In one of the last streams, I was asked to resume the “Operating experience” section, when we talk about our main smartphones, about what we have been using for a long time. Coincidentally, on the eve of the release of the Galaxy Fold 2, I wanted to talk about my impressions of the first device of the family, since I have been using it for nine months now, this is my main smartphone. For the sake of fairness, I must say that the Galaxy Fold is a smartphone with a difficult fate, the first version of this model was broken by American journalists, pliers were used to disassemble the screen. This is how I imagine an ordinary person tearing off the “film” from the screen using the tools at hand – scissors and pliers. Due to a few people who created the hype, the Galaxy Fold release date was postponed by almost six months, the model reached the markets at the end of September – in October. Samsung has redesigned the design in several ways, but there have been no major changes. I used the first version for about three months, then there was a short break, and the updated Fold became my main device.
The trail of American history for the Fold was entrenched only in the heads of a small number of people who considered the device to be a failure and canceled. Information is miraculously transformed in our time, we live in a world where everyone finds a version to their liking, and people do not really care about reality. This is probably why it will be important to start with the perception of the smartphone, how it is positioned and why few people see it in the hands of other people.
Galaxy Fold price, positioning and how success is measured
You will not see the Galaxy Fold in the hands of a large number of people, every second person will not look at the large screen of such a smartphone, there are simply not so many of them around us. There are several reasons for this at once, the first and the main one is the cost of a smartphone. In Russia, the first batches were disassembled in a matter of hours at a price of 159 rubles. Today the price of this smartphone is 990 rubles, and no discounts are offered, it does not participate in sales, there are no separate marketing stories. Yes, and there were almost no noticeable advertising campaigns during this time, it was a little highlighted at the beginning of sales, but then the focus shifted to other models.
A rational person will definitely calculate that for the cost of the Galaxy Fold you can buy at least three flagships from Samsung, as an option, two flagships, for example, S20 Ultra and Galaxy Note10 +. And then the question arises, why is the Fold needed, if in fact it can do exactly the same thing, it has comparable cameras, battery life, and the only difference is that it offers a large flexible screen in a relatively compact body. Unclear.
This is approximately how many people argue who have never held the Fold in their hands, have not used it for at least twenty minutes. It seems like this is some kind of unnecessary marketing delights, when you are sold something that cannot become popular by definition.
Absentee judgments about familiar and understandable objects do not carry the danger of error, but Galaxy Fold is a fundamentally new word on the market, both in technology and in perception. Therefore, all these absentee words about inconvenience, as a rule, are based on pictures, the words of one friend who seemed to touch him with his hands or saw someone touching Fold. It has always been difficult for me to judge what a car is and how it behaves on the road without sitting in it. Photos and pictures give a distant idea of this, one can only guess what exactly you will feel. But there are people in the world who talk about how cool this or that car is, based on pictures, I know several such crazy people.
There is no Galaxy Fold in stores in open display, these devices are under glass. They can not be found in all branded stores, which is also understandable, the audience of this model is small in terms of cost.
Inside, Samsung considered the Galaxy Fold an experiment and brought out the first device of the F series, which was justified and understandable for 2019. Today we can say that the experiment turned out to be successful and it not only continues, but expands. The same Z Flip model that came out with a flexible screen quickly gained popularity. And here we are again faced with how to evaluate sales figures.
Within the entire market, smartphones with a flexible screen, and there are exactly two of them today – the Galaxy Fold and the later Z Flip, make up an insignificant fraction. Their sales do not even account for one percent of the market, these are thousands of pieces within a single country and one month. For a year, tens of thousands of pieces, in Russia, following the results of the first year of sales, the number will exceed one hundred thousand. To understand the size of the Russian smartphone market, let me remind you that it is more than 30 million units annually. Nothing? Definitely.
