"You don't even know, maybe you do know, but this is, I don't know, you know what I'm talking about..." This smartphone that we're reviewing needs no introduction, but it certainly needs to be familiarised. It is fragile but durable, too. It is a concept to many but also commercially available for consumers to buy and use. You know what I'm talking about...
If you've watched David Letterman's My Next Guest Needs No Introduction show on Netflix featuring Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan, you'd know the reference. If you don't, that's alright, as you're going to be spending the next few minutes reading about Samsung Galaxy Fold, the smartphone we feel is well ahead of its time, yet so relevant in today's use case scenario.
Samsung Galaxy Fold was certainly one of the biggest talking points when it was the catalyst of bad press back in April. The company had to recall all the review units and delay the launch of the foldable flagship everyone was so eagerly waiting to see over issues with the display. But all that's history now as Samsung re-launched the Galaxy Fold and it has come back stronger - literally.
Before we jump right into our review of the Galaxy Fold, let's take a look at the specifications of the phone:
Display: 7.3-inch QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED display (when unfolded)
Secondary display: 4.6-inch HD+ Super AMOLED display
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
Primary camera: 16MP ultra-wide + 12MP wide-angle (OIS) + 12MP telephoto (OIS, 2X optical zoom, PDAF)
Second camera: 10MP + 8MP Depth sensor (to be used in unfolded state)
Third camera: 10MP f/2.2 sensor (to be used in folded state)
Battery: 4,380mAh with fast charging support
OS: Android 9 Pie-based One UI 1.5
That said, let's move on. Oh wait, in case you didn't know how much this piece of innovative hardware costs, there's a price tag of Rs 1,64,999 attached to it. Expensive right? It even beats Apple's most expensive iPhone, the iPhone 11 Pro Max with 512GB storage, which costs Rs 1,41,900. Now, let's see if it is worth the hike and hype.
Fold, unfold, fold again!
Samsung Galaxy Fold's folding mechanism grows on you. At first, it felt fragile, but as and when I continued using it, the Galaxy Fold turned out to be pretty solid. The hinges are sturdy and capable of withstanding quick folding and unfolding without having to put thought into it.
Unfolding the Galaxy Fold is as smooth as it gets, but putting the phone back to its folded state gives a clap, reassuring it is secured when magnets do their trick. I have little doubts in the multiple interlocking gears that make sure the folding mechanism holds good for a long, long time - 5 years with 100 times a day if you take Samsung's word for it.
Samsung's logo is on the hinge, keeping the rear glass panel and display free from any imprints. The speakers are found at the top and bottom sides, but it is the perfect setup while using it in landscape mode in the unfolded state. The curves are nice and smooth, but the phone's bulky weight and width doesn't let go of the grip so easily.
Samsung Galaxy Fold sure feels like a premium phone and the folding mechanism is not just a gimmick even in its novelty stage. I could find several use cases for both screens.
Samsung Galaxy Fold has two displays, one measuring 4.6 inches and the other at 7.3 inches. The smaller cover screen is compact and ideal for most quick tasks. But as you unfold the phone, greatness awaits.
The 7.3-inch display of the Galaxy Fold is beautiful. For someone who has used a tablet would be able to relate to the beauty of a massive display, but Galaxy Fold puts a tablet in your pocket in the best possible way. The viewing angles are excellent, but it is the crease that bothers from certain angles. But it won't be bothersome while playing games or watching multimedia, so it's not a deal-breaker. The colours are bright, natural and bright as ever in the main display, but the cover display isn't disappointing at all for most use cases.
From playing PUBG Mobile to binge-watching shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, Samsung Galaxy Fold held its ground like a pro. The display is smooth, responsive to touches, but the most beautiful thing is the seamless switching between screens while using certain apps. Simply incredible. The split-screen feature is an absolute life-saver, allowing me to do more than one thing at a time.
I often found myself using the cover display to manage calls, respond to messages, even click photos sometimes, but I was reluctant to give up the big display for viewing multimedia, browsing social media and playing games. Like me, you wouldn't be confused over which display to use for different activities from day one.
When you're spending top dollar, you don't expect any compromises - none whatsoever. Samsung Galaxy Fold is powered by one of the best chipsets in the market, ample RAM and the best GPU to grant your wishes come true. The Galaxy Fold handles all major tasks like a pro. From running multiple apps in the background, switching back and forth between them, playing graphics-intensive games or simply streaming shows on Netflix, Samsung's flagship does it all right.
With only five days to spend with the phone, I couldn't get into more details of the performance aspect, but a phone with such configuration isn't supposed to hinder in any areas.
