This is going to be a strange criticism.
It's going to be weird because, as I'm sure you've heard, several critics have experienced breaking the screen capture of the Galaxy Fold control unit a day or two after receiving them. Some of these breaks occurred because Samsung had not warned that a "protective layer" that looked exactly like a removable screen protector was not removable at all, but rather a "."part of the display structure. "
At least two outlets – The edge and CNBC – had exam units with the same catastrophic results but much more mysterious causes. I still do not know how I got the hinge of the hinge of my first crease that eventually destroyed its flexible OLED panel, but that's what happened.
To date, Samsung has not said what would be the cause. And since CNBC reporters and I have sent the broken units back to Samsung so we can have replacements, we are waiting for Samsung to provide us with an explanation.
Samsung will not cancel or delay the launch of this foldable smartphone at $ 1,980 as of its launch date, April 26. So I feel a sense of responsibility to publish this notice before people buy it. I'll say it right away: I can not recommend anyone to buy this thing before we know what's going on with these broken screens. The situation as a whole is not quite the fiasco of exploding Note 7 smartphones, as nobody's safety is threatened, but that's fine weird.
So here's what I'm going to do: review the Galaxy Fold as if All this terrible thing that breaks the screen will solve itself. Do not take this to say that I think it will be absolutely necessary for you to avoid these problems. On the contrary, you should not buy this phone until we get more information – and even then it's not a good buy.
But there is enough to say about this device, its weaknesses and the future that it promises I want to talk to you about it. Because the other strange thing about the Galaxy Fold is this:
I have never used a device with as many problems as I liked so much.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold basically takes the recent Galaxy S10 Plus and actually a platform for a new kind of device. It has a flexible OLED screen of 7.3 inches that folds, with a second screen on the outside. The result is a tiny Android tablet that folds into a phone much smaller than a tablet, although much thicker.
Since this is a new type of device, there are thousands of topics to address, problems that we do not usually need to deal with when there is is about old smartphones. How does the screen bend? Is plastic really durable enough? Is there space when it is folded? Is it too heavy? What is the mechanism of the hinge? How does the software translate from a small screen to a big screen? Is there a visible crease on the screen? If there is a fold, how much is it perceptible, and should we forgive in the same way that we forgive the nicks?
The most important questions to answer are different. Is a foldable phone fundamentally different from a phone or tablet? Does it help you do more, have fun, or perhaps foster a healthier relationship between you and your gadget? In the end, is a folding phone better tangibly to a regular phone?
I will try to answer as many questions as I can, but I can only be content with some of them. What I can say for sure is that at $ 1,980 and a cloud hangs over the reliability of Fold, you should not buy it.
The Galaxy Fold is also fraught with pitfalls that can not be excused by saying that it 'sa first – generation product. There are basic user experience issues that are unacceptable on any smartphone, let alone one that costs two thousand dollars.
What you should do is go to a store and play with it because it is a wonderful thing to play with. Beyond, it's a status symbol, a curiosity and a joke about a possible future.
Let's start with the main screen, the big one inside that folds. On an objective basis, using the same standards that we apply to any smartphone, the Galaxy Fold screen is bad. And it's wild to say because, again, subjectively I like very much to use it.
The biggest problem that everyone wants to know, is the fold. There is simply no pretense that it is not there or that you do not see it or feel it when you put your finger on it. Especially if you look at it from an angle, it is simply a very sharp line in the center of the screen. Worse, it's a very obvious line that presents two different color temperatures on each side when viewed from an angle.
But when you start using the Fold, it tends to disappear. I stopped seeing it; It's actually hard to spot when you look directly at the Fold, which means that, according to my subjective experience, it's just a great little 7-inch tablet. The screen is just a little smaller than the iPad mini, but the Galaxy Fold has radically smaller glasses.
If that was the whole story, I'd say it's kind of a modern version of the notch: something that is annoying but that you can get used to. I could tell you that this is one of the things that will happen on a foldable phone, then that the colors are super bright, the text is clear and it becomes very bright.
But I can not tell you that because the creation is only the beginning of the problems of this screen. I am supportive of the argument that one of the first foldable smartphone screens should be judged differently than that of a leading smartphone, such as an iPhone or an ordinary Galaxy S phone. But even if you lower or change the bar, you really can not read the rest of the problems with this screen.
The main fact of the Galaxy Fold's main screen is that it is plastic and covered with this thick layer of polymer. It 's not as smooth as glass, and it' s far from being as hard. My second examination unit has a small "dimple" in one place and in a few days of use, she has captured half a dozen small cuts.
