From “Foldgate” to Redemption
I first saw the Galaxy Fold during the launch of Galaxy S10 series in February 2019. Perhaps, just like most of the people who witnessed its grand unveiling, I was astounded and impressed with the number of innovations Samsung introduced in a device that most of us never thought would be announced at that time.
The introduction of Galaxy Fold almost overshadowed and made the Galaxy S10+ inferior. Thankfully, the device was nowhere in sight at the demo area, but the anticipation grew stronger especially to those who were eager to embrace a new innovation.
2 months later, the infamous “Foldgate” happened. Samsung shipped a couple of units to content creators across the world and… well… some of you already know the rest of the story.
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In September 2019, Samsung relaunched the Galaxy Fold with improved design and construction.
After realizing that the Galaxy Fold wasn’t consumer-ready, the Korean tech giant decided to analyze and fix the issues that were surrounding it.
Overall, the design of the Galaxy Fold remains unchanged with a 7.3-inch Infinity Flex Display and a 4.6-inch Super AMOLED panel on the outside.
The new Galaxy Fold now has rubbery protection hidden in the foldable part to prevent dust and other particles from getting into the mechanism. Along with this, the layer on top that protects the digitizer from scratches now goes beyond the edges to prevent accidental peeling.
It retains the six cameras as well as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 partnered with 12GB RAM and 512GB of internal storage.
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The Real (Flexible) Deal
I have been using the Galaxy Fold for almost a month now, and it’s exactly what I thought it would be when I first saw it in February. Upon opening its 7.3-inch glorious display, I was instantly made a fan.
The extra big screen real estate gives freedom to users. Freedom to see more than what you can do on a phone; and freedom to do more things in a single display. Obviously, colors pop and the sharpness is on point with its foldable dynamic AMOLED capacitive touchscreen. It is HDR10+ compatible so every video you shoot with such feature enabled will be displayed in such color range.
The enabler to the magic of its foldable display is its folding mechanism. The final iteration of the Galaxy Fold proved how good Samsung is when it comes to turning things around. Its articulated spine or hinge works perfectly, and while the screen has a visible gentle crease at the middle, it instantly vanishes as you use the device, at least not physically. It gives off an illusion of making the crease go away when you’re not looking at it directly.
Do more than usual
In order to appreciate its power, it’s best to illustrate it by measuring it up to the most powerful smartphone we have reviewed to date.
|Samsung Galaxy Fold
|ASUS ROG Phone 2
|3D Mark (Sling Shot Extreme)
|5594 (Open GL ES)
|6093 (Open GL ES)
|PC Mark (Work 2.0)
|728 (Single Core)
|719 (Single Core)
|2551 (Multi-Core Score)
|2320 (Multi-Core Score)
|1241.51 MB/s Sequential Read
|1441.54 MB/s Sequential Read
|382.08 MB/s Sequential Write
|408.55 MB/s Sequential Write
|430.65 MB/s Sequential Write
|1.10 GB/s Sequential Read
|212.14 MB/s Sequential Write
|301.30 MB/s Sequential Write
Galaxy Fold is a powerful device, but it cannot come close to the ASUS ROG Phone 2 – the most powerful smartphone that we reviewed so far in our channel. Nevertheless, whatever powers the Fold is enough to help it carry out the functions it’s meant and advertised to do.
When playing triple-A mobile games, you get extra screen space to bring more depth to your gameplay. It felt more immersive to play Black Desert, Call of Duty Mobile and NBA 2K20 on this smartphone than ROG Phone 2 or Huawei Mate30 Pro albeit the missing shoulder triggers. The icons and quest tab on Black Desert, for instance, looked more natural on Galaxy Fold compared to ROG Phone 2.
Galaxy Fold, in terms of gaming performance, has laudable performance based on our Gamebench test. At maximum settings, Black Desert Mobile averages 55fps during 20 minutes of continuous gameplay. It clocks at 58fps for PUBG Mobile and 60fps on NBA 2K20 at the same duration of continuous gameplay.
The smartphone excels even further outside gaming. Faithful to their advertisement, I managed to open 3 applications at once when the phone is unfolded. I can use applications to book a flight, check hotel vacancies and look at my calendar at the same time. It’s a neat feature to have on a device that does not take you out from a smartphone experience.
