Samsung Galaxy Fold, analysis: the day to day with a folding device told in five very different experiences
The MWC 2019 proposed to us what would be the fashionable topic this year in mobile telephony: 5G and the connectivities to come were overshadowed by showcases and showcases of folding devices. One of the first to be presented was that of Samsung, although its release on the market was torpedoed by some design flaws that were corrected by the manufacturer, and we have been able to test it in the analysis of the Samsung Galaxy Fold.
Colloquially we usually refer to it as a smartphone, but the truth is that as they suggested from the beginning it is in practice rather a small folding tablet. It is therefore a new division of devices along with the Huawei Mate X and those that are to come, hence, we would consider doing a different analysis and adapted to this category. And we are going to tell you from five points of view.
Data sheet of the Samsung Galaxy Fold
Samsung Galaxy Fold - 512GB + 12GB Black Mobile FreePVP in El Corte Inglés € 2,020
One device, two possibilities and five usage profiles
At Xataka we were already able to test this device on its first attempt to go to market, having a touchdown in which we could already perceive whether the Fold provided any plus or not in the user experience. The proposal: maximize multitasking and give the user more screen when they want, so that when this is not the case, the terminal is stored more comfortably.Our conclusion after the contact, in addition to considering it a good first step, was that it seemed like a product for a relatively small group of users.
Our conclusion, in addition to considering it a good first step (with tasks to be improved, which later proved itself), was that it seemed like a product for a relatively small group of users. Wanting to get out of doubt in this regard, what we have done is try to test it to the fullest while considering different scenarios and usage profiles:
- Antonio Ortiz, editorial director of Webedia and editor at Xataka: general experience and productivity.
- Angela Blanco, Webedia video team: general experience + user on foot.
- Mario Merinowski, Webedia video team: general experience + specialized user.
- Daniel Esplá, Webedia video team: general experience + photography.
- Anna Martí, senior editor at Xataka: general experience + technical analysis.
There are some points in common in each of the experiences, but also many differences both in the first impressions and once the device had been further tested. We tell you the conclusions in each case.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold in productivity
Does a folding device help us, and in particular the Galaxy Fold, with regard to productivity and more work use? Does it give us more than a standard device or does the opposite happen?
Antonio comes from a Huawei P30 Pro and, although it is quite lighter than the Fold, the latter did not seem very heavy. Of course he comments that he is used to carrying two phones and that influences that he does not have the feeling that he is particularly heavy.
It has focused its use in the workplace and to exploit that promise of multi-window that has wanted to highlight in this Fold. He clarifies that what changes is not only the size of our screen, but the ratio changes a lot: suddenly, this is very different from what was customary.
"In the end everything is based on the premise:" I have more screen, I'm sure I'll be more productive. " The history of mobile telephony (with the passage from those screens so small on old mobiles to large "phablets") that there is something true in that, but that we cannot expect miracles. " Antonio Ortiz
In your case, the use is based on a lot of mail, a lot of messaging, web browsing, some office automation and social networks with a professional approach, and this ratio is not a substantial improvement with these type apps timeline. It's a wider panel, but it doesn't really find a profit (see more content, do less scroll, etc.) or a marginal improvement in productivity.
Multitasking, from where we can open the divided screen.
Antonio also does not see a clear superiority of the device over others in terms of office automation and email and is not very optimistic. As the smartphone-user interaction remains the same, you do not see a substantial change regarding how this device is used compared to others (they are taps, pinches, scroll and everything we do on current mobiles).Antonio also does not see a clear superiority of the device over others in terms of office automation and email and is not very optimistic
He clarifies that Samsung has been part of the manufacturers that have wanted to get the most out of the multi-window (already with the Note). In his experience, the folding screen of the Fold is the one that has made the most sense for multitasking, and although it is not applied in the most intuitive way (there is a learning curve), this change in ratio is what makes the most sense the multi-window. And that has a direct effect on productivity.
"I can have an Excel open while taking notes in another application without having to make context changes, which in the end makes you deconcentrated from what you are doing and makes productivity in mobile phones suffer." Antonio Ortiz
It's easy enough to add apps in the form of a floating window, but it was not intuitive.
What has convinced Antonio a lot is his use as a reader. In fact, in combination with the blue light mode it has reminded you of what is your current e-book reader (the Kindle Oasis), although the Fold has the plus of that multi-window that allows you to make annotations when you need it: vertically the reading a book and next to it the app for taking notes, in the adjacent window.
