The Galaxy Fold is finally launching in the United States this Friday. After a launch failure the company CEO called “embarrassing,” Samsung’s futuristic foldable smartphone will come to the US after a five-month delay. The company made the news official in a press release today.
The Galaxy Fold was supposed to be a triumph of Samsung engineering.
The company spent six years and over a hundred million dollars to leverage its OLED display leadership into a new smartphone form factor: the foldable smartphone. The idea was a phone with a flexible OLED display stretched over top of a hinge, allowing the phone to actually fold in half. The device would be smartphone-sized when you wanted a phone and a tablet when you wanted a bigger device.
Once Samsung’s early reviewers got their hands on the device though, numerous dead screens popped up. The causes ranged from dust ingress destroying the screen from the inside to reviewers peeling off the top layer of the screen. Samsung took the device back to the drawing board, and after a few tweaks, it thinks the Fold is ready for the general market.
While Samsung is the undisputed king of sales and distribution in the Android world, the Galaxy Fold does not sound like it will be widely available. First, AT&T is the only carrier supporting this re-launch. Both Verizon and Sprint have never opted to carry the Galaxy Fold, and T-Mobile—which was originally scheduled to carry the device—dropped out after the durability issues cropped up.
Two versions of the phone will be out there, then: an “AT&T” version, and an “Unlocked” version, which you can still bring to whichever carrier you want. Samsung’s press release says the phone will be available at “select AT&T stores, select Best Buy stores, and Samsung Experience Store retail locations.” After reaching out to Samsung, we were told the phone will be sold online at ATT.com and BestBuy.com, too. But it seems like Samsung will not sell the phone directly on its website.
If you do actually choose to spend nearly $2,000 on the Galaxy Fold, you’ll have access to “Galaxy Fold Premier Service,” which Samsung’s press release describes as “an elevated concierge experience to help you explore and grow accustomed to this sophisticated technology.” The release continues “With Galaxy Fold Premier Service, you will have the opportunity to consult with a Fold Concierge who will walk you through the Galaxy Fold, the in-box materials, and the included accessories.” In addition to doing basic setup tasks for you, your “Fold Concierge” will “demonstrate how to use the Galaxy Fold’s key features and will guide you on how to take care of your new device.”
“How to take care of your new device” is probably the main inspiration behind the in-person setup. Some of Samsung’s early reviewers accidentally damaged the phone due to a lack of understanding about how the device was constructed. They removed the top layer of the display thinking it was packaging material, but it turned out to be a critical layer of the display.
After the incident, Samsung said it would add messaging to the Galaxy Fold packaging, and now—with what is probably a very small projected customer base—Samsung will have an actual person walk people through the Dos and Don’ts of babying their new foldable smartphone. The company already posted a “Caring for your Galaxy Fold” video on YouTube, with tips like “Just use a light touch” and “Keep free of water and dust.”
At $2,000, you should probably not buy a Galaxy Fold, but it’s an important first step toward more mature foldable smartphones. Durability is currently an issue, but flexible glass covers should help alleviate that in a few years. The sky-high price is an issue, but again, that’s something the march of technology can solve with time.