Update June 12 at 7:43 p.m. ET:AT&T has cancelled Galaxy Fold preorders, with Samsung still not setting a date for the phone's release.
This futuristic clamshell can also run three apps on the screen at once. Now, this versatility does not come cheap, as the Galaxy Fold will start at close to $2,000. So what is the Galaxy Fold, who is it for, what are the specs and what can you do with it? More importantly, when will the Fold launch now that Samsung has delayed the phone's release? Here’s everything you need to know and what to expect.
Why is the Galaxy Fold delayed?
Samsung has decided to delay the sale date, though that could be changing soon. The delay is related to display hardware failures that some early reviewers of the product were encountering during testing.
Some Galaxy Fold units broke after a protective layer was removed from the display, which users will be warned not to remove. However, other units seemed to get debris caught between the hinge and the display. In Samsung's statement, the company said that there might be some exposed areas of the hinge that need to be better protected.
iFixit posted a teardown of the Galaxy Fold that seemed to pinpoint some of the design flaws, but the company removed the teardown at Samsung's request.
In a Korea Herald interview on May 9, Samsung Mobile CEO DJ Koh said that the company had resolved the issues with the Fold and that it was nearing a decision on a new launch date. Another report claimed that Samsung would address some of the problems with the Fold by moving the protective shield inside the device. However, Samsung apparently needs more time to test its redesigned phone: A report from Korea's Yonhap News Agency claims that Samsung is still working to finalize the Fold's launch, and the foldable phone may not arrive until after June while a second report places the Fold launch in July.
In a recent report on Cnet, Samsung said it would announce the timing of the Fold's rollout "in the coming weeks."
Galaxy Fold release date, price and carriers
The Galaxy Fold was originally planned to release on April 26 with a starting price of $1,980. That didn't happen obviously. But we could soon get some clarity on when the Fold will arrive, now that Samsung says that problems with the device have been resolved. "We plan to announce the release date in the coming weeks," a Samsung spokesperson told Tom's Guide after Koh's Korea Herald interview.
When the Fold does come out, you'll be able to get it from AT&T and T-Mobile. It will also be sold through Best Buy and Samsung Experience Stores. In terms of monthly payments, you're looking at approximately $66 per month, or about double what you would pay for a $1,000 flagship phone.
Galaxy Fold pre-orders started April 12. You can still sign up at Samsung's website to be notified about pre-orders. Samsung gave customers until May 31 to confirm that they still wanted to order the phone. There's no word on how many customers cancelled their orders, but both Best Buy and AT&T have cancelled pre-orders for the Fold. A Best Buy forum post invites shoppers to sign up for notifications on when the Fold will be released while AT&T says that customers can place new orders once Samsung finalizes a release date.
Galaxy Fold Specs: What we know so far
|Starting Price ||$1,980|
|OS||Android 9.0 with One UI|
|CPU ||Snapdragon 855|
|External display (closed)||4.6 inches (HD+)|
|Main display||7.3 inches (QXGA+)|
|Rear cameras||12-MP wide-angle (f/1.5 to f/2.4); 12-MP telephoto (f/2.4); 16-MP ultra-wide (f/2.2)|
|Front camera (closed)||10-MP selfie (f/2.2)|
|Front camera (open)||10-MP selfie (f/2.2); 8-MP RGB depth (f/1.9)|
|Fingerprint sensor||Power button|
|Colors||Space Silver, Cosmos Black, Martian Green and Astro Blue|
Who is the Galaxy Fold for?
Samsung is targeting the Galaxy Fold at early adopters who crave a single device that can double as a phone and tablet--and are willing to pay for that versatility. Traveling executive could potentially use this device instead of an iPad or ultraportable laptop, especially given its multi-tasking capabilities.
What are the sizes of the screens?
The main display on the Galaxy Fold is pretty small at just 4.6 inches. It also has a pretty thick black border around the display. In a released Samsung video, it looks like it could be pretty tough to target smaller icons, such as the ones for toggling between the main camera, telephoto lens and ultra-wide lens.
When unfolded, the Galaxy Fold’s display stretches to 7.3 inches, which is larger than any phone in Samsung’s lineup. For example, the Galaxy S10 Plus has a 6.4-inch screen, while the upcoming Galaxy S10 5G features a 6.7-inch display. This is why Samsung can call the Galaxy Fold both a phone and tablet. The 7.3-inch display is great for watching videos and playing games.
What is App Continuity?
