The foldable phone–flop or flagship? Mark Isaiah David March 29, 2019 IMO After years of talking about it, Samsung finally unveiled its first foldable phone—the Samsung Galaxy Fold. If the name of the phone fails to excite you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Obvious things make me facepalm, too. Fortunately, the phone itself looks solid, with interesting features designed to separate itself from the now-boring barrage of new phones launched every year. While folded, the phone has a 4.6-inch display and fits easily in your hand—a callback to the golden days when you don’t need an oversized hand just to hold your device. Happily, all the usual apps can run in this compact mode, so there’s no FOMO here. But, of course, you will also want something bigger, because no matter what your tactful ex told you, size DOES matter. If you want to read and not strain your eyes, or watch a video, or play a game, or just reallllllly zoom in on that Instagram photo you’ve been staring at, the Galaxy Fold unfolds into a 7.3-inch display, effectively transforming the Galaxy Fold phone into a tablet. Yes, ma’amser, it’s a 2-in-1 device even more genius than choco na may gatas (o gatas na may choco?). It’s a tablet that you can fold to fit in your pocket. The Samsung Galaxy Fold will also let you do the things you do with your phone faster and better—which is fortuitous, because launching a new product inferior to its predecessors would be depressing (for the company) and hysterical (for people who would review the product). Imagine the marketing tagline if only it were so. If you’re interested in knowing the numbers, they’re all over the internet by now. Highlights include a 7nm octa-core processor, 12GB DDR4X RAM, a total of six cameras (three in the rear, two in the front, and one on the cover), 512GB memory, 4,380mAh battery, a TITAN-class hyperdrive, and cutting-edge matter materializer so you’ll never go hungry again. It all works out because with a starting price of US$1,980 (about P103,000), you might not have the budget for luxury items like food for the whole month if you buy the Galaxy Fold on a whim. So, better start saving up, because you can come into the Fold (see what I did there?) by the end of April 2019. Seriously though, Samsung’s folda-phone is a game-changer in more ways than one. It can change the way we use our devices, how heavy our bags are (no need to bring two separate gadgets), how developers build apps (scalability would be a requirement, not just a nice-to-have), and even the life cycle of our phones. Right now, most of us use our phones for 2-3 years; a new, untested form factor that actually encourages you to break—sorry, fold—it in half a few hundred times a week is likely to reduce that life cycle. That’s good news for the phone/tablet industry that’s been slowing down these recent years, and bad news for our wallets and the Earth, which has been drowning in our waste. Other Android phone companies will also have their foldable versions. We’ve heard that Motorola will resurrect the Razr, but now with upgraded stats like Gandalf when he turned white. It will still have the iconic flip factor, but with a full foldable screen inside. LG also has something foldable in the pipeline, and Huawei has something similar (book-like) to the Samsung Galaxy Fold (which you can actually see more on page 76). Then there’s Xiaomi, with its tablet wherein both sides of the device can be folded inwards at two points, which leaves only the middle third of the phone—a notably different design compared to the other folding phones. And, of course, after a year or so, Apple is bound to copy/follow this foldable phone trend and have the balls to call their product “revolutionary.” This, as the Dothraki are fond of saying, is known. It is also known that the dictionaries in Apple HQ don’t have the term “revolutionary” in their pages. So, will the Samsung Galaxy Fold be 2019’s POTY (phone of the year)? That’s unlikely. One, there is no such official industry award. Two, the device’s $2,000 price point and limited run (less than a million units) will prevent it from becoming the driving force in Samsung’s bottom line. It would be pioneering to the industry, yes, but would hardly drive profits. The Galaxy Fold is likely to be a status symbol (for the CEOs and the feeling-CEOs) rather than a mass-market phone. For the average customer, there are even more concerns that need to be addressed apart from the high price point. The Galaxy Fold is a 1st-gen product, raw and untested, similar to politicians with no experience and whose only ammo is that they’re famous. You should think long and hard before shelling out your hard-earned money on a 1st-gen product, and even longer and harder before handing over the reins of the nation to those politicians. Also, despite Samsung’s assurances that switching and using apps on their foldable baby would be quick and seamless, we don’t know for sure until people have actually used their apps on the Galaxy Fold. Maybe YouTube and Facebook scales well, but what about Vimeo? What about my spreadsheets? What about my Tetris? Don’t you care about Tetris, Samsung? Who hurt you??? And, of course, we don’t know yet just how robust and how solidly the Galaxy Fold is made. I’m fully expecting some idiot somewhere to bend the phone and break it, cry foul on the internet, saying it shouldn’t have been damaged because the phone is “foldable.” Samsung can hire the best engineers in the world for all their money’s worth, but no product has ever been completely fool-proof. Despite all these, the Galaxy Fold heralds the dawn of the next evolution of smart devices. In time, we might see phones that can be origami-d into smartwatches or smart TVs that we can fold and bring to our next picnic. The future, it seems, is in the fold of your hands.