Prepare for some evangelizing, because I’ve been converted. I started out a Galaxy Fold skeptic, but have since seen the light. I’m now the guy that thrusts the phone into the hands of anyone vaguely interested to show them the glory of the future. Its excellence leaves me legit excited for the Galaxy Z Flip, Samsung’s second folding smartphone.
I’ve used the Samsung Galaxy Fold for the last six months, and still consider it one of the most exciting, addictive, life changing smartphones available today. If Samsung gets the Z Flip right — which, as I’m about to explain, it probably wil — Samsung’s going to rule folding smartphones.
The Galaxy Fold launched with a long list of problems. Samsung didn’t let anyone touch the Galaxy Fold during MWC 2019, which leave me, and other, suspicious. The time has passed for irritatingly coy launches, and withholding hands-on time made everyone expect the worst. Those fears proved true, as the first models were recalled after design problems led to broken phones.
It wasn’t until IFA 2019, in September, that I used the Galaxy Fold for the first time. I was talked through the changes made to the new version, and was able to experience first-hand the multi-tasking enhancements made to the software during the phone’s downtime. I quickly realized Samsung had learned from its botched launch.
Just an hour with the phone was enough to know I wanted one. I signed a new 5G contract with U.K. carrier EE at the end of October. I was excited, of course. But I didn’t guess how dramatically it would change my phone usage.
The secret to Samsung’s success is the wonderful redesigned hinge. The Fold’s complex mechanical hinge is a massive change, and also the most important part of the folding smartphone experience. Motorola has recently proved how hard it is to get right. The current Fold’s hinge is strong, smooth, and reliable. It’s the phone’s key to success — and the same will prove true of Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip.
So, has the hinge on my Galaxy Fold held up? It has. I started using the Galaxy Fold in early November 2019. It accompanied me on a two-week trip to Japan, and was my main phone during CES 2020. Its endured heat, cold, rain, and snow. My daily screen time is around five hours. I’m not a light user.
Is it now floppy, creaky, and rather sad? Nope. It’s not as tight as when I first held the phone, but it suffers no creaks, grinding, or sloppiness. The magnetic snap that keeps the phone closed is still as tight and precise as it was on day one. At first, I treated the phone gingerly, but that period passes after just a few weeks. I now treat it just as I would any phone.
The Galaxy Fold is slung into pockets and bags, used in the rain, and endures the same dust and lint that faces any phone I own. The Galaxy Fold has endured.
From the way the outer screen instantly switches apps, to the large screen when you open the phone, to the three window multi-tasking, the Fold is a fantastic everyday all-rounder. In the past, I’d often reach for my laptop to schedule a meeting or write a lengthy email. The Galaxy Fold’s large screen and well crafted software makes this so fast and convenient, I can now keep my laptop stowed.
The battery is another key benefit. It has lasted, without fail, all day everyday, regardless of what I do. It happily survived hours of video on a flight, then emails, social, calls, and using the camera for stills and video on the same day, with energy to spare when put on charge. I have never, ever worried about the Galaxy Fold’s battery running out.
I enjoy casually watching video because of the big screen, and have discovered more shows and channels on YouTube that I enjoy because of it.
Then there’s the camera, which takes great photos in most situations, and handled a two week vacation perfectly. Finally, the software is the same solid experience as found on the Galaxy S10 and Note 10 Plus. My only frustration is the lack of Android 10. Samsung remains slow to roll out the latest version of Android.
The Galaxy Fold isn’t perfect, obviously. The 5G connection can put massive strain on the battery, to the point I’m glad I don’t have 5G where I live. Also, the outer screen isn’t much good for anything apart from viewing notifications and Google Maps. I rely on face unlock, because the fingerprint sensor is small and unreliable. Oh, and it’s expensive; but you knew that already.
What about the crease down the screen? It’s easy to notice, but I’ve come to ignore it. When the screen is on, and facing me, it disappears. I can slightly feel it under my finger, but there aren’t many times where I’d directly run my finger down the middle of the screen, so it’s not a problem.
What does this mean for the Galaxy Z Flip, Samsung’s vertically folding smartphone? It means Samsung has a great folding smartphone already, and now just needs to adapt it to a different design. A repeat of the Fold’s unfortunate launch is unlikely. I’m hopeful the Galaxy Z Flip will be a reliable next-generation phone right from the start.
CCS Insight mobile analyst Ben Wood spent some time with the Galaxy Z Flip ahead of its February 11 launch, and shared his view of the new phone and technology with Digital Trends.
“Samsung is unquestionably the most advanced player when it comes to smartphones with flexible displays,” Wood agreed. “The Galaxy Z Flip builds on [the Galaxy Fold] experience and it is immediately apparent that Samsung has gone to the next level in terms of hinge design and the finesse of the product, in particular the folding glass that protects the display.”
The phone’s folding glass is a massive step forward in durability and tactility, and further proof Samsung is keen to put cutting-edge products into our hands as soon as possible.
The Galaxy Z Flip is different to the Galaxy Fold, and closer to the new Motorola Razr in design. How do the two compare at this early stage?
“It’s hard to argue with the nostalgic appeal of the Razr, given the strong heritage of the brand and the industrial design,” Wood continued. “But in terms of technology maturity Samsung certainly has the edge having already delivered two iterations of the Galaxy Fold. I’m pretty confident the Flip is destined to be a hit, despite its high price tag.”
The Fold’s shaky start didn’t bode well, and not everyone expected Samsung to turn it around. But it has, and the revised model has stood up to months of everyday use.
Trying the Galaxy Fold for yourself is important. It’s only then you realize just how futuristic it is, and what can be done with the design. The Galaxy Z Flip may encourage more people to do this, as it’ll be slightly more affordable, and its small folded size will appeal to a different group than the mini-tablet sized Fold.
Time to close with a bold statement. The last phone I used and didn’t want to stop using was the iPhone. From the iPhone 3G to the iPhone X, Apple’s phone was my daily device, and everything else made do with my second SIM card inside. It was always better in every way than the competition.
A series of events forced me into switching over to Android as my everyday phone. Since then I’ve used dozens and dozens of them, and the Galaxy Fold to earn my love. That’s a testament to Samsung’s superb design.
Don’t let yourself be caught up in the negativity over price, creases, or suspected fragility. The folding phone is the future, and Samsung’s Galaxy Fold has set the standard in ownership. Now it’s time for the Galaxy Z Flip to bring even more people over into the fold. Pun absolutely intended.
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