News: Meet Samsung's Crazy, Innovative & Flawed Galaxy Fold

Meet Samsung's Crazy, Innovative & Flawed Galaxy Fold

After years of rumors and waiting, Samsung's first foldable smartphone is finally a reality. The phone itself is a bit wild, but with Samsung going so far out of their comfort zone with this one, there were some bumps in the road that caused a delayed release. The launch has been pushed back yet again, but when it does hit stores, it could end up being one of the most influential devices in years.

Thinking of Samsung Galaxy Fold in the same fashion as the Samsung Galaxy S10 is unfair. With this new form factor comes growing pains, particularly the software, which is currently not fully optimized for a bendable display (though Samsung did work with Google to ensure Android would still be fairly cohesive). So like the early days of Android, the Galaxy Fold is a solid phone, but one designed more for first adopters than those looking to replace the Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9+.

Galaxy Fold Highlights

Jump to a section: Dates | Storage | Price | Body | Basics | Software | Skin | Display | Performance | Battery | Front Camera | Rear Camera | Audio | Media Formats | Sensors | Connectivity | Security | Box Includes

Important Dates

The Samsung Galaxy Fold was announced alongside the Galaxy S10 lineup on February 20, 2019. Originally, it was set to be available on April 26, but several faulty review units forced Samsung to delayed the launch until they could address the problem.

Starting September 2, 2019, you can now pre-register for the phone. Pre-registering is different from preordering, as it only puts you in line to preorder it, not actually buy the phone. Samsung canceled all preorders from AT&T and Samsung to "rethink the entire customer experience." As a consolidation prize for preorder, Samsung offered customer $250 credit at the Samsung store.

The phone will release on September 27. It will available at select AT&T and Best Buy Stores as well as Samsung Experience Stores. At Best Buy and Samsung, you can purchase the GSM Unlocked version of the phone while AT&T will carry the carrier-branded version.

  • Release date: Sept. 27, 2019
  • Preorder date: N/A
  • Announced: Feb. 20, 2019

Storage Capacity

The Galaxy Fold comes with 512 GB of storage. It uses the new UFS 3.0 standard which offers over 2x the bandwidth per lane, which is once again two.

  • Storage available: 512 GB
  • Expandable storage: no

Price for Everything

Remember when $1,000 was considered a lot for a phone? Think again. The Samsung Galaxy Fold will launch at an outlandish $1,979.99. While this price tag will provide top-tier specs across the board, it might be the most expensive phone to release this year (except for special edition variants).

To combat the bad press over the failure of the original release, Samsung includes a post-purchase service with each phone. Known as the Galaxy Fold Premier Service, it gives customers tech support 24/7. Outside of this "Premier Service," you can the standard one year warranty with one screen replacement for $149. However, this is limited to those who purchase the phone before December 31, 2019.

  • Price: $1,979.99
  • Manufacturer protection: Premier Service (free)

Body

The Samsung Galaxy Fold will come in two colors: Space Silver and Cosmos Black. Previously, Samsung had two more colors, Martian Green, and Astro Blue, but it appears they were cut in the re-release. Martian Green and Astro Blue can come with either a Gold Hinge or a Dark Silver Hinge.

There are two physical buttons, the volume rocker, and the power button. The side-mounted fingerprint scanner doubles as the Bixby button, so be aware you will access Bixby accidentally a lot.

  • Frame: aluminum
  • Finish: Space Silver, Cosmos Black
Image via Samsung Newsroom

Basics

The Galaxy Fold is similar to a book with the front and back covers connected by the hinge. Because of this (and the limitations of foldable OLED panels), it isn't perfectly flat when folded. Instead, it makes a somewhat triangle, with the hinge being the thickest part at 0.67 inches, and the ends being a bit thinner at 0.61 inches. This also applies when unfolded, as the frame is actually a bit thicker than the screen by about 0.3 inches.

Be aware it is also a pretty heavy phone at 9.28 oz. That is one of the heaviest phones on the market, adding an average of about 2–3 oz over other flagship phones. So if weight is an issue, you might want to avoid this phone.

According to Droid-Life, it will work with all four major US carriers including Verizon and Sprint (although this hasn't been confirmed). AT&T and T-Mobile will definitely work as Best Buy and Samsung will sell the GSM Unlocked version.

  • Height: 6.33 inches
  • Width: 4.64 inches (unfolded), 2.48 inches (folded)
  • Depth: 0.30 inches (unfolded), 0.67 inches (folded)
  • Weight: 9.28 oz
  • Dust/water resistance: unknown
  • Supported carriers: Verizon (unofficially), Sprint (unofficially), AT&T (officially), T-Mobile (unofficially)
  • Infrared blaster: no

Software

The Galaxy Fold will run Android 9.0 Pie, the latest version of Android. There are over 40 changes with this new version, including a focus on improving privacy and security. With Android 10 out and Samsung already testing out the feature on the Galaxy Note 10 series, expect Samsung to update the Galaxy Fold by the year-end.

