Ten years after launching the first Galaxy smartphone, Samsung is out – yet again – to “set the industry on a new path” with the Galaxy Fold – a fully-functional foldable phone that it is ready to ship to consumers come April 26. And while it does come with its usual baggage of being a first-generation tech (in addition to the fact that, at $1,980 which is roughly 1.5 lakh in INR, it isn’t exactly a cheap product either), the Galaxy Fold sets the stage for the next-generation of mobile devices. It is, as Samsung would like to believe, the next step once smartphone makers are done punching holes and whatnot to achieve the ultimate all-screen smartphone. As it would like to believe, it got their first.
There’s no other way to say it – the Galaxy Fold is straight out of the future. And while structurally it would remind you of the Nokia Communicator of yore, this thing is a whole new breed of ‘foldable.’ One where Samsung has been able to fully bend the display, rather than stapling two in the middle. Even diehard critics will admit, that’s no walk in the park – even for a company like Samsung that is notorious for its curved AMOLED screens.
Samsung, in fact, had to build a whole new kind of display for the Galaxy Fold – called Infinity Flex. The idea seems fairly simple on paper – the Galaxy Fold has been designed to give users access to two categories of devices - a 7.3-inch primary tablet kind and a smaller 4.6-inch phone form factor – all in one device. Like a book, the Galaxy Fold will have a spine or hinge in the middle, only there won’t be a partition on the inside since Samsung’s signature curved OLED or Infinity Flex will simply pass through – hence the name, Galaxy Fold. There will be a secondary cover display on the other (outer) side, that will allow users to continue using the device as a makeshift smartphone for when it is folded.
Even diehard critics will admit, fully bending the display is no walk in the park – even for a company like Samsung that is notorious for its curved AMOLED screens
There have been rumors that Samsung has had a tough time ironing out structural issues with the folding process. The prototype that it had first teased in November last year was seen leaving a crease when folded into its single-hand mode - which invariably meant, it would just split into two at some point of time. Whether or not Samsung has been able to fix the issue is all speculative for now, since the company did not actually put one up on demo at Unpacked for the media to try. But because Samsung has a release date for the Galaxy Fold now, we should give the company the benefit of doubt here – the finished product should be set to high quality standards, as all things Samsung.
Building a device is one thing, building an experience is another. You can make as many foldable devices as you want but no one’s going to buy them, if the user experience is lacking - even more so when it is a niche luxury device like the Galaxy Fold. Samsung says it has worked extensively on the software side so users will be able to seamlessly transition between smartphone and tablet mode on the Galaxy Fold – Samsung is particularly touting app continuity and the ability to run as many as three individual apps simultaneously. But the Galaxy Fold is still an Android-based device at heart (it runs Android 9 pie-based One UI) and Android has had a shoddy history with tablets. Again, whether the Galaxy Fold can offer a pleasurable user experience, is something only time will tell.
Being a high-end Galaxy device means Samsung hasn’t cut any corners with the Galaxy Fold – except that it does not have a headphone jack (which is a bummer, since Samsung is also marketing the Galaxy Fold as a multimedia consumption device with dual AKG speakers to brag) and micro-SD storage expansion. Samsung does not say if the Galaxy Fold is IP-certified either.
The Galaxy Fold is powered by a 7nm processor (possibly the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855), has 12GB RAM and 512GB internal storage, and a total of six cameras (triple rear cameras consisting of one 12MP wide (77-degree field of view) sensor with f/1.5 aperture and dual pixel OIS, a 16MP ultra-wide (123-degree field of view) sensor with f/2.2 aperture and fixed focus, and a 12MP telephoto sensor with OIS, dual front cameras consisting of one 10MP sensor with f/2.2 aperture and a secondary 8MP sensor with f/1.9 aperture, and another 10MP camera on the cover). The Galaxy Fold further packs two batteries which entail in a total battery capacity of 4,380mAh. There’s LTE and support for Samsung Dex as well.
That's all that there is to it. And yet, the Galaxy Fold is a mystery for now. Is it a phone, is it a tablet? Is it more? Samsung is really biting more than it can chew here, and it will be interesting to see if the gamble pays off when the Galaxy Fold starts shipping to consumers. But whatever be the case, the world of tech will cease to exist if it were not for innovation. And the Samsung Galaxy Fold is as innovative as they get in 2019 – at the same time, it is a sneak peek into the future.