This year, the mobile tech community is readying itself for a massive influx of folding smartphones, and the first major release will be the Samsung Galaxy Fold. The unusual folding smartphone is packed with the latest tech, including the most powerful new 7nm processors, 12GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage. But it’s the design that’ll really blow you away, and you probably won’t forget the first time you unfold the stunning 7.3-inch Dynamic AMOLED display.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold was due to launch on April 25, but Samsung has delayed it until “at least next month” after reports of issues with the screen. What we do know is who’ll be carrying it and for how much. Samsung’s first foldable smartphone has almost found its way to consumer hands, and we couldn’t be more excited. Here’s absolutely everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy Fold.
iFixit removes its Galaxy Fold teardown
Only a few days after iFixit’s teardown of the Samsung Galaxy Fold revealed possible reasons for the device’s faults, iFixit has pulled the teardown and issued a statement. iFixit explained that the Galaxy Fold unit that it obtained was from a “trusted partner,” and that Samsung had requested through the partner that the video be removed.
“We are under no obligation to remove our analysis, legal or otherwise. But out of respect for this partner, whom we consider an ally in making devices more repairable, we are choosing to withdraw our story until we can purchase a Galaxy Fold at retail,” iFixit said.
Of course, the damage of the teardown has already been done — iFixit already revealed some of the reasons why the Galaxy Fold’s display may have failed.
iFixit’s teardown of the Galaxy Fold reveals the possible reason for the display faults
Samsung may be calling all the Galaxy Fold units back, but that hasn’t stopped iFixit from doing its traditional teardown of Samsung’s latest device. The Galaxy Fold scored a paltry 2 out of 10 on iFixIt’s repairability scale, putting it on par with Apple’s latest iPad Air. However, the teardown may also have discovered the source of the device’s many reported display problems.
You don’t have to go far into the teardown to see where the design may have gone wrong. At step three, iFixit took a close look at the device’s fold from the front, and noted a small gap in the device’s bezel, near the bend. As bezels would interfere in the bend, this area has to stay uncovered — but it means there’s a tiny 7mm gap in the protective bezels that could allow entry to dirt or other small particles. It’s entirely possible this sort of particle could lead to the sort of problems that led to the recall of the review units.
If this is the source of the issues — which is likely — then solving the problem could be as easy as plugging up the gap. But that could be easier said than done, as the material would need to be flexible enough to support the bend, while being tough enough to withstand the repeat stress of those same bends.
Samsung is retrieving all Galaxy Fold units
Not only has Samsung announced that it is delaying the launch of the Galaxy Fold, but it also asking reviewers to send back their review units. Most reviewers of the Galaxy Fold actually signed loan agreements, meaning that after a week of use, most reviewers would have had to send their Galaxy Fold back to Samsung anyway. However, while Samsung may have originally repurposed those review units and sent them to other reviewers, the company will likely now completely take them out of commission. According to Reuters, Samsung will investigate what happened with the units currently being reviewed in an attempt to fix the issues before it eventually launches the phone.
Samsung delays the Galaxy Fold
Samsung has officially announced the delay of the Samsung Galaxy Fold. After a number of reviewers ran into issues with the Galaxy Fold’s display, Samsung said it would investigate the issues but would keep the release date of the phone. Now, the company seems to have changed its tune. In an emailed statement, Samsung said that to “fully evaluate this feedback and run further internal tests, we have decided to delay the release of the Galaxy Fold. We plan to announce the release date in the coming weeks.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean that the phone will be released in coming weeks — just that the new release date will be announced in coming weeks. It’s possible Samsung could end up delaying the phone for months, especially considering the fact that there seem to be multiple issues at play. Our own review unit has been working without any problems.
“Initial findings from the inspection of reported issues on the display showed that they could be associated with impact on the top and bottom exposed areas of the hinge. There was also an instance where substances found inside the device affected the display performance,” Samsung said in a statement. “We will take measures to strengthen the display protection. We will also enhance the guidance on care and use of the display including the protective layer so that our customers get the most out of their Galaxy Fold.”
Samsung clearly doesn’t want to take the risk of releasing a product with a major flaw and the memory of the Note 7 recall is no doubt playing a part. Launch events have been postponed and it looks as though everyone clamoring to get their hands on a Galaxy Fold will have to wait just a bit longer. We’ll keep you posted.
Samsung responds to Galaxy Fold display issues
Following reports of a glut of broken Galaxy Fold screens, a Samsung spokesperson contacted us with the following statement:
“A limited number of early Galaxy Fold samples were provided to media for review. We have received a few reports regarding the main display on the samples provided. We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter. Separately, a few reviewers reported having removed the top layer of the display causing damage to the screen. The main display on the Galaxy Fold features a top protective layer, which is part of the display structure designed to protect the screen from unintended scratches. Removing the protective layer or adding adhesives to the main display may cause damage. We will ensure this information is clearly delivered to our customers.”
