I still recall my first visit to an Apple store, frothing with excitement at the prospect of getting my hands on the coveted iphone 3g. Those early Apple devices were frequently marketed for their ability to play apps but the prospect of watching clear, unbuffered video on a mobile phone was all I could think about. The Apple device was not the first mobile to play video off course, but its pixel perfect screen meant that it was almost certainly the most successful.
The store was even busier than even I could have anticipated with apple fan boys forming an almost impenetrable human chain around each product. I was not going to be denied my moment with the object of my affections however and so, alongside my friend, I bravely battled my way through the mass of bodies until at last I spied a clearing in the crowd.
There, in front of me, on a large wooden table, sat the coveted iPhone, its smooth, sexy body gleaming in the bright lights. Even more thrillingly, I suddenly realised that the device was on and that it was playing a video. As I strained my eyes desperately to see what was playing, I realised that the phone was streaming BBC television. The crowd, rapt to attention, were actually watching an episode of EastEnders! At least, I think they were. The 3.5 inch 3rd generation iPhone screen meant that it was all but impossible to tell from that distance.
How times have changed. These days even the cheapest phones can handle the likes of You Tube, Netflix and the BBC iPlayer. Screen sizes have grown dramatically too. Gone are the days where a 3.5 inch screen could draw collective gasps. Nowadays, the largest iPhones regularly boast screens of up to 6 inches with Android phones often even bigger.
Therefore, it takes something truly special to make us jaded 21st century tech addicts gasp these days. That something special was unveiled at the recent Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event in San Francisco. Alongside the usual spate of yawningly adequate upgraded tech, Samsung took the opportunity to reveal perhaps its most revolutionary device ever: The Samsung Fold.
The Fold represents the company’s first venture into foldable technology. The phone is set to for release in the US later this month with its European debut scheduled for early May.
The game changing aspect of the new device is the phone’s ability to increase and decrease in size, switching between a 4.6-inch outer screen and a much larger 7.3-inch tablet-like inner screen. An innovative new hinge system allows the phone to achieve the transformation, with the new technology promising to do away with the need for multiple internet connected devices.
So, what can we expect from the phone?
Well, to begin with, we’ve got to consider the price. The Samsung Galaxy Fold is certainly not cheap. The device will retail for a jaw dropping €2,000 in Europe with EE (who have won exclusive rights to retail the device in the UK) offering the Fold at £1799 in Britain. If that last figure didn’t put you off, then you can pre order the phone from Friday 26th April 2019. A more expensive 5G version will also be coming shortly after but the price is yet to be confirmed.
When it comes to the specs and details of the phone, the list is certainly impressive. The Fold will come with two OLED displays. At the front is a 4.5-inch screen, which Samsung calls the Cover Display. When you open up the device, you discover the second screen. This is not just any screen but a jawdropping 7.3-inch Infinity Flex Display. This makes the device perfect for games, watching movies, or running multiple apps – up to three at one time according to Samsung.
The good news is that Android has been updated to reap the rewards of the larger display size, although developers may find that they have to tweak the software further to take advantage of the changing display sizes.
Rear triple camera:
16MP Ultra Wide Camera rear
12MP Wide-angle Camera Dual Pixel AF
12MP Telephoto Camera
Front dual camera:
10MP Selfie Camera,
8MP RGB Depth Camera
Both a 4G and 5G version will be released
Processor & RAM:
7nm 64-bit Octa-core processor and 12GB of RAM
512GB of built-in storage, no MicroSD slot to add extra storage
Total battery capacity of 4,380mAh split up into two sections because of the fold
Lee Won Lee, Senior Designer of UX Design at Samsung Mobile, says, “The Infinity Flex Display together with One UI delivers a new kind of mobile experience allowing users to do things they couldn’t do with an ordinary smartphone.”
“Users now have the best of both worlds: a compact smartphone that unfolds to reveal a larger immersive display for multitasking and viewing content. The app experience seamlessly transitions from the smaller display to the larger display as the device unfolds.”
“One UI will also enable the Samsung Galaxy Fold to run three apps simultaneously when in tablet mode, while the redesigned icons mean that “the rounded corner of our hardware is reflected in our software.”
Samsung is not the only manufacturer preparing to launch a foldable smartphone, however. On the contrary, the recently revealed Huawei Mate X is just the latest in a long list of announced or rumoured devices which apparently includes a foldable version of the Motorola Razr and a foldable phone from Korean giant LG.
If foldable smartphones prove popular however, this list may be just the tip of the iceberg. The likes of Google, Nokia and Apple are rumoured to be monitoring the situation and once they have a better understanding of the market, some of these companies may choose to launch their own devices.
Whilst we cannot ignore the hefty price tag, it’s true to say that the Samsung Galaxy Fold represents a huge step forward for the mobile industry. The phone has the potential to be the long awaited device that bridges the gap between the mobile phone and the tablet.
Imagine finding a destination on Google Maps and then unfolding your screen to see the location on a massive map. Or firing up Netflix on your mobile phone and then unfolding the device so that you can watch the action with your friends or family. It’s an exciting possibility and we might have taken a massive step closer to that future with the Samsung Galaxy Fold. Be prepared.
UPDATE: The release of the Samsung Galaxy Fold has been delayed “indefinitely” due to issues with some devices. Samsung are investigating the issues and will release the phone in due course. A spokesman for Samsung said: “
We recently unveiled a completely new mobile category: a smartphone using multiple new technologies and materials to create a display that is flexible enough to fold. We are encouraged by the excitement around the Galaxy Fold.
“While many reviewers shared with us the vast potential they see, some also showed us how the device needs further improvements that could ensure the best possible user experience. To fully evaluate this feedback and run further internal tests, we have decided to delay the release of the Galaxy Fold. We plan to announce the release date in the coming weeks.
“Initial findings from the inspection of reported issues on the display showed that they could be associated with impact on the top and bottom exposed areas of the hinge. There was also an instance where substances found inside the device affected the display performance.”
“We will take measures to strengthen the display protection. We will also enhance the guidance on care and use of the display including the protective layer so that our customers get the most out of their Galaxy Fold.”
For more information on the Samsung Galaxy Fold, please click here.
For information on other product launches in London, please click here.