Finding a way to turn a trend into a longstanding feature is tough. Some things, like modular smartphones, don’t pick up steam like some companies thought they might. But if there is one thing to say about Samsung, it’s that the company does have a keen eye on picking out winners.
The biggest, of course, is the big screen on a smartphone. This is something that Apple fought back against for quite some time, but Samsung dragged the rest of the smartphone market along with it. Now smartphone displays are huge, bezels are smaller, and the general consensus seems to be that this is a good thing. The newer trend, that Samsung didn’t start (but didn’t ignore) is multiple cameras on the back (and front!) of our phones.
One other trend that might not take off? Pop-out cameras. That seems to be on shaky ground.
But foldable phones do feel like the future. A futuristic one, yes, but almost inevitable. Samsung has been keen to this idea for years, first showing off its vision for this particular reality way back in 2014. Now it’s 2019 and the company is on the cusp of launching its first foldable smartphone, the Galaxy Fold. There has been a lot of hypes, and a lot of questions, about this device, and this week we’ve started to get some answers. Unfortunately, they’re not all positive.
The Verge‘s Dieter Bohn has done a solid job of keeping track of his time with the Galaxy Fold. Like others, he started off with pretty positive remarks about Samsung’s first foldable phone, coming away pleasantly surprised with the handset. And then things took a turn for the worst. Bohn, along with several other reviewers, reported that the display on their Galaxy Fold was failing. Some showed lines on the screen, others were unresponsive. Bohn, for instance, had almost all of the above, along with a bulge under the screen right along the hinge that made it unusable.
Bohn says his problems were not directly tied to the protective layer on the phone’s primary display, which Samsung would very much like people not to remove. Others, though, noted that after they did remove it the phone’s screen became effectively useless and broken. Basically, Samsung started on a pretty high note and then things came crashing down.
Today, Bohn published his review for the Galaxy Fold. The primary takeaway here is that he isn’t going to recommend anyone buy the phone, and that it has a ton of issues aside from the major hardware failing his first unit had:
“But it is worth thinking about. Even though I would never buy the Galaxy Fold and wouldn’t recommend anybody else does either, I’m going to keep thinking about it. Because there might be the start of something really new here, something really different.”
And in the review, Bohn notes many of the failings that the Galaxy Fold has, on top of the major issues mentioned above. Over the course of the review, it was discovered, for example, that the display refresh rate on the primary screen is pretty bad, and you can see “jelly scrolling” with the right side scrolling at a different speed than the left side of the screen. The primary display’s screen is plastic, and it can get pretty banged up pretty easily. The notch on the inside is massive. And so on.
You should head through the source link above and check out the full review. It’s certainly worth watching, even if it is basically a confirmation that the Galaxy Fold is a first-edition handset that should probably be skipped. Especially because it costs $1,980, and some of the problems should not be present on a premium smartphone with a price tag that high.
But I can’t help but see the (albeit faint) positives here. Just like Bohn noted in his own review, the foldable smartphone does feel like this is the future of our devices –the ability to have a primary phone and a tablet (not a phablet) in one device– and maybe the perceived failure of the Galaxy Fold is just a bit of a stumble on our inevitable arrival to that future.
There’s also the fact that Samsung isn’t the only company going down this route. We have the Huawei Mate X, and Motorola’s return to the RAZR brand name coming down the pipe. There will be others. Even Apple is rumored to be working on a foldable iPhone.
There is a lot of promise in the Galaxy Fold, even if the first execution wasn’t great. But Samsung now has something to build on, and considering how gung-ho Samsung is for this type of device it’s hard to imagine they’re going to abandon the effort now. It was never going to fly off the shelves anyway. But now Samsung has a blueprint, can improve upon the design and the software, and launch something next year that’s actually worthwhile.