Samsung Galaxy Fold: a glimpse into the future

A smartphone that unfolds into a tablet: that sounds like a device from the future. Nothing is less true. In this Samsung Galaxy Fold review we discuss the first foldable phone that you can buy in the Netherlands. How does folding work, what is the use of it and is the Fold actually the smartphone of the future?

Samsung Galaxy Fold

Recommended retail price € 2020
Colors Black
OS Android 9 (One UI)
Screen 4.6 inch oled (1680 x 720) and 7.3 inch oled (2152 x 1536)
Processor 2.8 Ghz octacore (Exynos 9820)
Storage 512GB (non-expandable)
Battery 4380 mAh
Cameras behind 12, 12 and 16 megapixels
Cameras for10 megapixel (front), 10 and 8 megapixel (folded open)
Connectivity 4G (LTE), Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi, GPS, NFC
Format 16 x 6.3 x 1.6 cm (closed) and 16 x 11.8 x 0.8
Weight 276 grams
Other E-sim, including case and Galaxy Buds
Website 6.5 Score 65 Score: 65

  • Pros
  • Device folds and works well
  • Excellent hardware
  • Larger screen can be really useful
  • Battery life better than expected
  • Negatives
  • Not waterproof and dustproof
  • Housing and screens scratch quickly
  • Limited utility through non-optimized apps
  • price

Samsung would release the Fold in the Netherlands in May 2019, but had to postpone the release indefinitely because the ready-to-use test copies of American media broke down within a few days. The Samsung director later spoke of a rush job and apologized. In September the company presented an improved version of the Fold, with a more robust hinge and sturdier screen. In January the Fold finally appeared in the Netherlands for a suggested retail price of no less than 2020 euros. The chance that you will buy the smartphone / tablet is therefore very small, but you are probably curious how the device performs. I was, almost a year after my first session with the Fold, and I used the device for the past ten days.

Welcome to your Galaxy Fold

The Galaxy Fold box contains a set of wireless Galaxy Buds earbuds, which now have a successor in the form of the Galaxy Buds +. You also get a two-piece case for the smartphone. After one day I removed half of the case because the click and paste mechanism did not work properly. The edge around the screen was not properly secured, so the case showed play and particularly irritated my fingers.

How well does folding work?

A smartphone that folds out into a smaller tablet. The Galaxy Fold really works. Folded up, the Fold is a long, narrow smartphone with a 4.6-inch screen – almost the same size but narrower than the display of the iPhone 8. This screen is especially useful for viewing notifications, arranging your music and quickly taking a photo. to make. If you open the Fold like a book, you will see a 7.3-inch screen. A special sensation, especially on the first days. It works and it works well. Unfolding and folding the phone requires neither too much nor too little power, and is accompanied by a pleasant click sound. The square screen looks sharp due to the high resolution, shows beautiful colors thanks to the OLED display and does everything you expect from it.

That does not mean that the concept is perfect. Oh no, the Galaxy Fold is clearly a product of the first generation. You will notice that especially in the foldable screen. A vertical fold is visible in the middle, although you hardly see it after a week. You can feel it, especially if you swipe from left to right. Is it disturbing? I think it’s not too bad, also because the fold is necessary.

A vertical fold can be seen and felt in the middle

The Fold is scratch sensitive

More annoying is that the large, foldable screen is made of plastic and therefore easily damaged. Samsung already warns you when setting the Fold: do not press hard on the screen and do not bring the screen in contact with cards, coins or keys. That warning is not an exaggeration. After ten days, the tablet display is full of smaller, permanent scratches, probably only from my nails and fingertips. I don’t even want to know what the screen looks like after a year of use. Incidentally, you cannot use a screen protector, because then the display will no longer fold (properly).

The rest of the housing is also scratch-sensitive. The glass back cover now contains various scratches and the triple camera lens has a highly visible half-inch scratch. The 4.6-inch front screen and the top and bottom edges also show various scratches. A cover is therefore not a superfluous luxury.

