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My thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy Fold after one week

I've been fascinated with the Samsung Galaxy Fold ever since it was announced in April last year. Even after "fold gate," which saw the device catastrophically fail in various ways before it even launched, I still wanted one. So when the product finally launched in September 2019 after being "fixed" by Samsung, I came very close to buying one, but ultimately backed down due to its incredibly high price tag and the fact that the Surface Duo would be coming in a year.

But over the holidays, something changed in my head. I started looking at reviews of the Galaxy Fold once again, and even though I know the Surface Duo is coming soon, I still found myself hovering over that buy button on Samsung's website. It was still too expensive, but after selling a bunch of older tech no longer used, that £1,900 price tag became considerably less daunting.

Also, Samsung has a pretty good trade-in program for existing Samsung phone users, which is what ultimately pushed me over the edge. I traded in my Galaxy Note 10+, which slashed a further £550 off that £1,900 price tag. At this point, I'm paying less than I would pay for a new OnePlus phone, so I decided "what the heck" and bought one. I've been using it for over a week now and wanted to share my thoughts.

Exquisite hardware

Galaxy Fold

Source: Samsung (Image credit: Source: Samsung)

Kicking things off with the hardware, the Galaxy Fold is a beautiful piece of kit. It feels fantastic to hold, and the hinge/magnet combination for opening and closing the device reminds me of the kickstand on the Surface Pro. Closing the device is so incredibly satisfying that I find myself doing it just for fun, even if I'm not done using the thing.

There are your usual volume and power buttons along the right side of the device — all are satisfying to press. There's also a dedicated fingerprint reader, which I find to be just a little bit too low for it to read my fingerprint accurately. When I'm holding the phone naturally, I have to adjust to place my thumb or finger on it successfully. It should be higher up on the phone, perhaps built into the power button.

I will say that I prefer this to what the Galaxy Fold was originally going to ship with. This is something I didn't see reviewers make note of when the Galaxy Fold re-launched in September. Initially, the fingerprint reader was going to double as a dedicated Bixby button, which would have sucked big time. Samsung changed this with the shipped product, but I haven't seen anyone else mention that. It's no longer a button, just a capacitive area for fingerprints.

There are also six cameras, all of which are pretty good. I won't be diving into the cameras here, so make sure you check out Android Central's review for a look at those.

About those displays

Galaxy Fold

Source: Samsung (Image credit: Source: Samsung)

The 7.3-inch foldable screen on the inside is something many people worry about, but after a week, I'm already over it. Although plastic, it's not "fragile" like most have described it to be. Sure, you need to treat it with a little more care compared to a glass phone, and you shouldn't use any sharp or pointy objects directly on the display, but it's not going to break from regular use.

The inside display isn't soft like I was expecting it to be, and more or less looks and feels like a normal screen. There is a crease down the middle, which is a side-effect of it being able to fold, but when viewed straight on (the angle in which you use the device almost always), it's rarely visible. You can feel it when you run your finger across the screen, but I wouldn't say it's much of an issue.

Having this size display with you on the go is incredible.

Having this size display with you on the go is incredible. When you reduce the UI scaling to the smallest setting, which everyone should, many apps will run in their "tablet" UI, including several Microsoft apps that gives you way more content on the screen at once. It's like having a tiny PC in your pocket when running apps like Outlook or Edge. I'll get to that more in the software section.

Samsung has also put a cover display on the outside of the device for doing quick tasks and checking notifications. This is covered in glass and therefore, can be treated like a typical smartphone display, even though it's pretty small. In fact, I'd say this screen is too small for a display that can do "everything" a normal smartphone can do.

If this display was limited to checking the time, notifications, and quick settings, then it'd be fine. But Samsung treats this display a fully-fledged area for Android. That means you can run apps on it, and it even has its very own home screen. In my opinion, it's just too small for those kinds of tasks. This cover display needs to be way bigger than it is for it not to be a frustrating experience outside of checking notifications.