It's hard to see these flaws when the screen is turned on, but I shudder to think what this plastic layer will look like in a month, six months or two years. I asked Samsung if she was planning an extended warranty to replace the screen protector, but she did not comment on it. Here is my suggestion: every owner of Fold should be able to have this layer of plastic replaced by Samsung regularly. (And no, do not try to remove it yourself.)
Although Samsung did not comment on most of the questions I asked during this review, it had a statement about dings and nicks on the screen.
The Galaxy Fold's main display consists of a new advanced polymer layer and an adhesive that is sufficiently flexible and resistant to support repeated folds, with an additional layer of impact protection. The protective layer may be stained and smudged under certain circumstances, but it will not interfere with your experience or the content you are viewing.
I have not finished. There is still a problem, the one I hoped never to see again: the dreaded "jelly roll"One side of the screen scrolls faster than the other side, and I think that's because, unlike most other phones, the bowels of the screen are probably on the side rather than the top. or down there is the kind of thing you will not notice until it's reported to you, so you notice it. you can not not to see him.
Another thing that is hard to see is the notch at the top right of the screen that houses the cameras. It's really big. It's fine when you're reading or browsing the internet, but it's terrible when you watch a video. YouTube, Netflix and HBO Now all are cut to the rope. The only solution is to explore the folder settings to find the check box that hides the entire top bar of the phone. It works, but it means that you lose a lot of screen when the status bar is lowered.
Even if you are ready to forgive all of that (and you really should not), there are still a lot of moving parts. Literally: the hinge behind the screen; the flexing of the screen itself; the fact that there are tiny gaps just to the point where debris could penetrate under the screen and damage it; the odd plastic rail that serves as a telescope and keeps everything underneath, under which the screen should probably be able to move a little.
These are all potential points of failure. One of these things could be the root cause of what broke the screen on my original test unit.
And yet, using the Galaxy Fold in tablet mode is a joy. It's great to have a big screen for watching videos and reading. You can get real tabs in your browser at the top where they belong. You can get a full layout in three columns in Gmail. Plus, it may be my favorite Kindle book reader – and I have a first-rate Kindle Oasis. You can rotate it sideways and get two columns of text. You get so all the features of the Android app that work better with a real touch screen than on a traditional Kindle.
The screen is terrible, but quite often, using the screen is beautiful.
If it was a traditional phone, we would spend a lot of time talking about the standard items you talk about with phones: speed, specifications, cameras, and so on. The bottom line for all this on the Galaxy Fold is that it works very well. This is fast, there is a lot of storage and the battery life is remarkably good. He also takes very good pictures.
This is because the heart of the phone is almost identical to that of the phone. Galaxy S10 Plus. It has a Snapdragon 855 processor, 12 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage. I did not have any performance issues and I was able to open up to five Windows applications at the same time, probably because of this large RAM. The game also works very well: I could hold 30 frames per second Fortnite with fairly aggressive graphics settings.
There are six cameras. On the back is a wide, regular and telephoto lens. The selfie camera at the front is the same as the Galaxy S10and the indoor double selfie cameras are identical to those of the S10 Plus. All that really means is that your photos will be very good, but not as good as what you will get. Pixel 3 or Huawei P30 Pro.
One of the features that really impressed me is the battery life. The Fold has a battery of 4 380mAh, and just tough. My screen time is well over eight hours everyday and I have not bothered to lower the brightness of the screen. Tablets usually have a long battery life, and the Galaxy Fold is better thought of as a tablet that folds than a phone that unfolds.
There is a wireless charge, a reverse wireless charge, and a USB-C port. There is no headphone jack. There are two speakers that sound good and strong, but they are very easy to choke with the palm of your hand when you hold the folder in landscape mode to watch a video.
All buttons are on the right side, including the fingerprint sensor. Once installed, the fingerprint sensor is fast and accurate. But instead of living on the power button, he lives on the Bixby button. I have therefore accidentally triggered the Bixby assistant several times, somewhat useless, and I wondered if it was exactly the purpose of Samsung.
In terms of overall build quality, what can I say? Before my first unit broke, I thought the hinge was remarkably solid. I would like there to be some sort of waterproofing, but I realized that it would be really hard to do. Until we know more why at least two of the revision units in the world have burst, we must call the quality of construction a huge question mark.
