Is the world ready for foldable phones?
A better question might be: Is the world ready to pay $1,980 for one?
That's an open question this week as Samsung announced the Galaxy Fold smartphone that doubles as a 7.3-inch tablet.
The flexible display is quite stunning, especially for those who are a bit jaded about technology. Yes, the phone folds open, the display bends, and you can watch a movie on the wonderfully bright and clear display. Yet, it's also a normal Galaxy phone running Android that's meant for making calls and texting work colleagues all day.
The "catch" is that price, which is about double that of the new Apple iPhone XS and almost three times the cost of the more budget-minded iPhone XR. What we really don't know about this new form factor, since no one has really made a foldable phone en masse yet, is whether the benefits of a multi-purpose device will meet the needs of consumers.
The Fold will be available on April 26, when we'll get our hands on the device for the first time since Samsung hinted at a forthcoming flexible display phone back in November.
The phone has a massive 4,380 mAh battery (split into two sides of the device). One advantage of a foldable phone like this is that there's more room for a battery. We can expect at least all day battery life at that size, if not two days. Battery life depends greatly on how you use the device and which apps you run, although a new finding revealed that closing open apps doesn't seem to impact how long a smartphone or tablet lasts.
We know the price of the Fold, we know the size (it's 4.6-inches for the phone, by the way). It has 512GB of storage, 12GB of RAM, and Qualcomm 7nm octa-core processor.
There's a missing stat with all of this, though.
Samsung did not announce how much the phone weighs.
That's my chief concern, because there's no question a flexible display like this is innovative. For anyone who has seen Minority Report or just about any far-future sci-fi movie, you know the idea of a thin, flexible display is a major goal. Something that's small and portable, yet folds out to the size of a newspaper or at least an iPad means we can see more detail on the screen, makes sense.
I can imagine a future when a foldable device will replace a laptop because it will have a screen that's big enough for movies, document, spreadsheets, and a Skype call.
That might be going a few steps beyond reality, though. My guess is that the Fold will feel bulky and thin when it is a phone, and as a tablet it will feel heavier than an iPad.
I didn't see a stylus in any of the product videos--not a surprise since a flexible display likely is not designed quite yet for pen input and only supports touch. It might be an example of intermediary tech, a device that proves the future is coming one step (or fold) at a time. That's a good thing--I'm a fan of innovative gadgets that do something new and prepare us for the next tech evolution. I also really like when companies like Samsung and Apple take a bold step as opposed to simply adding a few more features and bumping up the processing speed and calling it revolutionary.
The Galaxy Fold is a stunning new device. The price and weight could be the roadblocks for most users, but keep an eye on this space. The future will be foldable.