The situation with smartphones with flexible screens reminds me of Samsung’s Note line. Exactly the same claims, of which there were a huge number at that time:
- Sales of the first Note within the market is nothing
- Nobody needs the S Pen, it’s a useless marketing story
- Buyers don’t need a large screen, it’s inconvenient
- The price is higher than the flagships of the S-series, no one will buy such a device
Life, as usual, puts everything in its place, it turned out that the Note line formed the main trend of the smartphone market – the growth of the screen diagonal. But besides this, it gave fundamentally new tools due to the S Pen, something that competitors could not repeat, and the same Apple mastered the stylus much later and only for tablets. And even so, I could not repeat the developments in full, for example, handwriting recognition in the same quality.
Exactly the same thing happens with the Galaxy Fold, this model was ahead of its time and set a bar unattainable for other companies. The cost of flexible screens is so high that in the absence of in-house production, it is impossible to achieve economic feasibility. After Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, and a number of other companies showed their solutions. But no one was able to release them in commercial runs, to establish sales. This is just a demonstration of technology and a lack of commercial interest in selling. For any manufacturer other than Samsung, sales of smartphones with flexible screens are unprofitable, so they are limited. Another funny fact is that such smartphones are noticeably more expensive than Samsung’s offerings and at the same time weaker technically. A complete repetition of the story with Galaxy Note, but on a new round of market development.
Who is buying the Galaxy Fold? The answer is obvious – those who are interested in technology have the money. This is one of the most interesting products of the last decade, really something new, hitherto unknown. If the cost of this solution was lower, and it would have attracted a large audience, but the rate was also made on the image. A direct parallel, which can be drawn here, is the line of communicators from Nokia, when closed the Fold is somewhat reminiscent of those models.
I have never seen Fold in the hands of a woman, this is a purely masculine device – large and noticeable, easy to fit in a jacket or jeans pocket. For all the time I saw Fold at a dozen of my acquaintances, the other day we were going to visit, and at the table there was the maximum concentration of Fold, as many as three pieces.
The Fold audience is those who are looking for an image solution with high cost, while not alien to technology and want the device to be useful. Of the ten people who use the Fold all the time, about half of the Range Rover Vogue have, I don’t know what this can say, just an observation from life. This is an expensive device not for everyone, it makes no sense to evaluate it as a mass smartphone, it has never been and never will be.
The price often determines the perception, the image component. Here it is in the full sense, since Fold is unusual, in everyday life it evokes surprised looks. Many people are not constantly interested in technology, and the same Fold has passed their attention, but curious views on it are almost always provided. For those who are rational, there is another explanation – the Fold successfully replaces the tablet, for the first time on a sufficiently compact smartphone you can get a large screen. And this model was created for real use, not for exhibitions.
Each person has their own measurement of success, Galaxy Fold is definitely not the model that people buy to show only their status, rather it is an image combined with a convenient tool. Everyone I asked about how much I liked the Galaxy Fold or not said that it was love after the first week of use and now without it, it’s like no hands. For the same Note line, the perception was high, but well below what the Galaxy Fold demonstrates.
Mechanism reliability, drop resistance, screen protection
Around the Galaxy Fold, there are a lot of myths, “common sense” and reviews from “real users”. Everything unfamiliar and unusual raises the assumption that there may be some problem or flaw hiding there. In the Galaxy Fold clamshell, this issue is the design of the mechanism, as well as the screen itself.
In the first version of the Fold, the structure moved noticeably when pressed, the halves shifted slightly. In the commercial Fold, this is not, but the design of the screen has been changed, the fold in the middle has become easily noticeable, it is visible when you look at the switched off display from an angle.
This is one of the most frequent complaints about the screen, but not from users, but from those who are looking at pictures or twisted a smartphone somewhere. Unusually, the finger feels the fold, but you get used to it in a matter of days. A person is such that he quickly adapts to anything, and this moment is not key. You can try to get to the bottom of anything, but ergonomics does not suffer from this.
The lack of a protective glass is not perceived by me as a big minus, although pressing is completely different, the tactile sensations are different. It also becomes habitual. The instructions indicate that you should not carry the Fold with credit cards, they can get between the halves and in theory damage the screen. This happened to me several times, no problems arose.
The screen is soft, if you hold it with your fingernail, a small trace will remain. Gradually he will straighten out. For nine months, I have not had any scratches that interfere with the use of the screen or are noticeable.