It’s important to note that the Galaxy Fold is at the forefront of a new era in mobile technology, so these sorts of snafus are to be expected. It’s interesting that Samsung’s statement specifically warns against the use of adhesive on the Galaxy Fold’s screen though, as that would preclude the use of screen protectors to protect against external damage.
Some Galaxy Fold displays are breaking days after shipping
It looks like Samsung’s stress test of the Samsung Galaxy Fold’s display may not have been as comprehensive as it should have been. Some reviewers, who were the first to get their hands on the Samsung Galaxy Fold, have complained that their phone’s display has either completely broken or is partially damaged after just days of use.
CNBC, for example, says that its review unit is completely unusable with all but a portion of the display still working. The Verge’s unit is also damaged, with a small bulge that’s causing the display to distort. YouTube reviewer Marques Brownlee removed the film on his phone to find that the display had broken. Samsung has warned users not to remove the protective layer of the phone, which may look like a basic screen protector. Still, CNBC says that it didn’t remove anything from the screen.
For the record, our review unit is still perfectly functional, but we’ll update this article if that changes.
We recently got our hands on the Galaxy Fold. Check out the photos below
You can now pre-order the Galaxy Fold from AT&T as well as Samsung
Samsung had a head-start, as you might expect — but you can now pre-order from AT&T as well. AT&T is planning to have pre-orders arrive on April 25, and it’ll cost you a heady $66 a month for 30 months — which makes sense when you consider the full asking price for the device is $1,980.
Pre-order reservations open on Samsung’s website
This is not the usual way of pre-ordering a phone, but you’ll have to play ball if you want to be one of the first owners of the Galaxy Fold. Pre-order reservations are now open from Samsung, and you’ll need to make sure your name is on the list to be in with a chance of pre-ordering Samsung’s exclusive device. Numbers are limited, and it’s not clear whether the positions will go to the fastest fingers to the button, or whether they’ll be selected based on some other criteria.
Some more details have come to light as a result of the pre-order reservation form though; namely, we now know the Galaxy Fold will be coming exclusively to both T-Mobile and AT&T, confirming the rumors below.
Rough Galaxy Fold hands-on video hints phone is destined for AT&T
Screens destined for the Galaxy Fold have started shipping from Samsung’s factory, ready to make the device a reality. The company revealed the news on April 10, but did not share any details on production numbers.
The folding smartphone has still not been used widely, but this has not stopped one person from seeing, using, and filming the device. It’s not the best quality video — it’s in portrait orientation, for a start — but does show the phone operating, folding, and unfolding. Additionally, the software may show the Galaxy Fold will be sold through the AT&T network in the U.S., due to one of AT&T’s apps being installed and visible on the screen.
While we’ve seen the Galaxy Fold, few people have actually had a chance to get their hands on one yet. Samsung has kept its folding phone behind glass, and away from grubby hands, so the people who have actually used the phone are few in number.
Experiences shared in secret so far give us the most information about the Fold. This early report claiming time with the device details what we already know, but does also highlight a few flaws with the device. For example, it notes there’s a slight lag when transferring between the smaller screen on the outside and the larger, inner screen. According to the accounts from users of the device, the device can take up to a few seconds to transfer an app and display it in the correct aspect ratio.
The well-documented “crease” that forms on the inner screen is apparently not too much of an issue. While it can be felt under the finger, it’s quite hard to notice with the eye, especially when the display brightness is at 70 percent or higher. However, the inner screen is only able to be used when fully extended. While the device can sit with the inner screen at 90 degrees open, it won’t trigger the screen — so there’s no setting it up like a tiny laptop just yet.
On the plus side, the external 4.6-inch screen does everything you expect a smartphone to do, from playing games to running all sorts of apps. Handily, you can choose to have separate home screen setups on the internal and external displays — which makes perfect sense for making the most of all that space. The Fold runs Samsung’s One UI 1.2 and has support for custom wallpapers and Samsung Pay.
Design and display
Featuring an Infinity Flex display, the Samsung Galaxy Fold goes from a 4.6-inch display for phone mode and folds out to reveal a separate 7.3-inch display on the inside. Don’t worry, Samsung hasn’t emphasized the large screen experience over the small screen, as the Fold has also been designed to be comfortable to hold when folded. The 7.3-inch Infinity Flex Dynamic AMOLED display has a resolution of 2,152 × 1,536 pixels, while the smaller Super AMOLED 4.6-inch display has a resolution of 1,680 x 720 pixels.
The fold is comprised of a sophisticated hinge system with multiple interlocking gears, hidden inside the spine. That fold is tested using a series of machines that repeatedly fold and unfold the phone. Samsung says that the stress test folds a device 200,000 times, and takes around a week to complete. Check out the machine in the video below.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold comes in four colors: Cosmos Black, Space Silver, Martian Green, or Astro Blue, and you can choose a different color for the phone’s spine.
