My first impressions were pretty impressed actually. I used the phone for around 4 hours and got to put it thorough all its paces, apart from battery life. That remains to be seen, but the small number of people that do have them in their packets are reporting pretty decent battery life.
When we first were handed the phones, the Samsung guy went into full-on PR mode. I get the impression that there have been a small number of people asking about the phone, and the company is concerned with the negative press. Which is spot on, they asked me through everything that was changed with the phone, and interestingly precisely what went wrong with the first version.
Having never touched the first version I can’t speak of the differences but the silver and black units I got to use were both very robustly built and are defiantly using quality materials. The weight is a little heavier than an iPhone 11 pro but considerably heavier than something like the Note 10+ I had in my pocket. The most surprising place you feel it is when it’s in your pocket, despite the slim form factor when closed you’re not going to miss this in your skinny jeans.
But what everyone wants to know is about that screen! I want to start on the front one; it won’t get much use. Almost everything that I tried to do was a hassle. This screen is going to be like the LCD screens on the front of flip phones. Only there to glance at and see what is worth opening your phone for.
You will be opening it – A lot. Because there’s no point having a folding phone and not showing it off right?
Samsung has added caps to the end of the hinge and made the ‘not a screen protector’ extended underneath the bezels. Combined with a few internal changes, most of the screen issues should be resolved. The hinge is tested for 200,000 actions, so should last quite a while. The problem is the tactile feedback from opening the hinge is so satisfying that I found myself playing with it quite a lot – although I’d need to do it about 280 times a day over two years to get near the limits.
The screen is bright crisp in all lights, you very quickly get used to its dominance, and it becomes especially useful when trying to take photos. The fold uses the same camera set up form the galaxy s10, with a wide-angle, telephone and ultra-wide lens – combined with the usually portrait effects and AR goodness you expect from Samsung.
Although the screen comes in handy for things like google maps and even reading webpages, its a little cumbersome for one-handed use give it has a strange 4:3 ratio. Youtube videos are particularly enjoyable, and even watchable when multitasking, but to feel the benefit you’ll need to go full screen, which features black bars on the top and bottom.
What you will enjoy is the Dolby Atmos audio, these sound great, particularly when enjoying videos that use great audio such as Peter McKinnon or some football highlights.
With all this said. This phone will spend most of its time unfolded. So you can enjoy the large screen you’ve paid so much money for. With a screen this big, it’s crying out for more use cases such as an S-Pen. Unfortunately, you can’t use one, or any other stylus for that matter. Samsung doesn’t want you to use anything on this display or even press too hard because it is plastic and not glass that most people are used to.
There is no getting around the crease in the middle of the screen; it is noticeable when viewing something light such as messages and lots of one UI. When the screen is off, it sticks out like a sore thumb. If you’re paying attention, you can feel it when swiping about, but I get the impression that it would become as forgettable as a natch in the screen do after a few days use.
There are a few quirks, such as the fingerprint sensor is separate to the power button, meaning it requires quite a bit of getting used to. And also the wireless PowerShare, which is a cool feature, is in a minimal area on the back of the handset.
With all said, I am very impressed with the unit overall. The £1,900 you will need to spend gets you a robust and well-built phone that feels premium. In the box, you” ll also get the Galaxy buds, and kevlar case and a year’s worth of Samsung Insurance. Which I get the feeling is an addition to combat worries on longevity.
I’m not sure how many people are going to buy this thing, but it’s a great phone to see on the market. If money is no object, jump on this and see the future, with a few caveats.
Give Samsung a couple of iterations to get things right, and I think this is going to be a stellar phone. In a few years, everything might be folding, and we will look at this space-age technology as the flip phones of old.
Bravo Samsung, thanks for inviting me down to take a look at the fold its defiantly a hit from me. I’m excited to see where it goes.