‘What does a foldable smartphone do?’ That’s the first question you should ask yourself if you are willing to shell out Rs 164,999 on Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. Sure, there are countless expensive smartphones available in the market, but the Galaxy Fold is different. It’s a fully functional smartphone that transforms into a tablet.
Though some may say the Galaxy Fold feels unnecessary, it certainly isn’t made for you. As a status symbol for influential people and ultra-rich, the main selling factor of the Galaxy Fold is desire. It’s clearly intended at the early adopters, who don’t mind paying Rs 164,999 for a hybrid smartphone.
I had a few minutes to spend with the Galaxy Fold ahead of the India launch, and here are my initial thoughts.
The Galaxy Fold looks different, a lot different from the Galaxy Note 10 or the Galaxy S10. It gave an impression of an old communicator, which Nokia used to sell in the early 2000s. It’s a thick phone with a 4.6-inch screen on the outside.
But when you open it, the phone transforms into a 7.3-inch tablet. I liked the extra screen space, which is useful for editing a word file, watching movies and playing games. You can open three apps on a larger screen simultaneously, WhatsApp to chat, the Chrome browser to read indianexpress.com and Spotify to listen to music. The possibilities are endless.
Another feature that takes advantage of two screens is an app continuity feature. So you can open an app on the outside screen and continue using it on the big screen inside. This is useful to find exact locations with Google Maps on the go.
As you might expect from a Samsung phone, the Galaxy Fold’s Infinity Flex display is bright and colourful. Yes, it’s made of plastic, because foldable glass screens aren’t available just yet. The “crease” is visible when the phone folds, though it becomes more apparent depending on your viewing angle.
The smaller 4.6-inch screen is less exciting, though. It’s fine for reading text messages, but typing on the screen is cumbersome and next to impossible.
When folded, the Galaxy Fold does feel like a solid phone. It fits perfectly in my jeans pocket, and never feels unwieldy. I wish I could do the same with my iPad. But the same cannot be said about the device when unfolded into a tablet. Look, a bendable screen still has a lot of durability issues and it will take years before we start seeing foldable displays as good as current smartphone displays.
Samsung says it has fixed all the issues that led to the delayed launch. The display is now protected with tissue-thin bonded layers with an innovative polymer. Plastic caps on the top and bottom of the device are meant to prevent debris from getting in. Plus, the redesigned Galaxy Fold includes an improved hinge area to prevent it from suffering the same problems. In my brief time with the device, I made sure to open and close the phone multiple times. The phone felt sturdy.
The Galaxy Fold has six cameras in total. There are three cameras on the back (16MP ultra-wide, 12MPwide, and 12MP telephoto), two cameras inside (10MP selfie, 8MP RGB depth camera) and one on the front cover (10MP). The results were unsurprisingly decent, with the picture quality comparable to what you get on the Galaxy S10.
The Galaxy Fold is a premium smartphone and it shows in its specifications. You get an Exynos 9825 processor inside coupled with 12GB RAM and 512GB storage. Other features include a dual-battery system, reverse wireless charging, and stereo speakers.
Samsung’s Galaxy Fold is the first mainstream foldable smartphone hitting the Indian market and that is enough for the affluent consumer to get excited about. The novelty factor is there – after all, the Galaxy Fold introduces a new smartphone form factor that has never attempted before. And while I am not sure how people react to the Galaxy Fold, Samsung still manages to impress with a first-generation foldable smartphone.