Galaxy Fold evaluation: 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 can be one thing completely different, one thing particular. It is turn into painfully clear {that a} foldable telephone lives and dies by the standard of its bendable display screen, heart crease or no. It is not sufficient to see that show open and shut — it’s important to really feel it for your self. Bending a display screen is a visceral motion that for me feels utterly pure and proper. And after doing every thing from watching movies to studying the information to writing emails on the telephone’s monumental 7.3-inch display screen, you may by no means wish to return to “solely” a 6-inch show once more. The promise — and peril — of foldable telephones is actual. 

No person 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 forged a pall over the Fold and over the idea of foldable telephones normally. I would been superexcited to be one of many first on this planet to strive the Fold, however the display screen meltdown let all of the air out of the balloon.

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

Though the early manufacturing evaluation unit Samsung gave me by no means a lot as flickered, CNET will maintain off giving the machine an official score till we have absolutely examined a remaining manufacturing Galaxy Fold. The truth that the Fold has now suffered 5 display screen meltdowns earlier than it even reached clients’ palms considerations me deeply.

That Samsung in some way missed correct high quality management earlier than releasing this machine will fire up reminiscences of the Galaxy Word 7 battery flame-out. If reviewers hadn’t caught the display screen issues on the Fold, a number of sad clients might need shelled out $2,000 for a tool that provides extra complications than glimpses of the long run. And naturally we’ve to marvel 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 evaluation items. Although it is doubtless the corporate desires to do some harm management earlier than extra points develop, reviewers had been additionally advised on the exterior that we might have a restricted, 10-day evaluation interval earlier than having to provide the telephones again.

Learn extra: The Galaxy Fold’s display screen malfunction: The whole lot it is advisable to know

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



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After per week, I am nonetheless divided in regards to the Fold. The world does not want foldable telephones. We will get alongside completely tremendous with out them. However we must always need them — not because the Fold is now, however because it could possibly be. I hope the Fold’s early misfortunes do not deter Samsung and others from attempting once more. The model is already rumored to be at work on two extra separate designs. Possibly a kind of will stick.

The Fold’s display screen issues, whereas essential, distract us from evaluating the place this machine works effectively 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’ll do.

Let’s agree that the Galaxy Fold is a testbed machine 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 small print. Are you with me?

What the Galaxy Fold is greatest 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 interior display screen.
  • Typing, particularly on the small exterior display screen.
  • Lengthy-lasting battery life.
  • Being round water.
  • Easy 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 whole goal of a foldable telephone is to provide you an expansive, uninterrupted show to look at 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 crucial mass in curiosity and technological know-how to make a business machine doable. Samsung is not alone. Huawei’s Mate X and TCL‘s dedication to a future foldable are making this new bendable design extra actual day by day. 

Even Google’s in on the motion, pledging Android help in order that its software program will change from one display screen orientation to a different as you fold and unfold the show. Slightly-known firm offered 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 might someday make tablets out of date.

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

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


Angela Lang/CNET

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

The Galaxy Fold has two screens, however it’s the 7.3-inch inside show that is your actual dwelling area. When you get chemically hardened Gorilla Glass on the surface, this inside display screen is comprised of plastic, not glass — as a result of we do not have bendable glass but. Which means the display screen’s about as tender and tender as a younger shoot, and simply as simply mangled.

My evaluation unit continues to be 100% usable, with out bumps or distortion, however for those who take a look at it intently, over on the left aspect there is a small divot. You possibly can see it clearly in our evaluation video. I am not even certain when it occurred, however it does converse to the fragility of the sort of design.

The Fold seems to be 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 value. A magnetic closure helps the Fold really feel securely battened down. 

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


Angela Lang/CNET

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

The plastic movie that is brought on such a ruckus is just one drawback. Two reviewers took it off (I thought of doing so myself), which brought on the display screen to right away malfunction. Samsung later stated it is not a display screen 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 exhausting to inform — there’s sufficient room to simply slide in a fingernail or software to provide this movie a tug.

One other trouble is the mud and lint that like to gather on this hole. Extra worrisome, maybe, are small twin openings between the display screen and the hinge, one on both pole when the Fold is open. You possibly can see how one thing might work its approach in there.

