This Thing Rules

We finally found a reason to buy the Galaxy Fold

Retro gaming on a native 4:3 screen? Perfection.

With a new Galaxy Fold presumably right around the corner, you probably think it's crazy to buy last year's version. These leaked images show a much hotter, sleeker Fold with smaller bezels and, most importantly, a much bigger external display. The problem, though, is that the new Fold is rumored to cost about the same as its predecessor, or a little bit more than $2,000 after tax. That's a pretty darn hard pill to swallow.

I'll admit, all these rumors about the new Fold are what got me interested in the original Fold. I spend almost all of my time indoors these days, so something more akin to a tablet makes a lot of sense. Plus, the original Fold has a steel body, unlike any other Android phone on the market, and apparently it's super durable? Watch this drop test video below. Wild. Plus there seem to be a fair few people on Reddit who have had theirs since day one and they're still working fine.

You'll probably want to fast-forward to four minutes in.

The original Fold has a Snapdragon 855 processor, which is still very fast despite being last year's model, and it comes with 512GB of storage. That's all great, and still adds up to a very solid phone, but at $1,979.99 (which is still what it costs at Best Buy), it's not that compelling. But what about $1,149.99 ("renewed") on Amazon? Well, that's a whole different ballgame. A new Galaxy S20+ with 128GB of storage costs about the same, but does it fold in half? No, it does not.

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So I decided to take the plunge. What arrived on my doorstep was a rather dinged-up box, but the Fold inside looked literally brand new. These are unlocked AT&T models, meaning that you can use a T-Mobile or any other GSM carrier with it, but you'll have to put up with AT&T's bloatware. (That is, unless you're comfortable flashing the factory unlocked firmware 😉). I had actually never handled a Galaxy Fold before taking this one out of the box, so it was all new to me.

In a nutshell, everything that Ray, our Reviews Editor, said in his initial review still holds true: this thing is chunky and weird and clearly a first generation product. But it's also so cool. And Samsung has pretty much worked out all the software problems that reviewers first experienced with their devices. I'm sure we won't be seeing Android 11 on the Fold any time soon (ever?), but it's great that they're now shipping with Android 10.

See? Look how good she looks.

So how is it? As I said at the top, being a pandemic homebody really puts the Fold in its element. It's a tablet that I can fold up and put in my pocket. Reading on it is amazing. Scrolling Twitter on it is amazing. Looking at pictures and watching videos on it is amazing. Yes the cameras are last-gen (though I have a lot of thoughts about Samsung abandoning the multi-aperture tech that's in the S10 and Fold, but that's another story), but who cares!? What am I taking pictures of!?

It's like it was always meant to be.

But all that is nothing compared to playing retro games on the Fold. I've written about my favorite Android game controller before, but when I slid my Fold into it (and it fits perfectly by the way), I knew something special was happening. The Fold's screen is roughly 4:3 (after you get past that gnarly notch), which is exactly perfect for retro gaming. When I I fired up Retroarch and started the SNES version of Chrono Trigger and it filled the entire screen, I was positively giddy. This looks hot.

These games look incredible. It's not that the Fold's screen is better than any other Galaxy device, it's just that the experience of seeing these pixel and low-poly graphics at this size and with such vibrant colors is such an improvement. I can tell you one thing; this setup makes my Nintendo Switch look like an absolute potato. The screen on the Switch is... bad.

Finally you can get wrecked in Super Smash Bros. on the go.

Of course, you're not limited to retro games or emulation, like any Android Phone you can play regular Android games, or stream games with Steam or a service like Microsoft's xCloud. Below you can see Darksiders III looking very great on the Fold.

Gaming on Microsoft xCloud.

I think the original Fold has become a compelling device since its troubled release in 2019. For the price that I got it, I think there's really something here, and it makes me excited too see all the little ways that Samsung has improved on its original design with the new Fold. Not enough to pay $2,000, mind you, but I'm excited to find out nonetheless. What I do know is that, even if foldables are imperfect, and some of them absolutely are, my OG Galaxy Fold absolutely rules.