Galaxy Fold evaluate: Samsung’s new telephone exhibits the promise and peril of foldable screens

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From the primary second I held it, I knew the $1,980 Galaxy Fold could be one thing totally different, one thing particular. It is develop into painfully clear {that a} foldable telephone lives and dies by the standard of its bendable display, heart crease or no. It is not sufficient to see that show open and shut — it’s a must to really feel it for your self. Bending a display is a visceral motion that for me feels fully pure and proper. And after doing all the pieces from watching movies to studying the information to writing emails on the telephone’s huge 7.3-inch display, you will by no means need to return to “solely” a 6-inch show once more. The promise — and peril — of foldable telephones is actual. 

No one anticipated the screens on some reviewers’ telephones to malfunction so shortly, or for Samsung to postpone the Fold’s April 26 sale date for weeks — till June 13 for AT&T’s preorder patrons — whereas it investigated what went improper. That sucked, as a result of the incidents solid a pall over the Fold and over the idea of foldable telephones typically. I would been superexcited to be one of many first on the earth to attempt the Fold, however the display meltdown let all of the air out of the balloon.

As a result of, as the primary actual telephone of its type, the Galaxy Fold is so essential, and due to the alarming display developments, I’ve taken my time making this analysis as thorough as attainable to keep away from any knee-jerk response. All of us deserve higher than that. I’ve used the Fold on daily basis for greater than every week in each means an individual can use a telephone, even (gasp!) to make calls. I ran two in a single day battery drain exams, peered at its display from each angle, and typed till my fingers ached.

Though the early manufacturing evaluate unit Samsung gave me by no means a lot as flickered, CNET will maintain off giving the gadget an official ranking till we have totally examined a closing manufacturing Galaxy Fold. The truth that the Fold has now suffered 5 display meltdowns earlier than it even reached clients’ fingers issues me deeply.

That Samsung someway missed correct high quality management earlier than releasing this gadget will fire up reminiscences of the Galaxy Observe 7 battery flame-out. If reviewers hadn’t caught the display issues on the Fold, loads of sad clients may need shelled out $2,000 for a tool that offers extra complications than glimpses of the longer term. And naturally we’ve got to surprise how this may have an effect on different foldable telephones, such because the Huawei Mate X and the (rumored) foldable Moto Razr. Will the true foldable revolution stall just a few years whereas ready for Corning’s bendable glass?

I ought to point out that Samsung is retrieving all evaluate items. Although it is probably the corporate needs to do some injury management earlier than extra points develop, reviewers had been additionally instructed on the outdoors that we would have a restricted, 10-day evaluate interval earlier than having to provide the telephones again.

Learn extra: The Galaxy Fold’s display malfunction: All the pieces you’ll want to know

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Our Galaxy Fold did not break. Here is what’s good and…



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After every week, I am nonetheless divided in regards to the Fold. The world does not want foldable telephones. We are able to get alongside completely high quality with out them. However we must always need them — not because the Fold is now, however because it may very well be. I hope the Fold’s early misfortunes do not deter Samsung and others from making an attempt once more. The model is already rumored to be at work on two extra separate designs. Possibly a type of will stick.

The Fold’s display issues, whereas essential, distract us from evaluating the place this gadget works properly and the place it does not. We want to have the ability to let the drama settle and actually take a look at what the Fold has to supply. So that is what I will do.

Let’s agree that the Galaxy Fold is a testbed gadget for builders and the earliest adopters to purchase, and for the remainder of us to ponder over — after which let’s put that apart and dive into the main points. Are you with me?

What the Galaxy Fold is finest at:

  • Display viewing, e.g. studying and watching movies.
  • Opening and shutting.
  • Multitasking.
  • Being transportable.
  • Grabbing individuals’s consideration.

What the Fold is not so good at:

  • Defending the inner display.
  • Typing, particularly on the small exterior display.
  • Lengthy-lasting battery life.
  • Being round water.
  • Clean scrolling.

Once you open the Fold, any app you launched on the surface additionally opens on the within.