I've always loved playing games on the iPad. Be it PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty or Minecraft, the delight of playing it on a big screen is incomparable. Thanks to Samsung Galaxy Fold, I don't have to wait till I reach home to play games on an iPad. The 7.3-inch display is generous enough for me to play games and due to the shortage of time, I only tested PUBG Mobile.
Everything looks better on the big screen and it gave me an advantage in PUBG Mobile. But let me tell you, it wasn't without challenges. First, I had muffled the audio while playing the game as I covered the speakers while holding the phone in landscape position. I had to flip it upside down to position the stereos on top. Then I accidentally closed the phone while playing the game. But I learned to be more careful after being shot dead in two rounds. But the truly wireless Samsung AKG earphones did come in handy.
That said, Samsung allowed me to carry a massive gaming phone in the pocket (albeit briefly) to which I'm thankful.
No mid-day crisis
With the little time I had to test the phone, I had to make sure I put the phone through rigorous testing. I had to catch on some TV shows, new music, increase my levels in PUBG Mobile and be more active on social media for the sake of testing the battery. Even with extensive use, I was able to get a full day's worth battery in a single charge.
The massive 4,380mAh battery is indeed reliable. But the fast charging isn't quite fast enough by today's standards for a flagship as expensive as the Fold. Since most of my tasks could be done with the small screen, I think I saved up on the battery there. But I made up for it while playing games or watching shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
The reverse charging feature came in handy, in fact, it was a life-saver while charging the wireless earphones that came inside the box. It's quite generous of Samsung.
With a fully charged Galaxy Fold, you can confidently step out of your home without having to worry about charging again until you are back.
Too many cameras? Or too little?
Samsung Galaxy Fold has six cameras in total. But only three of them work together at a time, which makes perfect sense for quickly snapping the cute puppy yawning or the scenery before it passes. The primary camera is good. It gets the colours right, details are impressive, and the dynamic range is on par with most flagships. Testing the phone's primary camera indoors and in low-light turned out to be a positive experience as the results were worthwhile.
For selfies, I was often confused. There's a single 10MP camera on the cover and a dual-sensor set up inside. Since both camera setups share the same primary lens, I often relied on the dual camera inside the phone for portrait selfies assisted by the 8MP depth sensor. I'm not a fan of selfies, but the Galaxy Fold sure makes you want to snap a few.
But my only complaint was the ease of use while using the dual front cameras. I wasn't confident enough to snap a selfie with a single hand, hence the photos you see below. But I guess practice would make a man perfect. Sadly, I didn't have the time.
Check out the samples in the slideshow below:
Muscle memory challenge
Samsung Galaxy Fold is nothing like the flagships I've ever used. In fact, this is the first foldable phone I've tested so far, which is why I had to struggle with a few things here and there. Put that aside, Samsung Galaxy Fold challenges few basic muscle memories. For instance, I don't recall using the fingerprint scanner much. I either relied on the face unlock, which wouldn't work in dark scenes, when I would just put in my passcode. The side-mounted fingerprint scanner was the third option, I only used accidentally.
Then there's the obvious small screen. I cannot remember the last time I used a phone screen so small. Oh, I do, but that's not the point. Samsung Galaxy Fold's cover screen isn't ideal for messaging, where I often found myself making errors while typing. I loved the split keyboard in the big screen, but I preferred the single-hand use over typos.
Then, the least obvious one is how it fits in the pocket. If you're the one who carries phones in back pocket or shirt pocket, forget about that practice. In fact, I'm often having two phones in the front pant pockets and I had the shock of my life when I didn't feel the Fold in my pocket. It's tall, like really tall, but not too wide. The sheer lack of it left half my pocket empty, which is something I'm not used to. But that just fades away when you train your brain.
This is going to be a tough one to decide. In the shortest time possible, I'm convinced that foldable phones do actually have a legit future and the Galaxy Fold is an impressive piece of art. But if you're directly asking me whether you should you go right ahead and buy it, just hold on to that money.
Foldable screens are great, the massive display is like nothing we've ever seen on a phone and the Galaxy Fold checks all the right boxes despite its novelty factor, but I must admit it is damn expensive. Unless you are an absolute enthusiast who doesn't mind spending, the Galaxy Fold can be a good place to start. The display is state-of-the-art, the battery is excellent, performance is powerful, cameras are reliable and Samsung throws in a free pair of truly wireless earphones and not to mention the folding mechanism.
But the Galaxy Fold has me excited about what Samsung can do in the future. Samsung might have paved a new path in the smartphone industry and it's just thrilling to imagine what the future holds for foldable phones.
What Samsung has done with Galaxy Fold could one day be the norm. You'll probably see people using foldable phones in metros, but for now, it fits better in the CEO cabin.