The Samsung Galaxy Fold is a folding phone which was first shown off in a heavily disguised form at Samsung's Developer Conference in San Francisco on November 7, 2018. It was then the star of the show at the Galaxy Unpacked live event on Wednesday 20 February, 2019. The phone is due to be released in April 2019.
Until Unpacked, it was widely thought that the handset would be called the Samsung Galaxy X, but it was confirmed at the February event that it will be actually be called the Samsung Galaxy Fold.
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Speaking at the developer conference back in November 2018, Justin Denison, SVP of Mobile Product Marketing, produced a prototype of the Galaxy X from his pocket to rapturous applause from the crowd. Although the phone itself didn't have an official name at the time the flexible display did. Samsung called it the Infinity Flex Display.
The technology will not only be used for the Galaxy Fold – mobile head DJ Koh says the Infinity Flex Display will be used in a swathe of different devices, including more foldable tablets, and laptops.
Samsung clearly thinks its new technology will mark a massive change in the market.
Well, if you've cracked the engineering challenge of foldable screens – and it appears Samsung has – you might as well put them in everything. Folding 4K TVs, anyone?
Samsung Fold release date and price
Samsung cleared up all the rumours about prices and release dates when it announced the Fold at Unpacked on February 20: the Samsung Galaxy Fold will go on sale in the US on April 26 and on May 3 in Europe.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold price will start at $1,980 in the US, and in Europe it will cost €2,000. No UK price has been given but a straight dollar-to-pound conversation puts the Fold price at about £1,520, although of course, we never get a straight dollar-to-pound conversation. We'll update this article with an official UK price when we get it.
We say it will start at $1,980, because there will also be a more expensive 5G edition. We're assuming the release date for the 5G version will come later, and at this stage no price has been confirmed.
Samsung Galaxy Fold first look
The foldable Galaxy was first unveiled at Samsung's Developer Conference held in the Moscone West convention centre in San Francisco on November 7, 2018.
Although we did technically get an early look at the smartphone in both its unfolded and folded forms, Justin Denison explained on stage "we've disguised some elements of the design but trust me, there's a device inside here and it is stunning."
That's good news because the Galaxy Fold didn't look particularly stylish when it was unveiled on-stage – with sharp, boxy corners and a chunky frame.
Samsung Galaxy Fold final design
While the prototype Galaxy X shown off at Samsung's Developer Conference in November didn't look especially svelte, the model shown at Samsung Galaxy Unpacked looked a lot better. As you can see in the image below.
If you buy the phone, you'll be able to choose from four colours: Space Silver, Cosmos Black, Martian Green and Astro Blue.
Samsung Galaxy Fold screen
The Samsung Galaxy Fold has two OLED displays, although only one has the ability to fold.
The front of the Galaxy Fold sports a 4.5-inch screen, known as the Cover Display. According to the South Korean firm, this OLED display will work in a similar fashion to existing Samsung handsets.
If you're looking for more screen real estate than is available with the 4.5-inch Cover Display, opening up the handset reveals a second screen that's almost twice the size. There's a notch at the top of that inner screen for a pair of cameras.
The foldable 7.3-inch Infinity Flex Display unfurls like the pages of a paperback to offer a bigger screen when playing games, watching movies, or running up to three applications side-by-side – a new feature that is called "multi active window".
Apps that are running on the smaller 4.6-inch cover display when users unfold the larger tablet display will appear on the bigger screen in the same state you left them.
Updated software will expand to take full advantage of the larger display. For example, news aggregate Flipboard expanded from a single column view on the 4.6-inch display, to three columns when viewed on the 7.3-inch screen. Developers will have to update their software to take advantage of the changing display sizes.
At Unpacked, Samsung said that Whatsapp, Facebook, YouTube and Microsoft Office would be optimised to suit the new square-ish screen.
"We've been living in a world where the size of your screen can only be as large as the device itself," Samsung SVP Denison revealed to developers at the San Francisco conference.
"Well, we've just added a new dimension. The Infinity Flex Display is the foundation for the smartphone of tomorrow."
He added that the phone can be folded "hundred of thousands of times" without getting damaged.