Samsung

Why we care in regards to the Galaxy Fold within the first place

The complete function of a foldable telephone is to provide you an expansive, uninterrupted show to observe movies, play video games and skim on, then put away in your pocket.

Firms have made foldable telephone idea sketches and prototypes for years, however the Galaxy Fold marks the primary time there’s been sufficient important mass in curiosity and technological know-how to make a industrial gadget attainable. Samsung is not alone. Huawei’s Mate X and TCL‘s dedication to a future foldable are making this new bendable design extra actual on daily basis. 

Even Google’s in on the motion, pledging Android help in order that its software program will swap from one display orientation to a different as you fold and unfold the show. Slightly-known firm bought the primary foldable telephone, the Royole FlexPai, however Samsung’s Fold is the primary “actual” foldable telephone for most individuals. 

If Samsung and its rivals can repair main issues that the Fold is seeing now, and sufficient individuals wind up clamoring for the design, then foldable telephones have an opportunity to vary the way in which individuals use their gadgets. A foldable telephone may sooner or later make tablets out of date.

Learn extra: Galaxy Fold pains may assist different foldable telephones succeed

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Look intently past the bezel and you’ll see a skinny movie on the Galaxy Fold’s display. Samsung says this protecting layer is not a display saver, and also you should not take away it otherwise you would possibly injury the display.


Angela Lang/CNET

Premium on the surface, low-cost feeling on the within

The Galaxy Fold has two screens, but it surely’s the 7.3-inch interior show that is your actual residing area. When you get chemically hardened Gorilla Glass on the surface, this interior display is produced from plastic, not glass — as a result of we do not have bendable glass but. Meaning the display’s about as delicate and tender as a younger shoot, and simply as simply mangled.

My evaluate unit remains to be 100% usable, with out bumps or distortion, however in the event you take a look at it intently, over on the left facet there is a small divot. You’ll be able to see it clearly in our evaluate video. I am not even certain when it occurred, but it surely does communicate to the fragility of the sort of design.

The Fold appears and feels premium on the surface when closed up tight, because of shiny glass surfaces, luminous colour and a gleaming, dressed-up hinge. Samsung needed to go this path to justify the telephone’s excessive worth. A magnetic closure helps the Fold really feel securely battened down. 

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I do not anticipate plastic bezels on a $2,000 “luxurious” telephone. Do you?


Angela Lang/CNET

However if you open it up, the inside feels and appears toylike, with plastic bezels and a big notch to match the plastic display.

The plastic movie that is triggered such a ruckus is just one downside. Two reviewers took it off (I thought of doing so myself), which triggered the display to right away malfunction. Samsung later mentioned it is not a display guard, however an integral a part of the telephone’s construction. With a skinny border between this protecting layer and people plastic bezels, it is laborious to inform — there’s sufficient room to simply slide in a fingernail or device to provide this movie a tug.

One other hassle is the mud and lint that like to gather on this hole. Extra worrisome, maybe, are small twin openings between the display and the hinge, one on both pole when the Fold is open. You’ll be able to see how one thing may work its means in there.

On the brilliant facet, opening and shutting the Fold feels superior. The Fold is a telephone it’s a must to perceive on a bodily degree that phrases and pictures do not do justice to. You need to really feel how a lot pressure you’ll want to throw into it to shut the gadget and open it once more. To gauge the smoothness of that large hinge because the “wings” open and shut. It is not laborious, however you do should be deliberate, and I just like the little little bit of exertion the Fold calls for from you. And that clack when it does shut! Extraordinarily satisfying.

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The Infinity Flex show is made from a kind of plastic as a result of bendable glass is not accessible but.


Sarah Tew/CNET

It is not simply me that thinks this. I’ve handed the Galaxy Fold round to co-workers, buddies, good strangers craning to get a glance — even my septuagenarian mother and father — and you’ll see their faces gentle up the primary time they bend and unbend the display. It is such an “aha!” second. (My mother referred to as the display colour “pure and glowing.”)

