There’s a popular scene in The Saint (1997) that Millennial kids might remember. Val Kilmer in the title role shows off some tricks with his Nokia Communicator. While cool gadgets where not unusual in James Bond films, this was a device you could actually buy at a store and not one that remains classified in Q’s laboratory. You’re bound to feel like Val Kilmer with the Samsung Galaxy Fold. It might just be a peek into the future of smartphones and it will certainly get you more attention than any smartphone out there. Of course, early tech adopters are not just risk takers but being ahead of the curve comes at a cost. Rs 1.65 lacs in this case.
I don’t ever remember being more cautious while unboxing or using a smartphone ever. Samsung brought the Fold to India after ironing out some of the issues at launch and yet there’s a clear set of do’s and don’ts that pop up as soon as you activate the device. But all that caution is well worth it as you switch from the smaller external display (4.6-inches) to the stunning 7.3-inch primary display. It’s a moment every true gadget freak will savour.
Imagine folding a vibrant display that’s almost a size of the iPad mini and slipping into your pocket. Samsung has worked really hard on securing the locking mechanism – a sophisticated hinge with multiple interlocking gears keeps the device secure. This is easily one of the most innovative tech breakthroughs we saw on show in 2019.
At 263 gm, this is not a lightweight (The Note 10+ is 196 gm) but the large screen lets you do tablet things. I enjoyed the Kindle E-book experience on the Fold as also playing catch up on Netflix. Colours are brilliant and the AKG tuned speakers are a huge plus. There’s no headphone jack but Samsung has thoughtfully bundled the Galaxy Buds in the box (that you can charge wirelessly with the Fold, thanks to the device’s reverse-charging capabilities). Samsung has worked hard to ensure that the switch from the smaller to larger display is seamless with an App Continuity feature that quickly adapts to the larger screen. The external display takes you back in time, it’s really just good for calls and to type short texts. You’ll need the bigger screen for everything else. That’s also because we’ve gotten used to larger displays. It’s tough to ignore the bezels or the camera lenses on the larger display and yet it’s a very unique experience that rival smartphones can’t match.
The dual screens also means you need multiple lenses. The Fold packs 6 lenses; I found it easier to frame images on the larger screen especially with the wide-angle lens. It’s a solid camera package, one that won’t let you down in lowlight or while you’re shooting videos. The Fold is a hardware powerhouse with 12GB RAM and 512GB of internal storage. The large screen allows you to run three apps parallel without any stutter. The 4380 mAh battery is surprisingly good for a device with a large screen but it didn’t better the Note 10+ in our tests.
So, the Rs 1.65 lakh question; should you buy the Fold? If you are usually an early adopter who has money to spare, you already know the answer to that question. No pioneering device is perfect. While the Fold has its share of flaws including a smallish external display and the extra heft, it’s quite a promising debut for a whole new category. Samsung was quick to go back to the drawing board after the initial glitches and bounce back with an improved device. It might be too early to dub this as the future of the smartphone but each time you flip open the device, there’s a sense that you might be on to something futuristic.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold costs Rs 1,64,999. Samsung also offers a dedicated round-the-clock concierge service for this device.