A few years ago advancements in technology gave us the ability to create foldable displays. It was hence only a matter of time before these appeared in a smartphone, whether there was any user demand for it or not. The Samsung Galaxy Fold is the first of what we can be assured is a long list of foldable smart devices that could change the way we user smartphones by offering a larger screen, new aspect ratios, and conveniences. But is the Samsung Galaxy Fold a practical phone, given that it is nothing like the devices we have used so far? Here is what we thought.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold, when folded, is a very compact smartphone that fits your hand perfectly despite its thick build. In fact, I was wondering why we don’t have more phones of this form factor, thicker and more comfortable to hold. The front display is small compared to what we have now, but larger than the displays in the first smartphones that I used.
The left side is a metallic hinge with Samsung branding and this could well be the one element that lets people identify the Fold from everything else in the market. The other side obviously has two layers, but the power and volume button rest on the bottom edge along with a fingerprint scanner. On this side, the rear panel houses the triple camera set up with a strip-like camera module that stands above the flash.
I was extra cautious while opening the Fold for the first time, and every time thereafter. There is a bit of magnetic feel between the two sides as if something is keeping them together. Once you open you see that the large screen is a bit squarish and not all that rectangular as you are used to with smartphones. On the top right is a small camera module that eats into the screen, but there is enough screen for you to completely ignore this intrusion.
When the screen is not fired up, you can see clearly that the foldable screen is actually like a layer on top of the smartphone body. There is a clear crease on this screen, which vanishes when the display lights up. Also, this is when you realise that the buttons are all on your right now as there is no way for your fingers to reach the other side in one-handed use.
User interface and software
I was prepared to learn how to use the Samsung Galaxy Fold. But the best thing about the phone is that there is hardly any learning involved and this works like any other phone. The only new aspect is that anything that you open on the small screen outside, opens up on the larger screen if you decide to unfold the device. It does not work the other way round.
One aspect I really liked about the Fold is that you really don’t need to unfold it to use the phone. The front screen is good enough to serve you as a full smartphone and you can do everything with the screen closed… well, almost everything. I noticed that YouTube shuts down after a few seconds if you try to play on the smaller screen. So basically the larger, unfolded screen, is aimed at consumption.
While streaming videos there is the awkwardness of not knowing how to hold the phone. This is because while the vertical orientation gives you a smaller screen, the larger horizontal format also means a part of the screen is eaten by the front camera.
But then you can create too. When you hold the phone with two hands and type, it is bliss. This is pretty much the best typing experience you can have on a handheld device. The grip is perfect and the keys are where they should be. It is a shame Samsung did not add the S-Pen to this device. This is where it could have unleashed its full prowess. The Note now has clear competition when it comes to productivity on Android.
While all the attention unfolds around the fold of the Samsung Galaxy Fold, we seem to overlook the fact that this is a pretty solid smartphone by every count. Given its processing power, 12GB RAM, 512GB storage and sheer additional usability because of the larger screen, I have to say this is the best Android phone at the moment when it comes to specs.
Also, this has a camera rig that is similar to the Note 10 and can do the ultra-wide, wide and telephoto with similar clarity. But yes, the form factor does present some awkwardness when you open the phone to take photos. So it is best you stick to taking photos with the phone closed and the results will be the same. Samsung has been thoughtful enough to add a front camera outside the fold too and you don’t need to unfold to click yourself.
The battery life of the Fold is pretty solid and the 4380mAh battery can last well over 24 hours of usage despite both the screens. I guess you will get much more if you limit the usage of the larger screen.
Who should buy this phone?
This is a phone to flaunt because this is not a phone that is solving a problem that users have been bothered about for long. So you buy this phone to show the world you can afford what is the costliest smartphone around. Also, this is a phone that will make your work life easier, I wouldn’t say that about your other life because taking selfies for one, is not that easy here. Buy this phone if you want to show the world you have arrived.