This is one of the most difficult reviews I’ve written. Partly because it’s rushed, and partly because I’m just utterly not in love with this product. And bloody hell it’s hard for me not to love any new tech.
Let me try break it down into its many parts, basically, this is a quickfire train of thoughts:)
This is unique, there’s nothing other than that can be said.
The outside of the hinge is impressive with its very Chrome look – the big Samsung logo stands out on the fold.
Strangely the front and back covers a different colours which looks weird when it’s open but not a problem when it’s closed.
They’ve done this to disguise how small the front screen is compared to the overall body size – I get that, but it creates a strange look when it’s open.
It is fingerprint heavy to the extreme, so I’ve chosen to put the included case on – which has a carbon fibre look to it and frankly it doesn’t add much bulk to it.
That included cover (front and back) makes it much more usable phone because I’m less stressed about that outside screen and surfaces scratching – this is a $3,000 phone after all.
My problem really is its just huge fat and heavy. It’s obscure, and that makes it very weird to hold and get used to but I’m not sure how they would have done a different design using this form factor. This is a first-generation kind of issue – I cannot wait to see the evolution of folding phones.
Well, this is the good news – battery life is exceptional.
I have used this for several days but on the main day that I used it literally all day, I got up at 5 a.m. I wasn’t at home at all during the day and ended the day home at 11:30 p.m.
Down to about 15 to 20% on an all-day workout – I’ve got to be honest – that’s not something I’d normally see on any other phone.
So there’s no doubt we can say the battery on this thing is an all-day battery and given them the size of the screen and the capabilities of the device that’s a good thing.
I like a small screen, I’ve never been a big fan of the plus-sized phones. I quite enjoy the smaller sized phone’s and I think I would happily go back to my iPhone 5S if I could get today’s camera and performance from it.
But I guess we’ve all moved on from that now. However, the front screen on this is difficult to use. A very narrow screen makes things seem squashed, and while you get used to it there is something very strange about the look of it with the massive top forehead and chin below the screen.
Combined, that really makes it a little bit unappealing to look at.
First and foremost you don’t see the fold. It is obvious on some angles and some light but in actual daily normal use looking at web pages looking at videos you don’t notice it. You really have to seek it out to see it and that’s a good thing.
That itself is a testament to this new technology and you have to remember this whole thing is genuinely new and I think we should keep in mind that simple fact at all points throughout this, because this is the first generation of something that will last decades in my view.
What’s interesting to me is that the camera notch on this screen is unnecessary. There must have been a way to make that work without that camera notch.
Obviously it could have been a hole punch like the Galaxy S10 on this new advanced screen technology – however, even making the screen smaller would have looked better than having the notch which kind-of obscures everything from gaming to videos in some cases.
Quality wise it is excellent. Colour is bright and true and the ability to transfer an app you are using from the outside screen to the inside screen is genuinely user-friendly.
This is particularly true for things like email, maps, web pages and text messaging.
I really enjoyed opening up and getting an extra space.
However, you don’t get any extra “space” on pages. On a web page sometimes more text appears on an iPhone, and Instragam is just strange – it’s like those apps need a new Fold layout where you get more in smaller blocks.
I just expected to “see more” when I opened up – but alas, I didn’t.
Don’t even think about viewing Insta Stories on the inside screen – you’re missing out on content.
The thing here is, I’m not really sure that it won’t get very dusty because it’s not a complete closure there is a gap on the fold because it’s kind of a wedge-shaped closure.
Several times this week I noticed dust on the inside screen when I open it up so that worries me a bit.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see on that over a longer period of usage
Yep you can use 3 apps at one time on one large screen.
However, I’ve not done it in normal use – only for testing.
I’ve not found myself wanting to do it, plus if you watching a video and you open up the other screens the video becomes tiny. If you’re reading your emails it would be very hard to not get distracted by the other things.
So while it’s physically possible – I don’t fully understand the use cases for it.
For the most part, I think we’re not multitasking on our smart devices so while it works, I’m not sure if it’s a selling feature
Opening the fold
It is certainly not a one-handed operation.
You need two hands to open this device.
Interestingly if you haven’t seen it open before, a couple of people I’ve handed it to have opened it backwards with the screen facing out.
Once you realise it opens like a book and that you need two hands to do it you get very used to it very quickly.
There’s a definite friction to the early part of the hinge movement which stops it just flapping open. When you open past that immediate notch in the hinge you really can feel it open up.
It doesn’t flip-open but it does push itself out very quickly and you do need to use fingers on the back to actually straighten it out and give you that flat inside screen.
