When Samsung’s first foldable phone, the Galaxy Fold was soft-launched earlier this year and provided to a number of professional reviewers, there was an almost instant backlash because of issues with build quality, design and durability which soon became apparent in a very public way.
This pseudo-scandal caused the South Korean manufacturer to shelve its original release plans and instead take more time to work on the Galaxy Fold in order to address some of the more significant issues.
Now, several months later, the Fold is officially available to buy, albeit across the pond in North America. But does this updated version pack enough improvements to make it worth getting excited about, or should any prospective owner get the best gadget insurance before they pre-order so that they are protected against potential longer-term problems?
The fully flexible screen, which allows the fold to open and close like a book, is fronted with a plastic layer designed to protect it and to help with touch detection. This is an essential component, yet one which was removed accidentally by a number of reviewers of the original preview units. To combat this, Samsung has added a rim of plastic that runs around the entire bezel, keeping the edge of the protector away from prying fingers and thus pre-empting any attempts to remove it.
Warnings have also been added in the box to ensure that there is no ambiguity as to the use of the phone and its components and indicating the extent of the damage which might otherwise occur.
Another of the issues with the original Fold was the likelihood that dirt and dust would get in at the hinges on either end.
An additional shield has been integrated at these points of ingress, although some early reviews have pointed out that it remains entirely possible for tiny bits of detritus to get in, so taking this phone to the beach is a definite no-no.
Even in its revised guise, the Samsung Galaxy Fold has remained subject to a degree of criticism based upon early experiences which have been widely publicised online.
For example, the hinge and the central pivot point around which the entire phone can flex still leaves a notable crease in the display. This is likely to remain an unavoidable issue, although one which does mean that the seamlessness of the Galaxy Fold is compromised when it is not in its folded position.
Some reports also suggest that certain units are shipping with screens that are compromised by pixels that are either stuck or entirely dead, raising questions as to the reliability of the display in the long term if there are already faults apparent right out of the box.
All of these complications are noteworthy because of the price of the Galaxy Fold, which costs the equivalent of £1800 and which therefore deserves to be scrutinised rather more closely than handsets at mass-market price points. For the time being, the era of reliable, mainstream foldable phones seems some way off.