Back and front
The back (left) and the 4.6-inch screen on the front

Note: not water and dust proof

Another disadvantage of the Fold is that it is not resistant to water and dust. Samsung also warns about this. Although I understand that it is difficult to make a foldable smartphone waterproof and dustproof, with this very expensive phone you run a greater risk of damage than with many traditional smartphones. So keep the Fold away from the swimming pool, your motor boat and the beach – although that is advisable anyway because grains of sand scratch the screen. But even if you do all that, an accident is in a small corner. When I walked the dog on a Sunday afternoon, storm Dennis suddenly decided to pour an unprecedented rain shower on me. So running, especially when I realized that the Fold was in my now soaked pocket. The device was fortunately barely wet, but you must not think that it will die because of such a bad situation.

Dimensions and weight

Due to the weight of 276 grams, the Galaxy Fold is not a smartphone that you want to use for hours. Folded tightly, the width and length are not too bad (6.3 by 16.1 centimeters) and fits perfectly in most trousers and jacket pockets. The thickness is another story: the Fold is folded twice as thick as the average smartphone. Insurmountable due to the foldable concept, but you will notice it in your (tighter) pocket.

The Fold on an iPhone X

Samsung Galaxy Fold review: that’s how he likes it

After a week and a half with the Galaxy Fold, I am convinced of the concept. Expanding a smartphone into a tablet is nice because your text and media can come into their own on a larger screen. For example, I prefer reading De Volkskrant, navigating with Google Maps and using the internet on the larger, square screen. But it is not for nothing that I wrote ‘can’, because most apps and games do not (yet) benefit from the larger, different screen format. They work like on any other phone, although YouTube, Spotify and Netflix, for example, show more playlists / series / films so you have less scrolling. Other apps, including Instagram, do not work properly on the Fold. Instagram Stories are partly out of the picture, a simply annoying bug that hopefully will soon be a thing of the past.

The screen of the Fold (right) shows more info with Google Maps than the Huawei P30 Pro

The 4.6-inch screen on the front shows a sharp HD resolution and looks beautiful thanks to the OLED screen. The smaller size in combination with the elongated 21: 9 ratio make the screen narrow and not pleasant to type on. I notice that I view notifications on the smaller screen, but unfold the Fold to type an answer that is longer than a few words. I make calls with the Fold closed, because the device is then more compact and therefore more pleasant to hold.

Software is not yet ready for foldable telephones

Cool and handy about the Fold is that the software changes between the smaller and larger screen. Use your WhatsApp on the smaller screen and when you open the phone you have the app neatly in large. This also works with the camera app, various Samsung apps and the home screen. However, many other apps are not yet ready to switch screen sizes. If you trade the average app from the smaller one for the large screen, you will see black edges on the sides. Some apps, including, you have to restart every time you open them on a different screen. App developers must solve these problems themselves, but the question is to what extent they will do that. After all, the Fold is a niche product.

Although apps and games don’t work as well as on a normal smartphone, Samsung does have its own software in order. Google’s Android is suitable for folding screens and the Samsung OneUI shell also works great on the Fold. The experience is reminiscent of a Samsung tablet in a smaller format. Conveniently, you can use two apps next to each other on the large screen, or even three if you settle for a smaller display.

No Android 10 yet

The Samsung Galaxy Fold still runs on Android 9.0 (Pie). An update to Android 10 – which was released in August 2019 – will not be delayed. Samsung must undoubtedly test and adjust the software for the folding screen. That makes sense, although it’s a shame that Fold owners have to wait a long time before they can use the latest features and improvements in Android.

Fold has the hardware of a good computer

The Samsung Galaxy Fold runs on the same Exynos processor as the Galaxy S10 series. That processor is very fast and plays all apps and games without any problems. This is also due to the very large working memory of 12GB. The storage memory is also very generous with 512GB. All in all, the hardware of the Fold is not inferior to a decent computer, although the price is of course also there.

Although the specifications of the Fold are excellent, the smartphone does not feel as fast in daily use as the OnePlus 7T Pro or Google Pixel 4. For example, these devices switch more smoothly between recently used programs and apps start up faster. This is probably mainly due to Samsung’s OneUI software shell over Android and not to the hardware.

