24 hours with Galaxy Fold: What it's like to use Samsung's first foldable phone for a day
What to expect when you unbox your first foldable phone.
Andrew LanxonEditor At Large, Lead Photographer, Europe
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
Samsung recently unveiled the second iteration of its first foldable phone, named the Galaxy Z Fold 2. Details about the new device remain scant. The company says it'll share more information, including the Z Fold 2's price and preorder details, on Sept. 1. In the meantime, the original Galaxy Fold remains an intriguing phone, one that you can actually buy right now (get the Galaxy Fold for $1,980 at Best Buy). I bought one last year and spent the day with it so I could report back on everything from the folding hinge to the display. The verdict? I liked the Galaxy Fold more than I thought I would. I unboxed it in the morning, after having waited in line at
London store since 5:30 a.m. the day of its release. After spending the day playing about with its jazzy hinge design, I noticed a few things about the phone. Read on for last year's account of 24 hours spent with Samsung's first foldable.
First of all, there's no noticeable protective layer that you might be wrongly tempted to peel off. This was one of the major errors in the phone's first design; a film was laid over the top of the display that looked just like one of those layers you happily peel off when you get a new phone. It was actually a crucial part of the design, and some journalists who had early review samples of the Fold peeled it off, which ruined the display.
The lack of visible film on the updated version means there's less chance of you wrecking your pricey phone on Day 1. Samsung has also more securely sealed the edge of the display with plastic caps at the two points where it folds, which hopefully will stop dust particles getting under the surface (another pain point from round one).
The original design had a gap between the hinge where the
does its folding, and the two arms of the screens. This is now diminished. Also, you can't see an additional metal plate beneath the display, which is meant to reinforce the fragile plastic screen, but Samsung assures us it's there.
But beyond those design tweaks, the phone remains unchanged. The hinge feels smooth to use and the phone snaps shut satisfyingly like those snappy cases you get with your glasses.
Galaxy Fold redesign: Here's how Samsung fixed its foldable phone
But what about the crease in the display? Well, it's there and there's no getting away from it. Catch reflections from overhead lights in the right way and you can easily see ripples across the surface, instead of the smooth expanse of glass you'll see on any other smartphone.
It can be a little off-putting at times. I found that it's mostly a problem when you're watching a dark video, which makes overhead light reflections -- and therefore, the crease -- more obvious. But it's only the reflections that make you notice; the display itself doesn't warp and there's no change in color or brightness where it folds.
If you watch a bright video -- or you're in a dark room with no reflections from ambient light -- you won't notice. I certainly didn't when I watched several Carfection YouTube videos in our dimly lit studio. The same was true for an episode of Breaking Bad on Netflix. I honestly couldn't see any kind of crease and could instead just enjoy the content on a massive screen.
Watch this: Every way Samsung improved the Galaxy Fold
There is, of course, a cut-out notch in the top left corner (assuming you're holding it in landscape orientation, and in the upper right corner when it's in portrait mode). I'm quite used to notches and cut-outs now from the recent iPhones and the Galaxy S10 Plus, so this really wasn't a problem for me and it didn't spoil my viewing. If you don't like notches on other
, odds are you won't love it here either. At least there's so much screen that the notch takes up relatively less space than on other devices.
Later on in the day, I was navigating my way through London's maze-like Soho district, trying to find an office for a meeting. In the taxi on the way there it was great seeing
displayed on that massive screen. Out on the street, however, I didn't want to gingerly carry a massive -- and expensive -- device so openly, so I snapped it shut and used the 4.6-inch outer display.
For me, this display is just a little too small. It's fine for seeing incoming calls, changing music on Spotify or using as the camera viewfinder instead of looking like a buffoon who takes pictures on a tablet. But its small size means you have to have accurate fingers to type on it. Sending a quick reply to an email or a WhatsApp message is tough, particularly if you're walking, but opening up the phone to its full tablet mode often isn't convenient either.
It's frustrating, as that outer screen looks squashed in. I'd have loved to have seen it go further to the edges, giving enough room to make it usable as a standalone device. Right now, it's best thought of as a stopgap until you can find a moment to unfold it into true tablet mode.