Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Fold is a pricey, but promising device that kicks off a new phase of the smartphone industry.
On Monday, the company held an event in New York City to let reporters and other members of media try out the gadget for the first time. Samsung announced the phone in February and it goes on sale on 26 April at the wallet-stretching price of US$1 980 (R28 000 before import duties, VAT and other taxes).
Samsung forecasts it will produce at least a million foldable phones this year. That’s a fraction of all the phones that the company shipped last year. Still, research firm Gartner expects the market will grow to 30 million units by 2023. Huawei, Xiaomi and Lenovo’s Motorola unit are working on foldable phones. There’s no indication yet that Apple is working on a folding iPhone.
The Galaxy Fold has a 4.6-inch screen on the front, which makes it smaller than most modern smartphone screens. But it opens up to become a 7.3-inch tablet, letting users run three apps at once. It has half a terabyte of storage and 12GB of RAM, rivalling high-end laptops. It also has six cameras and a pair of batteries.
The device feels like a tablet when opened up. There’s a satisfying click sound for the hinge. A crease is noticeable, but it doesn’t get in the way of using it. There’s spacing between two sides of the touchscreen keyboard so that typing with thumbs is comfortable.
When folded shut, the front-facing screen is small, and there is a noticeable gap above and below the display. The phone is also fairly thick when closed. It comes in silver, black, green and blue and preorders begin on Monday in the US.
Samsung is also developing a clamshell-like foldable phone and another one that folds outward. The company also envisions smartphones with rollable and stretchable displays, Samsung executive vice president Chung Eui-suk said in February.
Samsung spent eight years developing the Galaxy Fold. Still, there are questions about durability. Samsung is trying to remove a crease that appears on the protective film above the screen after it’s been folded about 10 000 times. The company has since released footage of machines repeatedly opening and closing the phone in what it dubbed an “extremity test” to assert its durability. — Reported by Mark Gurman, with assistance from Sam Kim, (c) 2019 Bloomberg LP