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Samsung's revamped Galaxy Fold to arrive in Korea on Friday -- and soon come with 5G

The foldable device returns, five months after it was supposed to go on sale.

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The Galaxy Fold is finally ready for consumers' hands. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Samsung's officially ready for its Galaxy Fold do-over. If you're a brave consumer, with nearly $2,000 to spare, you'll get your chance to buy the foldable device on Friday.

On Thursday at the IFA 2019 show in Berlin, Samsung said that the smartphone will be released in Korea beginning Friday, followed by the UK, France, Germany and Singapore on Sept. 18. A press release said the US launch will come after the phone arrives in those other markets, but a Samsung representative declined to offer more specifics.

While Samsung initially announced four colors of the Galaxy Fold, it said Thursday that only cosmos black and space silver would be available at launch. 

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Samsung also said during its IFA press conference in Berlin on Thursday that a 5G version of the Galaxy Fold will be available in select markets. It didn't provide specifics or timing. When it announced the Fold earlier this year, it said there would be a 5G model. 

"I am convinced that folding screens will be the start of a new exciting era for the industry," Benjamin Braun, head of marketing for Samsung's European operations, said Thursday at IFA. 

The company worked on foldable displays for years before showing anything to the public. It demonstrated a flexible OLED screen at CES 2013 and gave the first glimpse of the Galaxy Fold at its developer conference late last year. It officially unveiled the Galaxy Fold at the beginning of its Unpacked Galaxy S10 launch in February and planned to launch it April 26. 

But after using the device for only days -- or, in some cases, hours -- during a short review period in April, several technology journalists reported issues with their devices. Some peeled off a thin top layer from the display, which was an essential protective coating, not a removable screen protector. Others had detritus get under the screen itself, causing bumps and bulges. Samsung canceled the release date to explore what happened. 

"It was embarrassing," D.J. Koh, CEO of Samsung's mobile business, told reporters in Korea. "I pushed it through before it was ready."

In late July, Samsung said the Galaxy Fold would hit the market in September. 

Samsung -- and pretty much everyone else -- is having a tough time selling high-end devices. Phone prices are increasing, and people are upgrading less often. If someone's buying a $1,000 phone with all the bells and whistles they can imagine, they tend to hold onto it longer than before. In the US, consumers now upgrade to a new model about every three years instead of every two. At the same time, software updates make old phones feel new, hardware designs aren't changing much from year to year and less expensive devices are getting features previously found only in pricey flagship phones.

Foldable devices and 5G are seen as two things to revitalize the smartphone market. They're both viewed as the future of mobile, even though the rollouts haven't been smooth. This year, the Fold is mostly for early adopters who want to play with the absolute cutting-edge innovations in mobile. Eventually, foldable displays will move down the lineup and drop in price, becoming an option for more of us. 

The Galaxy Fold has a 4.6-inch display when folded, and a separate 7.3-inch display when unfolded into a tablet. It starts at $1,980 (about £1,500 or AU$2,800) and was initially set to come in a selection of four colors: cosmos black, space silver, martian green and astro blue. Users can start using apps like Flipboard on the small, front display and then pick up where they left off when moving to the big, inside display. 

Originally published Sept. 4 at 7:04 p.m. PT
Update Sept 5 at 2:10 a.m. PT: Added 5G details.