Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

First Reviews of the Samsung Galaxy Fold

Dieter Bohn, the Verge:

Samsung isn’t canceling or delaying the launch of this $1,980 folding smartphone from its April 26th launch date. So I feel a sense of responsibility to get this review out before people buy it. I’ll just say it right out front: I cannot recommend that anybody buy this thing until we know what’s up with these broken screens. The whole situation isn’t quite the fiasco of exploding Note 7 smartphones, as nobody’s safety is threatened, but it is, well, weird.

So here’s what I’m going to do: review the Galaxy Fold as if this whole terrible screen breaking thing will get resolved. Don’t take that to mean that I think it absolutely will be or that I think you should dismiss these problems. Entirely the opposite: you should not buy this phone until we get more information — and even then, it’s not a great purchase.

Joanna Stern, Wall Street Journal:

Even then, I have to ask: Why in the world is a $2,000 glamour phone held together by a flimsy piece of plastic? The feeling of cheapness is as great a sin. Why didn’t Samsung integrate this apparently necessary protective layer better into the body of the phone? (The company’s answer: It makes the phone easier to service. There’s a vote of confidence!)

[…]

At a time when smartphone innovation seems to have stalled and companies are looking to sell us the Next Big Thing, the coming years will be about new and exciting experiments like this. Some early adopters will gleefully raise their hands and pay to test drive the future. But we are not all willing beta testers.

Reading these two reviews has helped me understand the potential of the Galaxy Fold in a way that Samsung’s own product launch keynote did not. It’s not a phone that unfolds into a bigger screen; it’s a small and simplified tablet that can fold in half. If the idea of a tablet as just a bigger smartphone is appealing to you, a device like this might also be.

But not this product. Even if we totally ignore the unignorable display problems and questionable reliability, there are so many basic software implementation problems that it’s hard to see this as anything more than a prototype that is years away from being ready to ship to consumers.

Except it isn’t shipping years from now; I still can’t believe Samsung will deliver these things to customers next week. But they will, and those customers will pay $2,000 for an experiment that might break at any time, all so Samsung can say that they were first.

Update: Timothy Martin of the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Samsung is delaying the Fold’s launch for at least a few weeks while the company tries to sort out these quality issues. That seems wildly optimistic to me.