Before the Samsung Unpacked event started yesterday, my Twitter feed was filled with jokes about how there was nothing left for the company to announce. Everything had been leaked out, right? We even saw a hands-on video from a pre-brief make its way to YouTube for a little while, so why was everyone even sitting in that theater?
The Galaxy Fold was why. And while we'd seen some of this leaked as well, it still caught the imagination of everyone watching. Including, and perhaps especially, me. Because while I'm not at all excited by the Galaxy S10 series, this foldable curiosity hasn't left my thoughts since the presentation started.
It's weird to call this a phone, right?
Samsung called the Galaxy Fold a new kind of phone, one that lets you open the front display to enjoy what you were doing in a larger format when you need to. When using the larger display, you can multitask up to three apps and you have access to an impressive multi-camera array no matter which way you have this thing oriented.
It's something different, something more, and that's exciting.
But if you take a closer look at the Galaxy Fold, I'm not sure many people are doing to really use the "folded" display all that often. For starters, the top and bottom bezel on this smaller display are huge. When the Galaxy Fold is closed, it's a little on the chunky side. And perhaps worse for some people, it's going to be thicker on the right side than the left because of the gap left by the curve in the display. The little screen feels more like something you'd use when you needed to do something fast, like answer a call or check a notification. But for most things, I feel like I'd just open it up and enjoy the whole screen.
The possibilities here are really exciting to me. Having a large display for Android Auto in the car, being able to pull out a small Bluetooth keyboard to get some work done without needing to carry around a tablet, and of course, games and movies are going to be pretty great on that large display. And assuming this also works with Samsung DeX, I'd be able to use an even larger display when I'm in a hotel room instead of needing to bring another gadget with me.
For me, Samsung is now closer than ever before to that "one device" goal. This is something that genuinely feels like it could be used as my one computer when I travel, which almost makes calling it a phone somewhat diminishing. This isn't a phone any more than a cellular smartwatch is, at least for me. It's something different, something more, and that's exciting.
That price, though
I think a big part of the mistake that is calling this a phone is the way the price tag is addressed. I mean, this is a $2,000 phone. How crazy is that, right?!
This has been part of a larger conversation regarding the cost of phones over the last year, and I'm not sure the Galaxy Fold deserves to be a part of this conversation. The base model Samsung Galaxy S10e announced this week is $30 more than the standard Galaxy S9 was when it was announced last year, and that's kind of crazy. Whether it's because people are keeping phones for longer or everyone is reacting to Apple "getting away with it" the cost of phones is worth a serious discussion.
New forms of computing are fascinating, and that's how I see the Galaxy Fold.
I don't have unlimited money, and certainly don't have $2,000 to spend on a new computer right now, but if I did that's how I would view it. Right now I have a desktop for home work, my Surface Go for when I want to work when I'm out, and my phone. If I could eliminate my $500 portable computer from that equation, as well as the case and bag and charger that has to travel with that accessory, I would seriously consider it.
Some of that price tag as the Early Adopter Tax, and I know that. For some, this is a status symbol. You buy this kind of thing because you can. But for me, new forms of computing are fascinating and that's how I see the Galaxy Fold. It's why I was one of the first people in line for Google Glass, another thing that was way too expensive for what it was. I'm eager to see what lessons the market as a whole learns from foldable computers as we move into the next generation of mobile tech.
Peering into the future
I love seeing Samsung lead the charge on foldable tech. I love that Google has committed to helping the software play nice and encourage developers to do more. I don't know how much of this I'm going to like in practice, but there are a lot of ideas I can't wait to explore.
It's fun to see people get excited about how the Galaxy Fold has six cameras, and what that could possibly be used for. I'm more eager to see how that folding display holds up to daily use. I'm curious how I'll feel about the design as it fits in my pocket, or in my cycling jersey as I go for a long ride. What happens when this thing gets warm from a long gaming session? How will I prop it up when I'm sitting in my car watching a video while I wait for my kids to get out of school?
It's a whole new weird world, and every experience is a lesson that will help build the future of computers as we know it. Bring it on.
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