The new Galaxy Fold comes with multiple cameras, both at the front and back
The new Galaxy Fold comes with multiple cameras, both at the front and back

Unfolding the future of mobile phones and other devices

Samsung’s new phone marks a tectonic shift in personal computing. Get ready for the ride
Hindustan Times | By Rajiv Makhni
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2019 07:47 PM IST

Take a phone out from your pocket. It has, by current standards, a really small screen. About four inches or so. You unfold it once. It’s become a 7.3-inch tablet-like screen. Unfold again. Bam, you’ve now got a 15-inch laptop screen. One more unfold and whoop, now it’s a massive 32-inch TV. Well, the first part of this unfolding dream has been achieved. The Samsung Fold is here with a screen outside that unfolds once to a 7.3-inch screen. And with that, the world of mobile phones and all other devices changes forever.

What is it?

It’s not easy to describe the fold experience but maybe some number can help. Three screens, one of which folds, six cameras, two batteries and a king’s ransom of US $2,000 to buy it. The Galaxy Fold is a jaw-dropper and that term applies to its pricing, too. Folded, it’s not a very big phone, with a smallish 4.8-inch screen outside.

How does it work?

Samsung made magic with an Infinity Flex display that bends and folds, and a hinge with interlocking gears inside the casing
Samsung made magic with an Infinity Flex display that bends and folds, and a hinge with interlocking gears inside the casing

Open it up like a book, and a screen inside unfolds from the middle and snaps into place as a single 7.3-inch screen. No visible line in the middle, no bend, no groove breaks the experience. You don’t believe that you’re looking at two screens, or that you unfolded something.

What’s the tech behind it?

Samsung made magic with an Infinity Flex display that bends and folds, and a hinge with interlocking gears inside the casing. From the front you can’t see any part of this, but from the back the hinge has a slight gap when it snaps in place.

What it feels like in your hand?

Samsung added to the mystery and aura by not letting anyone get a chance to hold, touch, feel and unfold the Galaxy Fold. It was a demo on stage. This is a game changer and it may still need some tweaks before the big, bad world of techies and bloggers gets its paws on it.

How do the three screens work?

You could either have the same app open on all three screens or open a messaging app on the outside screen while you browse on one side of the screen
You could either have the same app open on all three screens or open a messaging app on the outside screen while you browse on one side of the screen

Open a messaging app on the outside screen while you browse on one side of the screen, and watch a video on the other. Or have the same app open on all three and seamlessly move from outside to in.

Do you have to open or close the phone to take pictures?

Nope, Samsung made it really easy with six cameras; three in the back, two on the inside and one on the cover. So at any point and in any configuration you have access to multiple cameras front and back. Also as batteries don’t bend and you need to balance a device like this, Samsung has put two batteries into this, one on each side – giving a total of 4,380 mAh of power.

So, does Samsung own the unfolding screen market?

2019 is the year of foldable screens like TCL’s foldable phone that bends into a smartwatch
2019 is the year of foldable screens like TCL’s foldable phone that bends into a smartwatch

No, not at all: 2019 is the year of unfolding screens. TCL and Royale FlexPai have already shown cutting edge stuff.

Royale FlexPai also showcased its folding phone recently
Royale FlexPai also showcased its folding phone recently

Also charging in fast are Xiaomi, Huawei, Alcatel, Motorola and obviously Oppo and Vivo. Even Apple has filed patent applications for a foldable iPhone design.

Who will buy this at US $2,000?

At a price of Rs.1,45,000 or so in India, most people will dismiss this as a luxury device. But, when you own a phone that unfolds and no one else’s does, that is a serious bragging right. Also, the price isn’t going to be very different from the Apple iPhone XS Max 512GB.

The World from here on!

Even Apple has filed patent applications for a foldable iPhone design
Even Apple has filed patent applications for a foldable iPhone design

The Samsung Fold opens us to a tectonic shift in personal computing. When a phone can bend, curve and fold, then what kind of shapes and form factors will we see from here? In a year from now, the conventional slate-like form of your current phone will be redundant. Unfurl and unfold your mind and think about that!

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

Techilicious appears every fortnight

From HT Brunch, March 3, 2019

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