Galaxy Fold

This article is based on the Japanese version of Engadget and was created by machine translation.

Here's a review of the Galaxy Fold, a foldable smartphone that has been exclusively sold by au in Japan.

The Galaxy Fold is a phone that folds in half so that when you open its slim body like a notebook, you'll see a 7.3-inch main screen that's almost like an iPad mini.

On the outside, there's also a small 4.6-inch front screen that folds up for one-handed use and fits in your pocket.

It is practically the world's first new mobile device "Foldable", and at the same time it is overloaded with ultra-high-end specifications such as HDR 10 + high-definition organic EL display, 6 cameras in total, from ultra-wide-angle to telephoto, high-speed 512 GB storage in 12 GB RAM with a different order of magnitude, high-capacity 4000 mAh battery and wireless recharging.

Gallery: Galaxy Fold au version hands on | of 12 Photos

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    Image Credit: TORU ISHII
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I'd like to tell you what I learned after using the overseas version for a while, the accuracy of the folding mechanism, how much multitasking is useful at this point in time, and how much brittleness of the screen has been improved, which caused the overseas release delay, etc. ......, but my honest impression is "be a hell of a lot of fun" (* Efficacy varies from person to person). But in a gimmicky puzzle or action figure sense.

It's not an experimental model that can't withstand normal use, but there are a lot of things to be careful about, things that are far from being sophisticated, and things that are too advanced for the world to catch up with.

This is a luxury item for drunken extreme new hobbyists who want to enjoy the new genre "Foldable" starting from this one device rather than developing, including the application environment and the evolution process of OS, and who want to attack the front line where the supply is poor and landmines are buried by preference.

Infinity Flex display and "crease"

First and foremost is the flexible organic EL display Infinity Flex and the folding in two.

The Galaxy Fold's internal main screen uses Infinity Flex, an organic EL display made from a flexible resin/metal composite instead of glass, with no physical divider or seam in the middle.

However, in the middle where it bends, you can see "folded surface" depending on the angle. In more detail, the display itself is homogeneous, but it has a very loose V shape with a width of several millimeters even when opened.

As long as you're looking at it from the front, and you're looking at something else, you can barely see this strip. When I actually used it, I lost sight of where the crease was and looked at it carefully, and when I held it vertically or horizontally, I could not tell for a moment whether it was a vertical line or a horizontal line.

Galaxy Fold

However, if you look from the left and right diagonally, you can see the bands with different brightness clearly. This is because one side of the V-shaped indentation is at a deeper angle than the entire screen and the other side is at a shallower angle.

Recent displays have a so-called viewing angle of nearly 180 degrees, which doesn't mean any angle is completely uniform, but that changes in brightness and color are within a certain threshold.

Therefore, if the flat surface is used as a reference, the crease from the fold at the front to the center is slightly darker because it is a deeper angle, and the crease at the far side is slightly brighter because it is a shallower angle.

This is one of the reasons why it is hard to stand out when seen from the front and why it stands out with a monochromatic background such as white. The fold on the fold is vertical, so as long as it is held vertically, it is inconspicuous when viewed diagonally from the top and bottom compared to when viewed from the left and right.

Galaxy Fold

But the bigger problem is the reflection. Because the surface of the Fold is glossy, it is easy to reflect in dark or bright places, and the distortion of the fold is emphasized.

Fold's OLED display is a "Dynamic AMOLED" that boasts extremely high contrast ratios and vibrant colors, and promises HDR 10 + support. However, if you watch video content where HDR (high dynamic range) is easy to understand and black sinks in a bright place, you will be worried about the reflection.

(It's not just the folding that makes dark images and bright places the worst match for glossy displays, but the creases are more visible.)

If the creases on the display are to be taken with the most emphasis, it is to reflect the ceiling, distant straight lines, or the face of a person in a completely dark state with nothing displayed.

Galaxy Fold

The straight-line should look crooked because it looks distorted even at a small angle. The default butterfly wallpaper avoids the creases, so it becomes a mirror, and you'll see your face jagged every time.