And that's where he missed something: a pointer. A stylus with which to write without interfering in the main task, such as One Note (the one he uses). Of course, there is a technological barrier in the matter of development: on folding screens there is still a long way to go to reach the level of sensitivity for pointers that has been done on "classic" screens (such as the Note for the S Pen ).
The Samsung Galaxy Fold for the ordinary user
Angela regularly uses an iPhone XR, a relatively large and wide mobile. Regarding the design, she commented that for her it is not slippery and that the rear camera module does not protrude so much that it sways, so it does not dance when left on a table. He considers that the flexibility is correct and works well, qualifying that he used it half-open on many occasions.
What stands out: the multiscreen mode and the display of certain applications in full screen. The multi-window seems to you the most useful of the Fold, since it is useful to have two or more tasks simultaneously open simultaneously.
“One of the aspects that I find most useful is the multiscreen mode: being larger, everything looks pretty good [...]. And something that is also appreciated is to see certain applications: Instagram (the timeline) for example it looks much better, as well as Twitter or Calendar. ” Angela White
Of course, it qualifies that there are apps that are not optimized for the device, as it happens with the Instagram Stories (they do not fit the screen and the upper and lower parts of the Story are not seen). This obviously happens especially in third-party apps, depending a lot on the interface in each case (in this one function actually looks great and another worse).
Instagram Stories in one format and another. For Angela, the front screen (the 4.5-inch screen) is "too small to be fully operational: in the end you always open it, except to call by phone
At the hardware level, Angela awards positive points to the Galaxy Buds (which come with the mobile), defining it as a "fantastic experience", but also highlights two negative points:
- The front screen (the 4.5-inch screen) is for her "very small to be fully operational: in the end you always open it, except for making a phone call."
- The fingerprint reader is on the side and does not feel comfortable.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold for the user gamer
Mario el Fold transmits the sensation of something elegant, premium. It also comes from an iPhone XR and as it happened with Angela it does not seem heavy.
From the beginning, the idea of a folding device catches your attention, highlighting that it is not a question of one screen limiting the other as both are fully functional. The 7.3-inch screen has surprised you for good by having a better feel than you expected, but it finds some buts to the panels:
- You see pixels and saw teeth, so you think the screen is too big in this regard (the image is pixelated).
- The aspect ratio is atypical and many games are not optimizing, causing screen clipping: there are elements left underneath the internal camera module and we cannot do tap about them, for example in the ‘Call of Duty’ or in the ‘PUBG’.
- The turning of the software does not act on the system in general or on the lock screen (we will point it out later), so if we are using the device horizontally and it locks after a pause (if we have it configured at the factory, it will self-lock after 30 seconds), we will not be able to unlock it horizontally (the virtual keyboard does not reorient itself).
The internal camera module covers elements in some games and we cannot tap sometimes.
On the 4.6-inch screen it also concludes that it is too small, being uncomfortable when it comes to writing and playing. In the case of video games, the small screen is fully functional, but obviously it is much better to do it with the big screen.
"The general idea of and concept of folding mobile is very cool to me, especially because you can use the two screens the same (not that one limits the other). Although the front seems small, too small ”. Mario Merinowski
Mario has spent quite a few hours on games, so we can get a closer impression of a more user profile gamer. He claims that the gameplay is great and that after hours of play it hardly heats up.
Cons have more to do with format and hardware than performance. Merinowski comments that playing on the small screen is a rather disappointing experience and that you usually open the big one: "normally if you are going to play it is that you have some time, and then better deploy it and play big."
Also, there is something interesting to know depending on which screen you start the game on: if they start on the front screen, opening the internal screen will leave large black frames on the top and bottom sides. If we do the opposite and start the game on the 7.3-inch internal screen, it is seen directly in full screen but not optimized (and it is pixelated).Even if we establish continuity from one screen to another for a certain game, it will automatically resume from the front screen to the internal one, but not the other way around.
In this regard, what must be taken into account is that although we establish continuity from one screen to another for a certain game, it will automatically resume from the front screen to the internal screen, but not the other way around (and the game restarts) . In this way, we will lose the game if we do so.
As for the software, although later we will dedicate another specific section we can anticipate the Game Booster by coming to the thread of Mario's experience. Merinowski explains that it is a menu with some options related to the game that can come in handy to take screenshots and have some more options at hand (block calls, etc.).
