Samsung Galaxy Fold
|Slogan||The Future Unfolds|
|Model||SM-F900x (last letter varies by carrier and international models)|
SCV44 (Japan; au)
|First released||6 September 2019|
|Availability by region||6 September 2019South Korea) (|
9 September 2019 (Worldwide)
27 September 2019 (United States)
25 October 2019 (Japan)
|Related||Samsung Galaxy S10, Samsung Galaxy Note 10|
|Form factor||Folding slate|
|Mass||263 g (9.3 oz)|
|Operating system||Original: Android 9.0 "Pie"|
|System on chip||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855|
|CPU||Octa-core (1x2.84 GHz, 3x2.42 GHz and 4x1.8 GHz) Kryo 485|
|Memory||12 GB LPDDR4X|
|Storage||512 GB UFS 3.0|
|Battery||4380 mAh (4G) |
4235 mAh (5G)
|Display||Dynamic AMOLED, HDR10+ |
|Sound||Dolby Atmos stereo speakers|
Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac/ax3G/LTE (5G on Fold 5G model)
The Samsung Galaxy Fold is an Android-based foldable smartphone developed by Samsung Electronics. Unveiled on February 20, 2019, it was released on September 6, 2019 in South Korea. The device is capable of being folded open to expose a 7.3-inch tablet-sized flexible display, while its front contains a smaller "cover" display, intended for accessing the device without opening it.
The Galaxy Fold received mixed pre-release reception, with praise for its innovative design, but with critics noting that the screen's plastic coating was not as premium or durable as a traditional glass smartphone screen, and concluding that the Galaxy Fold was a proof of concept device for early adopters rather than a device suited for the mass market.
Critics also displayed concerns over the Galaxy Fold's susceptibility to damage by debris due to the lack of protection around the display hinge; after the screens of several review units were damaged in this manner, or by users accidentally removing a protective plastic layer on top of the screen (which could be mistaken as a standard screen protector). In response to these issues, Samsung announced that it would delay the release of the Galaxy Fold indefinitely while it addressed the problems. Samsung officially detailed its design changes in July, and released the phone in September 2019.
A prototype of the Galaxy Fold (obscured to hide its final design) and its "Infinity Flex Display" was unveiled during a Samsung developers' conference in November 2018, demonstrating the adaptations to Samsung's Android distribution and newly-unveiled One UI software. Google stated that it would work with OEMs to support foldable devices on Android (an effort achieved natively in Android 10).
The Galaxy Fold contains two displays; its front cover contains a small, 4.6-inch display in the center designed for one-handed use, and the device can fold open to expose a 7.3-inch display. Samsung rated the fold mechanism as supporting up to 200,000 uses. The tablet screen contains a large notch in the top-right corner, and is coated with a custom multi-layer laminate in lieu of glass. Its power button contains a fingerprint reader. Samsung did not state which system-on-chip it uses in the Galaxy Fold, beyond that it is a "state-of-the-art" CPU with a 7 nanometer production process, contains 12 GB of RAM, and has 512 GB of non-expandable storage. Teardowns later revealed that it was the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, which is used in all regions (unlike other Samsung phones that have been split between Snapdragon and Samsung's in-house Exynos chips depending on the market). The Galaxy Fold will be sold with a 5G variant.
The device contains two batteries split between the two halves, totaling a 4380 mAh capacity. The Galaxy Fold contains 6 cameras, using the same sensors equipped on the Galaxy S10+, including three rear-facing camera lenses (12-megapixel, 12-megapixel telephoto, and 16-megapixel ultra wide-angle), as well as a 10-megapixel front-facing camera on the cover, and a second 10-megapixel front-facing camera, accompanied by an RGB depth sensor, on the inside screen.
The Galaxy Fold ships with Android 9.0 "Pie" and Samsung's One UI software; by means of Multi Window mode, up to three supported apps can be placed on-screen at once. Apps open on the smaller screen can expand into their larger, tablet-oriented layouts when the user unfolds the device.
