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Hands-on: The new Galaxy Fold feels tighter, stronger, and just as groundbreaking

Samsung Galaxy Fold opened up
Samsung Galaxy Fold opened up (Image credit: Android Central)

The Galaxy Fold is going back on sale over four months after Samsung's first attempt, with the same price tag and marketing messaging despite the well-publicized hardware problems that led to early devices failing. The company loosely laid out the changes it made to this refreshed model back in July, but today I had my first opportunity to see, and most importantly feel, what the new phone was like months after using the cancelled original.

Reading Samsung's explanation of what was done to the Fold, I wasn't expecting there to be noticeable changes to the way the foldable felt. But it only took a few minutes using the refreshed Fold to tell the hardware improvements were really important; and the combination of tweaks makes the Fold feel like it's actually ready to sell this time.

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Samsung Galaxy Fold

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Samsung Galaxy Fold

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Samsung Galaxy Fold

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Samsung Galaxy Fold

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Samsung Galaxy Fold

It's baffling that the hinges were left so exposed on the first version — this makes much more sense.

The hardware changes obviously all focus on the display and hinge. Both ends of the hinge are now almost entirely enclosed, with openings only large enough to facilitate the movement of adjacent parts when the halves are in motion. There are noticeably large caps on both ends of the hinge up against the interior screen, and the large hinge cap visible around a majority of the hinge has had its tolerances tightened up.

The biggest visual change is to the top protective layer of the screen, which now extends the full width of the phone and is tucked underneath the raised bezel for the entirety of the screen. The fact that this wasn't the original design is completely baffling to me, whether Samsung ever expected people to remove it on purpose or not. No claims were made about improvements to the plastic substrate itself, but addressing the major elephant in the room of removing the layer was obviously the priority.

When you open the Fold, it stays open with a confident tautness in the hinge and display.

The most physically noticeable change is the way the Fold opens and stays open. Samsung says an additional layer of metal was placed underneath the display mechanism and connected to the hinge to address a considerable amount of the flex that was very noticeable in the first version. Now, when you pull the Fold apart there's a very satisfying click and the screen pops tautly into place — and it's actually flat this time. Before, there was a disconcerting amount of slack in the hinge when the Fold was open, leaving the screen to be slightly less than flat and leading to a little bit of wiggle in the screen that was very noticeable when using it in portrait mode in particular.

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Samsung Galaxy Fold

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Samsung Galaxy Fold

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Samsung Galaxy Fold

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Samsung Galaxy Fold

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Samsung Galaxy Fold

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Samsung Galaxy Fold

Look, you can definitely still notice the screen crease. It's still most noticeable when viewing full-screen apps and with lighter content displayed in particular. And even across the handful of units that were made available in my meeting at the IFA trade show in Berlin I could see variations in how the crease had worn in. When it comes to a plastic flexible display that folds in half, there are bound to be little variations and changes over time.

This is how the Fold should've shipped the first time.

But the improvements to the overall tightness of the hinge, and the way the phone stays more rigid and flat when the screen is unfolded, have me cautiously optimistic that the crease won't wear in as badly or have as many inconsistencies over time. The original Fold never seemed to commit to keeping the screen pulled tight, and the new version certainly does every time you open it.

If you hadn't seen or used the original version of the Fold you wouldn't think these design changes are out of place whatsoever — in fact, it now looks much more like a complete product rather than some kind of engineering prototype. The fact that the Fold ever shipped with a relatively exposed hinge mechanism, a hinge that didn't lock the screen flat while open, and with a screen covering that could be easily removed is frankly baffling — now, all of these things have been addressed, and this is how the Fold should've shipped the first time.

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Samsung Galaxy Fold

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Samsung Galaxy Fold

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Samsung Galaxy Fold

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Samsung Galaxy Fold

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Samsung Galaxy Fold

I'm really glad Samsung seems to have sorted out the Fold's display and hinge problems, at least when operating within the constraints of this particular form factor. With a more robust hinge, better protection to keep debris out of the internals, a better screen covering, and general reliability improvements, we'll actually be able to evaluate the Fold on its merits as a device without the cloud of the issues hanging overhead.