On the intense aspect, opening and shutting the Fold feels superior. The Fold is a telephone it’s important to perceive on a bodily degree that phrases and photographs do not do justice to. You need to really feel how a lot power it is advisable to throw into it to shut the machine and open it once more. To gauge the smoothness of that huge hinge because the “wings” open and shut. It is not exhausting, 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 manufactured from a kind of plastic as a result of bendable glass is not out there but.


Sarah Tew/CNET

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

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

Sure, the crease is there, and it is extremely seen in sure gentle for the easy and enduring cause 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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If you happen to’re not navigating video games within the heart of the display screen, the crease in all probability is not in your approach.


Angela Lang/CNET

After I press down on the 7.3-inch display screen 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 calmly. It does not a lot get in the way in which with the few video games I’ve performed to this point, and after I’m immersed in what I am doing, like studying the display screen or watching a video, every thing else simply fades away. 

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

The notch stands out like a sore thumb

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

I will be sincere with you, it seems to be fairly ridiculous and unnecessarily massive. I get that Samsung wished to heart the cameras, however while you shine a light-weight onto the notch, you see that the lenses and two sensors take up way more room than they should. Once you play video, the notch is a giant thick bump off to the aspect. It does not ever hinder the motion of a scene, however I do not suppose it must be fairly so huge. 

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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 screen in step with the notch blacks out to create wider bars on both aspect. You do not discover the notch a lot, however you additionally do not get the full-screen expertise.

If you happen to hate the notch sufficient, you may artificially black out a part of the display screen utilizing some show settings (Show > Full-screen apps > Superior settings > Disguise digicam cutout). That’ll simply make the bezel look thicker.

The Fold’s 4.6-inch display screen is simply too small and slender

Samsung’s foldable telephone is tall and slender 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 screen the impression of being smaller than it’s. The choice, I suppose, can be to have an excellent taller display screen, which could current a few of its personal challenges formatting frequent 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 digicam 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 important 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 among my favourite new Samsung options, Wi-fi PowerShare. This allows you to cost up one other machine you placed on the Fold’s again. That went effectively 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 absolutely contact. It is truthfully smaller than I feared it might be, and whereas it is noticeable, it does not stand out. I might simply slip in a bank card. Then I slipped in one other. The Fold stayed folded, principally 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 slender. Closed, it seems to be like a sandwich. On the best aspect, 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 completely different with a 4.6-inch display screen.


Sarah Tew/CNET

There is no headphone jack, which is OK for those who use the free Galaxy Buds wi-fi earbuds that come within the field, however unhealthy if in case you have wired headphones you’d fairly use. The Fold is not waterproof, so it is advisable to take care you do not drown your funding. 

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

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

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Typing on that tiny display screen generally is a problem.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Font dimension and icons are each miniaturized, which appears like a throwback to the times after we all hunched over our telephone screens, looking and pecking our approach by apps. As I attempted responding to tweets and messages whereas on the go, it grew to become clearer and clearer that this display screen, and its digital keyboard, are too small to be helpful. I can virtually 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 might be simpler to kind on the 4.6-inch display screen if the Samsung keyboard supported tracing. I might change to Gboard, the digital keyboard I choose, 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 use completely different inputs on the entrance and inside screens the way in which you may set completely 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 exhausting for me, however it’s sure you may battle if in case you have larger palms. 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 simple to make use of one-handed when folded up, particularly if all you wish to do is comply with 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 have got open on the surface will even unfurl on the within. That is referred to as App Continuity, and it is one thing Samsung and Google labored on collectively to ensure that the Fold does not expertise lag. 

This works as anticipated and at once. However if you would like the app on the within display screen to comply with you to the smaller exterior one, you may want to pick these apps within the Show settings. It is because it’s possible you’ll not need each app to canine your heels. You may 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 may must resize the app for full-screen — in any other case you may see black bars on both aspect.

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The break up display screen keyboard is useful.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The second you begin typing, you may discover that Samsung splits the keyboard to make it extra comfy on the bigger display screen. My palms nonetheless stretched throughout the display screen and received drained, however I by no means felt like I used to be going to drop the Fold and I nonetheless most popular it to typing on the smaller display screen.

I am not the world’s largest fan of the Samsung keyboard, and it is irksome which you can’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 likely one of the Fold’s largest promoting factors. Having the ability to use as much as three apps on the similar time is, in any case, one benefit of utilizing a bigger display screen. However multiactive home windows, because it’s referred to as, is sophisticated and slightly complicated, so bear with me and I will do my greatest to elucidate it.