I do love that I can really zip the Fold into the pocket of a short-waisted, fitted leather-based jacket. After I’ve completed a session of use, I can merely shut it up with a snap and stash it away. 

Let’s be actual in regards to the display crease

Earlier than the Galaxy Fold screens started performing up, this seam operating down the telephone’s plastic Infinity Flex show was the factor worrying individuals most. It was ugly, they mentioned, whereas fretting over long-term put on and tear. Would the crease worsen? Would it not get in the way in which?

Sure, the crease is there, and it is extremely seen in sure gentle for the easy and enduring purpose that foldable telephones have screens that bend in half. Till we discover a materials that fluidly self-heals when bending and unbending, we will must put up with some quantity of creasing. Foldable screens with outward bends such because the Mate X and FlexPai have an apparent ridge, too. So does your elbow.

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When you’re not navigating video games within the heart of the display, the crease in all probability is not in your means.


Angela Lang/CNET

After I press down on the 7.3-inch display when the Fold is opened, I can really feel the hinge mechanism beneath, however I do not actually really feel it if I am swiping flippantly. It does not a lot get in the way in which with the few video games I’ve performed to date, and after I’m immersed in what I am doing, like studying the display or watching a video, all the pieces else simply fades away. 

I would quite not have a crease, however at this level, it is the least of the Fold’s display worries.

The notch stands out like a sore thumb

As a lot as I just like the Fold’s appears, a few of its design parts are actual head-scratchers. First, there’s that notch. It is a roughly inch-long cutout on the precise facet of the 7.3-inch show, housing two cameras and a few sensors. 

I will be sincere with you, it appears fairly ridiculous and unnecessarily massive. I get that Samsung needed to heart the cameras, however if you shine a lightweight onto the notch, you see that the lenses and two sensors take up much more room than they should. Once you play video, the notch is an enormous thick bump off to the facet. It does not ever impede the motion of a scene, however I do not assume it must be fairly so large. 

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The Galaxy Fold’s notch is taking on numerous area.


Angela Lang/CNET

In some apps, like YouTube and video games like Riptide Renegade, the display consistent with the notch blacks out to create wider bars on both facet. You do not discover the notch a lot, however you additionally do not get the full-screen expertise.

When you hate the notch sufficient, you’ll be able to artificially black out a part of the display utilizing some show settings (Show > Full-screen apps > Superior settings > Cover digital camera cutout). That’ll simply make the bezel look thicker.

The Fold’s 4.6-inch display is just too small and slim

Samsung’s foldable telephone is tall and slim when closed, and the 4.6-inch exterior show feels small floating in the midst of the physique, surrounded on all sides by a good bit of empty area. This design offers the display the impression of being smaller than it’s. The choice, I suppose, could be to have a good taller display, which could current a few of its personal challenges formatting widespread apps.

When it is folded up, the Fold feels a bit like a flip telephone or older candybar telephone, making it handy for putting calls. It is much less handy to launch the digital camera by double-pressing the facility button, or unlocking the telephone when it is folded up. These buttons are on the second camel hump when the Fold is closed, so it’s a must to attain throughout one layer to press them. That results in inaccuracy.

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Speaking on the closed-up Fold is comfy and is sensible.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The Fold will get one in all my favourite new Samsung options, Wi-fi PowerShare. This allows you to cost up one other gadget you placed on the Fold’s again. That went properly for smaller equipment such because the wi-fi Galaxy Buds. However the S10 Plus, a wider telephone than the Fold, needed to be located simply so or it’d slide off. 

When the Fold is totally closed, there’s an air hole — the opening closest to the Galaxy Fold’s hinge the place the 2 halves meet do not totally contact. It is truthfully smaller than I feared it will be, and whereas it is noticeable, it does not stand out. I may simply slip in a bank card. Then I slipped in one other. The Fold stayed folded, largely due to the strain created by the magnets. 

The Fold’s hinge strikes easily, however a big mechanism right here additionally makes the width of the telephone’s “wings” fairly slim. Closed, it appears like a sandwich. On the precise facet, there is a quantity rocker and an influence button, and the fingerprint reader doubles because the Bixby button. I’ve by chance pressed it quite a few instances.