At the speaker and audio level, what sometimes happens is that the sound outlet is accidentally covered when holding the Fold horizontally. We remember that it has stereo speakers located on the upper and lower edges of the middle with an external screen, which coincides with the area where the mobile phone rests on the hand.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold in photography
Although Dani tried to focus on the cameras of the Galaxy Fold, she also collects comments on design, screen and other features. He notes that from the beginning it caught his attention that the front screen seems off-center, it may be misleading to have the part of the hinge.
It comes from an iPhone 11 Pro, a lighter mobile, but although it seems a heavy device, it does not perceive something out of the expected given its dimensions. In fact, it qualifies that you can handle it relatively well with one hand and can even unfold it.
Although overall it seems to be well finished, you do notice the crease (i.e. the back of the hinge) on the big screen, both by swiping your finger and slightly tilting the panel, although it's not uncomfortable. And as happened with Mario, Dani also clarifies that he likes the concept.
"I like the concept of the Samsung Galaxy Fold: it is having a tablet and a smartphone at the same time. As soon as I had the Fold in hand for the first time it was a “wow moment” for me. ” Dani Esplá
In relation to the flexible screen, Dani also agrees with Mario and appreciated that it is less plastic than he thought. Although, yes, it qualifies that although at one point he thought that this 7.1-inch panel would be useful for anything, over time he discovered that it was not so, or that the experience did not meet expectations in some aspects.
- Movies and series: the aspect ratio is unusual and in video playback those huge black bands remain above and below, which is logical (the cinema contents are usually in 16: 9) but with this the screen is no longer used than a standard smartphone.
- Videogames: it depends on the case, but for now all the games we have tested ('Asphalt 9', 'Brawl Stars', 'Call of Duty', etc.) have some problem of overlapping the internal camera module as we have already commented . We will have to wait to see how the apps adapt to these increasingly varied screens (notchs, holes, etc.).
The 'Asphalt 9' in the Galaxy Fold in landscape mode.
The 'Call of Duty' in the Galaxy Fold in landscape mode.
The 'PUBG' in the Galaxy Fold in landscape mode.
Esplá talks a little more deeply about the experience with the operating system on this mobile. Although the navigation solutions and the structure that we see in One UI (Samsung's personalization layer) are maintained in all Samsung mobiles to date, having two screens and a different form factor, the experience is different.
In this case Dani has moved without any problems or leaps, also emphasizing that any app can be run without difference on both a screen and another. But it would propose two types of use according to each panel:
- 4.6-inch screen: if it is for something fast (take a photo, reply to a message or even watch a short video).
- 7.3-inch screen: multi-window and tasks that require more time, it is much more comfortable to use and to view the content.
Regarding the split screen, Dani highlights the facilities in the software to take advantage of the split screen with the accessory bar that allows you to add apps to it.
”The facilities for using split screen, like the sidebar to launch apps and put them in floating windows, is one of the most interesting things I see in the Fold. We can have several and minimize them in a bubble that is also floating, so that when we want to use the app again, it is exactly where we had it and in the dimensions it had. ” Dani Esplá
Speaking of photography already, Dani clarifies in the first place that for him it is not comfortable to take photos and videos. The small screen is fine for more spontaneous shots but the larger one, which allows for better viewing, is quite a bit more awkward to hold and use, although they have added a floating shutter that can be placed anywhere on the screen and helps a lot to make it a little more comfortable.
Camera app interface on the front screen.
To Dani the results are quite reminiscent of those of the Samsung Galaxy S10 +, in fact the optics are practically the same. The dynamic range stands out, since even with backlit sources it saves the information of the photography quite well taking into account that it is a mobile and not a camera.
It also appreciates the versatility, having the fashionable combination in the rear camera (standard lens, wide angle and telephoto), as well as the double front camera of the internal part dedicated in part to having more data for portrait mode. Of course, more is not always better and less when the lighting is lower, since the quality experiences a drop when giving pastel shades, more noise, etc., although it is not something much below what you expect in a mobile of super high end.
As for the dynamic blur (portrait mode), he says that by specifications we should notice a difference between that produced by the external front camera and that of the internal front cameras and that there is one from his point of view. He bokeh which applies in the case of making a selfie with the cameras the 7.3-inch screen is somewhat more successful, but it is still flatter (and less realistic) and not progressive, finding here a lot of improvement.
Speaking of the video, when the light is good the results are good and Dani highlights the stabilization in the wide angle. When light is scarce it is the standard lens that holds the best.
However, the 7.3-inch panel earns points if we talk about photo editing. You see more content and apps like Lightroom are more comfortable to use, as is the case with the iPad and other tablets. Fun fact: You can use the line left by the hinge on the screen as a guide for photos (like a ruler or a grid).