More often than not, you may open an app the way in which you usually would, both by tapping the icon on your property display screen, selecting it out of your Recents tab, or swiping up from the underside to pick from the app tray. Now say you wish to chat with somebody whilst you’re enjoying YouTube movies. You swipe from the best aspect of the display screen (the place the sting show is on different Galaxy telephones) and launch an app that approach. 

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You should utilize as much as three apps without delay.


Angela Lang/CNET

You may discover that opening the second app scooches the primary one over to the left so the second can load as a tall, slender panel. Then, for those who add a 3rd app (similar approach you add a second), the secondary panel divides in half to make room for the third panel. You possibly can barely resize these home windows, shut them out, and drag and drop to reposition them utilizing blue “handles” on the prime of the app. For instance, if you would like your third app to turn into your essential window, you may drag it over into that place. 

I observed straight away that the extra apps you have got open, the smaller the font. So it’s possible you’ll not likely wish to use all three without delay on a regular basis. However if you wish to shortly open the calculator whilst you’re studying a information story, you do not have to cease what you are doing to change focus. You too can 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 best and launch an app that approach. Yet one more professional tip: You too can construct out your multiwindow display screen by dragging and dropping icons from the Recents tab. 

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Closed, the Fold seems to be like two telephones stacked one on one other. You possibly can see the fingerprint reader/Bixby button under the lock button. 


Angela Lang/CNET

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

Apparently, I observed that some apps may 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, loads just like the picture-in-picture view that allows you to see Google Maps navigation as a thumbnail whereas specializing in one thing else totally. 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 screen and I did not see an onscreen management to develop it — simply black bars on the highest and backside. Samsung will certainly wish to work with Netflix on formatting, as a result of this isn’t a perfect association. You possibly can power the app to develop for those who 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 digicam for fast photographs and selfies (outer display screen).
  • 10-megapixel digicam (inside display screen).
  • 8-megapixel RGB depth sensor (inside display screen).
  • 12-megapixel essential digicam (backing).
  • 16-megapixel ultra-wide angle (backing).
  • 12-megapixel telephoto lens (backing).
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You may get stared at taking photographs with the Galaxy Fold open, however you may fine-tune your shot.


Angela Lang/CNET

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

Taking photographs whereas the Fold is closed up is workable, however not superior as a result of it is exhausting 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 for those who’re truthfully taking a fast pic, or do not wish to draw consideration to your self by unfolding the Fold, then it’s very tremendous. You possibly can both share the photograph straight away, or open the Fold for fine-tuning.

It is loads 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 verify your enamel in your 7.3-inch display screen. 

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One-handed digicam 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 photographs. 

I am intrigued by the 8-megapixel depth-sensing digicam on the within, because it’s primarily going for use for selfies, not for AR experiences in entrance of you (or else it might be on the rear). Maybe if Samsung magically activates safe face unlock utilizing the depth-sensing digicam, this might be one method to open the Fold earlier than unlocking it. It could possibly be used to confirm on-line funds. Till then, the fingerprint reader is quick and simple sufficient to make use of open or closed. I will get into that in slightly extra element under.

Stable 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 either side). 

As all the time, how lengthy you get will depend on how you employ the telephone. In my checks, the Fold actually 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 can for those who regularly use it open, for the easy cause that the bigger display screen calls for extra energy.

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We see the identical digicam setup because the Galaxy S10 Plus.


Sarah Tew/CNET

That was evident in CNET’s looping video drain battery take a look at 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 take a look at.

The Galaxy Fold makes use of the identical Snapdragon 855 processor because the Galaxy S10 telephones, and I am completely happy to report that benchmarking take a look at scores fall proper in line. Utilizing apps on the large and little screens felt quick. App continuity, which shuffles apps between the inside 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 completely different charges on the Fold’s left hemisphere versus its proper aspect. Once you scroll shortly in both path, blocks of textual content appear like they slant up or down. It is not going to get in your approach, however the two sides clearly aren’t aligned. Only one thing more for Samsung’s to-do checklist.

Galaxy Fold vs. the Huawei Mate X

Specs

Samsung Galaxy Fold Huawei Mate X
Show dimension, 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 digicam Two 10-megapixel, 8-megapixel 3D depth Not less than 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
Worth off-contract (USD) $1,980 TBA, converts to $2,600 (2,299 euros)
Worth (GBP) TBA, converts to £1,500 TBA, converts to £2,000
Worth (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 typically.

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