Early reviews of Samsung's Galaxy Fold are in, and not a single one recommends buying it

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
  • Early reviews of the Galaxy Fold have started to appear, and reviewers are recommending against purchasing the device largely due to issues related to its folding screen.
  • A small number of reviewers began reported that the screens on their devices had broken after just two days of use.
  • The general consensus among early reviewers appears to be that although the device is promising, it’s not ready to hit the market just yet.

Earlier this week, Samsung provided media outlets with review samples of the Galaxy Fold, giving the public its first in-depth look at what it’s like to use the company’s much-hyped foldable phone.

But just two days later, a small number of reviewers reported that the screen on their devices had completely broken, turning what should have been a landmark launch for the company into a public relations disaster. Early reviews of the device started to surface on Friday, and so far not one of them has recommended purchasing the device.

Samsung said in a statement responding to the issues earlier this week that it will “thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter.”

Here’s a look at what reviews of the Fold have to say so far.


Business Insider

In my review, I described the phone as a promising first attempt, but recommended against purchasing it without reassurance that the screen issues are an isolated problem. The $US2,000 price tag is also tough to justify.

Here’s an excerpt from my review below:

“But that doesn’t mean you should buy it. The Fold is a promising glimpse at where smartphones are headed, but it’s also clearly a first attempt. For a device like the Fold to truly be worth the money and time you’re investing in it, Samsung needs to prove the screen malfunctions that plagued some review units are no longer a problem.

It’s also unclear how durable the phone will be over a prolonged period of time, since reviewers have only been using them for less than a week. Buyers will have to simply trust Samsung’s word that the device will withstand 200,000 folds and unfolds even despite the issues that have emerged so far. This is why being first isn’t always best, although if and when foldable phones do catch on Samsung will likely be remembered as having paved the way as it did with phablets.”


CNBC

CNBC’s Todd Haselton, who was one of the journalists that encountered a malfunctioning display despite not having tampered with the phone’s protective film, was impressed with the Fold’s technology. But he also couldn’t recommend it to readers given the early issues.

See below for an excerpt from CNBC’s review:

“The Galaxy Fold is a taste of the future.

It would be a winner if it were pancake-thin with an outside display that’s akin to what we have on today’s iPhones and Galaxy S10 phones. Eventually, I think we’ll get to that point, and the Galaxy Fold shows us that we’re on the path there.

Foldable displays may one day allow us to carry phones that fold down to the size of a credit card, or phones that – like the Fold – open up to tablets. Apple sources some of its screens from Samsung, so imagine an iPhone that unfolds into an iPad. That’s what this technology enables.

I look forward to that day. Given the problems we had with this phone, I’m sceptical it will come any time soon.”


The Verge

The Verge’s Dieter Bohn said he “cannot recommend that anybody buy this thing” until Samsung provides more information about what happened. The Verge was also one of the outlets that encountered an issue with Samsung’s Galaxy Fold review unit even though the protective layer remained intact.

He went on to write that the uncertainty that comes with a first-of-its-kind device like the Fold, combined with the high price and reported issues, means you shouldn’t buy it. But like other reviewers, he’s also is interested in what it could mean for the future of smartphones.

See below for an excerpt from The Verge’s review:

“Is that worth two thousand bucks? Is it worth all of the compromises and first-generation problems you run into with this device? Is it worth the risk of buying a phone whose screen might be so fragile that it could break at any minute if a piece of debris gets in between it and the hinge? No, it is not.

But it is worth thinking about. Even though I would never buy the Galaxy Fold and wouldn’t recommend anybody else does either, I’m going to keep thinking about it. Because there might be the start of something really new here, something really different.

I just wish it wasn’t also something really broken.”


The Wall Street Journal

In Joanna Stern’s “non-review” of the Galaxy Fold in The Wall Street Journal, she wrote that the phone just wasn’t ready to hit the market -which is why she didn’t write a traditional review. Stern didn’t experience issues like other critics had, but did say the protective coating began to curl up noticeably after she had peeled at the edge.

Here’s an excerpt from her story:

“I wasn’t going to recommend the phone-but now I’m concerned that it is even coming to market. At the very least, Samsung owes its customers more explanation. Are we beta-testing a prototype here?”


But it’s not all bad…

Yes, there are plenty of reasons not to recommend purchasing the Galaxy Fold. The screen broke for some reviewers after just two days of use, and we don’t know why. It’s nearly $US2,000, which is more expensive than many laptops. The crease in the screen can be very noticeable, and we have no idea how the device will hold up after prolonged use.

But despite those setbacks, the device did accomplish one goal: generating excitement about the future of foldable phones and proving that they’re not just a gimmick. Each of those reviews also had plenty of good things to say about the device, particularly about the advantages that come with a gadget that serve as a phone for quick tasks and a tablet when you want to dive deeper into an app or game.

Here’s a look at some of the positive things reviewers had to say about the Fold:

“[The Fold’s] super-sized, 7.3-inch display has a resolution of 2,152 x 1,536 with an aspect ratio of 4:2:3, making the Fold quite possibly the best smartphone I’ve ever used for entertainment on-the-go.” – Business Insider

“But mainly, I loved using it for reading and for watching movies. It’s just fun to be able to carry a display this size right in your pocket,” Todd Haselton, CNBC

“And yet, using the Galaxy Fold in tablet mode is a joy. It’s great to have a huge screen for watching videos and reading.” –Dieter Bohn, The Verge

“Almost as soon as I slipped the Galaxy Fold from its packaging, it became clear to me how a foldable phone could right the wrongs of our current smartphones. It’s a small phone when you need to do phone things, a tablet when you need to do more.” – Joanna Stern, The Wall Street Journal

Still, those bright spots aren’t enough to overcome the more prominent aforementioned setbacks.

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

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