Impressions: Samsung Galaxy Fold

Gelo Gonzales
Here are our thoughts on the soon-to-be-released foldable smartphone from Samsung

SAMSUNG GALAXY FOLD. All photos by Gelo Gonzales/Rappler

The Samsung Galaxy Fold will be the first foldable to launch in the Philippines as pre-orders open on November 18 at Globe, with the device priced at P109,990. 

Perhaps that’s what’s going to get people’s attention the most – the incredible price tag. It makes the iPhone 11 look positively affordable. But Samsung has a case here. It’s a new product category: a 2-in-1 phone and tablet. It’s a tablet that can fold and fit in your pocket, and a phone that opens up to give you a larger screen that’s great for reading e-books, browsing, and watching videos. 

Only the Fold and Huawei’s upcoming Mate X occupy the category at the moment, so the steep asking price really shouldn’t be a shock.

I don’t yet see the absolute necessity of a phone-tablet device yet, and I suppose many will be content with a separate phone and a tablet. But that’s not to say it’s not appealing because just after a short time with the Fold, I do feel like this is a device that has some promise. 

Phones have gotten bigger screens through the years, but appeared to have maxed out, reaching the limits of pocketability. A foldable fixes that. Shut it, and it’s completely pocket-friendly, if a bit thicker than most phones. Open it, and you’ve got a screen that’s about twice as big as the biggest phone screen out there. This thing could be the best for watching Netflix in bed. 

They also said screen size has a direct correlation to your attention span – that is, the bigger the screen, the more patience you have for reading through an article or watching a video. So perhaps this could help people actually finish reading an entire article and a video longer than 3 minutes. 

I loved how it felt in my hand too. The tablet form felt well-balanced, and wasn’t big enough that I couldn’t clamp down on it with my fingers. The phone form was thick, and the screen felt a little small, but it just had this premium feel to it. I was actually surprised that the device actually felt as premium as their Note and S phones. I had gotten some hands-on time with the Huawei Mate X back in March as well, which, looking back, feels just a little less polished, less premium than the Galaxy Fold. 

The hinge marks on the screen, I felt, were a little less noticeable on the Galaxy Fold and its screen was less reflective. Lighting could be a factor though. The Huawei foldable hands-on was held at a very bright room with lots of sunlight while the Galaxy Fold hands-on was at a smaller setting with dimmer artificial lights. (READ: 15 minutes with Huawei’s Mate X foldable: what’s hot, what’s not)

It’s not a completely fair comparison to make right now as well. The Galaxy Fold being released now has been reworked a little because of its delay-causing screen issues earlier in the year. It’s already been improved. The Mate X we saw back in March may not have been the final production version, and the one that may eventually see its way into stores may be improved as well. 

The point here is, the Galaxy Fold is a finished product ready for the market – a niche one though, made up for either the rich or the serious tech enthusiasts who want the newest hot thing. I truly felt excited when I got to play around with the Fold because the screen looks crisp (both the big one and the one on the front); its cameras seem to be just as capable as its flagship Note’s and S10’s; and it really felt good in the hand. 

At P109,990, it also feels like a really expensive toy right now. (At that price, you could probably get an iPad, an iPhone 11, and have enough change for several years of Netflix.) But holding it, I also felt like this could, down the line, be a legitimate category just because people always seem to want bigger screens, but at the same time, something that they could still put in their pocket. 

Here’s hoping that the new and improved Fold is way, way tougher than its original version. –

Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.