The Samsung Galaxy Fold at a more technical level
Speaking for myself, I am one of the relatively few people who could test the first version of the Galaxy Fold and now the new one. The main changes have been in the construction, which is noticeable if we have had the opportunity to see the first design (especially because of the covered slit), but in an overview we probably will not notice anything.
The panels that we see in this renovated Fold are twins to the previous ones. Same type, resolution, density and diagonal as what we saw in the first edition, with a Dynamic AMOLED that as my colleagues have said has a better feel than expected, although very different from what we can notice with a Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ or any other of the brand's standard mobiles.Touch sensitivity is correct on both 7.3-inch and small, with no accidental touches
The touch sensitivity is correct in both the 7.3-inch and the small, without accidental touches. It helps that in both cases we have generous frames, whether they are those left by the chassis itself with the external screen as the protective edges of the internal one. And yes, to me the external screen also seems off-center, like Dani (but I didn't have the vernier caliper on hand to get out of doubt).
The resolution is more than sufficient on the 7.3-inch screen as is its contrast. Auto brightness works correctly and maximum brightness meets the more ambient light there is.
"With the 4.6-inch screen I repeat the same sensations that I had in making contact and in fact I verify them: it is residual, anecdotal, testimonial." Anna marti
With the 4.6-inch screen I repeat the same feelings that I had in making contact and in fact I find them: it is residual, anecdotal, testimonial. I come from an iPhone 7 (4.7 inches and markings, things as they are), but still this panel is uncomfortable and somewhat “overwhelming”, especially due to the large size it gives to the One UI elements in its factory settings. In the end it falls into oblivion, almost as punishment.
Turning to performance, you do not need more RAM or processor having one of the most powerful processors in the house and 12 GB of RAM. Absolute tranquility when carrying out heavy tasks, opening several at once and looking for the tickle, noticing some warm-up in the parts closest to the hinge but within normal limits (also according to what CPU-Z indicates). Later we will put the benchmarks that we have been able to do.
The software is well adapted talking about changing from one screen to another. In the settings we find options to customize this as appropriate and according to apps, so that in general we can choose which apps can continue running when going from one screen to another from external to internal, but as Mario commented if we go from the 7.3 to 4.6 inch screen the task can be restarted.
What is also a bit confusing is the flip. As Merinowski also explained, tasks are automatically flipped, but the same does not happen with the system. Lock screen and desktop are always vertical and flips, when they occur, are not always smooth. There is work to be done to have a smooth and satisfying experience, it is in fact where we see more lag (rarely when maximizing or minimizing).
Dani has already commented on the camera some notes that summarize the experience a lot and with which I agree largely (not entirely). I think that Samsung photography can give more because it has done it for years, but in my experience the "result" photo continues to be formed and not the highest quality one.
They took time to put the triple camera (I consider that a TV and a wide angle next to the normal lens is a combination as fashionable as it was a winner) and they did not do anything wrong, but they do not differ clearly. What I miss the most is detail; I see very contrasted photos, with exaggerated contours and exposing regular in the afternoon, without there being demanding or insufficient lighting.
They are more complex situations than the macro ones or the well-lit exteriors (and in the Samsung macro it knows very well how to play its cards, by the way), but we see better performances in current mobiles and I think they can work a little more (perhaps in the software) . Dual aperture is not an addition to me, nor are the portrait blur modes: they are very forced and exaggerated like those of Huawei's aperture mode (but luckily in this case they are not necessary).
What I also notice is that the camera app crawls especially, as if it needs optimization or polishing something to make it work well on this peculiar device. With 12 GB of RAM and good components, photography should not have lag.
In-depth analysis: the technical profile of a device that wants to be worth three
To complement all this and provide the rest of the aspects that we normally comment on in an analysis, we now add the usual sections and thus give more information about the experience with screens, photography and the rest of the aspects of the device.
Design: the lesson learned in building a folding device
As we introduced before, in the Samsung Galaxy Fold some modifications have been applied to the construction. The hinge is still inside, but now it is more protected from the ingress of dust and grit as there are no indentations on the two ends that were on the inside (that of the folding screen).
Nor does it come with that screen protector that should not be removed (and was removed), not at least as an added sheet, but more integrated and remaining under the edge of this internal panel. Everything else is the same as that first Fold that we already tried, with finishes reminiscent of the Note (when combining several colors), all in gloss and with curved edges (they draw a complete semicircle and everything is very closed, except for the hinge) .
