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  • Samsung Galaxy Fold quick review: The price you pay for future

    first_imgWhen you hold the Samsung Galaxy Fold in your hands, you hold the future. The world has been sceptical about the Galaxy Fold, and rightly so. It is an audacious phone with its foldable screen, a design that lets users snap it shut like a book and then carry it in their pocket like the way they can carry a tall cigarette case or a slim and small cigar box. But it is not perfect. We saw that way back in summer when it reached some early users — the announcement happened in February — and problems were soon reported about its design and foldable screen. Now, in its second coming, the Galaxy Fold sports slightly tweaked design. Visually it is same, functionally it is slightly better, and durability-wise it is going to be in a different league, promises Samsung.The appeal of the folding screen of the Galaxy Fold, which is unique right now, in itself makes the Fold a standout device. But is the Galaxy Fold worth Rs 164,999, the asking price of the phone right now in India? It depends on what you expect from your phone.Before I get into what you should expect from the Galaxy Fold, and why at all it exists — I don’t think, and the high price indicates it — that this phone exists for consumers, let me get the mundane stuff out of the way.Yes, the Galaxy Fold is a smartphone. It is powered by Android 9, customised by Samsung with its own user interface, and Exynos 9825 processor. There is 12GB RAM in this phone. There is 64GB internal storage. Dual SIM cards are supported. There are two separate batteries in the phone, supplying juice to separate components by default, but each battery also capable of powering on the whole device on its own. The combined capacity of two batteries is 4380 mAh. The phone has a 7.3-inch AMOLED screen, which can be folded and unfolded. When the phone is folded, on the front, there is a smaller 4.6-inch screen. Both screens have plenty of pixels. The bigger screen has a resolution of 2152 x 1536 pixels. Samsung calls it Infinity Flex Display. The smaller screen has a resolution of 720 x 1680 pixels.advertisement The phone has a total of six cameras. The idea is that irrespective of what state the phone is in — folded or unfolded — people should be able to click a phone. So, on the back of the phone, there are three cameras. This is the same camera setup we have in other high-end Samsung phones, like in the Galaxy Note 10. The main camera uses a 12-megapixel sensor, the ultra-wide lens has been paired with a 16-megapixel sensor and the telephoto lens uses a 12-megapixel sensor. When the phone is unfolded, users get access to two front cameras: a selfie camera with 10-megapixel sensor and a depth sensing camera with an 8-megapixel sensor. When the phone is folded, users get access to single selfie camera with 10-megapixel image sensor.This is the mundane part. I have some more mundane stuff, before I move to the design and usability part, which is the key bit with the Galaxy Fold.As a regular phone, the Galaxy Fold works like a top-end Samsung device such as the Galaxy S10 or the Galaxy Note 10. In other words, in the short time I spend with the device, I found it to be a crazy fast phone. May be it is due to its 12GB RAM. May be it is the optimised software. But the Galaxy Fold user interface is extremely smooth. The performance of apps is fast on this phone: they open in jiffy, and you can move through the open apps seamlessly.Is it worth spending Rs 164,999 on the Galaxy Fold. Yes, if three years from now you want to feel that you were there when a new future for smartphones was unfolding.Both the displays — the smaller screen and the bigger screen — show outstanding colours, contrast and are extremely bright. No surprises there because we don’t expect anything less in a top-end phone from Samsung. As I said earlier, there are a lot of cameras in the Galaxy Fold and while using the phone briefly I could not try these cameras, if the camera performance of the Galaxy Note 10 is any indication, expect them to excel at clicking photos.None of these — the quality of screen, cameras, performance and software — are the reasons why the Galaxy Fold exists. There are other fantastic phones from Samsung in the market. It doesn’t need Fold to give consumers great phone experience. The Galaxy Fold exists because this is Samsung’s attempt to define future of smartphones. And it exists in India at a price of Rs 164,999 because Samsung is hoping to give consumers a slice of this future in a bid to show them that smartphones of future could be much more than the small slab of metal and glass that we carry in our pockets right now. The Galaxy Fold is something entirely new and creating something new is an expensive endeavour.advertisement The question then is, does the Galaxy Fold succeed in giving consumers a taste of future? In the short time I used the device, I was impressed with it but I could also see the nooks and corners where it was imperfect. Overall, I think Samsung has gotten most of the things right with the Galaxy Fold, and the areas where it has rough edges have more to do with state of technology right now instead of its implementation. Some things aren’t just possible in 2019.A phone that foldsThe foldable screen is the key feature of the Galaxy Fold. And it is actually useful. Phones of late are getting bigger and bigger. The Galaxy Fold solves that problem by using a foldable screen, which can be expanded by a user while browsing the web, watching a video, reading a book, playing a game, or while scrolling through Facebook timelines. But when you just want to send a quick message, want to check a notification, want to make a call, or may be just want to see the time, you can keep the Galaxy Fold folded and use its small screen.On paper this idea is incredibly sound. What amazes me with the Galaxy Fold is that how well Samsung has been able to implement this idea in practice.In terms of design, I feel that future foldable phones are going to look better. I don’t particularly fancy the kind of material Samsung has used in making the Fold. It’s too shiny. The glass on the back and the metal frame collect fingerprints within seconds after you start using the phone. The chrome finish is something I find too fancy. Then there is a thin plastic frame around the foldable screen and that too I don’t like. Although, I understand why it is there. It is to ensure that the two halves of the screen, when it has been folded don’t touch each other. It’s to protect the screen from scratches.The Galaxy Fold, because of its unique design challenges that Samsung is solving, feels a bit less premium than something like the Galaxy Note 10. Reason? Because of its flexible nature — glass is more rigid — there is more plastic in the Fold. There is a protective plastic layer on the phone’s foldable screen. There are plastic inserts in the hinge — and Samsung says that the state-of-the-art hinge makes the device possible — and they look a bit out of place.advertisement If you can look beyond some of these niggles — and these niggles are going to be part of the future initially as the tech companies like Samsung invent future and then perfect it — you are rewarded with incredible functionality with the Galaxy Fold. You hold it, and you realise you are holding something special. You browse something on its large screen, and then snap it shut like a book and slip it into your pocket, and you realise that there is no other phone that can let you do it.The whole mechanism of folding and unfolding the Galaxy Fold feels extremely robust and there is a sort of satisfying click as you fold the phone. In the middle of the foldable screen, contrary to what I expected to see, there is no folding line that is visible. Mostly. If you look at the phone carefully, and when the screen has white background, you can see the faint marking where the screen folds, but other than that — say while watching a video — you don’t see any markings. This is great, though how the foldable screen will react to wear and tear when people use the phone for longer duration is something that we will know only after a year or so.Coming back to the big question, is it worth spending Rs 164,999 on the Galaxy Fold? Yes, if three years from now you want to feel that you were there when a new future for smartphones was unfolding. The Galaxy Fold is not a practical phone, not yet. Instead, it is a phone with which Samsung is hoping to change the game, bring to the world something that has potential to change the way we use and see the phones. Rs 164,999 is the price of the ticket you pay to be part of this journey, to explore to something that is completely new and unique, even if it is not yet perfect, and to gather memories that you will share five years from now if phones with foldable screen indeed go mainstream.ALSO READ: | Samsung Galaxy Fold with foldable flexible screen launched in India, priced at Rs 164999ALSO READ: | Pixel 4 leaks again, shows recorder app with auto transcription featureALSO READ: | Spotify introduces Premium Family Plan in India, costs Rs 179 per monthlast_img read more