Alex Kidman was the tech and telco editor at Finder and is now a freelance technology writer. He's been a technology writer with experience spanning more than 20 years, writing and editing at Gizmodo, CNET, PC Magazine, Kotaku and many more. Alex has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New England and a serious passion for retro gaming.
Alongside its 2019 range of premium Galaxy S10 handsets, Samsung revealed the Galaxy Fold; the company's first foray into foldable displays. Originally set to launch before the middle of the year, production and durability issues saw Samsung make a hasty retreat from those original launch plans, with a September 2019 timeframe now set for the 'new' Galaxy Fold to appear.
Normally, this kind of experimental tech would come with a caution sticker slapped to it or a sacrifice of features and processing power so not to distract from the flagship phones but Samsung seems to be flexing its muscles with the Fold, giving punters a smartphone experience that should combine the best of the Samsung Galaxy S10 and Samsung Galaxy Note 10.
Seamless foldable polymer display
Samsung says it's strengthened the fold and protective cover
Thumb rest fingerprint sensor
Right-aligned notch unfolded, big old bezel in cover mode
While the Galaxy Fold goes toe-to-toe with the S10 range in the technical ring, the unique, flexible display obviously created a long list of design hurdles for the engineering team at Samsung.
When it's fully folded down, the Galaxy Fold's display measures a relatively small 4.6 inches, albeit with a HD+ Super AMOLED display.
There's obvious physical restraints at play when you start to fold a phone back on itself, so in many ways the smaller size of the Galaxy Fold makes sense. Samsung's pitch is that you will use the Fold in cover display for your day-to-day phone tasks; making calls, sending texts and scrolling endlessly through Twitter. The unfolded main display will be used for media experiences like bingeing Netflix and playing games.
One feature you'll find on the Galaxy S10, and even the mid-range Samsung Galaxy A70 that you won't find on the Galaxy Fold is an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. Instead, the Galaxy Fold features a fingerprint scanner on the side of the device where your thumb naturally rests.
The only other design feature from the S10 range missing here is the "hole". The S10 range has replaced last year's obsession with notches with a small hole punched into the top-right of the display for the front-facing camera.
In cover display mode, the smaller, utilitarian display gives us one of the biggest bezels we've seen in a long time from Samsung. On the unfolded primary display it keeps the notch, except this time it's a wide, right-aligned notch.
As mentioned above, the Samsung Fold has two display sizes that sit either side of the S10; the compact 4.6-inch cover display and the 7.3-inch main display. The cover display is sporting HD+ Super AMOLED with a 21:9 aspect ratio while the main display has a Quad HD "QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED" display with a 4.2:3 aspect ratio.
Those curious about colour will be happy to know the Fold will be available in four variants: Space Silver, Cosmos Black, Martian Green and Astro Blue. At the time of writing, there's no indication of which colours we'll get in Australia.
The bigger design story -- and one that Samsung is no doubt not that happy to be telling -- is that the Galaxy Fold was set to make its Australian debut by the middle of 2019, following earlier launches in the USA and South Korea. However, at the last minute, Samsung pulled the Galaxy Fold from sale in those locations.
That was because early review samples sent out to media and influencers in those countries displayed significant issues, including screen flickering, foreign matter getting "into" the display and in some cases, total screen breakdown.
This sent Samsung back to the drawing board, but it's now announced that the "new" Galaxy Fold is a stronger and more resilient unit. Samsung says it's substantially redesigned the Galaxy Fold to deal with these kinds of issues, with improvements stated to include:
The top protective layer of the Infinity Flex Display has been extended beyond the bezel, making it apparent that it is an integral part of the display structure and not meant to be removed.
Galaxy Fold features additional reinforcements to better protect the device from external particles while maintaining its signature foldable experience: The top and bottom of the hinge area have been strengthened with newly added protection caps.
Additional metal layers underneath the Infinity Flex Display have been included to reinforce the protection of the display.
The space between the hinge and body of Galaxy Fold has been reduced.
Hopefully, this time, Samsung has got its folding phone recipe right.
