back to article Samsung pulls sheets off costly phone-cum-fondleslab Galaxy Fold – and a hefty 5G monster

Some day in the future you'll have a piece of material you can fold neatly away in your pocket, a canvas that just happens to be a communication and information device. Until that day, "foldable" phones will be transitional things, reminding us how far short we fall of the ideal. Samsung took a step towards that future …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well done Samsung

    Obviously I'm not going to blow £2K on a phone, unless someone else was paying, but I have enjoyed seeing something new in the phone market. It's nice to see a company that makes most of it's bill of materials taking advantage of that know-how.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Well done Samsung

      Yes, it is an interesting pointer towards the future, just like the Nokia Communicator back at the end of the 90s...

      It will be interesting to see where the technology is in a few years, when it has had time to ripen.

    2. Snowy
      Thumb Up

      Re: Well done Samsung

      What will be more interesting will be when someone add up the cost of the "bill of materials" and we see how much markup there is.

    3. DougS Silver badge

      Something new?

      Royole beat them to the punch by half a year. Yes, theirs was even more terrible, but at double the thickness (not to mention double the price!) of normal phones, with a ridiculously huge bezel around the exterior display for unknown reasons, and an incredibly stupid near 1:1 display ratio when unfolded, the "Fold" is aptly named. Samsung needs to go back to the drawing board.

      If you look at the demo, there's a bright line evident in the middle a lot of the time, and the two halves have different color/brightness indicating it isn't opening perfectly flat. The fact they didn't let anyone see one in person - even behind glass - is pretty telling.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Something new?

        Royole beat them to the punch by half a year.

        Except that it didn't: the Royole has not been fully release yet.

        If this was an Apple product you'd fawning all over it, but because it isn't you're pointing out the many potential pitfalls.

        I won't be rushing out to buy one and it will be interesting to see what problems do occur, but no doubt that, yet again, Samsung has stolen the march on Apple when it comes to innovation, note DeX is just as important as the foldable screen. So what if it costs twice an S10, if the product is as useful to some people as a phone + tablet, or even phone + notebook then they won't hesitate to use it. Just a stupid name, I'd have gone with Folio or something similar.

    4. robidy

      Re: Well done Samsung

      But it has a cat scene detection feature to make your cats brighter and sharper...what more could you want...yes it has one for shoes too....

    5. Sampler

      Re: Well done Samsung

      I'd hold the congrats until we see how well the fold last in real life conditions, I imagine that crease being a problem for the screen over time (if not even in the previews).

  2. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Looks pretty cool..

    Hopefully the reliability is there and the price comes down to something reasonable. (personally I won't even pay half that for a mobile device) The specs are pretty nice on it too.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Looks pretty cool..

      The specs are certainly nice, but also they are weird. I don't know what types of memory-hungry apps people are running such that running three of them at once is going to get a lot of benefits from 12 GB of memory. Did someone make a VM host for android that I haven't heard of? Meanwhile, I somehow doubt that the gigantic screen will last all that long on the battery provided. It's not for me, anyway, but I think these things may not be as useful as they sound.

      1. Graham Dawson

        Re: Looks pretty cool..

        RAM is space cheap and can squeeze in all the gaps. Power needs more real estate.

  3. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Some reports suggest that the under screen fingerprint reader does't like screen protectors, so if this important to you then wait a few weeks for somebody else to test this.

    The cheaper model has the fingerprint reader mounted on the side of the phone.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      re: The cheaper model has the fingerprint reader mounted on the side of the phone

      Which will obviously be the wrong side for a good percentage of the population.

      Having it on one side will probably mean that more and more users will opt to use the hand that is closest to that side for their fingerprint "cos it is easier innit?" That's cut the possible choices by 50%.

      Security hole anyone?

      As for the foldable... How long before 'foldgate' starts appearing on this site in relation to folding problems?