Samsung is touting two key features for the Galaxy Fold. The first is App Continuity, which enables you to use an app in phone app and let you enjoy that app on the larger canvas instantly. So, for instance, if you’re using Google Maps, you can unfold the Galaxy Fold and zoom in on the address you just looked up. Or you could be scrolling through Instagram and then unfold the design when you see a photo you really like.
However, an early Galaxy Fold user says that he has experienced lag when transitioning between the small screen and larger display with apps.
According to the leaker, there's a delay in apps recognizing the shift from one display to another that, in some cases, can last "a few seconds."
Running three apps at once
The other key feature of the Galaxy Fold is Multi-Active Window, which allows you to run three applications on the screen at once. So, for example, you can text in one window while looking up restaurant recommendations in Yelp in another and the phone app open for making a reservation. Or you could be watching YouTube in one Window while checking your email in another and scrolling through Facebook in a third window.
How does the Galaxy Fold unfold?
You open the clamshell design just as you would a book or diary. The hinge disappears behind the display as the two halves come together. This design approach is different than the outward “Falcon Wing” folding design of the Huawei Mate X, for which both displays are exposed front and back in closed mode and then come together as you unfold the device.
Samsung says it engineered a sophisticated hinge with multiple interlocking gears, which is housed in a hidden enclosure.
According to a report in ETNews, Samsung is also reportedly trying to sell its foldable phone technology to the likes of Apple and Google for its upcoming phones.
Does the screen have a crease?
Leaked videos before the Fold's launch pointed to a crease along the main display where the phone folds up. Now that we've had a chance to use the Fold, we can confirm that the crease is noticeable, especially when using apps with light backgrounds. However, it's less prominent when you're looking at the screen head-on and we didn't find it to be too much of a distraction.
For what it's worth, Samsung put out a video of its own, showcasing the durability testing that the Galaxy Fold undergoes. The video doesn't explicitly address concerns about a visible crease, though it does seem designed to re-assure potential Fold owners that the device will hold up to repeated use.
Galaxy Fold Color options
The Galaxy Fold will come in four colors, including Space Silver, Cosmos Black, Martian Green and Astro Blue. However, the blue color may not be available in all regions.
Lots of cameras
Samsung packs the Galaxy Fold with six cameras. It starts with a triple camera setup on the rear that’s similar to the Galaxy S10 Plus. There’s a main 12-MP wide-angle camera, a 12-MP telephoto camera with 2x optical zoom and a 16-MP ultra-wide camera that’s good for capturing landscapes and panorama shots.
When closed, the front camera on the Galaxy Fold features a 10-MP selfie camera. And, when unfolded, the front right side of the Fold sports both a 10-MP selfie camera and 8-MP RGG depth camera, which will come in handy for taking portraits with bokeh effects.
Key Specs: CPU, RAM and storage
The Galaxy Fold is powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 855 processor and a whopping 12GB of RAM. You’ll also get 512GB of storage on board, which is a lot but less than the 1TB available on the highest-end configuration of the Galaxy S10 Plus. Also note that the Fold doesn’t have a microSD card slot for expansion.
The Galaxy Fold has two batteries that combine to offer a robust capacity of 4,380 mAh. That’s more than what you’ll find on the Galaxy S10 Plus, which has a 4,100 mAh battery. On our battery test, the S10 Plus lasted an epic 12 hours and 35 minutes, but it also has a smaller display at 6.4 inches. We’ll have to see how the Galaxy Fold measures up.
Samsung's foldable phone will also feature Wireless PowerShare, which allows you to charge other phones or gadgets, like the Galaxy Watch or Galaxy Buds, by placing them on the back of the Galaxy Fold.
Will it have 5G?
Samsung says the Galaxy Fold will come in both 4G and 5G versions, but there’s no word on the release date for the 5G Galaxy Fold and how much more it may cost. The version we tested only offered LTE connectivity, and that's the one that will ship once Samsung sets a new launch date.
More Galaxy Folds on the Way
According a report in Bloomberg, Samsung is working on two other foldable phone designs, including a clamshell and a more direct competitor to the Huawei Mate X with an exterior folding design. A patent shows what Samsung's foldable clamshell could look like. Another recently uncovered patent shows off potential improvements to the phone's folding mechanism.
Given the high price, the Galaxy Fold is definitely a niche device, but it could very well find an audience among early adopters who want to be the first to own a foldable phone, assuming they're not put off by the Fold's initial stumbles. There’s also going to be competition from the likes of the Huawei Mate X, which has an even bigger screen, as well as foldable phones from Oppo, TCL and others.
We will keep you posted on the Galaxy Fold once Samsung settles on a new launch date for the phone.
Image credits: Samsung