Samsung Galaxy Fold review

GSMArena team, 26 April 2019.


The foldable phone was a long time coming and the wait is finally over. Last February Samsung and Huawei introduced us to their foldable phones and now every other maker is probably racing to come up with an interpretation of their own. Today we have the device that sparked this revolution, at least on the grounds of being announced first, and that's the Galaxy Fold by Samsung.

Samsung Galaxy Fold review

We have already handled both the Fold and Mate X and the future is promising. Luckily for all early adopters out there - those two devices have different takes on what a foldable phone should be like. So, even within the first generation, the users can already choose what works better for them.

Samsung's interpretation of the term foldable is simpler - it has an inner 7.3" display that folds on itself. This way it's better protected against damage, but there is an overcomplicated hinge and then strong magnets to keep the thing folded - a few too many things that can potentially compromise long-term durability.

Then there is the Mate X by Huawei, which 8" notch-less display is of the outer kind - meaning it folds the other way around and is always exposed to scratches or worse. Its folding mechanism is simpler though making it less susceptible to failure in the future.

Samsung Galaxy Fold review

Now, back to the Galaxy Fold. The phone is kept closed thanks to springs and magnets - there are no last-century solutions like clasps or the like though nothing can replace the ribbon cables just yet and there is one connecting the two sides.

Samsung Galaxy Fold review

The magnets are placed around the longer sides of the Fold are pretty strong and thanks to those the whole thing closes with a remarkably satisfying 'clack'. Samsung promises it will take at least 200,000 hinge actuations before anything begins to deteriorate, which means the Fold will survive the plenty of times it is going to be used as a fidget toy and believe us - it is a remarkable fidget clicker despite its size.

The magnets indeed help to keep the Fold closed and make for that whole soul-tickling clack sound and all, but if you leave the Galaxy next to some tiny metal objects, they will stick on its sides. And the jury is still out if this is cool or not. But if you are with us on the fidget side of things, you already know the answer.

Samsung Galaxy Fold review

The folded Galaxy is a reasonably manageable device, and one you can easily stick in a jeans pocket.

Samsung Galaxy Fold review

Of course, it's not compact - on the contrary, it's tick as a small brick or as two S10+ phones. At 263g it's not light either, yet it doesn't come off as exceptionally heavy.

Samsung Galaxy Fold review

In its folded state, the Galaxy Fold is well within a single-handed usage territory. The 4.6-inch display is a throwback to simpler times - it was before phablets went so mainstream that we forgot there was a specific name for this category. You can easily pull out the Fold and make a phone call or take a quick selfie all while carrying a bag of groceries in the other hand.

Samsung Galaxy Fold review

The cover screen is a 4.6" Super AMOLED one, with trendily rounded corners. Above it is an earpiece and a 10MP selfie snapper with dual-pixel autofocus. In addition to quick calls and messages, this screen is also good for a viewfinder when you are in a hurry and you don't want to unfold the whole thing.

And the Fold indeed has an impressive camera setup on the back. It's the same configuration Samsung used on the Galaxy S10+ - a 12MP main snapper, a 12MP telephoto one with 2x zoom, and a 16MP ultra-wide-angle cam.

Unfortunately, the setup is humping a bit, which makes the whole Fold a bit unstable when left on a flat surface unfolded. But this isn't what's bothering. It's that sometimes this hump stops the Fold from fully unfolding and thus leaves a small bump in the middle of the inner display. Which is not that pleasant considering price, premium status, and all.

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Samsung Galaxy Fold is full of gaps

Then there's another irksome aspect of the Galaxy Fold - when it's folded, a gap remains between the two pieces. You can't just fold in half like a piece of paper - we take it Samsung went for the minimum radius that was technologically feasible.

Samsung Galaxy Fold review

The Fold has slightly different controls from all other Galaxies. There's no under display fingerprint reader on this one like there is on the S10 and S10e. Instead, it's a conventional capacitive sensor on the right (non-hinge) side, similar to the one on the Galaxy S10e. It also doubles as a Bixby button and we're certain that will lead to unintentional Bixby launches and it will require getting used to.