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Life is totally different with a 4.6-inch display.


Sarah Tew/CNET

There is not any headphone jack, which is OK in the event you use the free Galaxy Buds wi-fi earbuds that come within the field, however unhealthy when you have wired headphones you’d quite use. The Fold is not water resistant, so you’ll want to take care you do not drown your funding. 

In terms of the true enterprise of a telephone — utilizing apps — the extra compact configuration is a little more of a problem.  Though the Fold’s display is way smaller than any telephone you are used to, you’ll be able to nonetheless entry all of your put in apps. Samsung preloads a big clock widget, which you’ll be able to faucet to get into your clock app (helpful for setting an alarm), and you’ll change this widget up if you would like. 

There’s additionally the Google Search bar, and area for 3 app icons. You can also make folders, in order that helps put extra on the web page, and naturally there are a number of dwelling screens, so you’ll be able to shortly get to your apps. The app tray can also be simple to invoke by swiping up from the underside, as you’ll on different telephones.

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Typing on that tiny display is usually a problem.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Font measurement and icons are each miniaturized, which appears like a throwback to the times once we all hunched over our telephone screens, searching and pecking our means by apps. As I attempted responding to tweets and messages whereas on the go, it turned clearer and clearer that this display, and its digital keyboard, are too small to be helpful. I can nearly kind precisely after I’m motionless, however as soon as I began strolling or being bounced by a prepare or bus, the errors grew to the purpose of being unreadable.

Possibly it would be simpler to kind on the 4.6-inch display if the Samsung keyboard supported tracing. I may swap to Gboard, the digital keyboard I desire, however then I would lose the split-screen keyboard after I open the Fold. I scoured the settings and it does not appear like you should utilize totally different inputs on the entrance and inside screens the way in which you’ll be able to set totally different wallpapers.

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My answer was to make use of voice enter, however Samsung’s default software program solely mangled my phrases extra. I used to be in a position to flip it off within the settings, which fell again to Google’s voice enter, my choice all alongside. That helped tremendously.

I’ve smaller fingers, so it this was laborious for me, but it surely’s sure you will wrestle when you have larger fingers. I would positively depend on Google Voice or Bixby to do sure issues, like place a name, seek for retailer hours or flip Wi-Fi on and off.

The one factor I’ll say is that the Fold is straightforward to make use of one-handed when folded up, particularly if all you need to do is observe maps navigation or snap a fast photograph. 

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The Fold does not shut completely flat.


Sarah Tew/CNET

‘App Continuity’ works as marketed

Once you open the Fold, any app you might have open on the surface may even unfurl on the within. That is referred to as App Continuity, and it is one thing Samsung and Google labored on collectively to make it possible for the Fold does not expertise lag. 

This works as anticipated and immediately. However in order for you the app on the within display to observe you to the smaller exterior one, you will want to pick these apps within the Show settings. It’s because you could not need each app to canine your heels. You would possibly resolve that, for many apps, closing the telephone means closing out what you are doing.

Proper now, WhatsApp, Microsoft, Spotify, Amazon Prime Video, Samsung and Google apps have all been optimized to make use of the design. If the app does not help App Continuity, it nonetheless works, however you will must resize the app for full-screen — in any other case you will see black bars on both facet.

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The break up display keyboard is useful.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The second you begin typing, you will discover that Samsung splits the keyboard to make it extra comfy on the bigger display. My fingers nonetheless stretched throughout the display and obtained drained, however I by no means felt like I used to be going to drop the Fold and I nonetheless most well-liked it to typing on the smaller display.

I am not the world’s largest fan of the Samsung keyboard, and it is irksome that you may’t hint to kind in split-screen mode. I am certain that third-party digital keyboard replacements will rise to the problem. 

Multitasking: There’s an artwork to utilizing three apps without delay

Multitasking is among the Fold’s largest promoting factors. With the ability to use as much as three apps on the identical time is, in any case, one benefit of utilizing a bigger display. However multiactive home windows, because it’s referred to as, is sophisticated and somewhat complicated, so bear with me and I will do my finest to clarify it.