Closing the fold
Again not really a one-handed motion.
It is possible with the right force in the right place, maybe using your thumb into the centre of the screen – but it’s easier just two hands in most cases.
I know this will really matter to some people – there is a very satisfying click as it seems to clip together magnetically – though I think it’s more likely as a result of a hinge mechanism on the device.
After doing some work on the train or the bus or wherever you were doing – that click is relatively satisfying.
Holding the fold
I’m not sure how to hold it. When you’re sitting there with an open screen holding it, you kind of have your pinky fingers holding it from falling down.
It’s also a new and less common feeling typing on such a big screen – almost as if thumbs aren’t the right choice.
I feel like as we Darwin’s theory of evolution is changing our thumb usage because of how we use smartphones so this is just going to change it all over again so strange.
Watching a video is a one-handed hold – it’s not so heavy that that’s a drama. In fact, watching a video is one of the best experiences on the device. Also, when you have a web page open that you want to read, you can hold it with one hand and “thumb” through the page.
I/You just need to accept that this is a new feeling, a new approach, a different way of doing things – again, a longer period of time might make this more natural.
In the pocket
Nope Nope Nope. Not once did it feel comfortable to me. In suit pants it felt far too big and heavy. In a suit pocket the same.
I let plenty of people hold it and try it in their pocket, none felt comfortable. Again, it’s a big change – it’s a radical new shape. Will we get used to it? Maybe. Will the form factor change and reduce in size over the years ahead – for sure.
But for now, this is one deal-breaker for me. It’s just too big and clunky to be a daily carry given I don’t carry a bag or backpack with me everywhere.
The first phone call I took, the person on the other end actually commented on how great the call sounded.
Seems strange to mention this, but it’s not something we bother to test much any more. HD voice and it’s use across the industry is a big part of that, but the device also needs to have a good microphone and earpeice and this does.
This is a Galaxy Smartphone. The camera is excellent, top notch, Triple lens on the back with ultra-wide and telephoto options, and selfie cameras for when the device is either open or shut – there’s a camera on every surface.
I can’t see any fault with the camera up against all the flagship phones on the market – which is great considering the price, and the Galaxy Fold offers one massive advantage over all other devices – the viewing screen.
You don’t need to use it to take the photos – taking photos with the Fold closed still uses the primary cameras. But once taken, open her up and flick through your shots for a great view.
Here’s some comparison shots – taken on Fold:
Same shot on iPhone 11 Pro Max:
In Ultra wide, the Fold:
And on the iPhone 11 Pro Max:
In both cases I’d say the colour was richer in the iPhone, but on the originals I have, the detail was just as good on the Samsung Galaxy Fold.
Here’s one you might not have thought of – it’s awkward in a car mount. My mount struggled with the weight – I found it better using the clamp higher up the phone, but that meant the clamp pressing the side buttons.
I managed to find a way to make it work, but still, you end up with this huge device in front of you, and your maps are on this tiny screen – and seem squashed given what we’re used to.
Charging and Payments
Strangely I doubted whether the Galaxy Fold would have Wireless Charging and Samsung Pay. Perhaps in my mind all the tech that went into creating it meant a compromise – not so.
Samsung Pay works a treat on the device, and wireless charging too. Though you need to make sure you find the sweet spot – on such a tall device it’s possible to have it on a charger but not actually charging.
Should you buy one?
Ahh, the $2,999 question.
For the dollar, you get a fully-featured flagship phone, and a set of Samsung Galaxy Buds (included in the box) and a protective cover for front and back.
Putting that in perspective, the most expensive iPhone is $2499 and it doesn’t fold open – makes the Galaxy Fold look like a bargain!
Personally, If I had the cash to spare, I’d buy one in a heartbeat. But I wouldn’t use it for more than a few weeks. I’d keep the box nice and perfect, I’d show off to anyone I could that I had the device, then I’d box it up and put it in a time capsule for ten years – this thing is a game-changer for smartphones and in a few years we’ll look back at this as a first of it’s kind, of that I have no doubt.
However, If I was upgrading my phone on a plan and wanted this as my primary device, you’d really have to be someone who is on the train a lot reading or watching content, and someone that doesn’t carry your device around in your pockets.
I love it for the technological innovation that shines from it. I love it as a game-changer for the future of smart devices. But I couldn’t use it as a phone every day, and I don’t think I’ve ever said that about a device before.
Trev is a Technology Commentator, Dad, Speaker and Rev Head.
He produces and hosts two popular podcasts, EFTM and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He also appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the resident Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show each day and appears regularly on A Current Affair.
Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.