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Samsung Galaxy Fold review: Hands on with Samsung’s revamped foldable

Price when reviewed 
1,900
inc VAT

After going back to the drawing board, is there still space for the Galaxy Fold in your pocket?

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Samsung’s Galaxy Fold hasn’t had the best start in life. Originally planned for an April release, Samsung was forced to prematurely pull the plug after early review samples of the device experienced significant screen and hardware malfunctions. All preorders were swiftly cancelled, Samsung’s press department entered lockdown, and the Galaxy Fold quietly drifted from view.

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Since then, however, Samsung has had a bit of a rethink and the Galaxy Fold is back in the public eye. Reappearing at IFA 2019, the Korean tech giant is rightly keen to get the Galaxy Fold out into the shops as soon as possible – preferably before Huawei’s similarly foldable Mate X pips it to the post.

Samsung Galaxy Fold review: UK release date, price and specifications

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset
  • 12GB of RAM
  • 512GB of storage
  • Front camera: 10MP, f/2.2
  • Internal camera: 10MP, f/2.2 and 8MP, f/1.9 depth
  • Rear camera: Triple 16MP, ultra-wide f/2.2 and 12MP wide-angle, f/1.5-f/2.3 and 12MP 2x telephoto with optical zoom
  • Front display: 4.6in, 21:9, 1,680 x 720 Super AMOLED
  • Internal display: 7.3in, 14:10, 1,536 x 2,152 Dynamic AMOLED
  • 4,380mAh battery
  • Price: £1,900
  • Release date: 18 September

Samsung Galaxy Fold review: Design, key features and first impressions

We caught our first glimpse of the Galaxy Fold almost seven months ago, but Samsung’s IFA conference provided the first opportunity to actually use the device. I was convinced that Samsung had little faith in its bendy handset, previously limiting its appearances to behind-closed-doors demo sessions.

Regardless, Samsung is finally ready to show off its foldable phone ahead of the new launch date – for real this time – and I was fortunate enough to get a space in the queue and try one out at the Samsung booth, even if it was merely for a few minutes before finally being whisked away.

From the get-go, it’s clear that Samsung has addressed those early dependability concerns. The manufacturer has reinforced the screen, which should help prevent the permanent display-creasing issues that plagued the original device, and the phone’s hinge is now covered at the top and bottom to stop dust and dirt finding its way in between the chassis and the underside of the display.

Another problem with the original Galaxy Fold was that the protective layer on top of the screen could easily be removed – being mistaken for a screen protector – exposing the display to the elements and thus being more prone to scratches and scrapes. According to Samsung, however, that protective layer isn’t so easy to remove this time around.

Of course, only time will tell if all of these fixes are enough to help keep your expensive Galaxy Fold in pristine condition during the full length of your two-year contract, but this is certainly a step in the right direction.

Elsewhere, the Galaxy Fold is every bit as unique as I hoped it would be. This isn’t your typical smartphone – it has a small 4.6in, 1,680 x 720 resolution screen on the cover when folded, which allows you to use it as a traditional handset, but the big highlight is what’s inside when you fold it open.

Open it up like a book, flatten it out and you’re greeted with a massive 7.3in, 2,152 x 1,536, Dynamic AMOLED display. You can use this monster 4:3 aspect ratio screen to display up to three apps at any time, for instance, or simply use it to play games on a bigger screen. It’s unclear how many apps will support this rarely-used aspect ratio at launch, though.

It’s certainly an intriguing gimmick, but this technology is still in its infancy. Despite Samsung going back to the drawing board, the internal screen still creases in the middle, and the device isn’t particularly small or lightweight, either. All those added components have clearly necessitated an increase in the phone’s overall dimensions, and it simply isn’t as pocketable as other smartphones on the market.

As for everything else, the Galaxy Fold is fitted with a barrage of cameras. There’s a 10-megapixel lens on the cover, a 10-megapixel camera and an 8-megapixel depth-sensing lens on the inside, and a 16-megapixel camera on the back, alongside a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens and a 2x telephoto zoom camera.

Powering the Galaxy Fold is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 chipset, with a generous 12GB of RAM for multitasking and 512GB of non-expandable storage. A large 4,380mAh battery keeps things ticking along too.

Samsung Galaxy Fold review: Early verdict

My time spent with the Galaxy Fold may have been brief, but it was certainly an interesting experience. The market is saturated with identikit devices at the moment, so it’s rather refreshing to try something completely different from the norm – even if I do think it’s a little bit silly at this early stage.

Is this where smartphone design is ultimately headed? Well, I have my reservations at the moment. The Galaxy Fold is functional enough, but I'm not entirely convinced that other manufacturers will follow suit with such a costly design overhaul. I’m willing to make do with my bog-standard rectangular slab of a smartphone for just a little while longer.

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