More often than not, you will open an app the way in which you usually would, both by tapping the icon on your private home display, selecting it out of your Recents tab, or swiping up from the underside to pick from the app tray. Now say you need to chat with somebody when you’re taking part in YouTube movies. You swipe from the precise facet of the display (the place the sting show is on different Galaxy telephones) and launch an app that means. 

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You should use as much as three apps without delay.


Angela Lang/CNET

You will discover that opening the second app scooches the primary one over to the left so the second can load as a tall, slim panel. Then, in the event you add a 3rd app (identical means you add a second), the secondary panel divides in half to make room for the third panel. You’ll be able to barely resize these home windows, shut them out, and drag and drop to reposition them utilizing blue “handles” on the high of the app. For instance, in order for you your third app to develop into your principal window, you’ll be able to drag it over into that place. 

I seen straight away that the extra apps you might have open, the smaller the font. So you could not likely need to use all three without delay on a regular basis. However if you wish to shortly open the calculator when you’re studying a information story, you do not have to cease what you are doing to modify focus. You may as well flip the telephone to panorama mode to vary the orientation, which makes the home windows wider and shorter. 

To load an app on the principle window, you swipe as much as entry the app tray. To open an app on one of many different home windows, you flick from the app tray on the precise and launch an app that means. Yet one more professional tip: You may as well construct out your multiwindow display by dragging and dropping icons from the Recents tab. 

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Closed, the Fold appears like two telephones stacked one on one other. You’ll be able to see the fingerprint reader/Bixby button under the lock button. 


Angela Lang/CNET

All the pieces I simply described occurs in an ideal world, however there are limitations. You will by no means have the choice to open some apps as secondary or tertiary panels, and that basically sucks. I am hoping Samsung will work with high app builders to make this occur.

Curiously, I seen that some apps would possibly open not as a panel, however as a pop-up (see my embedded tweet above). On this case, I opened Netflix to start out a obtain, after which opened Google Drive to discover a file whereas I waited. I had anticipated Drive to open as a panel, and was shocked to see it as a window in a window, lots just like the picture-in-picture view that permits you to see Google Maps navigation as a thumbnail whereas specializing in one thing else fully. I expanded the pop-up and moved it round utilizing the identical “handles.”

Talking of the Netflix obtain (two episodes of the British interval spy drama Traitors), the picture did not naturally fill the display and I did not see an onscreen management to broaden it — simply black bars on the highest and backside. Samsung will certainly need to work with Netflix on formatting, as a result of this isn’t a super association. You’ll be able to pressure the app to broaden in the event you dig round within the show settings, however that did not change something for Netflix.

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The Galaxy Fold is available in black, inexperienced, silver and blue.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The Fold’s six cameras are nearly as good as on the S10 Plus

The Galaxy Fold has a complete of six cameras: three on the again, one on the entrance and two inside:

  • 10-megapixel digital camera for fast photographs and selfies (outer display).
  • 10-megapixel digital camera (interior display).
  • 8-megapixel RGB depth sensor (interior display).
  • 12-megapixel principal digital camera (backing).
  • 16-megapixel ultra-wide angle (backing).
  • 12-megapixel telephoto lens (backing).
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You would possibly get stared at taking pictures with the Galaxy Fold open, however you’ll be able to fine-tune your shot.


Angela Lang/CNET

When you can snap photographs utilizing the 4.6-inch display, Samsung expects you to make use of the Fold unfolded to take most pictures, as a result of you can higher modify the blur and settings that means. I do not love holding up a tablet-sized display to take my pictures. I make enjoyable of these individuals (sorry, individuals). Now I’ve develop into a type of individuals. 

Taking pictures whereas the Fold is closed up is workable, however not superior as a result of it is laborious to inform in case your photograph is in focus, and it is a lot more durable to maneuver tiny sliders for Dwell Focus (portrait) photographs. However in the event you’re truthfully taking a fast pic, or do not need to draw consideration to your self by unfolding the Fold, then it’s very high quality. You’ll be able to both share the photograph straight away, or open the Fold for fine-tuning.

