Update Sept. 4: The Galaxy Fold launches in South Korea this Friday; a U.S. release will follow in the "coming weeks," according to Samsung.
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 after a lengthy delay?
Here’s everything you need to know about the Galaxy Fold and what to expect.
When will the Galaxy Fold get released?
If you asked us that question back when Samsung first announced the Galaxy Fold in February, we would have given you a very different answer. The foldable phone was originally set to debut at the end of April.
But then, the Fold hit a few snags — more on those in a moment — and Samsung pulled the plug on the April launch. Now Samsung says the phone will come out in September, with the phone set to debut in South Korea on Sept. 6. A U.S. launch will follow in the next few weeks, according to Samsung, which will meet the company's target of launching the foldable phone in September.
Why was the Galaxy Fold delayed?
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.
When it announced a September release date, Samsung said it's taken steps to improve the Fold's design. That protective layer now extends past the bezel, making it clear you're not supposed to remove it. There are now caps on the top and bottom of the hinge, which is closer to the phone's body. Samsung is conducting final tests to make sure those changes address the issues that triggered the postponed launch.
U.S. customers who buy the Galaxy Fold will be able to take advantage of a new Galaxy Fold Premier Service. Samsung describes that service as round-the-clock access to experts who can help you set up the foldable phone and answer any questions you have about using it.
Galaxy Fold price and carriers
We know the Galaxy Fold will ship in September, though we're still waiting for an exact date. (One rumor points to Sept. 27 as the U.S. launch date.) The Fold will cost $1,980, the same price as before.
Originally, AT&T, T-Mobile and Best Buy were going to join Samsung in selling the Galaxy Fold. T-Mobile has since bowed out of offering the Fold, though there's no word from other Samsung retail partners on their plans.
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.
Apps have to be optimized to take advantage of the Galaxy Fold's multitasking support. Samsung says that in the interim between the delayed launch and now more apps have been optimized to work with the Fold.
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 was originally supposed to come in four colors, including Space Silver, Cosmos Black, Martian Green and Astro Blue. For the revamped launch date, Sasmung has only mentioned Space Silver and Cosmos Black options.
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 originally said the Galaxy Fold will come in both 4G and 5G versions, but that was before the delayed launch. The version we tested only offered LTE connectivity, and that's the one that will ship in September. We assume the 5G edition has been tabled for now.
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.
A more recent report pointed to a more compact foldable phone from Samsung. This version would fold out into a 6.7-inch screen from a clamshell design. It's expected in 2020.
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 final launch date in September for the phone.
Image credits: Samsung