A Verizon store salesman gave me a startling opinion on the Galaxy Fold

Are store salesmen excited about Samsung's new folding phone? It depends what you call excited.

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A gimmick? Really?

ZDNet

I wanted to look at the Galaxy S10 range. I felt sure Samsung wanted me to.

Also: Samsung's new phones: How to pre-order and get the best deal

During Wednesday's Unpacked event, Samsung tried very hard to make it pulsating. Which was a little difficult after it had just attempted to launch a whole new groundbreaking, Earth-shattering, cliche-defying category of phones.

So I went to a Bay Area Verizon store to bathe in the S10's look and feel.

The loud, graphic displays confronted me the minute I walked in the door. A slightly less loud, less graphic salesman greeted me.

"Oh, you already have the new phones?" I mused.

He explained that they were available for pre-order. What they weren't available for was picking up and holding.

They were clamped in what almost looked like horror film masks, four pieces of metal furiously gripping all four sides of the phones.

"I can't pick them up?" I asked.

"We've had a big problem with people walking in and bringing scissors," explained the salesman. "They just cut them off and run out."

This didn't seem like the ideal way to sell me a phone. Isn't one of the most important elements of a gadget how it feels when you touch it and hold it?

Still, I asked: "Tell me why I should buy this phone."

"Well, it's an upgrade from the S9," he said.

Many might expect it to be. The trouble is that upgrades don't accelerate one's blood flow like a Steph Curry three-pointer from midcourt or a glass of decent Sauvignon Blanc at exactly 6:01 pm.

Also: Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, S10E: Every camera lens and curve CNET

He wouldn't be deterred from his spiel. He kept shooting specs. Better processor and all that other technical stuff that make most people's eyes ascend to their foreheads. Yes, yes. And, oh, five cameras for the S10+.

"So a mere four for the S10?"

He agreed there was a little shame to that.

"Do you need five cameras?" I asked him. He admitted he didn't. This was another perfectly honest salesman, always the best sort.

The Galaxy S10 is, though, a very fine-looking phone. It's easy to miss the pinhole camera in the top right-hand corner of the screen. The phone has a greater sleekness than my iPhone XR.

And goodness, the S10 can even charge my XR, one of Samsung's greatest acts of generosity toward Apple since Judge Lucy Koh ordered Samsung to give Apple $539 million.

The salesman also showed me the cheaper, iPhone XR-challenging, Galaxy S10e.

"What does the e stand for?" I wondered.

"Efficient," he said instantly.

"You just made that up, didn't you?"

He smiled, yet his answer was far better than Apple's when it came to the XR.

I turned to Samsung's true excitement: The Galaxy Fold. The phone that Samsung so proudly unveiled by suggesting it represented the future, the phone that no one has really seen or touched.

Surely this Verizon salesman would be enthused or even, dare one imagine, excited.

"You don't have the folding phone, by any chance, do you?" I asked, with perhaps excessive innocence.

"No. That was just a first version they showed."

"But it's real, right? You will be selling it?"

"Yeah."

He didn't sound, as British soccer players might say, over the moon. I'd have placed him somewhere under the whelm.

"You don't think it's really cool?" I asked. Even I, life-addled as I am, thought it mildly fascinating.

The way it opened and revealed a bigger version of the same thing you were looking at on the smaller, outer screen seemed both different and even potentially useful.

This salesman told me there are better things to spend $2,000 on.

"I've worked at Verizon for a long time," he added. "And I know a gimmick when I see one."

Also: Samsung Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10 Plus, Galaxy S10E, and Galaxy Fold: A cheat sheet TechRepublic

I wanted to say: "You mean like Verizon's claims of a better network?"

Instead, I went for: "You think it's a gimmick?"

"Well, I'd have to see it for myself," he said. "But what I've seen so far tells me it's a gimmick."

Samsung believes it's launching a completely new, new thing.

This Verizon salesman believes it's launching a gimmick that excites him as much as coffee out of a bucket.

Even salesmen can be hard to please, you know.

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