Galaxy Fold

(Even on a flat glass smartphone, if you turn it into a mirror with the screen off and press hard with your finger, you can see that the reflection is greatly distorted. Even if you press with the same force after displaying the screen, the image does not become fuzzy. It's the same as this.)

Galaxy Fold

When it comes to folds, of course "Yes", but to determine whether they stand out or not, and whether they bother you or not, it's better to hold the actual device in your hand and look at the images and applications displayed on the screen in actual use situations rather than looking at the photos.

Display Weaknesses and Improvements

For this "soft" display, there are instructions not to press hard with your fingers and not to catch foreign objects when folded. This is the reason why the evaluation machines was broken in various countries in the first half of this year, and it was postponed and improved.

Before the improvement, the protective layer on the display surface of the Galaxy Fold was only just to the edge of the screen, and there were troubles such as a lot of reviewers who took it off forcefully by mistaking it for a protective film for transportation and it broke, and foreign matter got in the back of the screen and the inside of the hinge because the top and bottom of the hinge were empty.

In the improved version, which has been delayed, a cap and a gasket have been added to the top and bottom of the hinges, so that the protective layer spreads out around the screen and wraps around the edges to prevent peeling.

To improve the display's own weakness, a metal plate was added between the OLED and the underlying plastic cushion layer, and the flexible center was reinforced with a fine mesh of metal.

I haven't broken the phone (yet), unfortunately, we can't tell you how much force you need to apply to the phone to break it, but the simple feel is that it feels almost exactly like a standard glass-faced phone, except for the crease in the center.

As long as you touch the actual bent part in the center while it is open, it is not loose or soft enough for the structure below to be transmitted to the fingertips. Rather, I am worried that someone might stab it with a sharp object without knowing that it needs to be careful.

The biggest drawback is that the screen is weak, but I can't really report it if I use it with my fingers. Perhaps the fear is that a sharp object will be placed or stuck on one screen and then tightly closed.

Unlike a laptop, you're basically supposed to hold it in your hand and close it, I think the possibility of getting something caught in that state is relatively low.

The display itself is protected by a raised bezel that prevents it from touching the nearest part of the display, so if you meet the "A sharp object of 2 mm or more that remains attached when closed" condition, it may be dangerous.

Large notch and in-camera

Notch doesn't disappear with content or viewing angle. In the upper right corner of the main screen, there is a notch with a wide-angle camera and a depth-sensing camera for selfies and video calls while open.

By default, the area next to the notch is the notification area of the system so that the content is not hidden below, or the horizontal screen shows a black band. If you don't want to worry about notches and want full screen, you can select the full screen for each application from the settings. The default setting is "Auto".

However, when I tried the game Call of Duty Mobile, I found that the title C was hidden behind Notch and became all of Duty when I left it to the app "Auto". It did not change even if I selected "Full Screen" in the setting. Fortunately, you can rotate up and down even if the screen is fixed horizontally, so you can choose to display the game or not to cover it. The play itself is spacious, smooth and comfortable.

Galaxy Fold

Folding feel and weight

Galaxy Fold bends the fold as gently as possible (Earn the radius of curvature), so even when folded, it's thick with space on the hinge side, thin on the far side (the small end of a book). In other words, it is a wedge shape.

It is because of this structure that there is a hinge support part on the back cover of the book with a sense of presence that a nail can be hit.

This is the au version. Hinge logo is "Galaxy"

When folded, it's certainly narrow, and while you can hold it tightly with one hand, it's more than the thickness of two smartphones. (Width 63 mm, thickness 15.7 mm ~ hinge 17.1 mm).

The internal hinges protect the display and the board from distortion, making it a very part-complex mechanism. Thanks to this, the folding feel is very smooth and robust.

When you close it, just put a force on one side and fold it, and close it with a strong magnet. On the other hand, if you open it with both hands like a notebook or push your finger in with one hand, it will be open to some extent by the force of the spring inside, and if you apply force, it will lock it flat and click.

It can be kept at a certain angle, and the screen is still displayed, but it doesn't mean anything unless it's an illustration for curved surfaces.

Opening and closing with one hand is easy once you get used to it (Deprecated).

Galaxy Fold

Opening and closing with one hand is easy once you get used to it (Deprecated).