You will have read in our experiences that we normally had a first feeling of fragility, that with so much opening and closing we would end up breaking it. But in our case, after going through five hands (and with relatively intensive uses) the Galaxy Fold has held us without problems and without detecting problems with the screen or with the folding mechanism of the device.
It is a somewhat heavier device than a standard mobile, but considering the dimensions it is not really so much. We compare it with some phones that have integrated a larger screen this year and with one of the few tablets up to 7.3 inches.
Front surface (cm2)
Samsung Galaxy Fold
Xiaomi Mi MIX Alpha
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Pixel 4 XL
iPhone 11 Pro Max
Lenovo Tab V7
Considering that the Fold's large screen is larger, that integrates another and also up to six cameras, there is nothing wrong with the Lenovo Tab V7 and weighs 50 grams more than the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Also, it is quite thin (unfolded).
Folded is quite a bit thicker than any current mobile device, getting closer to a laptop for obvious reasons. But speaking of the width it is very close to the dimensions of an iPad mini or any other more "square" 7-inch tablet, being very narrow when folded (reminds more of a television remote control than a mobile).
It is quite comfortable to hold in general and it is not excessively slippery, although what does happen is that it gets dirty very easily. The distribution and placement of the cameras has been correct in use, although that of the speakers does not seem the most appropriate to cover easily when playing.
The fingerprint reader is on one side so that it is not hidden or inaccessible in any of the configurations, although it will normally require us to look for it a bit (our thumb or index finger does not "fall" as directly as in other cases with a side reader). The physical buttons include the button for Bixby, whose configuration is again quite sparse in options.
Side button options. With the screen frames we cannot avoid a certain trip to the past, especially with the 4.6-inch one, so small and surrounded
Speaking of frames and others, the feeling is that we are facing a first step in terms of aesthetics and design. In the era of "infinite screens", something that Samsung itself pursues in a reliable and in some cases exemplary, we see ourselves with this device with notorious frames on both screens. They seem more necessary in the internal one (for protection) than in the external one, but of course we cannot avoid a certain trip to the past, especially with the 4.6-inch one, so small and surrounded.
In the absence of verifying what the manufacturer has wanted to publicly assure, the mechanism seems resistant both to openings and closings and to possible accidental forced openings beyond 180 degrees. As we have said, the depression in the 7.3-inch panel is something inherent to the Fold and we will notice it in use, but it will not pose any problem in it beyond that we may like it more or less.
Screens: fold or no fold, that's the question
The specifications table does not determine the experience but sometimes it allows us to venture some aspect, and in this case it happens with the screens. We are talking about a 7.3-inch panel with QXGA resolution and another 4.6-inch panel with HD resolution, both Super AMOLED (21: 9).
Samsung's AMOLED continues to give deep and pure blacks that shine especially with dark themes, somewhat saturated and cold from the factory although we found options to try adjusting it. Of course, the temperature settings are not as gradual as they should be to give the most suitable option according to each preference.
Speaking of the flexible display, the resolution is more than enough, as well as the contrast. Reading, viewing of web content and in general take place satisfactorily on this screen, which is somewhat more plastic than the usual panels, but without being unpleasant to the touch or emphasizing this sensation as we have commented in our experiences.
The screen embedded in the cover does not give the same experience. We have already commented that it is usually more uncomfortable due to the small surface, the format and especially the handling derived from the grip that implies such a long form factor, but this is added to the fact that it does not have the contrast of the large screen, much less the resolution: it's like traveling to the past, more than four years ago.
Viewing angles are also much better on the 7.3-inch panel, allowing much more tilt and play in this regard. The automatic brightness seems to work similarly in the two cases, and we have not found any anomalous behavior in this regard and the maximum brightness has seemed sufficient on both screens when the sun's rays were most intense.
The navigation solutions that we see are pairs for both screens: One UI provides the traditional touch buttons or the handles as "proto-gestures" that we have been seeing on Samsung mobiles since last year. The former are set aside in tablet mode, so that they are closer to the thumb (similar to the usual "one-handed modes), but it is a pity that there are no gestures to use at least for this panel, so that there would be a similar handling to what we see on iPads, much more comfortable and intuitive.
Vertically, the navigation buttons are set aside.
As for the software, we find options for us to configure which apps must be kept open when changing screens, although ultimately it will depend on the developer and what it allows. In general we see the same screen options as in other mobiles, speaking of the ambient screen (Always On), settings and wallpapers, although the latter does not quite work well and it is not understood when we change one background or another.
