Samsung Electronics Co. unveiled a $1,980 smartphone with a foldable screen, a dramatic shift in the mass market for phones.
The device has a 4.6-inch screen when used as a phone and can unfold into a tablet with a 7.3-inch screen, Samsung said during a demonstration kicking off its Unpacked event in San Francisco.
The company said the new phone, called the Galaxy Fold, will be available from April 26 and come in four colors: black, blue, silver and green. Users will also be able to customise the color of the folding hinge.
Samsung’s device is not the first foldable-screen phone, but the company’s brand, reach and technological prowess makes it the most advanced folding phone for the mass market. It’s a leap that rivals the category shifts not seen since smartphones took off with a broad audience more than a decade ago.
The larger screen means users can multitask and view three applications at once, the company demonstrated on stage. Users can display the Galaxy Fold like a phone, then open it up to see the larger view via a feature called App Continuity, Samsung said. The company said it’s working with Google on Android and third-party developers to optimize the software and their applications.
The Samsung device includes a new chip and 12 gigabytes of RAM, which is more memory than most laptops. It also has 512 GB of storage, which is the same as the maximum for Apple Inc.’s latest iPhones. The phone includes two batteries — one below each screen — to allow for the folding mechanism to function properly.
The Galaxy Fold has six cameras across the back, front and inside the fold of the phone.
Samsung Galaxy S10 versus iPhone Xs Max
The Samsung Galaxy S10 is actually four separate phones: the S10e (the “e” stands for “essential,”) the S10, the S10+, and the S10 5G. The first three go on sale in March, and the S10+ is the flagship of the trio.
Having a family of three devices has become a trend, and in many ways the S10e, S10, and S10+ are Samsung’s answers to Apple’s iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max respectively.
Design and Photography
Great pictures are essential for any top-end phone. Samsung has equipped S10+ with three rear-facing cameras—one for close-ups, one for standard shots, and an ultra-wide one for expansive scenes. The iPhone has two lenses, however, which on paper seems to put it at a disadvantage.
The S10+ has a massive 6.4-inch screen, but the iPhone XS Max’s is slightly bigger at 6.5 inches. However, the industry standard “notch” atop the iPhone’s display is not something Samsung adopted. Instead, S10+ has an unusual “hole punch” design for its front-facing cameras.
One of the reasons Apple includes a larger notch in its design is because it houses advanced facial-recognition features for keeping its devices secure; the FaceID technology requires multiple sensors to function.
The iPhone XS Max and Galaxy S10+ can both be charged wirelessly, but Samsung gave its phone a bonus perk: it can charge other products wirelessly, too.
Samsung S10+ also comes with up to a terabyte of internal capacity, which is double the 512GB maximum offered by the iPhone XS Max.
Theoretically you could charge your colleague’s iPhone by placing it on top of your S10+, but Samsung said it sees the feature mostly being used to charge accessories like headphones and smartwatches.
Samsung also takes the crown for offering the most storage for digital media. The S10+ comes with up to a terabyte of internal capacity, which is double the 512GB maximum offered by the iPhone XS Max. But the S10+ also supports microSD cards up to 512GB in capacity as well, meaning it’s possible to have triple the space compared to Apple’s flagship. (In fact, that 1.5TB total is higher than all but the most expensive of Apple’s MacBook Pro laptops.)
Until the phone gets released for review it’s impossible to say how well the S10+ will perform compared to the iPhone. Apple’s device uses its own A12 Bionic chip, which has six processing cores, while Samsung uses an eight-core processor. But historically Apple’s custom-designed silicon, its integration with the iOS software it powers, together with the rest of the hardware in the phone, has given it the edge over competitors whose numbers, on paper, appear greater. What’s safe to say is that both phones should handle anything realistically thrown at them.
Price and Verdict
These phones are among the most expensive flagships either has made within their categories, and on paper they’re undeniably the pinnacle of each company’s design prowess. Buying either is to buy one of the best phones on the planet.
As for the customer on the fence over whether to defect from one manufacturer to another, it’ll be a trade-off between display notch versus display hole punch, advanced facial recognition versus fingerprint reader, and tight hardware-software integration versus expandability. And iOS versus Android, of course—the ecosystem of apps and subscription services are playing an increasing part in keeping customers loyal.
Consumers looking to buy a significantly different type of phone could look to Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, which can work as a 4.6-inch handset or, when unfolded, a 7.3-inch tablet.