      1. Craig 2

        Re: re: The cheaper model has the fingerprint reader mounted on the side of the phone

        "As for the foldable... How long before 'foldgate' starts appearing on this site in relation to folding problems?"

        This was the first thing I thought watching the demo, but surely they had a machine folding / unfolding a million times to test resilience.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: re: The cheaper model has the fingerprint reader mounted on the side of the phone

          Yes, a "folding machine" that folded and unfolded it with machine like precision over and over again. In the real world people will apply twisting forces, it will sit in tight jeans pockets or be underneath other things in a purse. No amount of machine testing can equate to a year in the real world. I predict news about high return/repair rates in the Reg's future for 2019. I suspect that's part of the reason for the high price - they've built in some margin to account for that.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: re: The cheaper model has the fingerprint reader mounted on the side of the phone

        "As for the foldable... How long before 'foldgate' starts appearing on this site in relation to folding problems?"

        <sarc>

        yes, the people who managed to make the folding tech work, did'nt think about any folding problems, and did no testing, so the phone is useless as the folding wont work!.

        </sarc>

        1. Warm Braw Silver badge

          Re: re: The cheaper model has the fingerprint reader mounted on the side of the phone

          The problem with 1st generation products is that you can only test for the things you can anticipate as being problems. Too early to rule out a you're folding it wrong moment.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: re: The cheaper model has the fingerprint reader mounted on the side of the phone

          The real question is -- what does Samsung consider to be a reasonable lifespan? Cell phone manufacturers seem to be of the opinion that a phone should be discarded after a couple of years.

      3. Xpositor

        Re: re: The cheaper model has the fingerprint reader mounted on the side of the phone

        "Which will obviously be the wrong side for a good percentage of the population."

        You are able to register multiple digits, and they don't have to be a thumb (although I've not yet tested registering my big toe).

        1. Tabor

          Re: re: The cheaper model has the fingerprint reader mounted on the side of the phone

          “although I've not yet tested registering my big toe”

          Damn you. I was looking forward to a quiet night in, but now I’ll get funny looks from the missus whilse trying to get my toe print registered on my phone.

          1. Tabor

            Re: re: The cheaper model has the fingerprint reader mounted on the side of the phone

            For those interested : it works.

            1. David 132 Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: re: The cheaper model has the fingerprint reader mounted on the side of the phone

              You are truly a hero of science for pushing back the boundaries of human knowledge so!

            2. Jedit
              IT Angle

              "For those interested : it works."

              Testing that took you four hours?

              (The IT angle: new innovations in digital technology.)

              1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
                Happy

                Re: "For those interested : it works."

                He had to wait until the missus was out

      4. Snowy
        Joke

        Re: re: The cheaper model has the fingerprint reader mounted on the side of the phone

        No I think "floodgate" is not quite right, it will be creasegate!

      5. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: re: The cheaper model has the fingerprint reader mounted on the side of the phone

        "Which will obviously be the wrong side for a good percentage of the population."

        Could be. But it's irrelevant to another good percentage of the population who won't be using the fingerprint scanner anyway.

  4. 0laf Silver badge
    Meh

    Nice to see something different. I'd also expect to see complaints soon about screen problems in the area of the fold but it is the first generation of these sorts of devices.

    I'm guessing the folding form factor fones 4F will become pretty common in a few years. So we'll get 4F5G phones (maybe even W3E4F5G).

    I cna actually see quite a few people chosing to upgrade for that sort of change.

  5. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Am reminded by these things of a bygone era. Great fun.

    Nintendo did it with their Game and Watch series...

  6. Cuddles Silver badge

    Only five cameras?

    Forget Samsung vs. Apple, it's Samsung vs. Gillette now. I won't be happy until my phone has at least as many cameras as my razor has blades.

    1. 0laf Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Only five cameras?

      Light did a 16 lens camera, just bolt this to the back of your phone. Jobsagoodun.

      https://www.engadget.com/2015/10/08/lights-l16-camera/

      1. BGatez

        Re: Only five cameras?