In the software section we will discuss more aspects, especially one of the main novelties of Samsung with this device: the multi-window. What we conclude on the screens is that the flexible gives very good results, perhaps above expectations (especially at the level of touch sensitivity), and the 4.6-inch end usually ends up in oblivion.
Performance: you don't need the latest to do everything right
Samsung wanted its first flexible device to be the latest and shielded it with what was its most powerful processor at the time, the Exynos 9820, and 12 GB of RAM that are still the maximum we see on Android phones. Ingredients that anticipate a good experience at the performance level at least on a mobile with a single screen, let's see what happens to it.We have played, loaded heavy tasks even in pairs and we have not seen that the hardware does not give for all this
Little surprise if we have read previous experiences. We have played, loaded heavy tasks even in pairs and we have not seen that the hardware does not give for all this. The Samsung Galaxy Fold runs everything without complaints extended, semi-folded or as we want, and with little heat.
Temperature during minimal use.
Temperature during the game.
We have promised you benchmarks and here you have them. Except for the battery test, they all ran smoothly.
See complete gallery »Samsung Galaxy Fold, benchmarks (10 photos)
The fact that we do not see any problems in apps such as video games, photo or video editing and multitasking, and that in general we have a good experience, makes us think that small stops and lags Occasionally that we have occasionally perceived seem more related to software events. Especially since they are usually linked to flipping the screen or minimizing an app.
Software: has not evolved from the device
We have already given enough brushstrokes in this area, but it is worth commenting on what this Galaxy Fold has and how it is performing. We are talking about One UI, Samsung's customization layer, about Android Pie 9.
The interface does not present changes with respect to what we have seen in the brand's mobiles this year, with spaced sections and large icons at least as they are configured from the factory. There are some own pre-installed apps and very few third-party ones, but we can eliminate them (deactivate them in the case of third-party ones) mostly if we are not interested in them.
Of course, normally their own will be the ones that are best adapted to everything, both to the small screen and to changes from one to another (or floating windows). In third-party apps we can see, especially in games, interruptions going from the big screen to the small one or the superposition of the internal cameras to the interface, hiding elements.
Speaking of the multi-window, Samsung has enabled the split screen to have three apps open simultaneously. Although the number can be much higher considering floating windows, being able to open up to eight tasks, although it is usually comfortable to have at most four (one floating and three in the split screen).
Three active tasks in the split screen and one in the form of a floating window.
The versatility of this is evident, for example being able to write notes while watching a video or surf the net and social networks while making a video call. Key to this is the accessory tab, like the Edge Screen that we see on curved phones such as the Samsung Galaxy 10+, with which we can "launch" floating apps by bringing the icon that interests us to the intersection of the split screen.
Something that we have already anticipated is that what remains to be fine-tuned is that there are missing some sections to include in the automatic screen flip, such as the lock screen or the desktop. There is work to be done in terms of optimization so that the user has a “more tablet” experience when using the open fold in horizontal orientation.
There are no changes in sections such as maintenance, digital well-being and other One UI additions that we saw previously. The layer also provides extra options with respect to Android stock speaking of screen, as we have seen, and for audio (we will see it in that section).
Speaking of biometrics, the Galaxy Fold supports both facial recognition and fingerprint reading. The second is possible thanks to the lateral physical reader, which has a behavior similar to that seen in the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018), but somewhat more demanding at the surface level of the required footprint.
Despite this, unlocking is usually quick once we have placed the finger correctly. Although what is most comfortable is the facial unlock, although it is not an advanced system such as Face ID or other similar ones.
The face unlock works on both the external screen and the 7.3-inch screen. It does not work in absolute darkness, but normally the active display produces enough lighting for it to work.
Thus, it is necessary to have the screen active for facial unlocking (not for the fingerprint reader), but in favor it remains that it normally works even if we have the device in a more inclined plane with respect to our face (that is, it is not strictly necessary have it fully face to face for reading). Perhaps in the future the external screen will evolve to integrate an ultrasonic fingerprint reader like the one we have seen in other flagships of the brand, but for now this is what Samsung's only folding device offers at the level of unlocking methods.
Photography: cameras everywhere, but little surprise
The cameras of the Samsung Galaxy Fold are practically a clone of those that the Samsung Galaxy S10 + had at the hardware level, although the Fold adds a third camera for that external part that thus accompanies the 4.6-inch screen. We do a brief review of the specifications and the app before showing you the results.
- Rear cameras
- 16-megapixel sensor with an ultra wide-angle lens with a 123-degree field of view and f / 2.2 aperture.
