With an opening act that sounded more like the intro for an old-school Disney film than a tech launch, Samsung’s Unpacked 2019 event jumped right into the reveal of the Galaxy Fold. Yeah, that name’s official. And appropriate.
Below the fold
Samsung’s newest device is a 4.6in smartphone that opens into a 7.3in tablet, using what Samsung is calling an Infinity Flex display — basically making the device a two-in-one smartphone/tablet hybrid. Samsung’s key to making the Galaxy Fold er… fold is a new hinge system comprised of a series of interlocking gears. As well as a flexible display. We hadn’t actually considered the challenge involved in folding a tablet into a smartphone but we didn’t expect a mechanical solution to the problem. In practise, it looks quite neat. In reality, we wanna flex it till it breaks. Just to see if we can.
Samsung’s got four colour options on the way: Cosmos Black, Space Silver, Martian Green (the choice of Elon Musks everywhere, we hope), and something called Astro Blue. Users will also be able to personalise the hinge colour, a feature that we’re… uncertain of seeing here. South Africa hasn’t got a great history of smartphone personalisation turning up (lookin’ at you, Motorola). Of course, if the hinge mods just happen to be in the box… yeah, we’d use ’em.
Samsung is billing the Galaxy Fold as a luxury device — which should already make your wallet clutch its bits in terror. It makes sense, though. The Fold will launch with very unusual screen tech and is likely aimed squarely at early adopters. Who don’t mind spending money to be on the forefront. And that’s just where they’ll be if they own a fold.
Samsung’s Fold reminds us of old-school candybar-shaped phones from the early days of Android — only better. And faster. The device will have the screen space to handle three apps at once, forever wrecking work concentration. We’re okay with that.
Samsung introduced a new feature that they call App Continuity — basically, anything you do on one screen switches seamlessly to the other orientation, though it looks like it may be helped along by some custom(ish) software.
This was made possible by Google and Android devs, who helped to make apps functional on a range of screen configurations. The company showed off a Google Maps demo live on stage, as well as Netflix expanding from smartphone to tablet form factors and a multitasking demonstration. Though the demos were short, they left us wanting to see more. And, more importantly, they left us wanting to fiddle with the Galaxy Fold.
As for what’s powering the Galaxy Fold, Samsung’s dropped a 7nm processor (which one, they haven’t said just yet) as well as 12GB of RAM, making your current smartphone feel a little inadequate. Storage is 512GB, and Samsung’s claiming faster-than-usual data read speeds from its storage. We’ll have to wait and see just how quick these features make the Fold.
Samsung’s gone for two batteries to keep this collection of bits powered on — a move we understand, since there’s a lot of screen, RAM, and processor to keep running. And Samsung’s going to want it to run fast. Samsung’s come up with a way for those dual batteries to act as a single unit. We’re still waiting on a total capacity but we’re hoping for at least a full day powered-on.
And cameras have not been neglected. Nobody drilled into the camera arrangement’s gritty specs but there are six of the bleeding things. There are three rear cameras, likely based on other recent Samsung triple-cam setups (like the one seen in the Galaxy S10 Plus), one in the front and then another two on the inside — so users will be able to take images no matter which orientation the device is in. This is another feature that we’re dying to experience in person.
The price is going to blow your wallet to bits, though. There are LTE and 5G versions of the Galaxy Fold incoming, with a 26 April launch date planned internationally. You might notice that we’ve avoided the price for as long as possible. Starting at $1,980 (R27,700 or so), you’re going to need to bulk up that wallet if you want to own one of these pieces of the future. Honestly? It looks good enough to adopt early to us. Even if we happen to be looking at MacBook levels of pricing for one.