        I just glue on a bee with a good memory

    2. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: Only five cameras? Re: Get woke go broke...

      Makes you wonder when the affromentiond South Korean corporation will eventually get woke? As to Gillette... I think I'll be switching to Wilkonson, who havent as of yet gone woke.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Only five cameras? Get woke go broke...

        Nokia are bringing out a phone with 5 rear-facing cameras:

        https://thenextweb.com/plugged/2019/01/03/nokias-5-camera-phone-leaked-in-all-its-glory/

    3. Andrew Lobban

      Re: Only five cameras?

      Reminded me of this from way, way back!

      https://www.theonion.com/fuck-everything-were-doing-five-blades-1819584036

  7. Overflowing Stack

    Where's the laser range finder?

    Or just laser? I was hoping for this feature.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Where's the laser range finder?

      Sony are busy building laser range finding sensors for OEMs. Qualcomm have worked on the related silicon - they released a demo of a point cloud of a pianists fingers being tracked in real time last year, but using IR matrix. Google have worked on this for a few years since Project Tango, but using multiple cameras instead of laser time of flight. Apple are very keen to exploit 3D scanning, their silicon is leading the game, rumours suggest they'll be using Sony ToF sensors in the next generation iPhones.

    2. Dagg

      Re: Where's the laser range finder?

      It comes attached to the ficken shark.

  8. Overflowing Stack

    I'm buying one

    I'm rarely a an early adopter, I still use my Note 3 that is over 5 years old!

    This is a game changer though. My first tablet computer was Sony Vaio U70 that I had to import from the USA (2004 ish)

    It was almost pocket sized (although I had a foam padded camera case for it) and was useful as a sat nav on the dashboard of my van.

    The main reason I'll get it is to make it play ball with my Android app (MyAV), but it is wildly cool and will surely be an excuse for women to chat to me in bars (my round LG Watch sure worked).

    1. Michael Habel Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: I'm buying one

      The sarcasm levels are off the charts with this one...

  9. Rainer

    How the hell?

    Is this not going to wear out in the shortest time?

  10. Mage Silver badge
    Happy

    It's a fold up 2K tablet

    rather than an unfolding 2K price phone.

    That and the spec and the ability to put a more than 7" tablet with better specs than most tablets and some low end laptops makes it not so insane.

    I'll see what price a mk2 version is.

    The Nokia N9200i was remarkably better than the earlier one. Colour vs mono and ARM vs x84 and able to use 2 x GSM slots for 14.4k. My phone line only worked at 19.2K then, though 2 ch ISDN (128K) was in the village and I think 56K modems had just come out, though only really 28K with compression giving 33K if it wasn't a suitable digital exchange.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: It's a fold up 2K tablet

      "That and the spec and the ability to put a more than 7" tablet with better specs than most tablets and some low end laptops makes it not so insane."

      It still seems pretty insane to me.

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: It's a fold up 2K tablet

      Better specs that most Android tablets....you mean the ones that cost $150? Given that watching video is one of the main uses for a tablet, something a near 1:1 display ratio is uniquely unsuited for, this thing is a giant swing and a miss as a tablet. As a phone it doesn't offer all that much more display area than the biggest phablets, and requires two handed use.

      When you have a compromise device, it needs to at least be better at one thing. This is worse as a phone and worse as a tablet, and costs twice what you'd pay for each separately - even at Apple's pricing if you bought an iPhone XR and iPad or iPad Mini!

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: It's a fold up 2K tablet

        Ultimately:

        Nine times out of ten the times I want a tablet are the times I have hand luggage - i.e train and plane journeys. Carrying a tablet in a rucksack is no inconvenience, so no gain to it being foldable.

        I might revise this if Android tablet software was actually any good, but even Google has conceeded the tablet space to Apple. Down the line we'll have either Chrome OS or Fuschia... but I don't see myself with a full blown Photoshop + Illustrator in a trouser pocket device for some time.

