Six days with the Samsung Galaxy Fold: Is it really as fragile as Samsung warns?

Samsung's new Galaxy Fold is an engineering marvel and presents a huge leap forward in smartphone innovation. While you need to use caution with the folding plastic OLED screen, the rest of the phone may be more durable than Samsung cautions.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

People are hard to please and after regular articles lamenting the lack of innovation in the smartphone industry, it seems there is widespread desire to see the Samsung Galaxy Fold fail. After the failed first launch earlier this year, Samsung is playing it safer by including lots of warnings in the retail box while also posting a care video.

The Samsung Galaxy Fold, see our first impressions, is a very expensive smartphone and one that most people should not buy. However, it is an extremely well-made phone with high-quality materials and stunning engineering, but like most first-generation products there are some areas to address in the future and I'm confident that Fold buyers like me will help Samsung improve future products.

After reading the warnings in the retail package last Friday I was a bit apprehensive about letting anyone even touch the Galaxy Fold. However, this is a device that should be shared with as many people as possible if we are ever going to move past the typical glass sandwich slabs we all use today. Even though the Galaxy Fold cost me $2,000 and Samsung has warnings all over, I decided to let others share in the awe and wonder of the world's first available foldable phone.

Also: Galaxy Fold first look: Prepare to be amazed by the future of smartphones

Over the past six days, I have now let about three dozen people open and close the Fold, swipe around the display, take photos, use the outside display, and more. My wife adores the soft touch and massive 7.3-inch display and now tries to justify her own Fold to me every day. Even after I told her that it cannot be dropped and has to be well cared for, she still is trying to get me to pick one up for her too.

The engineers in my office are fascinated by the hinge mechanism, which Zack has shown is rightly the most durable part of the Fold. It is constructed of stainless steel and has been shown to prevent the display from bending backward while continuing to function even when loaded up with sand. Samsung stated it has tested the hinge to withstand 200,000 folds. Over the past six days, Digital Wellbeing shows I have unlocked the Fold about 50 to 75 times a day. Even if I opened and folded it 100 times per day, the hinge should be good for 5.5 years. I'm confident that no one has to worry about hinge failure on the Fold.

Other family, friends, and neighbors that have tried the phone are amazed by the folding aspect of the display. It is universally proclaimed as being a heavy phone, but most also like the folded orientation for phone calls as the long, narrow nature of it makes it feel closer to a standard phone than a wide smartphone. People have been focusing on watching the display transform and unfold while also swiping back and forth across the center of the display.

Also: Samsung Galaxy Fold first look: in pictures

The one caution I do state to everyone that tries it out is to avoid poking at the display with a fingernail or anything sharp. Zack's video shows the plastic OLED fails miserably when a fingernail is applied to it so while much of the design seems more robust than Samsung indicates, the soft display is the Achilles heel of the Galaxy Fold.

I have also been very careful to make sure there are no major particles on the display when I close it. However, I have been placing it in my front pants pocket and my jacket pocket with no issues to date. My pockets are generally clear of keys and coins, but there could be pocket lint in there too.

There is also no dust or water-resistant rating so the Fold will not be joining me on runs or in other inclement weather conditions. Then again, it wasn't until the last couple of years that we have seen IP ratings on phones and for a decade people have been using smartphones with no dust and water resistance.

CNET: Galaxy Fold: 11 best and worst parts of Samsung's foldable phone

At $2,000, it is prudent to use reasonable caution with the Galaxy Fold, especially in way of the inside soft display. However, I'm not going to keep it on a shelf and prevent others from seeing it. I'll be sharing it with others since none of them are going to spend $2,000 on an early edition device, but people should catch a glimpse of the smartphone future.

Now that I have it unlocked, my T-Mobile SIM is in the Galaxy Fold and it is serving as my daily driver. I'm not going to change my mobile life around to use it, but see how the Fold fits into my typical routines and how it can hopefully improve my productivity. There is a lot to like here and while it is not perfect it is much more finished and functional than I honestly thought it would be at this time in history.

Instead of looking intently for flaws or hoping Samsung fails with the Galaxy Fold, let's embrace the achievement that Samsung has made here and help move the ball forward in smartphone innovation. Please let me know what you want me to test before I post my full review and in particular, what use cases can you see for a foldable phone like the Galaxy Fold?

Samsung Galaxy Fold first look: in pictures

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