  • Version: Android 9.0 Pie

Skin

Running on top of Android 9.0 Pie is Samsung's One UI 1.0. This skin is the successor to Samsung Experience and brings a dramatic new design to the UI, one that better reflects the design language of stock Android. Nearly every Samsung app has been redesigned with this new look, including the phone app and the messaging app.

  • Version: One UI 1.0

Display

When folded, the Galaxy Fold is has a rather small display of only 4.6 inches. This screen also has a low resolution of 1680 x 720 and an aspect ratio of 21:9, the ratio of choice for most modern films. Unlike the main display, it is a standard Super AMOLED, so its quality should be closer to the Galaxy S9 and Note 9 than the Galaxy S10+.

However, when unfolded, you will find a 7.3-inch Dynamic AMOLED display. It has a resolution of 2152 x 1536 with an aspect ratio of 4.2:3. There is a notch, but it is in the right-hand corner instead of the typical center position.

Images by MKBHD/YouTube
  • Screen size: 7.3 inches (unfolded), 4.6 inches (folded)
  • Screen resolution: 2152 x 1536 (unfolded), 1680 x 720 pixels (folded)
  • Total pixels: 3,305,472 (unfolded), 1,209,600 pixels (folded),
  • Pixel density: 399 ppi (unfolded), 362 ppi (folded)
  • Screen type: Dynamic AMOLED (unfolded), Super AMOLED (folded)
  • Notch: yes (unfolded)
  • Screen-to-body ratio: unknown
  • Aspect ratio: 4.2:3 (unfolded ), 21:9 (folded),
  • Minimum brightness: unknown
  • Maximum brightness:unknown
  • Refresh rate: 60 Hz (also 60 Hz for touch-sensing)
  • Color temp: unknown
  • Color gamut: unknown

During its initial release, several reviewers' models had defects. The Verge's Dieter Bohn had a broken screen after just one day, while Mark Gurman and Steve Kovach reported similar issues. This caused the phone's delay. However, Samsung has made several changes to prevent dust from getting in and preventing accident peeling of the screen's protective layer.

Performance

The Samsung Galaxy Fold is a powerhouse with a 7 nm Octa-core processor (which is either the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 or Exynos 9820 depending on the market) and 12 GB of RAM. The latter will come in handy when taking advantage of three-screen split-screen mode, allowing you to interact with three apps at the same time.

  • Memory: 12 GB RAM
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
  • Chip size: 7 nanometer
  • CPU frequency: 2.84 GHz (1 Gold) + 2.41 GHz (3 Golds) + 1.78GHz (4 Silvers)
  • CPU cores: 8 (4 Gold + 4 Silver)
  • GPU: Adreno 640

Battery

By combining two batteries, Samsung is able to adequately power the Galaxy Fold while not having to invent bendable batteries. These two batteries together offer an impressive 4,380 mAh. The 5G model will have a smaller battery at 4,235 mAh. Despite Samsung recent advancement in fast charging, the Galaxy Fold will use the much slower Adaptive Fast Charging that offers Quick Charge 2.0's speeds. Wireless charging via Qi charging is supported but it too uses the slower standard.

  • Battery: two rechargeable lithium-ion
  • Capacity: 4,380 mAh (LTE model), 4,235 mAh (5G model)
  • Wired charging: yes, Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging
  • Wireless charging: yes, wireless charging
  • Reverse Wireless charing: yes, PowerShare

Front Camera

The Galaxy Fold has a total of six cameras, three of which are front-facing. There is a single front-facing camera when folded which has a ƒ/2.2 aperture and 10 MP resolution. When unfolded, there are two more selfie cameras, one of which is an 8 MP RGB Depth camera. The main unfolded selfie camera is a 10 MP shooter.

  • Resolution: 10 MP (folded) + 10 MP and 8 MP (unfolded)
  • Aperture: ƒ/2.2(folded) + ƒ/2.2 and ƒ/1.9 (unfolded)
  • Zoom: unknown
  • Flash: screen flash
  • Image stabilization: unknown
  • RAW support: unknown
  • Object detection: unknown
  • Formats: unknown
Images by MKBHD/YouTube

Rear Camera

On the back is a triple camera array very similar to the Galaxy S10+. The primary camera is an ultrawide 16 MP camera with ƒ/2.2 aperture. Next to it is an optically stabilized 12 MP wide-angle camera. However, unlike the other two cameras, this one has use dual aperture technology, allowing it to adjust between ƒ/1.5 or ƒ/2.4 depending on the situation. This lens also uses Samsung's new Super Speed Dual Pixel autofocus. Finally, there is a 12 MP telephoto camera that is also optically stabilized and has an aperture of ƒ/2.4.

With these lenses, you're capable of zooming in from 0.5x to 10x, with all zooming after 2x being digital zoom.