I originally thought that external display would be unnecessary, but I've found it to be a vital part of the "foldable" experience. Without the cover display, checking notifications and answering calls would be annoying, because you wouldn't be able to see what those notifications are or who is calling. With a foldable, doing stuff on the inside screen requires an extra step: opening the device.

The OS experience

Galaxy Fold MS Apps

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

On the software side of things, the Galaxy Fold is fine. I'm still not a massive fan of OneUI 1, and while OneUI 2.0 does improve things in the animation and fluidity department, that update isn't yet available for the Galaxy Fold. The device launched with OneUI 1.5, which comes with Your Phone integration like on the Galaxy Note 10+ and other Galaxy devices.

Out of the box, the UI scaling is a little on the large side for the bigger foldable screen. By default, apps run with their mobile UIs on the larger display, which is fine for many, but with a display this big, I want my experience to be a little denser. So I dropped the scaling to the smallest setting, which makes many apps run in their tablet-orientated UI instead.

Software on the Samsung Galaxy Fold is a mixed bag.

Many of Microsoft's apps have these dedicated tablet UI's, which are just mobile UI's that are a little more dense and showcase more content at once. For example, with Outlook, you can get both your email list and a preview of the email at the same time, just like on a PC. With Microsoft Edge, you get a UI with a tabbed interface along the top.

You may not prefer this, which I assume is the reason the UI scaling is so high by default. There's also multitasking capabilities that let you run several apps on-screen at once. Three docked, and more in little windows. I don't use this feature much, however, because although the screen is 7.3-inches, it's not big enough to comfortably use more than two apps at a time.

The Galaxy Fold has a feature called app continuity that lets you continue using an app across the small and large display. Most apps are pretty good at adjusting their UI's across both screens, but not all of them. Skype, for example, doesn't support this at all and will need to relaunch if you try to use the app after opening it on another display first. Then there are apps like Edge and Instagram, which do support it, but have minor issues.

With Instagram, comments will sometimes run off the screen on the small display, and Instagram stories do not support the larger screen well at all. Microsoft Edge doesn't switch between the mobile UI and tablet UI when going between screens. I assume this is more of an Android issue as Google Chrome doesn't do this either.

Galaxy Fold vs Surface Duo

Surface Duo

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

The real reason I wanted a Galaxy Fold was so I could compare it to the Surface Duo when that launches this year. While technically different, they both fall under the foldable phones category of devices, one using a foldable screen, the other two displays joined together by a hinge. I'm yet to go hands-on with the Surface Duo, but I'm already starting to see some problems with that design.

First of all, the Duo not having a screen on the outside is going to be a pain point for many. Like I said above, I didn't think an outer screen was necessary until I actually had the Galaxy Fold in my hands. With that said, the Surface Duo can fold all the way around, unlike the Galaxy Fold. So you can use the screens out the "outside" if you want. However, that doesn't help if you've already closed the device and you've got a call coming in.

Microsoft Surface Duo

Source: MicrosoftMicrosoft's Surface Duo makes use of two physical displays instead of a folding panel. (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

After using the Galaxy Fold for a week, I do think having two displays is much more useful than one display. No matter how big the one screen is, I'm rarely going to use it to do two things at once, even if I want to. With two displays, you're forced into taking advantage of that second display, which I assume is the basis of Microsoft's claims that having dual-screens is more productive.

Now that I've used a Galaxy Fold with its one display, I can see where Microsoft is coming from with that statement. I like the Galaxy Fold's single display to show more tablet-orientated UI inside one app at a time. But I think I would prefer having two smaller screens that run apps with their mobile UI instead. I feel like I can do more with two displays over the one larger display on the Galaxy Fold.

But, as I said, I've not had the chance to really go hands-on with a Surface Duo just yet. Overall, I like the Galaxy Fold. It's most certainly a first-generation product, but it shows promise for this category. I like the idea of having a device that fits in your pocket that can fold out into something much bigger. Both the Galaxy Fold and Surface Duo achieve this but in very different ways. I'm excited to see where this goes in 2020.

