The Samsung Galaxy Fold has a lot to love... and a lot to hate
For US$2,000, a phone should be close to perfect, but the Galaxy Fold has too many flaws
I was infatuated with Samsung’s Galaxy Fold when I first tried it out briefly in September. But now that I finally got a chance to use the US$2,000 phone for a full week and see how it performs in the real world, I have some new revelations.
While I still think the form factor looks incredibly cool, there are some drawbacks that really got on my nerves once I started using it every day. So here are three things I like about the Galaxy Fold and three things I don’t.
Yes, the coolest thing about the Galaxy Fold is also one of the most annoying. When you really need to get something done, the front screen is too small to be useful. That means you’re unfolding the phone every time you need the larger screen. Then you have to fold it back up to put it away in your pocket.
This constant folding and unfolding changed the way I used a smartphone. I could no longer just pick it up and use it right away. Thankfully, it’s easy to fold the phone with one hand, and it satisfyingly snaps shut with the help of magnets.
But those magnets require a bit more effort to pull apart, meaning it takes two hands to unfold it every time. And the more I fold and unfold the phone, the more I’m worried about its long-term durability.
I’ve also noticed a small gap at the top and bottom intersections where the flexible screen meets the hinge. It seems like it’s possible for small debris to get in there and cause damage similar to what was seen with the first iteration of the phone that Samsung released. Maybe I’m just overly cautious, but it’s difficult to know how well the Galaxy Fold will hold up over time with constant folding and unfolding.
LIKE: THE BIG SCREEN
Sometimes it’s easy to forget how often you have to unfold the phone, because once you do, the screen is amazing. I really love the 7.3-inch display on the Galaxy Fold. The larger size has proven useful for things I do on my phone every day, like watching videos, scrolling through Instagram feeds and playing mobile games like Mario Kart.
The larger screen also makes me want to spend more time with it. I found I was spending more time playing games on the Galaxy Fold than on any other smartphone.
DISLIKE: THE CREASE
That large screen isn’t perfect, though. As plenty of other reviewers have noted by this point, the crease can be very noticeable.
It's true that you’re not likely to notice it all the time. It tends to disappear when the Fold is viewed head-on. But it becomes more noticeable at different angles, especially when you’re looking at content with a white background. And no matter how hard I tried not to look at the crease, it was always there.
At least you can get more stuff done at the same time with this larger screen. Samsung has done a good job optimizing multitasking for this phone. Users can have two apps side-by-side or split the screen again with a third app. And incredibly, there’s no noticeable lag when you’re running all these apps at the same time while scrolling and resizing windows.
I found this feature really useful for watching video while playing Pokémon Go with Google News open on the side. But the downside is that you can only control one app at a time. So if I’m scrolling through Google News, Pokémon Go pauses. Thankfully, YouTube videos continue playing.
DISLIKE: THE OUTER SCREEN
The 4.6-inch outer screen looks really weird on such a premium phone. It’s just too small to look at for an extended period of time. The top and bottom bezels are really thick, which is strange given how much effort Samsung put into eliminating bezels on their other flagship Galaxy phones. And worse, it’s really difficult to type on.
The only thing you’re likely to want to do on this screen is check notifications. When you just need a glance at your latest messages or alerts, the outer screen gets the job done. Still, the larger screen is preferable for reading through notifications.
LIKE: THE SPECS
The Galaxy Fold is a technical powerhouse. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor and has 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. It’s no wonder there’s no lag with three apps open at the same time. I did notice the the phone starts to lag when there are 15 apps running in the background and three apps open in split-screen mode. So if you need 20 apps running at the same time, start looking for phones with more than 12GB of RAM.
But obviously this kind of usage is overkill. The performance is stellar.
There’s a lot to like about the Galaxy Fold, but I’m not going to buy one. The main reason? It costs US$2,000. That’s twice the price of other flagship phones these days, but you're getting an experimental first-generation device.
I was surprised how much I wound up liking the phone, though. It feels nice to always have a tablet on hand, ready to be pulled out of my pocket and unfolded. The large screen is actually useful, too. It’s not the gimmick many might have expected. The only thing it’s really lacking is support for Samsung’s S Pen stylus for writing and drawing.
But the Galaxy Fold has too many flaws. For people who have to often look at the phone briefly or use it with one hand, the small outer screen can be frustrating.
Ultimately, an experimental phone like this is too hard to recommend at this price point. Maybe I’ll consider getting one if there's a dramatic price drop next year.