These are the best and worst things about using Samsung's $2,000 foldable smartphone

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderThe Galaxy Fold is an ambitious first attempt at a new smartphone form factor for Samsung.

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold is technically a smartphone, but it doesn’t always feel like one when you’re using it – and it certainly isn’t priced like one.

The nearly $US2,000 device, which Samsung delayed releasing after some reviewers reported that the screen on their phones had broken after two days of use, has a 4.6-inch cover screen and unfolds to reveal a 7.3-inch tablet-sized display. When folded, it feels noticeably longer and skinnier than the average smartphone, and when unfolded, it primarily serves as a tablet. This design enables it to offer an entertainment experience that’s superior to that of most other mobile devices, but its unconventional build also means there are some quirks that can make using it feel awkward.

The Galaxy Fold is an ambitious first attempt at a new smartphone form factor for Samsung, and it’s very much just that – a first attempt. The phone’s launch has been marred by issues with durability, causing Samsung to push back the device’s April 26 launch as it runs additional internal tests. It’s planning to announce a new release date in the coming weeks.

After spending a full week with a perfectly functional Galaxy Fold, here’s a look at my favourite features, as well as the areas in which I think it could be improved. While it clearly feels like a first-generation product that’s more expensive than it’s worth, using it helped me understand why Samsung and other large tech firms are investing in foldable phone technology.

The good: It has a large, beautiful screen and is more portable than most tablets.

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The Galaxy Fold’s super-sized 7.3-inch inner display is larger than that of the iPad mini and the Nintendo Switch, so it’s ideal for reading, watching Netflix, and playing mobile games.

The screen’s 4:2:3 aspect ratio makes it especially useful as an e-reader, giving it a similar shape and feel as Amazon’s Kindle Oasis. In a side-by-side comparison against the latest iPad mini, I also found the Galaxy Fold’s 2,152 x 1,536 screen to be slightly crisper and more detailed than Apple’s tablet.

Being able to snap the Fold shut and toss it in my bag when I’m done reading or playing a game felt very convenient, especially since I was able to fit the phone in purses that are usually too small for a tablet.

The bad: The crease that runs down the middle of the display is noticeable.

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When playing a game or watching a movie, the crease in the Galaxy Fold’s display wasn’t very apparent. But it’s very visible when looking at the device from an angle, and you can feel it when swiping back and forth across the screen.

The good: It has really long battery life.

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Many large-screened smartphones offer great battery life, but the Galaxy Fold was especially impressive. I was able to use the device for two whole days without plugging it in, which is noticeably longer than the day-and-a-half battery life I typically get from most smartphones.

The Fold has two batteries, one in each of the phone’s conjoined panels. But the company has engineered these two batteries to function as one 4,380mAh power source.

It’s important to keep in mind that battery life will always vary depending on how you use your device, so your experience may differ from mine.

The bad: The Fold’s screen can feel too small and cramped when closed.

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The front of the Fold features a 4.6-inch screen, which is much tinier than screens found on most smartphones today. That’s only slightly smaller than the iPhone 8’s 4.7-inch screen, but the Fold has a 21:9 aspect ratio that makes it feel skinnier and even more cramped.

The good: It’s great for multitasking since it can run three apps at once.

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I still believe the best way to make use of the Galaxy Fold’s giant screen is to dedicate all of it to a single app or game.

However, there were a few instances in which I found it helpful to launch multiple apps at once. The Fold can run three apps on screen simultaneously, which I used to check my email, catch up on my work chatroom, and browse social media at the same time.

The bad: It’s priced much higher than that of most premium smartphones.

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Starting at $US1,980, the Galaxy Fold is roughly twice as expensive as flagship smartphones like the iPhone XS, which starts at $US999 for the standard model and $US1,099 for the Max version. As such, Samsung has been marketing the Fold as a luxury device.

Even so, nearly $US2,000 is a lot of money for a smartphone. Yes, the Fold essentially offers the experience of a tablet and a smartphone in one – but it’s still cheaper to buy those two devices separately. And while the Fold is a great tablet, it doesn’t offer the best experience as a phone considering its front screen is far too small to use for most tasks.

The good: It has an excellent camera, just like the Galaxy S10.

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The Galaxy Fold has a similar camera to the Galaxy S10, so it’s plenty capable of taking gorgeous, high-resolution photos. In a side-by-side comparison, I found the Fold’s camera to be about on par with that of Apple’s iPhone XS Max when it comes to general image quality.

The Galaxy Fold’s cameras are placed in such a way that it’s possible to snap photos whether the device is in phone or tablet mode. There’s a main camera system on the back of the device that consists of three lenses, just like on the Galaxy S10: a 16-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens, a 12-megapixel telephoto lens, and a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens. That 16-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens enables the Fold to take pictures with a much larger field of view than many rivals, just like the Galaxy S10.

There’s also a 10-megapixel camera on the front of the device above the 4.6-inch screen and another 10-megapixel camera on the inside above the main 7.3-inch display. Additionally, the Fold includes a second 8-megapixel depth camera located above this inner display alongside the selfie camera.

The bad: It doesn’t support Samsung’s S-Pen stylus.

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With a big-screened device like the Galaxy Fold, it’s disappointing not to see support for Samsung’s S Pen stylus. But since the Fold uses a different type of display technology than the Note, it would likely require additional effort on Samsung’s part to get it to work.

The good: Apps run smoothly when switching between phone and tablet mode.

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Certain apps like Facebook, Google Maps, and Twitter will pick up from exactly where you left off when switching from the small display to the larger one. But even apps that don’t support this feature ran smoothly when switching between display modes. Business Insider’s app, which does not support app continuity on the Fold, remained open when I unfolded the device, but kicked me out of the article I had been reading.

The bad: It can be hard to use with one hand when opened.

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The Galaxy Fold’s giant main display is great for a lot of things, but it can be difficult to use with one hand. I often found myself struggling to type or otherwise operate the screen without using both hands, which can be inconvenient. I struggled, for instance, to use the Fold when I was standing on a crowded subway in the morning. This wouldn’t be an issue if the closed-phone experience was better, but the 4.6-inch screen was just too small for me to use for most tasks.

Have you preordered the Samsung Galaxy Fold? We want to hear from you! Email [email protected] to contact this reporter.

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