- 12-megapixel Dual Pixel sensor with wide-angle lens, dual aperture f / 1.5-2.4 and optical image stabilization.
- 12 megapixel sensor with telephoto lens with f / 2.4 aperture.
- Front cameras
- 8 megapixel depth sensor one lens with f / 1.9 aperture.
- 10 megapixel sensor with f / 2.2 aperture lens.
- 10 megapixel sensor with f / 2.2 aperture lens (external display).
The camera app maintains the interface, style and fonts known if we have a Samsung smartphone, with that feature of being able to order and eliminate tabs in ways that interest us. The HDR is still hidden among the options and depending on what resolution we activate the video we can activate or not the stabilization.
A peculiarity is that second floating shutter that has been added for the interface of the large screen, so that we can move it where we feel most comfortable (for example, closer to the thumb, since the fixed shutter is quite far away when in the middle from the screen). The controls for zoom and wide angle are those that we have already been seeing on mobiles with three and four rear cameras, and among so many tabs we see modes such as the Pro (which is still the way to play with the dual aperture), the portrait mode (with its four bokeh modes to choose from) or night mode.
Camera app in Pro mode. More or less between the bulb and the fixed shutter we see the mobile shutter.
As for the quality of the images, although we have already commented on some brushstrokes in previous experiences, we see an acceptable result and above all a patent versatility. It is easy to change from one lens to another and this makes the user want to use it, especially when taking photos with the big screen (perhaps taking photos with a tablet has its point if you have good cameras).
The photos are dynamic range-compliant but somewhat fair, even with HDR. In fact, on many occasions there is no difference between one mode and the other, except in backlights, where you have to be careful because you have a lot of underexposure.
Colorimetry is quite true to reality, with some oversaturation but without impoverishing the result. The usual touch of liveliness of Samsung that usually favors in photos of flowers and planters (and especially macro).
Indoors it behaves quite well, although here the lack of sharpness begins to appear in close-ups when we talk about a portrait (without the dynamic focus mode). What we will see is that the automatic white balance can vary quite a lot when using the wide angle at night, tending to reds.
The ultra wide-angle and zoom behave well, with no evolution from previous flagships. Detail is what is most lacking in the wide angle, but the lens curvature compensation is noticeable and we do not see exaggerations or aberrations at the edges.
Good zoom performance also in general, even at night and using it as a magnifying glass or telescope indoors. Speaking of 2x optical zoom, the result is quite good, with losses if we go further (although for convenience it usually ends up using the optical mainly).
Dynamic or portrait focus mode works fairly quickly even in the most demanding situations. Clipping is usually successful and the main subject is well recognized, but it is inevitable that in more demanding environments (less contrast, less light) there will be some small blur or slight confusion.
What remains are changes in white balance and sharpness of the skin, especially speaking of the front camera portrait mode. Perhaps it is something sought after, but even deactivating the beauty options gives us an unrealistic result, partly because of that blur that (as we have already qualified) is not gradual, but rather flat and forced.
The front camera generally gives good results, with natural colors and preserving a minimum of detail even in low light situations. Of course, it is somewhat slow and we will have to wait a bit after pressing the shutter if we do not want the photo to come out blurred.
See complete gallery »Samsung Galaxy Fold, photo gallery (40 photos)
Autonomy: two screens and flexibility do not intimidate 4,380 mAh
The curious chassis of the Galaxy Fold has given engineers space to put a 4,380 mAh battery. It is not a record capacity taking into account the diagonal of the main screen, but it passes that kind of psychological barrier that we sometimes have with 4,000 mAh at least in a top of Android range of more than 6 inches to understand that it will give a acceptable experience.
Has it been like this? In the absence of being able to test it longer, such as two weeks, what we have seen in the day to day is that a charge gives for more than a day of autonomy. Normally a day of relatively intense use consumes around 50-60%, so we arrive at night with a battery to spare to start the next if we have started from 100%, and towards the remaining 25% if we have started the day with 70-75% of the load.
With the charger that comes with the terminal, the full charge of the device is completed in less than two hours, which is also appreciated. We have not noticed differences between the use with dark mode and light mode regarding the subject of the system.
In the end what we have done is to leave the house in peace without thinking about an external battery or a nearby plug. Even with hours of gameplay, we see more than acceptable autonomy and it does not seem that having two screens penalizes, perhaps also due to a good result of heat dissipation.
