Galaxy Fold: Samsung unveils hi-tech foldable phone that costs $1,980

Smartphone-tablet hybrid has standard 4.6in phone on the outside and a 7.3in screen that unfolds on the inside

Samsung has unveiled the final design and name for its cutting-edge Galaxy Fold phone that has a screen that folds in half and costs $1,980.

The new device will be released on 26 April in the US and 3 May in Europe, after nearly a decade in the making. The Galaxy Fold literally folds in half like a book to use as a phone with a 4.6in screen on the outside, and unfolds to reveal a large 7.3in screen to use as a tablet on the inside.

The Samsung senior vice-president for mobile Justin Denison said: “With the Galaxy Fold we’re giving you powerful smartphone and a revolutionary tablet.”

Available in 4G and 5G versions, the phone is seen as a crucial product for Samsung as it tries to maintain its position as the biggest smartphone manufacturer against stiff competition from its Chinese rivals.

The Fold has a powerful and smooth hinge with hidden gears, a split battery and a new software system called app continuity that switches between the screen as you open the phone.

It also comes with 12GB of ram and 512GB of storage, making it one of the most powerful smartphones available. It also has six cameras: three on the back, two on the big screen and one on the front screen for selfies when the phone is closed.

DJ Koh, the head of Samsung’s mobile business, said: “We are pushing past the boundaries of technology to inspire renewed innovation and interest in the smartphone industry.

“To those who say they’ve seen it all, I say, buckle your seatbelt, the future is about to begin.”

The Galaxy Fold is one of the most powerful smartphones available.
The Galaxy Fold is one of the most powerful smartphones available. Photograph: Samsung

The world’s second biggest smartphone maker, Huawei, is also expected to announce a folding phone in Barcelona at the end of February, while US-based Chinese firm Royole launched a developer prototype of its FlexPai folding phone last year.

Ben Wood of CCS Insight said: “Unveiling a product just ahead of rivals is an important milestone for Samsung that helps ensure that it stands out as a leader in the smartphone market.”

Folding or expanding devices have been predicted by science fiction for decades. But turning the flexible OLED technology that has formed the basis for the curved screens of Samsung’s top-end smartphone line for the past four years into something repeatedly foldable has proved difficult.

Samsung first showed off its Infinity Flex Display in November, partnering with Google to tempt developers to create apps for the new format. But now Samsung is set to put it on sale, available to the mass market at twice the cost of any other smartphone.

Although the Galaxy Fold is unlikely to sell in similar quantities to the Galaxy S10 line of smartphones also launched on Wednesday, it promises to be the next logical step in the evolution of the smartphone. It offers the utility of a phone and tablet in one device and looks set to see the smartphone cannibalise yet another device, following the death of the music player, the compact camera and perhaps soon the wallet.

The large-screen tablet is likely safe for a few years at least, as Samsung will have to make the technology it is pioneering for the Galaxy Fold available at affordable prices for it to be put out to pasture

But for the time being, Wood said: “The Galaxy Fold will be magnet for gadget lovers despite its high cost and the broader issue of its being a product that is arguable a solution looking for a problem.”


Samuel Gibbs

The GuardianTramp

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