The Fold (right) next to an iPad Mini

Handy is the support for e-sim, a digital sim card that is slowly emerging in the Netherlands. Points for attention are the lack of a micro SD slot and 3.5 mm headphone jack. At the time of publication, Samsung only sells the Fold with 4G support. A 5G edition is available abroad, but the Netherlands will not receive a 5G network until later this year.

Better battery life than expected

The Fold contains a 4380 mAh battery, which consists of two parts because a battery cannot fold. Considering the two screens, the screen sizes and relatively high resolutions, the battery capacity is very small. Many smartphones with one 6.5-inch screen have the same size of battery. Samsung’s new Galaxy S20 Ultra with 6.9-inch screen even has a 5000 mAh battery. I therefore expected in advance that the Fold would be empty halfway through the day, but nothing turns out to be less true. Somehow the smartphone is very energy efficient and it keeps me well for a long day. Typically, the Fold had twenty to thirty percent power left at bedtime and a four-hour screen-on time.

You can charge the Fold via the supplied 15W plug or a wireless charging station. Wireless charging is slightly slower. If you place a smartphone or gadget with wireless charging support on the back of the Fold, the latter transfers its power to the other device. For example, you can charge the Galaxy Buds or an electric toothbrush. The Fold cannot be used during this loading process because the screen is pointing downwards.

Battery consumption

Cameras from the Galaxy S10

Samsung has placed quite a few cameras in the Fold. Above the smaller screen on the front is a 10 megapixel camera, which is useful if you want to take a selfie quickly. If you unfold the smartphone, you will find two camera lenses in the notch, top right. It is again a 10 megapixel selfie camera, assisted by an 8 megapixel RGB depth sensor. Thanks to this sensor you can shoot creative self-portraits, for example by removing the background or blurring. After some practice, these functions work very well. It’s cool that you can adjust the effects afterwards. Due to the wide format of the phone, it is not always easy to take a selfie. The timer function then offers a solution.

Fold effect 3
Fold effect 1
Fold effect 2

On the back of the Fold is a triple camera, the same as on the Galaxy S10 series. It is a 12 megapixel primary camera, a 12 megapixel telephoto lens for twice optical zoom and a 16 megapixel wide-angle camera to zoom out from 1 (normal image) to 0.5. The wide-angle lens does what it promises: it zooms out the image, so that more fits on your photo. The image quality is fine, provided there is enough (day) light. We think the usefulness of the telephoto lens is limited. Bringing the image closer twice with minimal loss of quality is not much. Although it is better than nothing, devices like the Huawei P30 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra can zoom much further and better.

With the primary camera you can take very colorful and sharp photos during the day. In the dark, the latest iPhones, P30 Pro and S20 series do significantly better. The night mode in the camera app improves the photo performance of the Fold in the dark, although there is a lot of noise visible. The camera app also includes a portrait mode (live focus), in which the camera blurs the background and keeps the person or object in the front of the screen sharp. This usually works well.

Camera 1
Camera 2
Camera 3

Video options

The cameras have different video modes, including 4K at sixty frames per second, super slow-motion and keeping the face of a moving person in focus while the background fades. The latter mode does not always work well, the Fold also films properly. It is very nice that you can switch between the three camera lenses during filming. If you are standing in front of a large building and you start your video with the wide-angle camera, you can switch to the normal lens or the zoom camera in one go. This way you make a more varied video, although you have to take into account very short transitions because of the lens change.

Conclusion: buy Samsung Galaxy Fold?

The Samsung Galaxy Fold is the first folding smartphone that you can buy – after almost a year of delay. Great, but you probably won’t do that. With a suggested retail price of 2020 euros, the device is extremely expensive, even if you now use the latest iPhone. The Fold mainly offers us a glimpse into the future of the smartphone, the smartphone that unfolds into a smaller tablet. An ingenious concept that works well, but still has important disadvantages. For example, the Fold is not water and dust proof, the plastic screen scratches (too) quickly and many apps and games are not yet ready for changing screen sizes. I think it is an achievement that Samsung has managed to put excellent hardware into this foldable device, including a battery that lasts a long day. In any case, the manufacturer deserves a compliment for this innovative device, which is particularly curious about a hopefully cheaper and more robust Fold 2. It appears according to rumors in the summer of 2020.


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