Samsung’s Galaxy Fold With Flexible UHD Display Means A Phone Design Revolution
Stephan Jukic – February 21, 2019
It’s hard to know what to make of the Samsung Galaxy Fold, the company’s new ultra-premium luxury phone that was unveiled Wednesday in San Francisco. For one thing, fully opened up, it wouldn’t be hard to confuse this entirely new type of electronic animal with a tablet instead of a phone and secondly, there’s its price, damn what a price. It completely outdoes even what the iPhone XS Max cost when released in late 2018, but without the entirely established fan base to guarantee serious sales figures, because like we said, the Galaxy Fold is an entirely new sort of device.
In other words, it’s hard to say just how many people will bother forking over the minimum $1,980 price tag for this admittedly incredible piece of display technology. What we can say however is that despite its insane luxury price tag, the Fold is Impressive, and yes, that word deserves a capital I.
It’s hard to know where to begin describing all of this machine’s incredible specs, so we’ll start with the obvious thing that gave it its name. Unlike any phone ever made to-date, the Galaxy Fold has a folding solid screen. In effect, it delivers the display space of two whole largish conventional smartphone screens in one and simply has to be opened up like a compact notebook for its two halves to form into one single smooth, almost tablet-sized surface. Whatever consumers might think of this, or whether anyone thinks its worth having for a price that will exceed $2000 after taxes, the fold itself is one completely unique thing in a consumer phone model. This almost magical 7.3 inch folding screen is called an “Infinity Flex Display” and delivers QXGA+ RESOLUTION (4.2:3) when fully open. This means a pixel count of 2048×1536 in case you’re wondering, larger than 1080P. There’s also a second 4.6 inch display for using the device fully folded in ordinary phone mode. This comes with HD+ resolution (12:9).
The Infinity Flex Display technology in the Fold is basically plastic, in case you’re also wondering about that too and while Samsung didn’t let a single reporter or tech reviewer so much as breathe on the Galaxy Fold phone at their expo event in San Francisco (it was kept safely at a distance on the stage the whole time), we’re assuming that the screen will be highly responsive despite this necessary choice in material.
The display of the Galaxy Fold is also notable for how it works both physically and in terms of interface handling. Samsung explained that the Fold’s fully open display can handle up to three different apps at the same time, and an app continuity system in the Android 9 Pi OS of this phone lets you switch between all three while they’re open as needed or if you refold the Fold into phone mode. Thus, apps like Microsoft Office, Gmail, Chrome and Whatsapp or Facebook along with YouTube and others have all been optimized for smooth transitions between each other or the Fold’s phone and tablet modes. Samsung has stated that it worked with Google to make sure that the Galaxy Fold’s Android 9 Pie OS fully supports this entirely new interface.
The actual folding mechanism of the Fold is also pretty cool. A sturdy backbone in the device comes with a hidden hinge system of multiple interlocking gears that smoothly lets you open the Fold as needed without slowly damaging the rather delicate looking screen. Given the hefty 4,380 mAh battery that’s crammed into the Fold for hours of powering all this phone’s hardware and software capabilities, you’d think its double sided design would cause the whole thing to balance badly in your hands, with the weight of the battery in just one side. However, nope, Samsung covered this major design detail too, and split the battery into two halves, one in each side, joined to work together with a fine thread of power connectivity.
The Galaxy Fold’s screen isn’t the only incredibly impressive thing about it. Samsung also invested a whopping amount of development into this beast of a device’s camera technology. The Galaxy Fold comes with a total of 6 different cameras and they’re simply packed with top-caliber photo and video capture capacity. Three of these are in the back of the phone, two others are on the inside of its fold and a third camera sits on the cover. They come with the same sort of sensor technology that Samsung’s also newly-released Galaxy S10 phones include and while Samsung hasn’t exactly clarified which of the six cameras are best for selfies, which for landscape shots and which for other types of photography, they all offer plenty of visual scope. Their specs below speak for themselves and at least one of the cameras offers 4K video recording:
- 10-megapixel (F2.2)
- 12-megapixel dual aperture wide-angle with OIS (F1.5/F2.4)
- 12-megapixel telephoto with OIS, 2x optical zoom (2.4)
- 16-megapixel ultra wide-angle lens (F2.2)
- 10-megapixel (F2.2)
- 8-megapixel RGB depth camera (F1.9)
To power and contain all of the above performance needs that Samsung has deigned to reveal so far, the Galaxy Fold also comes with plenty of horsepower and storage. It includes a 512GB Universal Flash Storage 3.0 (eUFS) for extremely fast loading speed, and beefs this up further with a Qualcomm 7nm octa-core processor that is itself further augmented by a whopping 12GB of RAM. Then there is, as we already mentioned, the dual component 4,380 mAH battery to keep everything running for at least several hours at a time.
So there you have it. The Galaxy Fold is pretty insane and while its foldable screen might not be the consumer hit of 2019 at this price, there’s a more than decent chance that it’s the starting salvo of a whole new trend in smartphone design. This makes practical sense given that no matter how powerful rigid display phones as they’ve been built to-date are, they still suffer the fundamental limit of needing a display that lets them fit in a pocket. This sometimes isn’t enough for everything people now use their devices for. The Galaxy Fold finally seems to solve the issue in the neatest way possible with current technology, and it manages this without just becoming another clumsy, rigid “phablet”.
Samsung isn’t the only company that seems to be leaning in this direction either. While we’re not sure if foldable phones end up being the next wave of smartphone design, several other major brands are working on their own models. These include Xiaomi, Huawei, Alcatel and Motorola. Even Apple is exploring this territory if patent applications for foldable display from the company are anything to go by.
Whatever the Galaxy Fold’s prospects of success and future redesigns may be, you can get a copy of this first ever model for yourself as of April 26th through AT&T and T-Mobile if you’re in the U.S. Starting price is $1980 plus whatever taxes apply in your region. Samsung is also releasing the Fold in Europe on May 3d at a starting price of 2000 Euros.
We’ve always loved Samsung’s 4K TV technology, based on our reviews for the main focus of this site, so we hope the Galaxy Fold lives up to all its hype, even if it costs more than most of this brand’s televisions do.