Christmas is a great time of year for gadget lovers. Shelves groan under the weight of all things costly, cool and quirky and, dare I say it, usually unnecessary. That doesn't stop us adding them to our Santa wishlists.
It's the perfect time of year then to unleash the 'improved' Samsung Fold on the New Zealand market. It's apparently more durable, after overseas reports earlier this year said it was too fragile.
The very hefty price tag (NZ$3,399) of this folding phone might burn a hole in your pocket, but the device itself is far too weighty to fall out without you noticing. Owning one will be so unusual, it's the perfect conversation starter for all those festive parties. It might even land you under the mistletoe
But should you be buying one when Samsung has so many other cool - and arguably more usable - phones to choose from? After getting my hands on a review unit, here's what I've found to help you decide.
- Has a novelty factor that's hard to beat
- Cameras are great
- Good for multi-tasking
- Bulky when folded
- Making calls is awkward
- Very expensive
The Fold's 4.6 inch outside cover display is protected by glass, while the foldable 7.3 inch display on the inside is protected by plastic.
It opens like a book with a dual axis hinge which prevents the bendable screen from extending past 180-degrees. When it closes, it does so with a rather snappy magnetic click.
For some the crease on the display will be a bit weird, but after a minute or two it's easy to forget about it - and it doesn't really spoil the enjoyment of watching videos etc.
The fingerprint scanner and power button, which is also the Bixby button, and volume keys are on the side of the device. I found the fingerprint scanner in an awkard place and difficult to use. The facial recognition feature is better.
The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 855 processor and runs a version of Android 9 Pie that has been optimised for a folding phone.
I liked the way you can launch an app from the closed phone display and then also have it in a bigger version in full screen once the the Fold has been opened. Great for looking at things like maps.
The size also makes it good for multi-tasking and three app windows can be worked in at the same time when the device is unfolded.
Web browsing is great on this phone and playing games and watching videos were also a pleasure.
The phone's pretty but its shiny surface and sheer size means it's quite slippery to hold and when opened out, it feels like you're holding a small tablet. I've got reasonably small hands and didn't find it the device that easy to use with one hand when opened out.
A phone has to be good for making calls and for me, this where the Fold fell down - especially as I like to hold it up to my ear rather than use headphones or talk on loudspeaker. When opened it supports video and speaker calls. When closed and pressed up against the side of your head, it's a wee bit clunky and not so cool.
Text messaging was also a bit awkward. To type I needed to hold it with both hands.
As to be expected with a Samsung high-end phone, the cameras are great. There are six lenses including dual 10-megapixels and 8-megapixel cameras facing forward when the phone is unfolded, a triple-lens set up on the back made up of wide, ultrawide and telephoto lenses and a 10 megapixel selfie cam camera.
I found that taking photos with this phone was a bit like taking one with a tablet. A tad unwieldy but you've got a lovely big screen to set up and view your shot.
The device ships with a very fully-on warning label which goes as follows: "Do not press the screen with a hard or sharp object, such as a pen or fingernail. Do not place cards, coins or keys on the screen. Do not expose the phone to liquids or small particles…."
All a bit worrying for a handbag-wielding woman who throws everything in her seemingly bottomless pit with abandon, but Samsung are probably right to be a little careful with their warnings, given the first overseas launch of the Samsung Fold earlier this year didn't go so well.
So gadget lovers, is this phone worth it? I certainly enjoyed testing it but with so many other strong phones made by Samsung, I'm not that sad to give this one back. For the novelty factor though, this can't be beaten.
Pre-ordering starts Monday 9 December, with the Samsung Galaxy Fold on general sale December 18.