It is lots simpler to take selfies from the closed place than from the open place, and it is also extra personal — you do not have everybody and their canine watching you examine your enamel in your 7.3-inch display. 

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One-handed digital camera photographs are good for taking a fast photograph to share straight away.


Angela Lang/CNET

Since Samsung is utilizing the very same cameras on the Galaxy Fold because it does on the Galaxy S10 Plus (and S10 5G), so that you get nice high quality pictures. 

I am intrigued by the 8-megapixel depth-sensing digital camera on the within, because it’s basically going for use for selfies, not for AR experiences in entrance of you (or else it would be on the rear). Maybe if Samsung magically activates safe face unlock utilizing the depth-sensing digital camera, this is able to be one solution to open the Fold earlier than unlocking it. It may very well be used to confirm on-line funds. Till then, the fingerprint reader is quick and straightforward sufficient to make use of open or closed. I will get into that in somewhat extra element under.

Strong battery life and efficiency, however scrolling can get bizarre

Samsung guarantees all-day battery life on the Galaxy Fold’s 4,380-mAh energy supply (which is break up into two batteries, one for both sides). 

As at all times, how lengthy you get is determined by how you utilize the telephone. In my exams, the Fold definitely went from morning till evening, however I did must plug it in once more on the finish of the day. The Fold will last more closed than it’ll in the event you regularly use it open, for the easy purpose that the bigger display calls for extra energy.

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We see the identical digital camera setup because the Galaxy S10 Plus.


Sarah Tew/CNET

That was evident in CNET’s looping video drain battery check in airplane mode. Open, the Fold lasted 16 hours on the primary run and 17 hours on the second. Examine that to the Galaxy S10 Plus, which ran 21 hours with the identical check.

The Galaxy Fold makes use of the identical Snapdragon 855 processor because the Galaxy S10 telephones, and I am joyful to report that benchmarking check scores fall proper in line. Utilizing apps on the large and little screens felt quick. App continuity, which shuffles apps between the interior and outer screens, is a very new trick, so there is a fraction of a delay there that I will not maintain towards Samsung and Google at this early stage.

What I’ll level out — and I do know I am not the primary reviewer to take action — is a bizarre impact referred to as “jelly scrolling” that makes the textual content scroll at totally different charges on the Fold’s left hemisphere versus its proper facet. Once you scroll shortly in both course, blocks of textual content appear like they slant up or down. It is not going to get in your means, however the two sides clearly aren’t aligned. Only one other thing for Samsung’s to-do listing.

Galaxy Fold vs. the Huawei Mate X

Specs

Samsung Galaxy Fold Huawei Mate X
Show measurement, decision 4.6-inch Tremendous AMOLED (1,680×720 pixels); 7.3-inch Dynamic AMOLED (2,152×1,536 pixels) 6.6-inch (2,480×1,148 pixels); 6.38-inch (2,480×892 pixels); 8-inch OLED (2,480×2,200 pixels)
Cell software program Android 9.zero with Samsung One UI TBA
Digital camera 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (extremely wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto) 4 rear cameras
Entrance-facing digital camera Two 10-megapixel, 8-megapixel 3D depth At the least one
Video seize TBA TBA
Processor Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Kirin 980 processor
Storage 512GB 512GB
RAM 12GB 8GB
Expandable storage No No
Battery 4,380-mAh twin battery 4,500-mAh twin battery
Fingerprint sensor Energy button Energy button
Connector USB-C USB-C
Headphone jack No No
Particular options Foldable show, wi-fi charging, quick charging Foldable show, quick charging
Value off-contract (USD) $1,980 TBA, converts to $2,600 (2,299 euros)
Value (GBP) TBA, converts to £1,500 TBA, converts to £2,000
Value (AUD) TBA, converts to AU$2,750 TBA, converts to AU$3,620

Initially printed April 15 at 6 a.m. PT and up to date usually.

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