        It's far more likely a jacket pocket Photoshop will come first, in the form of an iPad Mini Pro. Technically speaking, Apple could do it tomorrow - it's a business decision for them, not a engineering challenge.

  11. Jim-234

    Amazing phone, shame about the price

    I'd love to have one of them, but at $2k it's just not happening. $1k is a stretch but would be worth it.

    It seems pretty much $1k and up is the new starting point for cool phones... Thanks Apple.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Amazing phone, shame about the price

      "It seems pretty much $1k and up is the new starting point for cool phones"

      I suppose that depends on what you consider "cool". From my point of view, the high-end phones are worse than midrange phones, as they have jettisoned several incredibly useful features and replaced them with less useful ones.

  12. Daniel Hall
    Thumb Down

    Most comments:

    Ohhh its really good.

    But it costs a lot.

    You cant have good and cheap ya know!

    Reminds me when people ask me to recommend a laptop/PC to them to "play games on" or "do video editing" and when I mention it'll cost upwards of £1000 they gawp at me like I'm some kind of devil!

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: Most comments:

      At the same time, I've been astonished that I can put together a decent gaming PC for £150 through the magic of eBay and Cex.

      No, it's not going to be top of the range, but it doesn't have to be for this job.

      1. Michael Habel Silver badge

        Re: Most comments:

        And, what kind of Games post 2010, could One actually play at anything nearing playable frames on a System built from only 150 Squids? I'm guessing it might prove a better Word Processor, and perhaps a slow-ish Photoshooper PC. But, I dubt you'd get Crysis to play on it, and well that was actually already 2007...

        The only thing more freaking INSANE then Samsungs (#METOO), Apple-esq pricing on Phablets (Folding at home), or otherwise, are the proud prices that GPUs are commanding. And, that even assuming you could even manage to even find One, and that some scummy scammer, isnt hiding on the other end. or that the Card is just about on its way out, having done its due duty as a means to mine imaginary Money, that could then be sold on to fools with even more imaginary Money that has the blessing of the Goverment of the Day.

        1. defiler Silver badge

          Re: Most comments:

          My boy wants to play Portal and Portal 2, for a start. And for that money I can get myself an i5-2400 and a moderate-but-not-amazing video card. It's plenty for that task.

          It might struggle on Crysis, sure. Don't care. There are a bazillion other games I can play.

          But oh no! I can't play in 4k at 120Hz??! So what?

          1. Michael Habel Silver badge

            Re: Most comments:

            Wow... I would have been happy with 1024x768 @ a deadlocked 60fps.

  13. BGatez

    Another "must have" toy for people dedicated to ignoring their surroundings and oblivious to others while blocking sidewalks and stumbling into as many as possible.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    or maybe dont waste so much screen real estate on useless crap, irrelevant to the users current activity.

    ads? branding? click-here-fuck-knows-what?

    the linear graph of screen space and additional useless shit on the screen are almost congruent.

    1. Michael Habel Silver badge

      In all farness how the ***k is it Samsungs fault that this Site likes to display Ads? Ot, the other Ads from all the other Websites since the dawn of the interbuttz?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the number of times most users will be able to get away with just using the outside screen vs having to 'unfold' and having to use the larger screen, makes this a near futile exercise in paying for overpriced features that'll never get used.

    that said, i quite like the idea of a minimalist slim phone. make one of those Sammy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yep. This is a very small foldable tablet, with a minimally-usable outside notifications screen.

      I like the Xiaomi concept more, a double-fold. Thus in tablet form it's actually a decent size, and you get a full-screen mobile when not. Of course, it'll take several generations for them to make that decently thin......

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Yes I think tri-fold is required, because that's the only way you'll end up with something like 16:9 for an unfolded device. Since watching video is the #1 use of a tablet, having a square screen like the aptly-named "Fold" is a major fail!