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Samsung Galaxy Fold

Unfolding the Fold presents you with the whole 7.3 inches of Dynamic AMOLED display goodness. Effectively, the area showing content is in a 4:3 ratio but there is also a status bar up top to account for the additional 100-odd pixels extra height beyond the customary 2,048x1,536px.

Samsung Galaxy Fold review

The status bar is off to the left side, with a notch that holds the two selfie cameras eating into it in the top right corner. It's one of the biggest notches around, there's no denying that, and it is a bit of an eyesore.

The notch holds the Galaxy S10+ dual-cam selfie setup - one is a 10MP dual-pixel AF snapper, and the other one is an 8MP depth sensor. But if you thought of that as an eyesore, then brace yourself for some even worse news.

There's also this vertical crease in the middle where the display folds in half. It's just there, always. It's particularly visible on lighter backgrounds or on dark ones with light reflecting directly off of it, and the only time it disappears visually is when you hit the blind spot when looking upon the screen at sharp 90-degrees.

Samsung Galaxy Fold review

This is far from ideal, obviously, and all the developments Samsung's made in its display technology to get to this point aren't quite enough to make a foldable screen that opens up fully flat. The good thing is your brain is very likely to actually learn to ignore it and look past it. That, of course, depends on just how big of a perfectionist you are about the displays in your life - moderately sane folks will probably be fine with it.

You can leave the Fold folded halfway or so and its screen will be fully operational, if you for some reasons have wondered about that.

And the screen is of the same quality as any other recent AMOLED by Samsung. It's as big as an iPad Mini's display, sans the bezels of course.

And having a tablet-sized screen allows for all tablet benefits - fitting more content on the screen, enjoying games better, insane multi-tasking, and more.

Samsung Galaxy Fold review

The Galaxy Fold body is reasonably built of glass and metal. The outer shell is made of glass pieces, probably Gorilla Glass, while the frame is all metal.

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Samsung Galaxy Fold

The inner display is covered with some sort of a protector and the whole thing feels quite soft. That's expectable though, as the screen is foldable, and it should be soft.

Unfortunately, this protective folio turned out to be the one to stay in the way of the Galaxy Fold launch and Samsung has effectively postponed the premiere until it finishes assessing the situation. Apparently, this is indeed a screen protector, but upon removal it destroys the soft OLED panel underneath. Samsung did not warn about this in any manner and we can understand why some reviewers decided to peel it off. An obvious warning is indeed required within the retail box.

But the issues didn't end with the protector. Some hinges failed while using the phone and ruined the screen. Others turned up not to be so air-tight and allowed for small particles to enter underneath the screen rather easily and make for some nasty pimple-like bulges.

All of these problems combined led Samsung to recall all review units for further inspection. The company claims it has redesigned the hinge many times until it decided on the one we saw. The others before that weren't that safe for the screen. Well, apparently this one isn't either.

We don't know how things will turn out, but we hope those few reportedly failed reviewers' units to be because of pre-production hiccups and not because of a bad design - a worst case scenario that will discontinue this Fold for good.

Anyway, if the Fold makes it to the market, you will enjoy something truly unique. First, you will have to get used to the size and its fold/unfold routine, but let's not forget this is a folded tablet turned into a smartphone or the other way around, but it's not just a phone. Just a phone is the Galaxy S10, a versatile tablet-phone is what the Fold is.

Samsung Galaxy Fold review

So, the Galaxy Fold is pretty unique. Its build isn't the safest or the most secure, but it just can't be at this stage of its technology. The Fold could be your daily driver, but you shouldn't bring it on the beach or the pool - there is a big change you'd ruin it there.

Handling it starts feeling natural after a few days of folding and unfolding and you will eventually get the natural with its multi-tasking capabilities. Plus, that HDR10+ AMOLED is a feast for the eyes and Netflix, HBO, Amazon, YouTube and the likes offer endless entertainment.

Even with all the oddities and concerns, the Fold seems like an incredible piece of technology to own. It's a tablet and it's a smartphone all at the same time.

Reader comments

  • shain
  • 19 Aug 2021
  • CAC

return your device to the place to got the fold

  • Anonymous
  • 22 Dec 2020
  • mpm

Email Samsung, this isnt GSMArenas issue.

  • Yakolo
  • 25 Oct 2020
  • r3a

I am using Samsung gallaxy 5g fold and it is not charging, please can rectify the problem