Zac Bowden
Zac Bowden

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

23 Comments
  • I am interested in the Galaxy Fold when the price comes down and the technology matures. Having that big screen would be awesome. My guess for the Duo's dual screens is you will not normally use both. The second screen will stay folded away until you need to use two apps. It will be too awkward using both displays for single app usage. The Duo will only be truly useful if you regularly need to work with multiple apps. Otherwise, it will be no different than any other phone as you will concentrate on one display.
  • I'll be interested in a fold type device when the parge screen isn't a god awful aspect ratio from 15 years ago..
  • 4:3 is ideal for a screen that size. It is the same ratio as the iPad Mini and similar in size when unfolded. 16:10 might work well too, but it would be weirdly skinny when folded up.
  • There is a reason we don't use 4:3 any more, it ISN'T a good aspect ratio for any kind of content. 16:10 (and 16:9 but to a lesser extent) is infinitely better because it allows for ease of access to multiple applications at once, 4:3 is too limiting unless you have a much larger screen and even then it's still cumbersome. 3:2 has its advantages in pen support (in mimicking paper), but 4:3 is
  • Says who? It's ideal for reading and making up pdfs. 3:2 and 16:10 are good compromises. It's just not ideal for watching 16:9 video.
  • 16:10 is the best for reading or PDF's as it is the optimal size for two pages side by side. Anything else is either too narrow, or too short. As I said, 3:2 is great for inking as it mimics paper (although that's only in portrait mode, landscape the benefits are less pronounced and most any ratio would be sufficient), but 4:3 isn't really that great for anything, I mean, obviously it's going to be fine for drawing (less so for inking because there would be a lot of wasted space), but it's not good for multitasking, which is kind of what you would expect from the Fold when unfolded.
  • Good article. I have been curious about the Galaxy fold and Surface Duo. With the Duo still several months out, there is still a chance it could come with a dedicated notification display one the back side of the Duo. I still like the current design of the Duo and plan to get one. The true issue with the Duo's current design will be the ease of answering or making a call with one hand. It seems like a lot of extra to do this, just perceiving how it will feel in the hand and ease of folding. It just seems like it might be the reason most people will drop the device. A good hands on with the final product for 2020 will be key. I will certainly make my way to Microsoft store to get an idea of whether or not this is something that I can use realistically. After all, this would be my daily driver. I'm comfortable with he idea of using multiple apps regularly, due to my job and some for personal. What that ratio will look like would be something I will need to pay attention to. The other benefit of the Duo is that it will be able to use the Surface pen. Honestly, as long as Microsoft focuses on the optimization of their mobile apps for pen use, I can see me using it quite a bit, especially in Edge.
  • I bet you will rarely fold the Duo closed. You will keep it fully folded open, 360°, even when you put it in your pocket, unless you plan on not using it for a longer period of time. It will be so much more convenient to leave it unfolded so you can just pull it out and use one display, one handed, just like a normal phone. You will then only fold the second display out when you need multiple apps. That brings the question of cases. You won't be able to use a case, or likely a screen protector, and still have full 360° rotation of the hinge. I will be looking at Duo or Fold 2 for my daily driver when they laynch. I bet the bigger screen wins easily.
  • screen protectors on the Duo is easy enough, just have one on each screen, the Fold is a bit trickier though, it would need to stick well enough that it would easily bend with the device and not create a gap in the middle. Cases are trickier, and kinda the reverse, it would be easier for the galaxy fold to have some kind of stretchable case that covers the full device, the Duo may have to make do with a bumper style wrapping. I doubt either could get away with having sturdy plastic without some concessions made, and something like an Otterbox is completely out of the question.
  • You likely can't put a screen protector on the Duo since the displays fold flat together. That couple milliliters will prevent it from closing completely. A case will cause the same issue in reverse. Even a bumper will interfere with it closing flat in either direction. They have cases for the Fold. It doesn't hinge 360°, so cases are easy. It even comes with one in the and OtterBox announced they will have one soon.
  • Two screen protectors would be less than a millimetre in thickness, it would be easily doable. As I said, cases are easier for the fold, but from the ones I've seen they seem to all leave the hinge exposed, which makes sense.