The Folded Experience
This is a smartphone… a very compact one at its folded state. Just like any other smartphone, you can open all applications without worrying about compatibility. The screen, which Samsung calls Cover Display, is too small for playing mobile games, but it’s enough to use essential applications like Phone, Messages, YouTube Music, Facebook, etc.
The beauty of this is that while it’s meant to be used as a quick-access to essential apps, Samsung made sure that you can still use it beyond their recommendation. Some apps do not maximize instantly when you unfold the phone. One UI would require an app refresh to make it compatible to the phone’s unfolded state and occupy the rest of the display.
Impressive Set of Cameras
Galaxy Fold has a total of 6 cameras. Its cover display hides a 10MP Cover camera, with a pixel size of 1.22μm and FOV of 80˚. Aperture is f/2.2, which should be good enough to let you take Live Focus selfies using NPU (Neural Processing unit).
At its unfolded state, you will see 2 Front cameras: a 10MP camera, which resembles the one hidden in the cover display; and another 8MP RGB Depth Camera with an aperture of f/1.9 and pixel size of 1.12μm. FOV a little wider – 85˚- which lets you take quite wider selfie photos.
Meanwhile, Galaxy Fold as 3 rear cameras: a 16MP Ultra Wide Camera; 12MP Wide-Angle Camera; and, another 12MP Telephoto Camera. You can check out the full specs of the rear cameras below.
|f/1.5 and f/2,4
As expected from Samsung, Galaxy Fold does an excellent job of preserving the right amount of saturation and contrast of the photos we took using the rear camera. Moreover, if you’re familiar with the quality of photos and videos taken with Galaxy Note 10+, the ones we took with Galaxy Fold are not too different.
Battery Life’s not a dud
I thought that the best way to test Galaxy Fold’s battery life is to use it the way it’s meant to be used. Open essential apps using the Cover Display, and unfold it when playing games or “pretend” to become productive by browser the internet or Facebook.
From a full 100% charge, Galaxy Fold manages to stay up for 9.12 hours with 15% remaining battery juice. I did not expect its 4,380 mAh battery to last this long given its setup.
Price and Availability
Galaxy Fold is available in Smart’s Device Plan L at PhP4,099 per month for 24 months with a one-time cashout of PhP20,700. Plan L, for this particular smartphone bundle, has 15GB data, Unli AnyNet Texts, Unlo On-Net Calls, and 150 minutes of AnyNet calls.
Since Plan L is PhP1,999 per month, the additional PhP2,100 is basically the consumer’s amortization for the phone. This means that if you add the cashout of PhP20,700 and the sum of phone amortization of PhP2,100 for 24 months, you’re technically paying the phone at a subsidized rate of PhP71,100.
Another option is to avail the Smart Infinity Limitless or Traveler Plan 5000 for 30 months. Inclusive to the features tucked in the Plan 5000 are unlimited data (non-stop surf), unlimited calls to all networks, unlimited texts to all networks and unlimited landline calls. Apart from the Galaxy Fold that comes with it, you’re getting your personal account manager for your membership related concerns, 24/7 dedicated hotline, priority stores, worldwide concierge, etc.
If your pocket is deeper than usual, you can subscribe to Plan 8000, which grants you additional PhP2,400 consumable amount plus a Galaxy Note 10+ (on top of your free Galaxy Fold).
However, if you’re a high-roller, you can actually buy one for PhP109,990. Pretty steep, I must say for the price of owning an impressive piece of innovation.
Is it worth every penny?
Owning a Galaxy Fold at this time is not something I would recommend if you are just after a flagship smartphone. If you have the money to spend on a piece of technology that is worth remembering for ages, then buy it, by all means. However, if you just wish to get an Android smartphone that has an impressive camera, software and hardware functions, get yourself a Samsung Galaxy Note 10+.
Samsung is worth commending for being bold and brave to sell the Samsung Galaxy Fold. They can rest on their laurels for being a smartphone innovator, at least for now. The quest to further improve this new trend continues not just for Samsung but for the rest of the major players in the industry.
Giancarlo Viterbo is a Filipino Technology Journalist, blogger and Editor of gadgetpilipinas.net, He is also a Geek, Dad and a Husband. He knows a lot about washing the dishes, doing some errands and following instructions from his boss on his day job. Follow him on twitter: @gianviterbo and @gadgetpilipinas.