Samsung Galaxy Fold Critics Round-Up: What Reviewers Are Saying
Editors' Note: Updated with reports that some reviewers are having problems with the Galaxy Fold screen after a few days of use.
After giving us our first official glimpse at the Galaxy Fold back in February, Samsung is ready to let everyone have a closer look at its foldable phone. A lucky few have had the opportunity to use the Galaxy Fold, and they're impressed with the new device's unique design and ability to handle multiple apps at once.
Credit: SamsungThe Galaxy Fold arrives later this month, and will cost $1,980. The phone features a 4.6-inch outer display, but you can also open the Fold like a book to reveal a tablet-sized 7.3-inch screen on the inside.
Samsung worked closely with Google to develop a version of Android 9 Pie that works on the Fold (and other upcoming foldable phones) to support multitasking for apps on the device's larger screen. You'll also get a phone that runs on the same Snapdragon 855 processor that powers the Galaxy S10 lineup.
Is all that worth the Fold's $1,980 asking price? Here's a quick look at our early impressions alongside what other people have to say about Samsung's long-anticipated foldable device.
Even if you're not ready to plunk down nearly $2,000 on a smartphone, editor-in-chief Mark Spoonauer thinks that you'll want to pay attention to the Galaxy Fold, as it's a smartphone/tablet hybrid that demands people's attention. He's particularly impressed by the Fold's App Continuity feature and its six camera setup.
Credit: Tom's GuideThe Good
"The Galaxy Fold is like a little book you can stuff in your pocket, and the fit and finish is what you'd expect for such a luxury device."
"I was very impressed by how quickly the full-size Google Maps popped up in tablet mode after firing up the app in closed phone mode. It's instantaneous."
"I haven't had a lot of time shooting photos yet, but I do like that you can easily toggle between the ultra-wide, wide and telephoto lenses with a quick tap, just like the Galaxy line."
"At 4.6 inches, the Galaxy Fold's outer front screen (made of Gorilla Glass) is tiny compared even to some of the best small Android phones you can buy. Plus, it has unsightly bezels. This is a panel you're likely to use only for quickly checking things like email and notifications."
"There's also a noticeable crease in the center of the [Galaxy Fold] display. The good news is that you can't tell it's there when viewing the display head-on."
In her hands-on for Engadget, Cherlynn Low had a fun time opening and closing the Galaxy Fold. But it's going to take some time to get used to the phone's bigger screen.
Credit: Tom's GuideThe Good
"I'm surprised at how finished the Fold felt. It's sturdy, and it was actually really satisfying to snap the phone shut so the 7.3-inch screen folds onto itself."
"I found that things like a dark wallpaper or a dimly lit set in a movie weren't marred by the [Galaxy Fold's] crease. It was more obvious in things like brighter scenes, photos I took or articles I was reading. Again, it wasn't a dealbreaker, though it is the sort of thing that would annoy a perfectionist, especially after paying such a high price for it."
"I didn't notice any lag while jumping between apps, switching screens and flipping cameras."
"Because of its diminutive size, the outside screen was also harder to navigate -- I kept pressing the wrong buttons when trying to switch lenses in the camera app. From my experience so far, I don't feel like you're meant to spend a lot of time using this smaller screen."
"The Galaxy Fold doesn't automatically keep running apps when you close it, which seems weird to me. Instead, by default you just get the always-on display."
"The Fold uses two battery cells that add up to a total of 4,380mAh, which is larger than 4,000mAh pack that powers the Galaxy S10+. Though, considering the Fold is basically a phone and a tablet in one, I'm skeptical that it can last all day."
The Verge's Dieter Bohn admits that he didn't have high hopes for the Galaxy Fold, given how tightly Samsung has controlled access to its folding phone. So he was surprised at how polished the demo model was, even if Samsung has some work left to do on how software behaves. That crease on the Fold's display that has been the subject of several leaked videos is visible, too, Bohn warns, though it's not the show-stopper you might have feared.
A few days after he posted his initial hands-on, though, Bohn ran into a problem with the Galaxy Fold's screen. And he's not the only person with early access to the Fold who's found problems with the display.
"If you think of [the Galaxy Fold] as a small tablet that happens to fold, all of those foibles start to feel less like foibles. Instead, it’s like you have an iPad mini that can be packed down to become more pocketable."
"[The Fold's hinge] closes with a satisfying snick, and it has a springiness to it when you open it up."
"It's a totally working folding phone.… Whatever cynicism you want to feel about its issues, you can't be cynical when you open it up for the first time."
"That notch [on the Fold's folded-out screen] does get in the way sometimes. YouTube, for example, was cut off on full-screen videos, although Samsung will allow you to hide the notch with a black bar across the top of the display, similar to its current Galaxy devices."
"There’s no getting around the blunt fact that Android apps are not as good on big screens as iPad apps."
