This week I got to review the new Samsung Fold Smartphone which is the first of a brand new form factor and while all the traditional Samsung qualities were top notch the functionality and design of this device is why Samsung has to go back to the drawing boards with the Fold.
The bad news is that the 5G-enabled version of Samsung’s first foldable phone won’t be coming to Australia.
The 4G device that I was given at IFA 2019 feature two distinct hardware upgrades to the new Fold Vs the old Fold which was pulled from the market even before it went on sale.
One centres on stopping users peeling off the protective screen which was a fundamental problem with the first model.
Now there is a T-shaped clip at the base of the fold to protect the screen.
They have also moved to close up a gap that let dust in that resulted in the device dying quickly due to shorting issues.
Samsung’s approach to foldable phones makes a lot of sense but the functionality of their initial device leaves one with one several questions.
Why, on a device that will cost $3K+ are they using what looks like a cheap plastic surround to hold the screen in place.
There is also an oversize notch, and a side mounted narrow button for fingerprint reader which is on the side as opposed to the front or even the back.
When the device is closed the Samsung Fold feels great in the hand and I actually believe that there is room in the market for a tall slim device similar to the size that this device folds down to but as for a large dual screen device like the Fold I struggled to justify a $3K spend Vs what the device delivers.
When closed the external display is small and less comfortably to type on than a traditional Samsung Galaxy smartphone, and the fingerprint reader which is on the right-hand side is not comfortable.
One also has to ask as to why there no stand or a back with a rest so that one does not have to lay the device flat on a surface to watch a movie or video, within a few minutes one wants to start bending the device inwards to relieve the stress on the stretched hand holding the device.
Females with smaller hands are going to have a big problem with this device.
If you want to lay it flat on a surface the viewing angle is going to be impeded.
The device becomes uncomfortable in the hand after a few minutes so a stand or an accessory that alleviates this problem is essential.
Rather than have a screen that folds outward and is constantly exposed to the elements, The Samsung Fold folds in, like a book. When shut, it’s really narrow, easy to hold and use in one hand, and can easy to fit in a pocket.
But when opened numerous problems emerge with the large screen format and it’s all about functionality.
Why when you do manage to hold the opened device in two hands do you end up coving up the speakers with one’s hands, but then again, most people listen to a video or music via headphones.
Senior BMW executives once said to me that a ‘strong brand can have one bad product’ two is pushing it and three is when you start losing share.
The big break that Samsung has with this device is that it’s a niche product aimed at the very top end of the premium smartphone market, so I doubt that the failings of this device are not going to permeate through the rest of the models that Samsung make.
Plastic end caps and internal metal architecture may help keep the screen healthier this time around, but it doesn’t address the functionality issues which is what the Samsung Fold was supposed to be all about.
It was supposed to be smartphone and small tablet in one.
Samsung may have shored up the Galaxy Fold’s most glaring mistakes, but I’m already looking forward to seeing what better foldable design the brand comes up with next.
Because this is a first-time product that needs to go back to the drawing boards.