It has a sturdy construction, is heavy, and the screen is fragile, so you should be careful to open and close it with both hands, but if you take care not to drop it, you can open and close it with one hand surprisingly easily.

Galaxy Fold has a left hinge "left binding" when the front screen is facing you.

For example, when you hold it with your left hand, if you have a big hand, hold it with the hinge at the base of your thumb and hook your finger(s) facing your thumb to the "Cover Page and back cover" side. There's no need to explain.

If you can't move your fingers at the same time, push your middle finger or ring finger into the joint of "Cover Page" and "back cover", and when it opens "∠", flatten it like flipping it with your thumb.

Or you can flip it over in your hand, face down the front screen, insert your thumb, and push it in to keep it flat.

Depending on the size of the hand, it may be necessary to change the grip a little, and the moment the hand is not held in the middle and is not fixed, there will be a gap that is supported by the friction and gravity of the adhered palm. I don't know what I'm talking about anymore.

If you hold it with your right hand, it is easier. While holding it lightly, insert your thumb between the two sheets and press it down to the center of the fold to fix it. The shape is naturally pinched with the opposite finger, and the stability increases.

When you close it, you fold it as if you are grasping it, and then it fits with a light force. It's a little harder than opening and closing old-generation cell phones. But, in particular, the feeling of closing it before putting it in your pocket gives you the illusion of satisfaction as if you've settled down even though you haven't actually done anything.

However, the Galaxy Fold is not recommended to be opened and closed with one hand because the moving parts and screen are fragile, and even though it is an improved model, it is not dustproof, and damage is large (financially as well). Whether it's foldable or not, using a smartphone while walking in the street is a great crime because the balance tilts at once.

It's heavy.

The body weight is 276 g. On big-screen phones, for example, the Galaxy Note 10 + (6.8 " 19:9) weighs 196 grams, while the iPhone 11 Pro Max (6.5 " 19.5:9), the latest big iPhone, weighs 226 grams. Fold has a very small screen when folded, which makes it even heavier than it looks.

The iPad Mini weighs in at 300 ~ 308 grams, and it's got the same aspect ratio and resolution as the Galaxy Fold. The iPad mini is generally considered to be easy to hold with one hand, so by that standard, Fold should be lighter and easier to use, but it can be as heavy as the iPad mini even with a small folded screen.

Struggle with the size of the folded front screen

The most frustrating or confusing thing about the Galaxy Fold is that its closed front screen is so small.

The front screen is vertically long, 21:9 and 4.6-inches. It feels like a one-handed mode with a smaller screen on some Galaxy and Android phones.

While 21:9 is the aspect ratio that many smartphones use as they become more full-screen, the Fold itself is even more slender when folded, so there's a space above and below it that's like the Pioneer DP -211. (* Touch panel mobile phones released in 1996)

The Fold concept is small and easy to handle when folded, large when opened, and a small screen is welcome by some users. In fact, thanks to the large margins on the top and bottom, you can easily reach the top and bottom of your finger when you hold it in the middle, despite the 21:9 aspect ratio.

Galaxy Fold

That said, many of today's smartphone apps assume a somewhat larger screen, and the bigger you get, the harder it is to use just the front screen. This is especially true in games where you can't change the size of the UI components.

For the same reason, taking it out of your pocket, quickly checking it out, and quickly moving it back and forth isn't as useful as a big-screen smartphone. Once you get used to it, you can open it with one hand, but if you take it out quickly, glance at it, and then immediately pull it back, there's an extra opening and closing motion, so it's possible to drop it, and it's scary when you're standing outside.

Unless you're an avid fan of small phones, I happen to be an avid fan of oversized phones, so the small front screen required more human interaction or familiarity. Although it is a small screen, the main body is big, thick and heavy compared to the screen.

"A regular smartphone when folded and a big screen when opened." is a slightly misleading term, more precisely "Smartphone with a small screen when folded, a big screen when opened". That's why it can be either attractive or disappointing.

Thhe beauty of foldable, "Multitasking"

The Galaxy Fold's split-screen (Tiling) is either two apps on the left and right along the fold, or three apps with the right half further divided up and down. ├ This is how it is divided.