Image by MKBHD/YouTube
  • Resolution: 16 MP + 12 MP + 12 MP
  • Sensor size: unknown
  • Aperture: ƒ/2.2 + ƒ/1.5/2.4 + ƒ/2.4
  • Zoom: yes, 2x optical, 10x digital
  • Flash: yes, high CRI LED
  • Image stabilization: yes, wide-angle and telephoto
  • RAW support: yes
  • Lens cover: unknown
  • Object detection: unknown
  • Formats: JPEG, RAW

As far as video recording, the Galaxy Fold is capable of the same stellar performance previously only found on the Galaxy S10 lineup. This includes 4K recording up to 60 fps, Super Slow Motion at 960 fps for 0.4 seconds at 720p, 240 fps slow-motion video at 1080p, and much more. Video recording is also electronically stabilized with what Samsung is calling Video Digital Image Stabilization (or VDIS). The 10x digital zoom is also available, along with the 0.5x–2x optical zoom.

  • Resolution: 720p, 1080p, 2160p (4K)
  • Max frame rate: 720p up to 30 fps, 1080p up to 60 fps, 4K up to 60fps
  • Slow motion: 120 fps at 720p and 1080p, 240 fps at 720p and 1080p, 480 fps at 720p (0.8s), 960 fps at 720p (0.4s)
  • Time-lapse: yes, 1080p
  • Photos: 9.1 MP (when recording a 4K video)
  • Zoom: 2x optical, 10x digital
  • Flash access: yes, High CRI LED Flash
  • Image stabilization: yes, optical (telephoto, wide-angle), digital (all lens)
  • Object detection: unknown
  • Autofocus: yes, tracking
  • Audio: Stereo
  • Formats: H.264, H.265 (HEVC)

Audio

The Galaxy Fold has stereo speakers which sport Dolby Atmos technology. It does not have a headphone jack, but comes with Samsung's wireless Galaxy Buds for free.

Image by MKBHD/YouTube
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack: no
  • Stereo speakers: yes
  • Mics: unknown
  • Max speaker volume: unknown

Media Formats

The Samsung Galaxy Fold supports the usual list of audio and video file types, including Hi-Fi audio files such as FLAC, and higher quality video file types such as MKV. It supports ultra high quality audio, including the ability to convert low-quality sound to ultra high quality using a UHQ Upscaler feature in Settings.

  • Audio: MP3, M4A, 3GA, AAC, OGG, OGA, WAV, WMA, AMR, AWB, FLAC, MID, MIDI, XMF, MXMF, IMY, RTTTL, RTX, OTA, APE, DSF, DFF
  • Video: MP4, M4V, 3GP, 3G2, WMV, ASF, AVI, FLV, MKV, WEBM

Sensors

The Fold supports the usual set of sensors. One unique addition is the RGB Light Sensor which will allow it to calibrate the temperature of the display based on your surroundings.

  • Accelerometer: yes
  • Ambient light: yes
  • Barometer: yes
  • Color temperature: yes
  • Compass: yes
  • Gravity: no
  • Gyroscope: yes
  • Hall: yes
  • Infrared: no
  • Laser: no
  • Pedometer: no
  • Proximity: yes

As far as satellite navigation systems, besides QZSS, the Galaxy Fold supports all of the popular navigation systems ensuring a smooth experience for location tracking worldwide.

  • GPS: yes
  • aGPS: yes
  • Glonass: yes
  • BeiDou: yes
  • Galileo: yes
  • QZSS: no

Connectivity

The Galaxy Fold supports up to Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and is backward compatible with older wireless standards. It also supports Bluetooth 5. Additionally, unlike some phones, it supports dual audio, a feature added with Bluetooth 5 which lets you share your music to two different Bluetooth devices. The USB-C port supports video out via DisplayPort and HDMI with the appropriate cable.

As far as cellular technology, there will be both an LTE model and a 5G model. The LTE model will use Cat.18 for up to 1.2 Gbps download speed, and 150 Mbps upload speed. The 5G modem will be a non-standalone, Sub6/mmWave.

The 5G model will be a single SIM phone while the LTE model can come in a dual SIM variant, depending on the market.

  • Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4/ 5GHz), HE80 MIMO, 1024QAM
  • Bluetooth: 5
  • NFC: yes
  • Cellular: nano-SIM and eSIM (LTE), nano-SIM (5G)
  • Port: USB-C

Security

The Galaxy Fold uses a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, similar to the S10e. This way, you can easily unlock your device when folded or unfolded. It will have Knox protection which protects the phone against tampering of the hardware and software. Additionally, there is free malware protection provided by McAfee.

As with all new Samsung devices, you also have access to the Secure Folder, an app which let you can place apps, photos, and videos in the Trusted Executed Environment, separating them from the OS while remaining accessible.

  • Fingerprint scanner: yes, side-mounted
  • Face scanner: no
  • Iris scanner: no
  • Manual authentication: password, PIN, passcode, pattern, swipe

Box Includes

Besides the phone, charger and cable, you also get a free pair of Galaxy Buds as a way to make up for the lack of a headphone jack. There is also a SIM ejection tool and a slim cover.

Cover image via MKBHD/YouTube

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