Audio: stereo sound and Galaxy Buds for a complete experience
The Samsung Galaxy Fold is not a thin terminal, but despite this it does not integrate a 3.5 mm jack. We can use USB Type-C headphones, or the Galaxy Buds that are delivered with the mobile.
Now we will comment on the experience with headphones, but first a few notes on the external speakers. As we have anticipated, we are talking about stereo sound and two speakers placed at the upper and lower ends (or left and right, if we have the mobile horizontally) of the half that incorporates the external screen.
It is not the best location because they are covered, but at least the sound they emit is of quality and has a very good dynamic range. We have been able to measure about 103.2 decibels at the loudspeaker output speaking of the maximum volume (thus leaving about 70 ambient at a meter distance, more or less), although we have a much better experience if we do not exceed 85% of volume, especially talking about podcasts and radio shows.
There are a few tweaks to enhance the audio experience, but mostly they focus on headphones. Without touching anything, we liked the Galaxy Buds quite a lot, since taking into account their dimensions, we found that the audio is very good with them.
Generally speaking about these and other headphones, it is worth taking a look at the audio options, especially because they allow us to activate the Dolby Atmos and because we can customize the listening profile. This is the usual software that emits a beep test at different frequencies, which in the end gives us a personalized profile, compensating for what best suits our hearing, and there are also some profiles according to age (in our experience, the result of our profile). compared to the one offered for our age range it was quite similar).
Samsung Galaxy Fold, Xataka's opinion
The general feeling with a mobile phone like this is a mix between expectation, skepticism and the feeling that "with more screen everything will be better", but this was not the case in a clear and decisive way in the Samsung Galaxy Fold. The concept is still interesting now that it is a reality, with this a first sketch definitely released on the market, but the experience with the folding screen (or the double screen) has varied between adequate, improvable, indifferent and complementary.
The big screen has satisfied us above all in content viewing, as well as in games like the 'COD' and for reading books. It has allowed us to get more out of a standard mobile in tasks that normally take longer, such as writing more elaborate emails or doing a somewhat more intensive search, but the side effect of this is what has been evident in the five experiences we have collected: the outer screen is rarely used and is forgotten.With such a limited external screen, the experience is very similar to having a small tablet.
Thus, the clearest claim of this type of device seems for now that of productivity and entertainment, having a tablet-sized device in dimensions that give it more portability (although it does not quite convince the large black borders that remain in the screen for not adapting the contents). But with an external screen so limited in the end the experience is very similar to that of having a small tablet, since we have always ended up opening it and have “enjoyed” it rather folded in our bags.
Construction and overall design seemed relatively reliable to us, not to put our hands on fire but enough to show us that the system survives countless openings and folds for more than a week. In common we had that first feeling of "ups, I'm afraid to break it", although it more or less passed as we used the mobile.
We see positive points in the face of this more exploited multi-window, since for that aspect ratio the double window is usually more profitable than on a smaller diagonal (or a longer screen), although it would have to be more intuitive. The autonomy has also given us good feelings, taking into account that we have used it a lot and that we are talking about two screens (one larger) and a total of milliamps / hour that does not represent a leap compared to other smaller phones.
However, it is not just comfortable for such common uses as photography or sometimes multimedia. Perhaps the design can be improved so that there is not so much change when using it as a reader or writing medium or as a camera, perhaps also with a better development and performance of the external screen, which in the end is like the appendix of the Fold (if it has its function, but you can live without it).
In the end it is a sum of novelties and aspects to improve that slightly cloud the desire to have a mobile phone as it is proposed to us: we see the concept as attractive and we are still curious to think about how they will continue to develop it, but it seems to us that the Galaxy Fold is still somewhat primal and almost more aspirational. More than "look, I have the first fully functional folding device and I open and close it as many times as I want" than "now that I have been able to test it well, I will not go back to the previous one".
8.8Design8.5 Screen8.5 Performance9.5 Cameras9 Software8.5 Autonomy9
- The multi-window and its possibilities: very versatile and functional with this ratio and diagonal.
- Design improvement was necessary: there are no longer holes in the main panel.
- The autonomy is satisfactory even using the two screens and without being cut off by the hours of game and video.
- The 4.6-inch screen ends in oblivion: it's too small and too impractical.
- The software needs more adaptation for the experience with both screens (and even only the 7.3-inch one) to be satisfactory.
- It is relatively easy to cover the speakers.
Samsung Galaxy Fold - 512GB + 12GB Black Mobile FreePVP in El Corte Inglés € 2,020
The terminal has been loaned for testing by Samsung. Can inquire our policy of relationships with enterprises.