Galaxy Fold

When you start multitasking, swipe inward from the right edge of the screen to open the multitasking tray, and tap the app you want to use to split it right and left like a sidebar.

The multitasking tray only shows apps that support multitasking. If you install it but it doesn't show up here, it means you can't use it in split or pop-up mode.

When you drag an icon from the multitask-tray, you can choose to open it left or right, top right, bottom right, or pop it up, depending on where you drop it.

The split-screen ratio can be adjusted to some extent by dragging the divider (However, the upper right and lower right are fixed equally).

Galaxy Fold

When you actually use it, you can use it conveniently within the range of using another application while referring to it, such as mail and memo, browser and map. It's almost as comfortable as iPad's right and left division. It doesn't matter how many ways to divide it into three.

You can use it even more with a combination of pop-ups.

Officially, it "Open 3 apps at the same time", but you can open more than four apps at once as pop-ups. You can also add pop-ups to your home screen or full-screen apps without having to split the screen.

Galaxy Fold

To summarize the behavior around multitasking and pop-ups,

  • If you drop it from the multitasking tray to the middle of the screen, it pops up.
  • The pop-up can be resized by dragging the corner of the window. It floats on top of other apps.
  • You can use pop-ups to arrange windows freely. For example, the top of the screen can be used to display horizontally long video to the left and right, while the right can be used for messaging.
  • You can also set notifications to pop up. Tap to open it in a small window without switching screens and close it after confirmation or reply.
  • There's no (for now) way to store app pairs or groups of tiles that Samsung excels at. However, it is possible to memorize the previous state.

I wrote an impression rather than a review of Galaxy Fold (improved type), a 240,000 yen folding smartphone. It is very fun as a toy "High cost variable machine".

It folds up with 6 cameras and 12 GB of RAM, giving it super performance like "prototype" in robot animation terms. However, it is weak against sharp objects, water and sand.

Behavior of non-multitasking applications

One of the most challenging aspects of the software, If you try to be positive, you can say, "We have great expectations for the future!" is dealing with individual apps.

Surprisingly, a lot of apps, including third-party apps, already support split-screen. That's because it doesn't require special support for the Galaxy Fold, and it works well with apps that previously supported multitasking on Android, apps that can be used both vertically and horizontally, and apps that support multitasking with different aspect ratios on different devices.

The problem is that the aspect ratio is fixed, it's only for the horizontal screen, or it's a non-multitasking game that can only be launched on the full screen. These apps don't work in split screens or pop-ups and don't show up in the multitasking tray's list of apps.

Galaxy Fold

However, it is possible to display non-multitasking applications on the full screen and stack multiple applications in front of it with a pop-up.

It is difficult to use it because it hides a part of it, but for example, you can watch a part of the screen and wait, or you can put a large video on top of a game that requires "Leave the app open".

Galaxy Fold

Dragon Quest Walk, which is popular these days, does not support multitasking, is fixed to the whole screen, and you cannot use the walking mode (Walk Mode) which automatically raises the level if you don't keep the application open, but by using the pop-up, Dragon Quest is running on the whole screen at the bottom, and you can watch it with a big video application.

You can also open Chrome to look at the web, monitor Dragon Quest's status by making subtle gaps, and quickly turn off Autobattle when a metal slime hits. I don't know if I want to raise the level to that level, or if it's all about trying to get the most out of Fold.

Multitasking limitations and Android 10 behavior

I've just said that pop-ups are free, but in fact, Android's limitations don't let you do what you want. One of the most glaring problems with Android 9 is that while you can have multiple apps on your screen open at the same time, only the ones with focus (you touched it last time.) are actually active, and everything else is paused.

The only exceptions are the majority of video and music apps that need to be designed to work without focus in the first place, and a handful of apps, including the Chrome browser.

So while you're watching a video, you can use any app, but for example, the game and the rest of the app go through only the active one, and the other pauses without a screen refresh.

Even if the screen pauses, it doesn't matter if you're writing emails from your browser or Office app. Unfortunately, with Android 9, it's hard to do things like wait for a game to play, load, or match, and look at your social network's timeline. (Pause as soon as you leave the game and can't see what you're waiting for).

