Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Fold Review

The Samsung Galaxy Fold has been updated with a new design that aims to sort the issues with the original.

First Impressions

More than just a concept, the Galaxy Fold feels like a real product that might almost be worthy of the high price. Let's just hope all the issues have been resolved.

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £1900
  • 7.3-inch foldable display
  • 4.6-inch FHD+ outer display
  • Snapdragon 855
  • 12GB RAM
  • 4380mAh battery
  • 512GB storage
  • 12MP + 12MP + 16MP cameras on the back
  • 10MP + 8MP front cameras

Samsung Galaxy Fold hands on: Has Samsung fixed the issues?

After months of delays, the Samsung Galaxy Fold is finally ready to be released. After initial models broke, Samsung has tweaked the design slightly and it looks like the issues might have been sorted.

We’ve spent a few hours over multiple sessions, including plenty of time with the new version at IFA 2019, and here are our first thoughts.

Samsung Galaxy Fold Design and Screen – How was the Fold fixed?

The first thing you’ll notice about the Fold is just how good it feels to hold. The folding motion is smooth and clicks into place; it feels thoroughly satisfying and I couldn’t help but just sit there folding and unfolding it multiple times, staring at how unique a flexible display looks.

How well it lasts over time, of course, should be of concern, especially when the price is within touching distance of £2000/$2000. There was also the issues with the first version, which lead to the delay.

To try and avoid those issues happening again Samsung has made some key tweaks. The top layer of the display can no longer be peeled off (this was a big issue before the redesign) and there are two extra caps at the top and bottom to stop dirt getting under the screen. Samsung has also said it has improved the hinge.

Samsung Galaxy Fold

You can see the extra plastic cap in the middle

The Galaxy Fold packs two screens: a 4.6-inch, HD+ Super AMOLED outer display with a 21:9 aspect ratio, and a 7.3-inch, QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED inner “Infinity Flex” display with a 4.2:3 aspect ratio. The Fold opens up like a book, and when closed it essentially looks like two phones stuck together. It feels like it too, and you’ll notice it’s much bulkier in a pocket than pretty much any other flagship phone.

Samsung Galaxy Fold

Holding the Fold when it’s closed isn’t what I was expecting at all. The small outer screen is tiny by today’s standards and it has a comically large top and chin. Thing is, it’s so narrow and easy to hold I can see this being used solely for checking the odd message, taking a call and keeping an eye on your route. Almost every other action will likely be done with the phone open. This clearly isn’t the ideal look Samsung is going for, though, and really feels like a sacrifice that had to be made for this first-generation product.

Related: iPhone 11

Samsung Galaxy Fold

The near-square display is most comparable to an iPad Mini – broken only be a very annoying notch towards the right side – and anything you’re looking at on the front screen mirrors to the larger panel when you open the phone up. If you’ve got Google Maps open and you unfold the device then it instantly switches the big screen without any fuss or lag.

The 4:3 aspect ratio isn’t ideal for video, however, it’s great for browsing and reading. Samsung’s tweaked its multitasking software heavily here and as a result you can keep three windows open at once. As an example, I had a web page taking up half the panel, a YouTube video boxed out in the lower right and a notepad nestled in at the top.

The idea that I can unfurl the Fold when I am sitting on the train or bus without getting another device out is arguably the one killer reason for foldable as a class of device. I’d say Samsung wants the Fold to replace both a tablet and phone and in some ways it works. The problem is that the biggest sacrifice feels like the phone part.

The biggest issue with the display is the very visible fold line down the middle. Look at the screen directly and you’ll likely miss it; a glance from an off-axis angle and the crease left by the fold line becomes very obvious. It’s also very obvious when you’re using the phone in sunny weather.

Samsung Galaxy Fold

The hype surrounding the Fold felt like it dipped as soon as Huawei launched the equally foldable Mate X. The Mate X’s single screen folds outwards, as opposed to two external and internal screens on the Fold, and the whole way it fits together feels so much more complete than the Fold as a result. I could see myself jumping straight into using the Mate X, while I think they’ll be some major adjustments needed to help with the Fold feel familiar.

Samsung Galaxy Fold − Specs, camera and features

The Galaxy Fold might be all about the design and the completely different form-factor but that’s not to say this isn’t going to stand out as one of the most specced-out smartphones of 2019. Even if it’s coming out five months later than expected.

Inside you’ll find a Snapdragon 855 chipset across all regions and a whopping 12GB of RAM, as well as 512GB of internal storage. That large amount of RAM is needed to ensure multiple windows can be kept open without running into any issues.

There’s not one but two batteries − one on each half − that will work in tandem. Samsung says the Fold’s total battery capacity is 4380mAh which feels a little on the small side if I’m being honest. There’s a seriously large amount of phone here that needs powering and if the Fold has the same endurance issues as the Galaxy S10, then getting through a whole day without additional charge time might be an issue. Again, first-gen products tend to have obvious issues and battery life could very well be one here.

The Galaxy Fold can be used to wirelessly charge another device via Wireless PowerShare. AKG-tuned speakers are on board, too, as well as UFS 3.0 support. There’s no microSD card slot, however, and the fingerprint scanner is a physical unit on the side rather than the in-display variety. Having disliked the ultrasonic sensor on the S10 and enjoying the side-mounted one on the S10e this feels like more of an upgrade than a sacrifice.

Samsung Galaxy Fold

You’ll find six cameras dotted about the Fold. On the rear there’s a 16-megapixel, f/2.2 ultra-wide camera, a 12-megapixel wide-angle camera and a 12-megapixel telephoto sensor; on the inside is a 10-megapixel f/2.2 camera and an 8-megapixel f/1.9 RGB depth camera; on the front sits a 10-megapixel f/2.2 sensor.

Optically things are mostly the same as the S10 and one would assume the pictures will look pretty similar too.

This is also a completely 5G in the UK, with EE being the exclusive carrier.

Samsung Galaxy Fold – Early Verdict

Having used both versions of the Galaxy Fold it does seem, at this early stage, like the issues should now be fixed. Whether other issues will arise once people have used the device for an extended period remains to be seen and is always possible with a first-gen product.

I am still not convinced about the practicality of the smaller outer display and the notch on the inside screen is very irritating. But there’s no doubt this is a seriously exciting product that I can’t wait to spend longer with.

Samsung Galaxy Fold – Price and release date

You’ll be able to pick up the Galaxy Fold in the UK from September 18 for £1900. This package will include the 5G version of the phone complete with a pair of Galaxy Buds and a case. US availability kicks off from September 27.

A ’hands on review’ is our first impression of a product only - it is not a full test and verdict. Our writer must have spent some time with the product to describe an early sense of what it’s like to use. We call these ‘hands on reviews’ to make them visible in search. However these are always unscored and don’t give recommendations. Read more about our reviews policy.

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.