Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, the world’s first foldable smartphone, has been in the spotlight recently.
The Fold generated lots of attention this year for an exciting new feature: It could be folded and unfolded like a book to decrease or increase the screen size. The nearly $2,000 USD cost was also eye-catching.
Unfortunately, many of the reviewers’ models began experiencing what can only be one of Samsung’s worst nightmares: multiple reviewers’ reports of Galaxy Fold screens breaking started coming in, some the result of removing a protective film that is not supposed to be removed but other instances aren’t easily explained.
In light of this alarming issue, The Verge‘s Dieter Bohn today posted his review of the Samsung Galaxy Fold, and, as he writes, it’s a “weird” one:
Samsung isn’t canceling or delaying the launch of this $1,980 folding smartphone from its April 26th launch date. So I feel a sense of responsibility to get this review out before people buy it. I’ll just say it right out front: I cannot recommend that anybody buy this thing until we know what’s up with these broken screens. The whole situation isn’t quite the fiasco of exploding Note 7 smartphones, as nobody’s safety is threatened, but it is, well, weird.
Bohn tries his very best to write the review as if the Galaxy Fold’s screen-breaking issue eventually gets resolved, looking at the phone objectively, without considering the current display’s problem. However, it still isn’t looking good for Samsung.
One thing he noticed was the screen’s crease where it folds creates a very obvious line straight through the centre of the display. While it’s somewhat easy to forget about when using the phone, it only marks the beginning of the display’s problems:
…[The] crease is just the start of this screen’s issues. I am sympathetic to the argument that one of the first folding smartphone screens should be judged differently than the screen on a top-tier smartphone like an iPhone or regular Galaxy S phone. But even if you lower or change the bar, you really can’t paper over the rest of the problems with this screen.
First of all, the phone’s main screen is made of plastic and “covered over with that thick, polymer layer.” It’s not as smooth or hard as glass, and easily picks up scratches and nicks. Bohn notes that while many screens pick up dings over time, he had only had his review unit for just a couple days.
“Those flaws are hard to see when the screen is on, but I shudder to think what this plastic layer is going to look like in a month, six months, or a couple of years,” Bohn writes.
The phone also has an issue he calls the “jelly scroll,” in which one side of the main screen scrolls faster than the other side, as well as a massive, hard-to-forget-it’s-there notch in the top right corner:
Even if you’re willing to forgive all of that (and you really shouldn’t), there are still a lot of moving parts. Literally: the hinge behind the screen; the bending of the screen itself; the fact that there are tiny gaps right at the bend point where debris could get in underneath the screen and damage it; the weird plastic rail that serves as a bezel and holds the whole thing down, under which the screen probably needs to be able to move just a little.
Despite all of these “unforgivable” issues, the reviewer finds the phone a joy to use:
this were a traditional phone, we’d be spending a lot of time talking about the standard stuff you talk about with phones: the speed, the specs, the cameras, and so on. The bottom line for all of that on the Galaxy Fold is that it performs very well. It’s fast, it has a ton of storage, and it has remarkably good battery life. It also takes very good photos.
The insides are basically the same as a Galaxy S10: a Snapdragon 855 processor, 12GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage. The reviewer found no issues with performance and was able to run 5 app windows at the same time. Fortnite worked pretty well, too.
The phone, with its six cameras, took fantastic photos, though not quite to the level of the Pixel 3 or Huawei’s recently-released P30 Pro. Bohn was also very impressed with the phone’s battery life:
The Fold has a 4,380mAh battery, and it just lasts. My screen time has been well over eight hours pretty much every day, and I haven’t been bothering to ratchet down the screen brightness. Tablets generally have great battery life, and the Galaxy Fold is better thought of as a tablet that folds than a phone that unfolds.
The idea of foldable smartphones is cool and exciting, but the Galaxy Fold’s glaring issues show that the idea is not ready for primetime right now. Samsung rushed to be the first company with a widely available foldable smartphone, which is nothing new for the Korean company. Maybe Huawei will have better luck in a couple of months when it releases the Mate X.
Read Bohn’s entire review of the Samsung Galaxy Fold over at The Verge.