At today’s Unpacked event, Samsung finally and formally unveiled its long-rumored folding Galaxy phone. The Galaxy Fold (natch) uses a 4.6-inch exterior screen and a folding, seamless 7.3-inch screen that opens book-style thanks to an interior hinge.
As impressive as the technology is, Samsung wants a premium price for what it calls a new category of smartphones. When the Galaxy Fold comes out on April 26th, it will start at $1980 USD, just shy of two grand. If you want the 5G version, with few details and no date, you’ll no doubt have to shell out more.
Samsung bills this as a “luxury phone,” but what you’re really paying for is novelty. Not that it isn’t impressive. The folding screen works seamlessly with the exterior screen, allowing apps to go from one to the other when the interior hinge is activated, with none of the flickering or choppiness you might expect. Samsung developers are working with Google to make sure the experience is as fast and smooth as possible.
Working with the larger interior screen, you can use two or even three apps at once with Samsung’s multi-panel interface. Apps can be moved from the larger window to the smaller easily, allowing for comfy multi-tasking without using the switcher button.
Other hardware features include a “7-nanometer processor” (precise model and capabilities weren’t mentioned), 512 GB of storage capacity, and a side-mounted fingerprint reader—note that the Galaxy Fold is missing the screen-integrated fingerprint reader on the Galaxy S10. No less than six cameras are on the phone: three on the back, one on the front, and two cameras on the inside.
The battery is split into two main packs, with 4380 mAh combined. How long will that last switching between screens? Who can guess? There are a lot of hardware, software, and market features of the Galaxy Fold that are a mystery at the moment, and won’t be truly explored until it’s released and we can see how practically it works in the real world.
However novel or useful this first major implementation of a folding phone screen is, it seems unlikely that Samsung will sell many of them. Samsung seems to know that, too: the Galaxy Fold was introduced by a marketing executive, while Samsung CEO DJ Koh waited for his moment to reveal the more market-friendly Galaxy S10. The consumer reaction to the Galaxy Fold will be critical to see if there are more folding screen products from Samsung, or its competitors, in the near future.