Samsung’s foldable smartphone is finally here. The company gave the world a first-look at the Galaxy Fold, a two-in-one tablet and smartphone hybrid during its Unpacked event on Wednesday. Thousands of analysts, journalists, and tech enthusiasts gathered in San Francisco and London to witness the launch of a device that’s been five years in the making.
The Galaxy Fold takes the word “phablet” to the next-level by allowing users to seamlessly jump from a compact smartphone display to a 7.3-inch tablet screen. That’s all thanks to a sophisticated hinge system comprised of multiple interlocking gears that allow it to close like a booklet. But it won’t come cheap.
The newfangled handset marks the beginning on a new era of smartphone design. Samsung is the first big-name company to launch its take on a flexible phone concept but it won’t be the last. Players like LG, Huawei, and even Apple have announced plans, filed patents, or are rumored to be working on similar devices.
In his introduction, Justin Denison, Samsung’s SVP of mobile marketing, touted the new Fold as a “one of a kind luxury device” that’s “perfect for any situation.” Here’s what we know about how it stacks up so far.
Galaxy Fold: Price
At $1,980, the new handset comes in just where it was expected: Building up to the launch, the rumors had it priced somewhere between $1,900 and $2,500. In retrospect, these guesses seem to have been pretty on the nose, as two variants are expected, one of which will be 5G-compatible (which would presumably be the more expensive of the two).
Galaxy Fold: Release Date
The Galaxy Fold will be available starting April 26.
Galaxy Fold: Initial Specs
As one might expect, the key differentiator of the Galaxy Fold is its screen — now screens — which include 7.3 inch Infinity Flex Display when you’re using the device as a tablet, and a 4.6 inch cover display to use when the phone is folded up. Denison explained that the innovation which makes this possible is the hinge, whose “multiple interlocking gears are hidden” but which allow it to collapse in on itself without breaking.
As for internals, the devices are expected to come with 12GB of RAM, 512 GB of universal flash storage 3.0, and a total of 4380mAh in battery, spread out over two batteries, one embedded in each half. Denison bragged that the Fold will in some cases allow users to read data twice as fast as most other smartphones. It’ll also have six cameras: Three on the back (including a 16 megapixel ultra-wide lens), two on the inside, and one on the front.
Galaxy Fold: App Features
The demo wasn’t all that comprehensive, and centered how you can watch Netflix with a bigger display, for example, or toggle (relatively) laglessly between two different iterations of Google Maps. The signature feature Samsung execs teased at Unpacked is something they’re calling Three App Multi-Tasking that would allow you, say, summon your contacts, make a call, and watch something all at the same time when the device is deployed in tablet mode.
As for additional deal sweeteners? Denison also confirmed a longstanding rumor that the company’s yet-to-be-announced Galaxy Buds will come included.
Even with all that, the new Galaxy F may still be something of a tough sell. In addition to running nearly $2,000 for the entry level model, it’s still the first mainstream attempt at foldable smartphone concept. Denison said the company is working with partners like Google to develop apps that have been optimized for the particular format, a process which could take a while, leading to the potential for bugs.
It’s also a bulky boi, with large bezels that are visible when using the phone as a handset. Then again, Samsung doesn’t need this phone to be a blockbuster, per say. By revealing so many details about the phone relatively early in the product cycle, they’ve effectively set the bar for foldable smartphone specs and features. A limited number of early adopters will be unable to resist being first in line to try them all out.