I'll say it: The Samsung Galaxy Fold is not just a gimmick. I spent 30 minutes with the phone, finally released after months of controversy, and now I really want to buy one.
Before this, I didn't want to buy one. I didn't know how a foldable phone would be significantly different from the Galaxy S10 5G I already own. If I need a tablet experience, I can always just use my iPad mini. On top of that, the phone is really expensive.
But my opinion changed once I got to spend some time with the device.
First, I think it's important to point out that the Galaxy Fold doesn't feel cheap at all. It's quite sturdy, which you might not expect from a phone that folds up like this.
While the Fold feels heavier than my S10, it's not too heavy (276g, to be precise). I can feel the phone is built to a high standard, on par with the iPhone X. The stainless steel on the sides feels nice when you're gripping the phone, and the shiny back design is beautiful. But it's also a fingerprint magnet.
Unfolding the phone feels kind of like opening up a Nintendo 3DS, except the dual-axis hinge on the Galaxy Fold feels much more sturdy. It's definitely built to last. Fold it back up and the phone snaps shut with a satisfying click, which I really like.
I was really concerned about the hinge at first, as this is the part that is most likely to be damaged over long-term use. During my time with the phone, though, it felt capable of surviving repeated folding and unfolding. But I'm not sure what happens if you drop the phone…
The Galaxy Fold has two screens: The 4.6-inch Super AMOLED display is on the front when folded up and the 7.3-inch Dynamic AMOLED display is on the other side when it's open.
Watching videos on the Galaxy Fold is really enjoyable. The larger display offers an experience you can't get on other smartphones. And even though the screen is a bit smaller than the one on the iPad mini, the colors are richer and the blacks are deeper thanks to that AMOLED display. The audio from the built-in speakers also sounds rich and got pretty loud in my testing.
Of course, the one issue that everyone will notice with this phone is the crease on the foldable display. Looking from an angle, the crease running down the middle of the screen is very noticeable. Thankfully, when you're watching video head-on, you're less likely to notice it.
The larger display isn't just good for video, though. It also works great for multitasking, like Split View on the iPad. I didn't notice any lag while running Google Chrome and YouTube side-by-side.
The experience is flawless, with apps opening and resizing promptly. The feature is so compelling that it's a major reason I wish I had a Galaxy Fold for myself.
Another benefit of the larger display is getting a better view of all those beautiful photos you're taking with the device's myriad cameras.
In total, the Galaxy Fold has six cameras. The main three are on the back, and they include an ultra-wide angle lens, a standard wide lens and a telephoto lens.
On the front of the phone, there's a selfie camera located above the 4.6-inch display. Then there's another two above the larger display at the top-right corner when you unfold the phone. One is a depth-sensing camera to get that background blur effect when you need the perfect artistic selfie.
As a filmmaker, a display larger than 7 inches comes in useful when framing shots while shooting video. And the display gives me a much clearer look at how photos and videos will turn out.
When it comes to selfies, though, it makes more sense to use the front camera when the phone is folded since it's easier to hold that way. While the larger screen is nicer when it comes to framing a selfie, the Galaxy Fold is harder to hold with one hand when while unfolded.
Even though I only had half an hour with the Galaxy Fold, I enjoyed all 30 minutes. Samsung really did pull off a device that could conceivably replace both my phone and tablet. Since the phone will soon be competing against the Huawei Mate X, it's at least good to know the basic value proposition of foldable smartphones works.
I would definitely consider buying a Galaxy Fold if it weren't for one little thing holding me back: That US$1,980 price tag. Maybe when the Galaxy Fold 2 comes out, I'll have the chance to pick up the first-generation device at a nice discount. There's always next year!
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