  • It depends on how precise the hinge is. If it is really solid and doesn't give room for even a millimeter, then the protectors will be out. Given the build quality of previous Surface devices, I would expect the hinge mechanism to be extremely precise, allowing it to be thin as possible and fold 360°.
  • I've had the Galaxy Fold since it's relaunch and have been singing its praises for just as long. Many who have never even seen the device, much less used it have written it, off as an expensive experiment no one should buy. It is probably like minded people that praise iphones redundant annual iterations as innovative and magical. Foldable devices are the future of mobile devices and the Galaxy Fold is this new form factors champion. Thank you for bringing a positive perspective on a wonderful device that has been unfairly ridiculed and not given its due.
  • I too purchased the Galaxy Fold at release and I approve njikoka's message 👍🏾 Additionally, I've dropped mine a few times, gotten sand on it and at first used eye glass wipes to clean that beautiful screen (don't do that). The Fold has held up to the abuse with no damage. I did purchase the Spiegen (sp?) clear case for protection. I'm using Microsoft Launcher. Love using it to run Apex Fusion for the tank, DS Cam for surveillance along with ring. My favorite is Kindle in conjunction with a dictionary app. Will never purchase another slab form factor phone again. I will get the "true" successor to this Gen 1 form, but will be getting Neo instead of Duo.
  • Hey Zac, How is the battery life?
  • 'the Duo not having a screen on the outside is going to be a pain point for many' And yet I was ridiculed at the launch by you and Daniel both, for pointing out this exact problem, among others...
  • I am interested in a Windows Mobile 10 phone that will come with new hardware, a Microsoft ecosystem like we saw with Lumia 950 (XL) and HP Elite x3. I am sick of being on my Samsung S10 and I hate to behold how my Lumia 950 XL's software and apps slowly are falling apart as we see less and less support for it. It is a damn shame and also a major mistake that Microsoft has gone all in on Android.
  • The outer display problem highlights the "Surface Watch" idea Dan brought up. The outer display would be mainly for call ID or quick interactions. This could be handled with on wrist notifications and headset interactions (Surface earbuds, or other ones). I totally agree on the productivity stand. On the go, as my screen size increases I am usually moving to multiple windows (usually snapped next to each other).
  • A "Surface Watch" would not be a fix nor in my opinion a very good idea as it pertains to a fix to be used with the DUO. The DUO should stand by itself. And if there is a watch it should stand by itself. Sure if there was a watch it should have features that can compliment a DUO if necessary. But not having an outside display is a HUGE issue and mistake I believe. I'm just curious if there was anyone in the development room that mentioned "would't a screen on the outside be a benefit?". It just seems so shortsighted this wasn't included. Maybe it just wasn't feasible. There will be people who will state it's not necessary and then again it might not be. I just think they overlooked or might have underestimated how important this might be to many users. Hopefully it's a success nonetheless.
  • Unless it actually came with a wearable notification display, that's a pretty major **** move to have to spend money on an extra device to get basic functionality back. But then again, that's business.
  • Still not interested. And, everyone has their standards, things they'l settle for. Any crease is too much of a crease, it's as simple as that. The device itself is far too large to be useful to me, too expensive and provides no value-added function for me. There will be plenty of people for which this precisely fits their needs. For me, it's too much of the wrong things, too little of the right things. I'm waiting for AR/VR to become more mobile. That will be value-added for me.
  • I'm late to the party, 😄 but just got a Fold for a price I couldn't resist,anyway I also want to be able to compare it to the upcoming Surface Duo that I'll be getting also, ive had the fold for a week and I absolutely love it, is it perfect no its not its a first generation device but once you use one its hard to go back, ive got a pixel 4xl also and once you get use to using the small front screen for just necessities like a quick text or call or listening to podcasts, and then open it up for everything else, using edge browser is fantastic on the big display, once you experience this form in a device it really is a game changer, if Apple has a device like this in the works which i say they absolutely do, they can now honestly say this is Magical lol🤪 and people will believe them.
  • Ive been using Microsoft launcher on my fold and I love it it's fantastic