Rear triple camera with 16MP ultra wide (F2.2.), 12MP wide angle (Dual Pixel AF, OIS, F1.5, F2.4) and 12MP telephoto camera (PDAF, OIS, F2.4, 2X optical zoom)
Front 10MP selfie camera (F2.2), 8MP RGB depth camera (F1.9)
Cover camera (folded) front-facing 10MP (F2.2)
When you make a phone that can fold, you open up quite a few new possibilities in terms of camera placement. We're used to having front and back camera arrays on phones these days, but the Fold takes this to a third dimension, thanks to the folding mechanism.
The Galaxy Fold features a 10MP selfie camera on the cover display, but also a front dual camera (10MP selfie/8MP RGB depth lens) when unfolded. Around the back either in folded or unfolded mode you'll find a rear triple camera with a 16MP ultra wide 123-degree angle lens, a 12MP wide-angle camera with dual pixel autofocus, optic image stabilisation (OIS) and f1.4/f2.4 aperture.
While we've not been able to substantially test out the Galaxy Fold's camera prowess just yet, it's basically rocking the same rear and front-facing camera array as the S10 and S10+, plus one more camera. That should give it plenty of scope for superior camera performance.
7nm 64-bit Octa-core processor
512GB internal memory, no microSD slot
Samsung's original spec sheet lists a 7nm 64-bit Octa-core processor, which could point to the same mix of Snapdragon 855 and Exynos 9820 as found on the Galaxy S10 phones. Then again, the delay while Samsung worked out the durability kinks could see it up the ante with something just a little bit faster again. We'll have to wait and see.
On the RAM side, it should be packing 12GB of RAM, making it the effective equivalent of the Samsung Galaxy S10+. That's quite hefty, and should put it amongst the best performers in the Android space.
It's a slightly less compelling story on the storage front. While the Galaxy S10+ punches up towards 1TB of storage, as long as you're willing to pay for it, the Galaxy Fold's specification sheet mentions only a 512GB storage model. What's more, like the Galaxy S10 5G, there's no capability for microSD expansion. Again, this may change in the "final" model, depending on how Samsung's redesigned its internal components, but we wouldn't bet on it.
One benefit of the Galaxy Fold's delay comes on the software side. It's an Android 9.0 device, but Samsung stated at launch that it had worked hard on software experiences that would make the most of its folding form factor and expanded screen size. That's work that has progressed behind the scenes even with the delay, with Samsung stating that it "has also been continuously working to improve the overall Galaxy Fold user experience, including optimizing more apps and services for its unique foldable UX."
Wireless charging and fast charging supported
A folding phone requires a rather particular approach to battery life, and not just because there's a bendy bit in the middle. That larger display also requires plenty of power to keep it going, although not as much as on other Galaxy models Samsung's releasing this year. The Galaxy Fold featuresa 4,380mAh dual-battery system to power both displays.
We'll have to test the Galaxy Fold to see how well it stands up to daily use, especially as this year's Galaxy S10 phones have generally had disappointing battery life. You will at least be able to quickly recharge the Galaxy Fold via wired or wireless means. It's even going to feature the "Powershare" feature, becoming a foldable Qi charging mat for your other devices. Samsung would no doubt prefer you were charging up a set of Galaxy Bud headphones rather than an iPhone XS, but it'll never know what you choose to do anyway.
The Fold's early missteps have a single chance of success
The Galaxy Fold was a real attention-grabber when Samsung showed it off at the Galaxy S10 "unpacked" event. The hype level was through the roof, and reports suggest that pre-sale orders were completely oversold in the US prior to its launch.
Then its launch didn't happen, because it simply wasn't robust enough.
That puts the Galaxy Fold under a different kind of pressure, because much of that early hype has definitely faded. There's a lot of potential in foldable phones, and the Galaxy Fold is Samsung's first proper step into that market.
Having stumbled once, however, it has its work cut out for it to convince consumers to part with their hard-earned cash for it. That's especially true as its delayed release schedule means it'll ship well after the Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10e, Galaxy S10+, Galaxy S10 5G and even the upcoming Galaxy Note 10 phones.
That's a lot of premium Android handsets to compete with, and at a price point that's going to be well above any of them.
Pricing and availability
Buy the Samsung Galaxy S10 128GB from Amazon AU
Samsung's Galaxy S10 features an in-screen ultrasonic fingerprint sensor and a pin-hole selfie camera, providing more room for its 6.1-inch screen to shine. Get yours now from Amazon Australia.
But no word yet on when we'll be able to Fold our phones Down Under. Read more…
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