Digital Trends praised the Fold's software, performance, camera and main screen, while criticizing the price, the front screen design and the lack of water resistance. Chokkattu remarked that "[it's] a lot of fun to use because it's so new", but noted that "it remains technology that's out of reach for most people". CNET felt that the inside of the device felt "toy-like" in contrast to the premium exterior, noting the fragility of its screen, a plastic bezel, a "ridiculous and unnecessarily large" notch, a crease in the screen visible from certain viewing angles, and gaps at the top and bottom of the hinge that were potentially susceptible to dust and debris. The lack of water resistance was also noted, and it was felt that the size of the cover screen made typing difficult. It was concluded that the Galaxy Fold was a "testbed device for developers and the earliest adopters to buy, and for the rest of us to ponder over".
Dieter Bohn of The Verge considered the fold-out tablet screen a "joy" to use, but remarked that its thick form factor and small cover screen made the Galaxy Fold less suited for shorter, frequent uses like a smartphone. He also panned the display for not being as smooth as a glass screen, being susceptible to scratches and blemishes over time, the aforementioned crease, the large notch, a "jelly" distortion between the two sides when scrolling, and having too many potential points of failure. Bohn praised its high-end hardware, and especially its batteries, and felt that multitasking was flexible but inelegant, and buggy with certain apps on transitions between modes. In conclusion, he felt that the Galaxy Fold was "legitimately a marvelous thing to play with", but that the device was more of a status symbol than a legitimate consumer product.
Review units showed a high rate of display failure; a teardown by iFixit noted that the crease contained noticeable gaps at the top and bottom, making it susceptible to foreign debris coming under the screen. This resulted in "bulges" experienced by multiple reviewers, including Blick, and The Verge—whose screen was damaged in this manner. At Samsung's request, this teardown was removed from the website.
In addition, a number of other reviewers damaged the screen by mistakenly removing one of the clear laminate layers that covers it. Samsung advised that the "special protective layer" that coats the screen must not be removed, as doing so may cause damage to the screen. Concerns were raised that consumers may mistake it for a pre-installed screen protector without proper advisories: retail units of the Galaxy Fold did contain a disclaimer. Samsung later stated that it would "thoroughly inspect" the defective review units to investigate the issues.
After reports surfaced that Samsung had postponed a Chinese launch event, Samsung announced on April 22 that the launch (originally set for April 26) had been delayed indefinitely while they work to fix the issue, with plans to announce the new release date sometime within the coming weeks. Samsung later announced that Galaxy Fold pre-orders would automatically be cancelled if the device had not been shipped by May 31, and the customer had not otherwise confirmed their order. On May 24, 2019, U.S. retailer Best Buy cancelled all pre-orders. AT&T subsequently cancelled pre-orders on June 13, 2019, announcing that it would issue refunds, as well as complimentary US$100 bill credits.
On July 24, 2019, Samsung announced that it was now targeting a September release, and detailed design changes intended to help reinforce the screen and protect the hinge. There are now "caps" on the top and bottom of the hinge area, extra layers of metal under the screen to improve its sturdiness, and the protective layer is extended under the bezels to hold it in place and prevent accidental removal. Samsung also stated that it had reduced the space between the hinge and body of the device.
Samsung issued more detailed care instructions with the new release, advising users against placing items or adhesives on the screen, pressing the screen with hard objects, exposure to liquids or small particles, removing the protective layer, and also warning about placing the phone near items sensitive to magnets (such as magnetic stripe cards and medical implants), The Verge felt that the new instructions were akin to "a pharmaceutical ad that has to disclose dozens of side effects". In the U.S., Samsung is distributing the Galaxy Fold solely through AT&T retail stores, Best Buy, and Samsung retail stores. These outlets will be equipped to offer "Premier Service" for the device, including an orientation session post-purchase that will include device setup, data migration from an existing phone, and one-on-one instruction on how to use its features. The "Premier Service" program also includes a dedicated customer support line specific to Galaxy Fold-related issues, and the ability to purchase a one-time screen replacement out-of-warranty from one of the aforementioned outlets for US$149 (however, the device still carries a standard one-year warranty).
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