Samsung Galaxy Fold: Phone Features Of The Future

A bottle of 100 degree whiskey? It has about 40 words on the warning label.

A bottle of NyQuil? 60 words

A fireworks box? 100 words.


A Samsung Galaxy Fold? 115 words!

To be fair, the world's first folding smartphone demands a little more caution than it should have, especially for those of us who have become so used to driving, well, smartphones, for example:

-Do not press the screen with a pointed object, including pens. (Yes, the company that taught us how to use a touch pen is now telling us not to use a touch pen.)

-Do not expose it to liquids or small particles. (This is from the company that beat Apple in launching a waterproof phone).

-Do not paste stickers or screen protectors to the screen. (Enough).

-Do not put it near credit cards, medical devices or anything that may be affected by magnets. (Luckily, phones are never in the same pocket where credit cards are!)

However, I am delighted to report that unlike Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Fold – whose launch was canceled in April after the screens began to break and critics (like me) began to question their survival – the new version continues to work after of a week and a half of tests.

Of course, all the warnings terrified me by removing the $ 1,980 hybrid phone tablet from the box. I kept it in its ugly case most of the time and even took it to a security bubble to review it in my video. But when you put all that aside, it's a real step forward.

Smartphones have become boring, so boring that the best thing I can do is advise updating them every three or four years, since the innovation leaps are so scarce.

But not the Samsung Galaxy Fold. It is the most interesting smartphone in years. However, do I recommend that you buy a $ 2,000 phone that needs more careful handling than a Fabergé egg? No way. The Fold has escaped the South Korean tech giant's labs too soon, but it teaches us (and Samsung) the following about the future of mobile devices.

No. 1: The future is big

We no longer call phones “tablets” because all smartphones now have gigantic screens of 5 to 6 inches. The Fold is proof that the phone screens can be even larger, while the phones themselves are still manageable in size.

The large 7.3-inch screen, despite the crease in the center, was better than the 6.1-inch screen of my iPhone in a handful of situations. Watching Bill Gates' new docuseries on Netflix during my morning trip was much more immersive. In my daily morning meeting, I took notes on the left side of the screen and kept an eye on my inbox on the right. You feel that you are on the map when you navigate with Google Maps. And reading in the Kindle application in bed was much more similar to reading in a dedicated electronic reader.

However, I have very few – if there are any – nice things to say about the 4.6-inch exterior screen of the folding phone. He longed to have wrist hands when it came to sending a quick text message or even dialing a phone number. Nine times out of ten, I gave up and deployed the big screen of the tablet, which I still can't do with one hand with elegance. The best thing about the folded phone was to take it to the ear so that the calls were clear and strong. Better that than a massive tablet, unless you want to block the sun.

The Huawei Mate X foldable phone has a 6.6-inch exterior display that is deployed on an 8-inch tablet. This seems much more practical for daily use, but it has been repeatedly delayed. More tests: This is not the year of the folding phone!

No. 2: The future is software

The Fold hardware receives a lot of attention, but its Android software tricks also deserve some attention. Open an application on the small screen, deploy the phone and the application is automatically enlarged. Samsung has also worked directly with the creators of Android applications, including Instagram and Spotify, to refine applications for the square tablet.

Placing two applications next to each other also works well. I often had my email on one side and a calendar or web browser on the other. Actually, you can place three applications on the screen, but that's exaggerated.

All these tricks point to something that we will see more often in our phones, tablets and computers: software that adapts to the screen we are in and allows us to resume work where we leave it. Apple has recently taken similar steps by providing software developers with tools to create applications that work on iPhones, iPads and Macs.

My only real problem with The Fold software? All preloaded garbage from AT&T. I counted 10 applications from the cell phone company.

No. 3: The future is wireless

With two batteries inside, the phone lasted all day with a charge and up to two days when I didn't use it much in the deployed tablet mode. In my test, the displayed screen transmitted the video for 14.5 hours straight.

The outer surface of the folded Galaxy Fold is not necessarily small, but the built-in 4.6-inch screen feels tight. PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN / THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

When you need to charge, you can use a wireless charger or the fast charger in the box. Like the Galaxy S10 and Note 10, the Fold also supports Wireless Powershare. Turn on the settings, then place another Qi-compatible wireless device on the back and the Fold will share its power, even with an iPhone.

Of course, headphone jacks are a thing of the past. Samsung includes its $ 130 wireless Galaxy Buds in the box. For 2,000 dollars, it is better!

No. 4: The future is expensive

The last few years have taught us that phone prices have no limits. They have also taught us that a subset of buyers are willing to pay $ 1,000 or more for innovation. In addition to its dual screens, the Fold is a charged Samsung, with the full complement of cameras found in the Galaxy Note 10 and 512GB of storage. (Not 5G, but that could be a good thing.)

The Fold is not the innovation to buy right now, but even when it is, you can bet that the price will not have dropped much. Heck, even Samsung's 10 note now starts at $ 950, and a version of that with 5G and 512GB of storage costs $ 1,400.

No. 5: The future is NOT fragile

There is nothing like opening your new phone from the future to find not one but two lists of "care instructions", one in a plastic wrap around the device and the other on the home screen.

Samsung improved the Fold's screen protections, including the hinge strengthening, the extension of the screen protector under the frame and the addition of those "T" covers to prevent debris from penetrating under the screen. PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN / THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Plastic – or, as Samsung says, "polymer" – is the key to understanding this fragility. The glass can break, but does not break, so a thin piece can easily protect the electronic components that are under it. The plastic does not break, but it bends, stretches, punches or scratches easily. That explains why there is still a small notch in the Fold polymer screen of my nail.

In addition to listing all the necessary adjustments to change the lives of Fold buyers, Samsung made some adjustments on its own. The cover at the top of the screen now extends below the frame (as I suggested in my first folding column), so it is no longer easy to take off. Samsung says the hinge has been reinforced, the mesh now has a metal layer underneath and small caps have been placed on the top of the mesh hinge to prevent dust and dirt from entering below the plastic layer . Still, it feels fragile, even weak, alongside a Galaxy S10.

Samsung offers some help to those who end up breaking it: a one-time screen replacement of $ 149 in the first year ($ 599 later) and "concierge" service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

"It's important to remember that the Galaxy Fold is a one-of-a-kind device that incorporates new technologies and materials," a Samsung spokeswoman said in a statement. "We are committed to continuous innovations in the folding space and are excited about the launch of Galaxy Fold."

Still, I can't imagine that many people rush to buy a Fold, and anyone who does is not waiting for my permission. But I do recommend going to a Best Buy, AT&T or Samsung store to see the most exciting smartphone experiment so far. While there, stay away from knives, magnets, stickers, water, credit cards, fluff, scissors, dust …

The Galaxy Fold opens and closes like a book. PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN / THE WALL STREET JOURNAL