply cannot fold completely flat.

When it comes to performance, the Galaxy Fold is a fast, zippy smartphone. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset – the Fold only uses this chip worldwide – and while it’s not quite as fast as the Snapdragon 855+, it’s still a very capable chip.

Other specifications of the Galaxy Fold include 12GB of RAM, 512GB of non-expandable storage, a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, two front-facing cameras (10MP main + 8MP depth) at the top right corner of the main screen, another 10MP selfie camera above the 4.6-inch outside display, and a 4,380mAh battery.

What about the camera performance of the Galaxy Fold? Given that this phone has the exact same triple camera system as the Samsung Galaxy S10 (12MP primary + 16MP ultra-wide angle + 12MP telephoto), it should have similar camera performance too. If it does, the Fold will be able to take good-looking shots regardless of lighting condition.

Of course, I’ll definitely put the Galaxy Fold’s camera system through its paces in a full review, though I’m positive it won’t disappoint in this particular aspect. After all, the camera performance of Samsung’s flagship smartphones rarely disappoints.

Innovation in the smartphone space is always exciting, and the Samsung Galaxy Fold is easily one of the most innovative – and experimental – devices to come from the Korean company. While the long-term durability of the flexible screen is concerning, the Fold certainly has the “wow” factor. How cool is it to be able to fold your smartphone in half?

Then again, you will be paying a hefty amount of money for the Galaxy Fold; RM8,388, to be specific. Not only is it a costly smartphone, you’ll have to take very good care of the device (even more so with the main display) too.

If that sounds manageable to you, the Galaxy Fold will be one of the most unique and awe-inspiring smartphones you’ll ever use; at least, at this point in time. I’ll be using the Fold as my daily driver for the next few days, and I can’t wait to see how well it would fare, especially in terms of durability.