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          And to think of all those years I spent watching 4:3 content!

          I don't think I've ever seen Back to the Future or E.T in wide-screen.

          The filmmaker's vision is already buggered by watching it on a small screen, so a crop is only a bit more compromise.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "Since watching video is the #1 use of a tablet,"

          Is it?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So funny

    Every time is see these expensive toys I laugh at the thought of people spending so much for so little.

    Hope I live long enough to see the drones have at the eyephones... vvv.youtube.com/watch?v=eJyMEkb_8to

    1. Cederic

      Re: So funny

      My expensive toy has been my primary computing device and daily camera for three years, including trips to 30 countries on six continents.

      It also lets me make phone calls.

      Expensive, but good value for the money.

  17. JohnFen Silver badge

    Nope

    That's an insane price for little return.

  18. chuckrman

    Everything is worth what its purchaser is willing to pay for it

    I feel this gadget falls into the category you have so marked. It is not directed at a specific need (that I am aware of) but is an expensive toy to me because it is not in my budget range and does not offer a feature that I would need over my existing phone.

    /rant

    However, I feel that you are incorrect in making the statement "so much for so little" without context. The use of "so little" is subjective without any qualifications. Someone may find that the increased screen size is worth every penny spent. This is because their qualifications are different from yours. I dislike the idea, particularly on a tech site, that it is too expensive or doesn't meet the need when neither have been defined as a qualification. It is merely something on offering and it would appear that it is not targeted as a device for everyone but a "premium" device. It is fine to make a prediction like "I don't expect this to sell well because its cost is high compared with most phones in the general population" as that is including a qualification to demonstrate why you have your point of view. Nothing wrong with having one but just making a broad statement without backing it up does not contribute much to the discussion. It is these types of devices that can open up new use cases or demonstrate an idea that needs maturing. I often hear the complaint that I wish my screen were bigger when the people around me are using their smartphones. While finger gestures allow in some cases to easily magnify something it may simply be too troublesome to use on a larger document or picture (such as a comic). Using a different device with a larger screen size may not be so practical as the smartphone is so portable and readily available because it goes everywhere with you. This is an attempt to try something different though it is not clear if it solves the problem. Cost, more room for screen clutter such as in app Ads, device longevity, and battery life are all valid concerns. It might not do the job. However you can't say for certain without trying. The attempt alone can yield value in the form of knowledge gained.

    /end rant

  19. Nifty

    Is that a Fold in your pocket or are you...

    Coat.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
  20. rcxb

    Smart phones are only commodities now, because they're all chasing the same corner of the market. Give me a phone with a good hand-hold instead of flat back, and I'll run out to try one and see if they actually did good. Come out with a new landscape slider, and you'll have many people lined-up to get one.

  21. Skepticmonkey

    it's to small!

    What a shame unfolded it's only 7.3 inches it's only 1.1 inches bigger than s9+ I just don't see the point. If it had 6 inch folded to me that would make sense. I currently own the honor note 10 which is a 7inch phone that can be held in one hand for £400 Ok so its not the top tech. But this new fold is pointless other than test concept. The question is who is this phone for? its certainly not for those who want a phone that can also replace thier tablet as it's to small.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: it's to small!

      Its not practical, its twice as expensive. Its for the wank class, a status buy. OMG you bought that!

      Samsung so wants to be apple.

  22. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Joke

    Madness

    Anyone who doesn't buy one of these must be completely unhinged.

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Madness

      You crease me up!

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Madness

        Let's just hope you don't crack!

  23. J J Carter Silver badge
    Boffin

    APPL will have something to say

    They have a patent on 'folding'

  24. darklord

    Itll fold until its been in some ones Jeans pocket a few times and the phone gets bent, Exit phone foldability and enter cracked screens.

    Nice idea but the Burks who will actually by this aren't corporation and execs its the snotty 17 year olds to show off to there mates.

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