There is an additional protective layer on the display, over time it wears off, and this becomes noticeable when the display is off. I have a fairly large spot in the center.
When the screen is working, you will not notice anything, no picture distortion. There are no changes to the touch either, the finger glides in exactly the same way. My friend has his unlock key on the screen (he does not use a fingerprint sensor or face unlock). This feature does not pose any problems, it does not affect the characteristics of the screen in any way.
I rarely drop my phones, but I’ve done it a dozen times with the Galaxy Fold, both open and closed. The reason is that I often watch something on the road, do not always close the device and sometimes get out of the car when the smartphone is still on my lap. I don’t do this with other devices, I put them aside. The smartphone fought in different ways, but no breakdowns happened. The only mark is on the outside, a small dent.
The Fold comes with a carbon-patterned case, a must have, as the glossy glass case quickly gets covered in fingerprints and the phone doesn’t look pretty.
A black leather case is sold separately, I chose it because I like the feeling in my hand, the way the leather ages and wipes off. All leather cases age, this one is no exception. For nine months he wiped himself off, which proves that I have a combat apparatus, every day with me.
The opening mechanism is such that it has self-cleaning from dust particles that, in theory, can get there. During the day, I open Fold at least 70-80 times, this is the average. If you count, then during these nine months he opened the device more than 20 thousand times! The resource is an order of magnitude larger, so you don’t have to worry that something will happen to it.
During all the time there were several situations when the opening was not perfect, it felt as if something was interfering. When this happened for the first time, I thought that the fairy tale was over and soon service was waiting for me. But after 2-3 discoveries, everything worked out by itself. I did not notice much difference between winter and summer, it was minus thirty on Lake Baikal, and the device opened perfectly, as well as worked at this temperature.
We are quickly spoiled by new technologies, and all my smartphones are protected from water, with them you can go sailing, even to the ocean and sea, even to the bathhouse (this is harmful, but, as practice shows, there are no special drawbacks, smartphones survive with ease ). Due to the design features, the Fold does not have water protection, just like any other similar smartphone with a flexible screen, such protection has not yet been invented. Nevertheless, I took the device with me to the pool, to the sauna and noticed that it detects that the charging connector is wet and asks to dry the device (at such moments you can charge using wireless charging, there are no problems with that).
But for electronics, any humid room is more likely to be a minus, you should not risk such an expensive device. I spoke on it many times in the pouring rain, when everything was flooded with water – there were no problems. He also worked on the screen in the rain, when it was necessary to watch something, again without any special flaws. Therefore, I can argue that the Galaxy Fold behaves perfectly both at subzero temperatures (I have not tried less than minus thirty, but this is enough), and at positive temperatures (now the thermometer is 31 degrees).
A couple more points about ergonomics. Since the device is large enough, I still close it with one hand, it is easy to do. But the halves clink, bang against each other. At the corners you can see that they are a little worn out, but the screen is not touched in any way. And the corners are worth taking a closer look at. In the same Z Flip there are rubber inserts, they are not here.
Those who argue that the Galaxy Fold is fragile and should be treated with special reverence are mistaken. This is a smartphone that is almost in no way inferior to other modern models, and in some ways superior to them. Shattering the inner screen when dropped is more difficult than with conventional smartphones, where the protective glass can crack. Someone wears the Fold in a soft case (additional), someone just as it is – there is no difference.
Samsung has included standard VIP insurance for the Galaxy Fold, even if you break one of the screens through your own fault (the outer one is easier to break than the inner one), they will come and replace it (you can call a mobile service, it works in large cities). One year you can feel calm, not worry about the screen. I know one person that he managed to break the screen (to break the train on impact, stripes appeared), during the day he was simply replaced by the device. Most of the time was spent on transferring his data.
Therefore, I mistrust the myths that the Galaxy Fold is too fragile and requires special handling, my experience says that there is no reason to treat this device like that.
I wanted to write this experience in one part, but the material turns out to be quite voluminous, so we will talk about the working time, performance, camera and other points in the second part. I will pay special attention to working on a large screen and the ability to run multiple applications, which is why the Galaxy Fold has become a full replacement for a tablet, a two-in-one device.
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