The annual International CES 2020 event in Las Vegas this week saw more than 170,000 attendees walk over more than 2.9 million square feet of showroom space checking out some 4,400 booths. It’s impossible for a single person to see and experience it all at CES.Continue reading MY PICKS FROM THE MASSIVE CES 2020 IN Las VEGAS
It’s back! The $2,600 Samsung Galaxy Fold smartphone/tablet with a bendable screen returned to a handful of Canadian Samsung Experience stores on Friday, December 6 in limited quantities and pre-orders, as previously reported.
I had the chance to check one out at the Samsung Experience Store at the West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, so I could see it in a retail setting, just as any other potential buyer would. I originally got my hands on the first version last summer in New York City. But after media reviewers found troublesome faults, Samsung revamped the device for a re-launch. After 89 days, the “revised version,” as Samsung calls it, became available in the U.S. at the end of September. And last Friday, it finally arrived in Canada.
The first thing I noticed in the Cosmos Black model is that it’s as magical as before. It comes with a pair of Samsung Buds and a less than 1mm thin tight-fitting less slippery Kevlar case in two parts with adhesive to fit around every curve. The case doesn’t make the hybrid device much thicker than its 17.1mm thickness in 4.6″ phone mode, nor much heavier: it weighs 276g. It’s less likely to slip from your hands with repeated foldings and unfoldings. When folded out, the Galaxy Fold is slightly thinner than the Note 10+ at 7.6mm.
Is It Fixed?
With the initial version of the device, protective flexible screen layers could be peeled by the first wave of reviewers and the fold edges of the flexible screen allowed dust and dirt to get in.
The flawed articulated spine infrastructure for safely folding and unfolding the flexible screen has been reinforced with new parts. There is a new T-clip supporting both hinge ends, keeping the screen edges of the layers (now beefed up to five layers from the previous three) sealed in. According to Samsung the “revised version Galaxy Fold” is designed to keeps dust and dirt elements from finding their way in. Sadly, The Fold does not have an IP rating, even for dust. Yes, that’s what I said. You have to baby this phone when the weather turns bad.
Samsung confirms that the top protective layer of the Infinity Flex Display has been extended beyond the bezel, making it apparent that it is an integral part of the display structure and not meant to be removed. There are additional reinforcements to better protect the device from external particles while maintaining its signature foldable experience. The top and bottom of the hinge area have been strengthened with newly added protection caps. Additional metal layers underneath the Infinity Flex Display have been included to reinforce the protection of the display. And the space between the hinge and body of Galaxy Fold has been reduced.
I noticed a tighter but smoother feel when you open and snap the Fold, much like snapping those old clamshell phones. Even opening the Fold quickly with progressively more force didn’t seem to stress the bendable screen. The mechanical hinge infrastructure is better engineered to open and close the flexible screen without stretching the screen itself.
The centre seam bump is discernable, unless light shines at a certain angle. It can barely be felt under your fingers – it’s easy to even forget it’s there after a while. However, it’s tough to guess how well the Fold will hold up after repeated use.
What About The Software?
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any revision of note to the phone’s software in terms of performance and functionality. Any review you read in this respect of the original Fold versus the new one should be similar. Samsung was busy enough fortifying the folding mechanics. It’s just as snappy as the latest Note 10 series with similar responsiveness to touch and opening apps, undoubtedly with the help of 12GB RAM. The mechanics are what needed fixing and this is what Samsung has addressed with the revised device.
Does it Keep Up With its Siblings?
Some important S10+ and Note10+ features are missing on the Fold. The Fold has Samsung’s largest 4,380mAh phone battery, but it looks like it can barely squeeze a day running full all out tasks. It simply has too much glass to light up, even at a lower screen resolution. It doesn’t have Samsung’s Super Fast Charging either, important for a big battery. It only includes a Galaxy 15W charger unlike the 25W charger included with the Note 10 series. And the optional Samsung 45W charger isn’t even compatible with the Fold. There’s no stylus either, although having a pen tip slide across a plastic screen might not be a good idea. Still, the Fold, twice as pricey as the best phones on the market, should have it all. Not even the next-gen Snapdragon 855 Plus chipset. Nope.
Photography With The Fold
The Fold does photography right. It has the same wide range photographic experience as the S10+ but not quite as good as the Note 10, which sports some impressive augmented reality features on top of photos. The Fold settles for older colour to black and white conversion tricks to objects or people in photos.
Still, like the S10 and Note 10 phones, it has a smooth zooming from .5X super wide angle to 2X optical zoom with similarly degrading quality when you try to zoom father. The Selfies in both modes have a normal and wide angle view, the latter not being able to keep the background sharp enough if my face fills half the frame.
The Fold’s six onboard cameras cleverly play double duty between phone and tablet mode. Photos from all cameras in phone or tablet mode are deposited in the same camera folder. I must say its fun composing, editing and showing photos on that screen!
It’s loaded with 12GB of RAM for multitasking, gaming, office and media apps like live broadcasting, plus 512GB built in storage and no expansion slot. It’s not faster than the Note 10+ but has more than enough RAM to multitask better.
The most noteworthy user feature is App Continuity which allows you to easily transition between screens back and forth with up to three open apps in Multi-Active Windows. Any apps you open in phone mode, are still there when you fold out to tablet mode, only spread out with more space. You can set which apps you want to open in from phone to tablet mode.
The 7.3″ main primary display touchscreen is brilliant, with a fixed resolution of 1,536 x 2,152 pixels at a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch (ppi). That’s not as high as the Note 10+ and S10+ models with a maximum 498ppi and 522ppi respectively. But hey, it’s a folding screen! You will still not be able to actually see pixels on the screen.
The tablet’s 4.2:3 aspect ratio is perfect for browsing, reading, office work, and gaming, all of which look impressive with the larger screen surface. Some of that real estate is wasted, however, when watching wide screen movies. But they look brilliant with the Bold’s HDR10+ support.
Dolby Atmos stereo speakers are impressive for their size but easy to accidentally cover with your fingers when playing games. Try experimenting holding the phone in vertical and horizontal modes to see what works best for you.
Should You Buy It?
Every Galaxy Fold comes with exclusive access to Galaxy Fold Premier Service, including Fold Concierge 24/7 access to expert advice, and a screen replacement offer.
The “revised version” Fold still has the same DNA as the previous Fold and while the hinge design has been improved, you might want to check in on some U.S. customer reviews to see what those who have been using one for the last few months now might have to say.
If someone decides to fork over the $2,600 for one of these phones, they’ll likely be doing so merely for the benefits of having a larger screen for apps, movies, gaming, spreadsheets, and more. And of course the “cool” factor.
If you are used to the toughness and fast charging of today’s best 6″+ phones, the Bold’s Wow factor fades a bit. Smart shoppers might want to wait for a brand new, redesigned version of the Fold which is rumoured to cost less with a more stable design and hopefully features and robustness equal to Samsung’s S and Note series. It’s expected to launch some time in Q2 2020 though there’s no official word yet from Samsung.
This Fold is the “wow” phone of the year. It’s a show-off piece for those with deep pockets and even deeper egos. I wish I had one for longer than a day to try, as there really is something compelling about repeatedly folding and unfolding it to accommodate different tasks. How long would the “wow” last? I’m not so sure yet.
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