"You can see (and feel) the crease on the folding screen, but it’s really not that noticeable and perhaps worth the trade-off of having a big screen that you can fold up."
While emphasizing that her hands-on impressions will be updated as she spends more time with the phone, Cnet's Jessica Dolcourt is a Galaxy Fold fan. It feels like a premium device, even with its plastic screen.
Credit: SamsungThe Good
"The phone feels solid and surprisingly premium. The opening and closing mechanism is smooth, thanks to a large hinge on the side, and that makes the width of the phone's 'wings' narrow."
"Samsung has designed the Fold for you to use it closed up. It's tall and narrow, and the 4.6-inch exterior display feels kind of small. However, it is easy to use that way, especially if all you want to do is monitor your text messages or snap a quick photo."
"Yes, there's a crease, but so far a little one. When I press down on the 7.3-inch screen when the Fold is opened, I can feel the hinge mechanism underneath, but I don't really notice if I'm swiping lightly."
"The more apps you have open [on the Fold's main screen], the smaller the font, so you may not really want to use all three at once all the time."
"If [an] app doesn't support app continuity, it still works, but you'll need to resize the app for full-screen — you'll see black bars on either side."
"The Galaxy Fold isn't water-resistant."
Testing out the Galaxy Fold for TechRadar, John McCann says his first impressions of the phone are positive, thanks to its innovative design. But he warns there are some sticking points that could sway people from paying $1,980 for the Fold.
Credit: SamsungThe Good
"The Samsung Galaxy Fold is an exciting entrant into to smartphone market, breaking the static rectangle mold that we've become accustomed too, to bring us a handset which boasts two displays, two batteries and six cameras."
"Every time you transition from one screen to the next, apps will follow your usage patterns for a seamless experience. … Every app that comes pre-installed on the Galaxy Fold will support this continuity between displays."
"There's more than enough power under the hood, with the Galaxy Fold packing a 7nm octa-core processor and 12GB of RAM. It means Android 9 - coated in Samsung's One UI - runs smoothly under finger, with apps opening swiftly."
"As fun and futuristic as the Galaxy Fold design is, it is also big, bulky and heavy. The Fold measures 62.9 x 160.9 x 17mm, making it double the thickness of most smartphones."
"[The front 4.6-inch AMOLED screen is] far from pleasing to the eye. In a world where bezels are disappearing almost completely, the style here is a real blast from the past."
"Looking at the display at an angle, and there's a noticeable crease running down the entire length of the screen in the middle, where it folds. It's not something that came be remedied, and you'll have to accept the fact it's there if you do opt to splash the cash on the Galaxy Fold."
Like others who've gotten an early look at the Galaxy Fold, Eli Blumenthal and Edward Baig at USA Today are holding off on a verdict until they can put the phone through more rigorous testing. But it's not too early to declare that the folding phone is very cool.
"There's nothing to actually folding and unfolding the device. Opening and closing it is as satisfying as closing an old flip phone. Merely unfold it, and snap it back in place. Closing it produces an audible "clap" noise just like those older devices."
"Surprisingly [the visible crease] didn't bother us as much as you might think particularly when you're watching a video or playing a game, though it will likely take getting used to — and we want to gauge our reactions once we spend more time with the device."
"Samsung is going after a very specific audience with the Fold: Wealthy early adopters who are willing to pay to be the first with the would-be latest, greatest and coolest device."
"There is no headphone jack, though Samsung does include a pair of its wireless $129 Galaxy Buds in the box."
"While there is a 5G model in the works for the U.S. market (and a 5G one will be sold overseas) the version of the Fold launching [April 26] in the States will only work on AT&T and T-Mobile's 4G LTE networks. There is also no unlocked model in the U.S. for use on Verizon or Sprint."
"The [Galaxy Fold] screen might be strong but it's not bulletproof."
At Business Insider, Lisa Eadicicco had some complaints about the 4.6-inch outer screen on the Galaxy Fold, finding it too small to get much done. But she was impressed by the overall experience, particularly after unfolding the Galaxy Fold's tablet-sized screen.Credit: Tom's Guide
"The Galaxy Fold felt surprisingly natural to use, even with one hand. When unfolded and being used in tablet mode, the device's screen features a 4:3 aspect ratio, making it ideal for reading, watching video, and playing games — particularly when held in landscape mode."
"Many of the features Samsung touted on stage when unveiling the Galaxy Fold worked easily and fluidly in use. … Running three apps at once on screen is as simple as swiping in from the right side of the screen and choosing the app you'd like to launch."
"Because tablet mode is such a big part of the experience, [the Galaxy Fold] almost feels like a foldable tablet more than a smartphone-tablet hybrid that came before it."
"In an era when the average smartphone screen is at least five inches or larger, going back to a 4.6-inch screen can feel a bit jarring."
"I can imagine using the front screen to check the time or read a quick text message, but many people using the device will probably use it in tablet mode most often."