Samsung made major improvements to the design of its first foldable phone after the Fold suffered screen breakages that delayed its sale.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold is back, and promising better behavior. After design flaws began causing reviewers’ phone screens to break, Samsung postponed the Fold’s release date and went back to the drawing board to fix the problem. Now, a new and improved Galaxy Fold will go on sale in September, starting in Korea and branching out throughout Asia and Europe before heading to the US. (Here’s what we know about preordering the fixed Fold.)
I got a chance to go hands-on with the redesigned model, which Samsung says will avoid incurring the kind of damage that caused some reviewers’ screens to break. (CNET’s review unit never broke, but the screen did sustain scratches.)
Samsung’s fixes correct the Galaxy Fold’s early problems, but it also marks a shift in the phone maker’s strategy for selling the device. The $1,980 Galaxy Fold was supposed to be a smash hit that secured Samsung’s place as an innovator. Early adopters would clamor for it. It would become the ultimate symbol of status and luxury. But now these changes represent Samsung’s mistakes, and the company seems less enthusiastic that it the Fold will sell. Galaxy Fold redesign: See what’s new9 PHOTOS
This new design looks mostly the same as before, with subtle changes that make it harder to damage the Galaxy Fold’s delicate plastic screen. For example, Samsung has completely removed the question of whether the protective layer on top of the original design was an optional screen protector or an essential part of the display’s integrity — it was actually the latter, as some reviewers learned the hard way earlier this year.
Unfolding the Fold also feels different. Smoother, perhaps. Sturdier. I always loved opening and closing the original design during my time with the phone: The sensation of resistance as you closed the screen and felt the magnetic sides snap shut.
Now it feels more complete somehow. It’s hard to say why exactly, with the original Galaxy Fold so far in the rearview mirror and just my memory for comparison. Before this week, the last time I held the Fold was in mid-April. Here’s every way the Galaxy Fold has changed.
No visible screen protector
If you peel this off, it immediately makes the Fold’s screen unusable. Now, this polymer layer extends beneath the plastic bezel. It’s still there but you can’t see it, and that’s how it should be.
Screen caps at the ends of the phone
New T-shaped plastic “caps” plug up air gaps that existed before when you fold the phone’s screen — this is the slack that’s created as part of the kinetic process. I tried jamming my fingernails around this part to see if I could create any openings, but wasn’t able to. That’s reassuring.
The previous Galaxy Fold design had a layer of metal supporting a cushiony layer and then the top portion of the display. Samsung says this caused the screen crease that runs down the phone’s center to look more prominent. Now it’s reinforced the screen by adding a second layer of metal on top of that cushion. We’ll see if that reduces the crease’s appearance and also keeps damage by pressing too hard on the display at bay.
No more Astro Blue or Martian Green colors
The blue and green colors really took the Fold over the top, but Samsung told us that it’ll only sell the Fold in silver and black now. It’s a shame, but I’m not really surprised. Samsung might be preparing for fewer sales as a result of waning enthusiasm, and therefore keeping its production counts in check.
No Galaxy Fold 5G in the US
Anyone in Korea who buys the Galaxy Fold will get the 5G version by default, but the opposite is true in the US — it’s 4G only for that market. Samsung says that the 5G version will come to select countries, naturally at a higher cost than the 4G model if the two are sold side by side. That includes the UK, where the Galaxy Fold 5G will be available from EE from Sept. 18.
Stay tuned for more photos and my hands-on video that shows you exactly what’s new and different in this second coming of the Galaxy Fold. Meanwhile, read on about how Samsung’s next foldable phone could be shaped like a square.
Originally published earlier this week and updated with more background.