Samsung worked with Google and the Android developer community to tailor apps like WhatsApp, Microsoft Office, and YouTube. The interior screen is so big it can be used for three-app multitasking. You can watch a video, chat about it, and browse options on the web all at the same time. Samsung has shown this off with YouTube running on the left, a WhatsApp chat window at the top right, and a web browser at the bottom right.
The displays work together for a seamless experience thanks to something Samsung calls app continuity, so you can switch between screens without missing a beat. The demonstration showed us a smooth transition between screens while using Google Maps and Netflix.
“The Galaxy Fold is a device unlike any that’s come before it,” said Justin Denison, Samsung’s senior vice president of mobile marketing. “It’s a versatile smartphone, tablet, and camera.”
Don’t worry, you get cutting edge specifications to match that cutting edge design.
There’s plenty of processing power inside the Samsung Galaxy Fold, thanks to the inclusion of this year’s flagship — the Snapdragon 855. That chip should be plenty powerful enough to handle the Galaxy Fold’s unusual design, while 12GB of RAM means it should also be excellent at handling multiple apps at once. It’s worth noting that a high amount of RAM makes more sense on the Galaxy Fold than other smartphones, as the unfolded screen can be used to run three apps at once. There’s no need to worry about running out of storage space either. The Galaxy Fold comes with 512GB of universal flash storage, and it can read data twice as fast as other smartphones.
There’s one final surprise hidden inside the foldable smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy Fold actually has two batteries — one in each side of the device. Splitting the batteries like this allowed Samsung to get around the problem of having to have a folding battery. While that may seem like a lot of juice, if you’re switching to the large inner display a lot (and why wouldn’t you?) then it’s likely it’ll last you about a day. There’s a difference between the battery sizes, depending on the model you get. The LTE model’s battery is rated at 4,380mAh, while the 5G model will have a 4.235mAh battery.
Wired charging capabilities are slightly disappointing due to Samsung’s continued love affair with QuickCharge 2.0 — other devices have moved on to Quick Charge 3.0, and even 4.0 — but wireless charging is also included, and you’ll even get one of the Galaxy S10’s headline features; Wireless Powershare. Plonk your Galaxy Buds case down on your Galaxy Fold and you can charge it using your phone’s battery.
With all the innovation in design, it would be fair to give Samsung some slack on the camera front. But you needn’t do so — the Korean company has pulled out all the stops, adding six camera lenses to the Galaxy Fold.
You’ll find the first camera lens on the cover, above the 4.6-inch Super AMOLED front display. It’s a 10-megapixel selfie lens with an aperture of f/2.2, and a field-of-view (FOV) of 80-degrees. You’ll find three more impressive lenses are around the back of the device though. The first is a 16-megapixel ultra wide-angle lens with an aperture of f/2.2 and an FOV of 123-degrees. Next comes a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens with Super Speed Dual Pixel autofocus, optical image stabilization (OIS), a variable aperture of f/1.5 and f/2.2, and an FOV of 77-degrees. The final lens is a 12-megapixel telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom, phase detect autofocus (PDAF), OIS, and an aperture of f/2.4.
We’ve not forgotten the final two lenses though. Open the Galaxy Fold up and you’ll find two more selfie cameras looking out at you from the device’s odd notch. The main lens is a 10-megapixel lens with an aperture of f/2.2, and a wide FOV of 80-degrees. The second lens is an 8-megapixel depth-sensing lens with an aperture of f/1.9, and a wide-angle FOV of 85-degrees.
All of this comes with Samsung’s now usual bevy of A.I.-powered extras, including the Scene Optimizer and the Flaw Detection that can tell you if someone blinked or moved suddenly. Video capabilities are also impressive, with the ability to record 4K UHD footage at 60 frames-per-second (fps) and super slow-motion video at 960 fps.
Pricing and availability
The Samsung Galaxy Fold will come in LTE and 5G versions and it will be available in the U.S. and in Europe. Prices will start from $1,980. Pre-order reservations are now open from AT&T. Samsung’s pre-order reservations opened first, but have since fully sold out.
We were expecting the phone to release on April 25, as confirmed by T-Mobile and AT&T, but it now looks as though it won’t be released until May. The Un-carrier had confirmed the Galaxy Fold would be available in T-Mobile stores from April 26, or online a day earlier on April 25, from 9 p.m. P.T. Anyone purchasing the Galaxy Fold from T-Mobile will also receive a free carbon fiber case and Wireless Galaxy Buds.
If you’re looking to get your folding smartphone from AT&T instead, then you can pre-order it right now. AT&T was also aiming to ship pre-orders for April 25, and it’ll cost you a heady $66/month for 30 months — which is understandable, given its MSRP of $1,980.
Lots of questions remain about folding phones, not least of which is whether the general public actually wants to buy them. Judging by Samsung selling out its initial reservations, the answer seems to be yes.
Updated on April 26, 2019: iiFixit removed its teardown of the Samsung Galaxy Fold.