This phone goes "beyond the limitations of a traditional smartphone," Samsung's DJ Koh added at the Unpacked launch.
A folded screen in the middle of your smartphone will certainly make it thicker than phones that don't pack a screen in the middle but Samsung says it has invented a new polymer layer which means that is has been able to create a display around 50 percent thinner than the typical smartphone display.
Samsung Galaxy Fold software
How will the Galaxy Fold adapt to users swapping between the Cover Display and the 7.3-inch folding tablet screen, and will applications move from one screen to the other seamlessly? That'll be just fine, Samsung has promised.
Samsung has overhauled its mobile OS ahead of the announcement of its foldable Galaxy Fold. Gone is TouchWiz – the Android skin designed by Samsung and used on its smartphone range since June 2010 – replaced instead with One UI.
"The Infinity Flex Display together with One UI delivers a new kind of mobile experience allowing users to do things they couldn’t do with an ordinary smartphone," Samsung said. "Users now have the best of both worlds: a compact smartphone that unfolds to reveal a larger immersive display for multitasking and viewing content. The app experience seamlessly transitions from the smaller display to the larger display as the device unfolds."
One UI will also enable the Samsung Galaxy Fold to run three apps simultaneously when in tablet mode, while the redesigned icons mean that "the rounded corner of our hardware is reflected in our software," according to Jee Won Lee, Senior Designer of UX Design at Samsung Mobile.
Following the original announcement of the Galaxy Fold, Google confirmed plans to bake support for foldable displays into the Android operating system itself. Huawei, LG and Microsoft are all tipped to have a folding handset in the works.
In order to prevent the fragmentation of Android as each manufacturer designs and programs their own software solution for folding displays, Google has announced plans to build the functionality directly into the operating system itself.
Speaking during the Android Developer Summit in November 2018, Google Vice President of Engineering Dave Burke said the company is “enhancing Android to take advantage of this new form factor with as little work as necessary.”
Google typically holds its annual developer conference, Google IO, in May. We'd bet our firstborn that the Mountain View-based company has plenty more about its optimisation for foldable handsets to share with software designers during IO 2019.
One UI will be tested on the Galaxy S9, S9+ and Note 9 in open beta, which should help to iron out any bugs before the launch of the Galaxy X.
You can read more about One UI and how to join the open beta – which is open to participants in the US, UK, India, China, South Korea, Germany, France, Spain and Poland – at Samsung's One UI website.
Samsung Galaxy Fold cameras
Camera-wise, there's a triple-camera system on the back of the Fold, another two on the inside above the 7.3-inch AMOLED display and a single selfie camera on the front of the device. That's six cameras!
The Galaxy Fold also allows you to use other apps during a video call, which probably explains the thinking behind putting that rather unsightly camera-filled cut-out in the corner of the tablet screen rather than keeping the cameras on the outside.
Here are the Galaxy Fold camera specs in full...
10MP Selfie Camera, F2.2
Rear triple camera
16MP Ultra Wide Camera, F2.2
12MP Wide-angle Camera Dual Pixel AF, OIS, F1.5/F2.4
12MP Telephoto Camera, PDAF, OIS, F2.4, 2X optical zoom
Front dual camera
10MP Selfie Camera, F2.2
8MP RGB Depth Camera, F1.9
Samsung Galaxy Fold specs: 5G, processor, RAM, storage and battery
When Samsung showed off the Galaxy Fold at its Unpacked event it confirmed a few specs that were not previously known.
There will be both a 4G and 5G version of the Fold.
The Fold will feature a 7nm 64-bit Octa-core processor and 12GB of RAM. There’s 512GB of built-in storage, and there's no MicroSD slot to add extra storage.
The Fold has a total battery capacity of 4,380mAh, via two batteries which are split on either side of the hinge.
There’s no in-screen fingerprint reader – the fingerprint scanner is on the side of the device.
And here's a neat feature if you're traveling: Galaxy Fold is apparently capable of charging itself and a second device simultaneously via Wireless PowerShare, while connected to a regular charger, which means you can go without your second charger.
Read more in Top 5 foldable phones to expect in 2019.