Samsung Galaxy Fold5: The First 48 hours hands on – OnMSFT.com

Samsung Galaxy Fold5: The First 48 hours hands on – OnMSFT.com

OnMSFT was given a review unit of the Samsung Galaxy Fold5 a couple of days ago and here are some of my first impressions of the device after using it with my main sim for the first 48 hours.

By now, there have been 20 million takes smattered across the internet regarding Samsung’s fifth iteration of its flagship folding phone the Samsung Galaxy Fold5, so let’s make it twenty million and one with what my two cents added.

Unboxing

I’ve dabbled with Samsung’s smartphone offerings on and off over the past fifteen years and it’s hard not to note the degradation in presentation and packaging as each year rolls by. Samsung has “optimized” its packaging to such a degree with the Galaxy Fold5 that some might miss the fact that a charging cord is neatly tucked into the bottom side of single piece of black cardboard.

Beyond the phone, single USB-C charging cord, a pin-eject tool for the sim card slot and some instructional paperwork, there isn’t much else to talk about.

Everything is neatly wrapped, tucked, and folded to within centimeters of its life and the phone is placed front and center in the box unfolded.

Look and Feel

In the hand, the Fold5 feels every bit as premium as its $1,799 price tag. The weight of the Fold5 is evenly distributed across the surface when unfolded but can feel oddly unwieldly when closed, especially for anyone coming from a flatter single screen slab phone.

OnMSFT was given the Phantom Black model and it’s a sleek two-tone color pallet contrasting a glossy black screen when the phone is off. The polished edges surrounding the phone are a nice accent to the devices feel in the hand.

Despite the matte finish on the back of the phone, the Fold5 feels slippery when closed.

The Fold5 is the first folding phone (the entire category should be renamed to closables!) I’ve handled from the company for any extended period, but I’m told the hinge is improved. From my cursory use, it’s just as nice as the device I’ll be holding all closing phones to, the Surface Duo. The rigidity of the hinge is smooth and constant through most of the unfolding experience. At around 170-degrees the phone will just “pop” into place and go completely flat.

Both screens are very vivid in color, and the refresh rate does a lot to help the entire touch experience feel much smoother than the Duo and even my Galaxy S22.

The main screen, as Samsung has dubbed it, is still covered in a plastic film for protection, but feels sleek enough to fool the fingers into believing it’s just lumpy glass when scrolling over the hinge-gap area.

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Around the sides of the Fold5 are the power and volume button that are positioned as they are on most traditional Samsung phones with the volume rockers sitting over the power button. Moving away from the in-screen fingerprint reader back to a power/fingerprint combo comes with its own learning curve but having to push the power button to activate the fingerprint reader takes another step, especially when there is an additional level of obstruction that is the edge of the outside screen that rest right above it.

The cameras protrude about 5mm off the back of the device and feel very pronounced. I’ve begun to use the camera arrangement as a form of smartphone braille that informs me when the phone is in the most upright vertical position the device can be when trying to get that Surface Duo or Pixel fold landscape feel.

The resolution on the Fold5 is high on both screens but due to the aspect ratio on the outer screen, out of the box elements can appear small for users who are accustomed to larger surface areas to display their content.

Performance

This is my first encounter with a device powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC, but when comparing the Fold5 to my Galaxy S22, there is a very noticeable improvement in how fast apps open and reopen, and connectivity.

The 120Hz refresh rates on both the main screen and the outer one put the Surface Duo to shame, but overall, the Android experience is the same, sans a few screen freezes on the Duo when a resources intensive app is open.

What I was most looking forward to comparing was the split screen nature of the Fold5 compared to the Duo and as advertised, Samsung’s offering delivers a really enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, it isn’t as effortless as the Duo that automatically places apps on either side of the screen, instead Fold5 requires a bit more of manual process to sort and place apps on the screen, as overcoming a learning curve for triple and floating app process.

Another thing for first time Fold users to get acquainted with is the gestures and the dock Samsung built into the software for the Fold5. Knowing when and where to swipe up when there are two apps display can feel a bit like whack-a-mole for the amateur Fold5 user.

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While I’m still getting used to the software, another pleasant surprise was the battery life. While it almost feels like a crutch these days for Android users to say their devices need a week to establish battery life metrics, it does feel like a reality with most modern devices. However, out of the box, I get about an hour more use out of the Fold5 over my S22 and about an hour and half over the Duo.

I’m not sure who to credit with this nice bump in battery life, be it the latest Qualcomm chip or Samsung’s optimizations but either way I’m appreciative of the amount of “extra” time I get to play with the Fold5 each day.

We’ll see if this improves in the weeks to come or if this is the standard expectancy out of the box for the Fold5’s battery life.

That’s it for now, but stay tuned for a full review!

Initial Thoughts

The Fold5 so far takes some getting used, as someone coming from a slab phone and even the dual screen Surface Duo. The aspect ratio doesn’t feel native to one handed use until you’re forced to confront the reality of the device and when out and about, that seems to be the best fist-plunge for most. The narrower candy bar proved to be a design that improves one-handed use and reachability.

So far, Fold5 has been full of little surprises, quirks and learning curves for a newbie to the lineup but no game stoppers to be found.

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