- Samsung was going to be the first major smartphone maker to launch a foldable smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy Fold.
- The ambitious $US2,000 device was first shown off as a prototype in late 2018, and detailed in early 2019. But when reviewers got the Galaxy Fold in April, several broke.
- Samsung pushed back the release date of the device just days before launch, and pre-orders are being automatically cancelled. Months later, it still doesn’t have a release date.
- One foldable smartphone is already available – the Royole FlexPai – but the device arguably has a critical design flaw that reveals something about modern smartphone design: “Folding in is better than folding out.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
In a single week, Samsung’s ambitious $US2,000 foldable smartphone went from being a fascinating, awe-inspiring gadget of the future to a disaster.
The Galaxy Fold, which was meant to be the first phone ever with a foldable touchscreen, had been teased, unveiled, and distributed to select tech reviewers in a carefully orchestrated rollout over the past six months. But once in the hands of reviewers, the phone’s foldable screen – and all its mystique – broke.
Soon after, Samsung acknowledged the inevitable and announced that the Galaxy Fold would be delayed for at least several weeks as the company tries to fix the phone’s problems. Though it still doesn’t have an official release date, the latest report says Samsung could be ready to roll with a redesigned Fold ahead of the holiday season.
In the meantime, there’s a Chinese handset from Royole named the “FlexPai” – here’s what it looks like:
The FlexPai is available right now, and costs just over $US1,300.
It looks impressive, with a screen wrapping around the entirety of the exterior. The folding action is happening right there, with the screen that’s on the apex of the fold still showing stuff even while folded!
Actually seeing the device in use, as demonstrated in a recent video by Marques “MKBHD” Brownlee, tells another tale.
It’s clear from just a few minutes of watching the FlexPai being used that, despite other flaws with the design of the Samsung Galaxy Fold, Samsung made the right choice in putting the foldable screen on the inside.
“Folding in is better than folding out,” Brownlee says in the video. “Folding out is cool, and it looks potentially better … but I don’t think that’s the way to use a folding phone. As long as the screens and the hinges are as shaky and not-so-durable as they are now, folding in is gonna be the better way.”
There’s a good reason why he feels that way: Functionality.
Though the visual effect of a wraparound screen is dazzling, actually using it proves to be a mess. The screen is constantly in danger, and the “fold” is more of a curve. More importantly, there’s no discernible use for the wraparound screen when it isn’t folded out into a tablet format.
In so many words: It looks cool, but doesn’t make as much sense as Samsung’s Galaxy Fold.
In the case of Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, which Samsung has yet to give a new release date, the larger screen is on the inside.
There’s an outer display, but it’s a small screen intended for basic functions like phone calls before moving over to the larger tablet format for richer functionality. Though the Galaxy Fold clearly had other issues, it got one thing right: Putting the folding screen on the inside.
Check out the full video from MKBHD right here:
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