The exception to this is that certain apps, such as the Chrome browser, and apps that run in Chrome, will be updated even if other apps, such as the game, have focus.

Galaxy Fold

This isn't a limitation of the Galaxy Fold, it's a limitation of Android 9. But Google introducing multi-active windows (Multi resume) in Android 10 as a way to encourage people to double-task and multitask. With Android 10, traditional apps will also work when they lose focus, without pausing if they're on the front.

For example, if you split the screen up and down on the Pixel in Android 10, you can use Pokémon GO to wait for a raid to start, and search for countermeasure Pokémon on the bottom screen, or Twitter to watch events.

The Galaxy Fold ships with Android 9 Pie. With the upcoming Android 10 update, we can expect real multitasking to become even more useful without the help of app developers. In other words, the Galaxy Fold is the same piece of hardware, with at least one form of evolution.

On the other hand, if you're playing a game that doesn't support split-screen or multitasking in the first place, even with Android 10, multitasking won't work unless the app does. In this regard, a "human multiwindow" with two phones in each hand is cheaper and can run any app in parallel.

Attractiveness of the variable gear

The two-unit solution is cheap and useful, but of course, it has the charm of foldable that can be transformed by itself. For example:

  • When you encounter an app, image or video called "I want to see this on the big screen." while using it with one hand, you can instantly move to the big screen without having to save it to "read later" or take out your tablet or PC and switch.
  • Or when you're talking to someone and you suddenly want to show them a photo or a map, you don't have to wait to pull out your tablet and reopen it, but you can instantly see a larger screen with that person.
  • It eliminates the hassle of operating two units and the hassle of carrying, synchronizing and charging. If you put one in your pocket, it is always ready. There is no "I didn't bring the tablet today, I failed".

Other than that, if you push the charm of Galaxy Fold,

  • Battery life is excellent. Even if you try multitasking on a large screen, you can use it for as long as a normal smartphone.
  • The main screen is very beautiful. Just because it's an HDR-ready OLED tablet, it's worth it without having to fold it up. (In dark content or in bright light, the creases are visible in the reflection, but when you view something from the front, you can barely see it, or you get used to it and don't care.)
  • With the amount of RAM and the speed of the processor, you can use heavy apps comfortably on the big screen. You can play 3D games smoothly with a heavier picture quality setting.

If you can enjoy a future half step ahead, this is the best one. Delicate luxury.

The Galaxy Fold isn't a one-off trick that just folds up, or something you can't use on a regular basis, but it's a smart phone that can transform into a tablet.

The obvious drawbacks, like a sports car with a bad mileage, lack of battery life, or the lack of apps on its own operating system, are easy to dismiss as "Paid proof of concept, no practicality". But Fold's battery is just as good or better than that of a typical phone, and it has plenty of Android apps. There aren't many apps that support multitasking yet, but it's not too hard to just use it on the big screen.

Galaxy Fold

If I were to go on to say,

  • This is the best toy for people who have a special preference to play with the device and technology itself after purchasing a new product or updating an OS, open "Settings" with their eyes shining, and search for new features and improvements, see what they can and cannot do, think about how to use it, and try various things. "Wow! So, what can I use it for?" "Yeah, I still couldn't do it!" (somehow a big smile) and so on 🙋🏻‍♂️.
  • On the other hand, if you don't want to open the "Settings" as much as possible, or if you want to just work as a tool, and if you want to take it easy by letting others try something new, you can at least use it as "a big-screen phone that folds in half".

Note that "Not waterproof or dustproof.", "The screen is weak when opened.", "The screen is small when closed." in both cases. Even if you're a curious novelty hunter, you might be willing to pay 240,000 yen and accept this retrograde caution as a trade-off.

Galaxy Fold

If you don't mind the high price of 240,000 yen, your biggest concern is whether you should leave the first dish to early people and wait until the end of the year or next year when the companies are likely to release the second dishes.

Also, the domestic version that au exclusively sells seems to be limited in number, so I don't know if you can afford to worry.

This article is based on the Japanese version of Engadget and was created by machine translation. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.