At least, we can hope that that's the case — there's still plenty of reason to be skeptical of the Fold's long-term reliability, and we'll only be able to find out if these fixes truly worked after getting thousands of phones into people's hands and letting them use them in the real world for months.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

21 Comments
  • The Fold is such a waste. Just get a Note 10+ if you need a portable tablet. Who would want a thicker phone with a tiny screen anyway?
  • While the Note 10+ is an awesome [hone (I have one), it is in no way a "portable tablet".
  • The Fold isn't for everyone just like the Note isn't for everyone. Samsung got flack for the rounded edges of the screen, but now many companies are copying the aesthetic. I could see the Note line going away since the S line has caught up in size. The Fold might be the start of a new device category for Samsung. Maybe it'll take over as the default Note form factor like the edge models did with the S line.
  • I am glad Samsung has the resolve to fix those issues. Give kudos to Samsung for that.
    This design I believe is just one of many in the evolution of mobile phones.
    After exploring the flexible displays, I personally think the next step is to have a phone without a display. It will project the information on - something else - be it another display or ? if so needed.
    Bone conduction works well enough for one possible audible solution now - for visual input - I'll leave that open for discussion.
  • Horrible phone cannot stand these ugly messy looking foldable phones. And having a plastic screen is a no no
  • Corning has already started working on flexible glass screens. It's possible within a couple years that plastic will be replaced. People didn't like the curved screens at first, but now several companies are copying it. This is just generation 1, and the original Fold was probably rushed to market so they could be the first.
  • I'm not so enamored with phones that I would come anywhere near close to shelling out close to $2000 for one.
  • Remember Nokia E90? It was samsung who brought touch screen trend and killed Nokia. Now they are going at same point where they killed Nokia
  • iPhone killed the old form factor, and Android and Windows had to play catch up.
  • Solid improvements, and it looks more like something I would consider buying if I had the need.
  • Hopefully someday someone will discover foldable glass and then we won't be stuck with plastic screens for these. It's a decent first attempt, but I'm definitely waiting a few iterations.
  • Gorilla is already working on that https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/05/corning-foldable-gorilla-glass/
  • People hated the first Galaxy Note and look how it has evolved. The Fold at least wasn't as flop as the Note 7. This is just a beginning for something innovative. The time will tell whether the foldable smartphones from Samsung are flop or not.
  • This device is a waste of money
  • Try making a new phone that's 200$ on a two year plan.. Oh wait I have to lease now so you can't make it..f these phone companies... Don't buy or lease any new phones
  • I'm not, Swappa is your friend
  • Check out Samsung's A product line. The A50 is $275 off contract on Amazon and B&H, and the specs are impressive for a budget phone. Before the A50 became popular, I saw it for less. You can get the A10 direct from Samsung for $200. There are phones in the $200 range, but you're not getting a flagship at that price. Honestly, you never did. The phone was always subsidized by your 2 year contract. If you kept the phone past the 2 years, your bill would drop. Mine dropped $35 per month when an AT&T rep noticed I was past my contract period.
  • My co-worker got an A50. It got so hot while charging it blacked out the thermal receipt he set it on. He dropped it when he picked it up it was so hot. He returned it immediately.
  • It's nice that Samsung was able to work out some of the major issues with the Fold. Right now, folding phones are a proof of concept and not meant for mainstream consumption. I fully expect that Samsung, and others, will get this right in another 3-4 years with lower prices. The Note line could easily evolve to a folding phone, that would actually make sense for it. Right now, it's a waiting game until Samsung, Qualcomm, Google, and Corning all figure things out. Until then, I'll sit back and enjoy watching things evolve.
  • Such a shame there's still a visible fold line in these things. How's that going to look at the end of a two year contract?
  • As long as the crease is visible and the screen plastic, it is still an overpriced working prototype, just a little more advance. For cheaper you can get a better phone AND a better tablet...