As a physical object, it is undeniable that this thing is pretty clumsy. When it is folded, it is very tall and very thin, it is more of a remote control than a phone. It's also very thick. Many people have made this joke that looks like two phones stuck together, and they are not mistaken. The thickness is not helped by the fact that there is an "air gap" by the hinge as it can not bend completely flat.
It is so big and so thick that it is difficult to put it in a trouser pocket. And if you have smaller pockets, forget that. You will want to put it in a purse or in the pocket of a jacket or simply carry it everywhere.
When the flap is closed, you can use a small screen of 4.6 inches at the front, strangely placed in the middle of the device and surrounded by giant frames. It may seem strange to say that 4.6 inches is "tiny", but that's the diagonal. The reality is that it's a bad measure for such a big and narrow screen. (Ask Pythagoras.)
The front screen is so narrow that it's almost impossible to tap on it. I should also note that he uses a screen layout entirely different from that of the main home screen (although he shares the same). organization of the drawer of your application).
This turns out to be a considerable advantage because, practically, you should think of this screen before as a superpowerful lock screen. I simply put the apps I use while I'm on the go, including Spotify, Google Maps, and Holedown. I will reject notifications and do small tasks, but for a more serious thing, you will want to open the phone and use the main screen.
Overall, the software is better than expected, but I did not expect much. Android has never been great on tablets, but A Samsung user interface help The big news is a feature called App Continuity. If you have an application open on the tiny screen before, it will be displayed on the big screen when you unfold it, fully resized. It's based on Google's work to make Android apps resizable on Chromebooks and tablets, but not all apps support it. Sometimes you get black bars on the big screen and you have to restart the application to fix it.
Resizable apps also allow Samsung to go multitasking, which is like a split screen mode with a tile option in a third window. To enable it, you can swipe from the right to the list of recently used applications and select one to open on a split screen. When you do this, there is a small bar at the top of each application, which turns blue to indicate which application you have the focus for typing. You can drag the separator to change the size of each of the two applications.
Then you can open a third application on the right by repeating the same action. Entering these small bars allows you to rearrange which application is in which tile, but this two or three layout is all you get. It works better than previous Android windowing systems I've used, but it does not say much. And even on a 7.3-inch screen, it seems really cluttered.
if you really want them, all the wackadoo multi-screen options of Samsung's One UI interface are still there. You can tap this bar and bring up the application in a small resizable window, which can also be reduced to a floating icon that you can place anywhere on the screen. It's great if you have an email app that you always want to be quickly available.
All this is good, but it's also a bit confusing. It is distinctly less elegant than the relatively simple shared-screen plus drag system used by the iPad. In addition, if you close the tablet, all these tiled windows disappear and you lose the state of your workspace. Hopefully, the changes promised in Android Q will solve some of these problems (and that Samsung will actually update the Fold with this software as soon as possible).
I think the vast majority of people who use this technology will use one app on both the main screen and will be happy to have a big screen.
All this week, I kept thinking about how we use our phones. We go out to check something quickly, but suddenly, half an hour disappears by scrolling through Instagram, Twitter or something else. This is a real problem.
But that is a problem that I did not really have with the Galaxy Fold. When I was using the small screen, I just wanted to do something quickly and put it away because the screen was small and I was not in a place where I wanted to unfold it.
On the other hand, when I used Galaxy Fold not folded, I really used it. I had to hold it with both hands and it looked much more like a tablet, an active device that I chose to use. This requires a small measure of intentionality – more than a phone, anyway.
I found myself using it at meetings, and no one was frowning. I was reviewing documents for the meeting, but I would have just as much fun on social media. But think of the social rules of a work meeting: someone who plays on the phone is a fool, but someone who uses a tablet is more likely to do something different. relevant. The Fold feels like a different device with different social rules, and it's fascinating.
Phones are fun things. They are in our middle range when you stand in line or have a minute to take a look at something. But then they fill those moments – and so much more. The Galaxy Fold is just as large to fit in these in-between. This is less useful when you are walking, and much more useful when you are sitting. I ended up feeling better about the way I usually used it with a regular phone.
Is it worth two thousand dollars? Is it all the trade-offs and first-generation problems you're having with this device? Is it worth the risk of buying a phone, this screen could be so fragile that it could break anytime if a debris slipped between it and the hinge? No it is not.
But it is worth thinking about it. Even if I would never buy the Galaxy Fold and would not recommend anyone to do it, I will continue to think about it. Because there could be a beginning of something really new, really different.
I just wish it was not something really broken.