Samsung’s Galaxy Fold arrives in Korea September 6, US in ‘coming weeks’ – gpgmail


Five months after its planned launch, the Samsung Galaxy Fold is finally here. Well, almost. After offering a broad September time frame a few months back, the electronics giant just announced that the foldable foldable phone will be arriving in its native South Korea on September 6. Customers in the U.S. will have to wait a bit longer, with device arriving in “coming weeks.” Ditto for France, Germany, Singapore and the U.K.

The handset will be available in both black and silver options, along with a 5G version of the handset in “select countries,” marking the third Samsung device to offer up the next gen wireless technology.

If you follow the mobile space at all, you’re no doubt familiar with the saga. The company was targeting a spring timeframe for the launch of what is ostensibly the first consumer folding phone. The future, however, didn’t arrive as quickly as Samsung was hoping. Multiple review devices returned to the company broken. After initially blaming reviewers for the problems, the company ultimately accepted responsibility and went back to the drawing board for the 7.3 inch device.

“During the past several months, Samsung has been refining the Galaxy Fold to ensure it delivers the best possible experience,” the company explains. “Not only we improved the Galaxy Fold’s design and construction, but also took the time to rethink the entire consumer journey.”

The company’s clearly spinning this as an “opportunity,” and certainly it dodged a bullet by addressing these problems before releasing the product to consumers. Samsung has already discussed the fixes in previous announcements. The screen protector has been extended to under the bezels, so consumers don’t break the display by mistaking it for a removable laminate. Also, the gaps in the folding mechanism have been tightened, so particles can’t fall behind the screen.

The foldable starts at $2,000 and can currently be preordered through Samsung’s site.


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Report: Samsung Working on Clamshell-Style Foldable Phone


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As Samsung struggles to bring the Galaxy Fold to market, the company is reportedly already working on a new foldable phone with a familiar form factor. According to Bloomberg, Samsung plans to launch a clamshell phone with a more durable flexible OLED. This phone should cost less than the nearly $2,000 Fold, and it will offer a compact square form factor when closed. Clearly, Samsung is counting on the nostalgia factor. 

So, why leave the Fold in the dust already? Clearly, the price is the main stumbling block for the Fold, guaranteeing it won’t sell many units. Even the best flat phones are barely half as expensive, and the Fold got plenty of negative press after several early review units failed after several days of use. The Fold is also a giant brick of a phone thanks to the tablet-like 7.3-inch folding OLED. It also leverages new Android features that developers have barely acknowledged. It will look and feel like an experiment. 

Samsung is said to be working with designer Thom Brown to make its new foldable a device that has broader appeal than the Galaxy Fold. The chassis will be thinner than the Fold, making it easier to drop in a pocket. When folded, it will be roughly square. When open, it will have a standard smartphone display ratio. Therefore, developers won’t have to fiddle with multi-window features just to make their apps work properly on the phone. 

While the smartphone market in most markets has moved to the flat glass slab, there are still some places where clamshell phones never died. It’s common for companies like Samsung and Sharp to make giant Android-powered flip phones for Japan and Korea. Those phones have a single internal display, though. Samsung’s rumored foldable would include a large 6.7-inch OLED panel covering both “halves” of the flip. Samsung is reportedly exploring a new generation of flexible glass that’s just 3 percent as thick as conventional Gorilla Glass on smartphones. This could avoid some of the durability issues expected with plastic-wrapped foldable OLEDs. 

moto-fold 2

A rumored Motorola phone may have a similar form factor to the phone Samsung is working on.

The report says this phone will include a hole-punch camera at the top of the inner display. There will also be a pair of main sensors on the back. However, those cameras face front when the clamshell is closed. Assuming there’s a small external screen like the clamshells of old, users should be able to take higher-quality selfies when the phone is closed. 

Samsung has refused to comment on the report, which isn’t surprising. It will re-launch the Galaxy Fold in the coming weeks, so it doesn’t want to talk about a potentially better, cheaper foldable right now.

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Huawei’s Folding Phone Delayed Until Late This Year


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Huawei’s no good, very bad year continues to get worse. The company came into 2019 with a growing market share and some impressive technology. Huawei unveiled a folding phone just a few weeks after Samsung, and most would agree the Huawei mate X looked much sleeker than the Samsung Galaxy Fold. Now, Huawei is staring down the barrel of a politically motivated technology export ban, and the Mate X is taking longer than expected to finish. The company now says the phone won’t launch until late this year. 

The Mate X was the second “real” folding Android phone. There have been uncountable trade show demos and sketchy developers devices like the FlexPai, but Huawei promised to sell the Mate X to consumers. And it looked gorgeous, unlike the clunky Galaxy Fold. When flattened out, the phone offers an 8-inch display. The Mate X folded outward, so the single flexible OLED covered the front and back of the device. 

Huawei initially wanted to launch the Mate X in June, which was an ambitious timeline that would have put it up against Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. Of course, the Galaxy Fold famously disintegrated in reviews’ hands last spring. Samsung hurriedly recalled the devices and set to work retooling the device, which still hasn’t launched. 

While Huawei never specifically cited the Galaxy Fold’s issues, it delayed the launch of the Mate X soon after Samsung pulled the device. At the time, Huawei floated September as the new launch timeframe, but the company has announced at an event in its sprawling Chinese HQ that, no, the phone will not be ready next month. 

633956-huawei-mate-x-foldable-phone

Huawei continues to work on devices like foldable phones, even as its devices are all-but-shut-out of the US market.

The company still thinks the device will come out this year and leaves the door open to a “launch between September and November 2019.” The later timeframe seems more likely from what Huawei representatives have said when not restrained by PR. Part of the issue may be Huawei’s relationship with Google, which hangs in limbo as the government drags its feet on granting special export licenses. 

It sounds like Huawei is trying to give itself some breathing room as it decides how to approach the Fold. It’s not even certain that Samsung’s design tweaks will make that device sufficiently robust, and Huawei doesn’t need any more negative press. The last thing Huawei needs is the president making fun of its broken phone on Twitter.

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The Galaxy Note 10+’s Display Is Practically Perfect, but Does That Matter Anymore?


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Ever since Apple unleashed the term “Retina Display” upon the world, smartphone manufacturers have been laser-focused on improving display technology. In the beginning, these gains absolutely mattered. A lot of ink was spilled (some of it by yours truly) on the difference between OLEDs and LCDs, or PenTile subpixel arrangements versus the traditional RGB.

In the end, OLED won the high-end smartphone display race. LCDs continue to be used in some models, of course, including Apple’s iPhone XR, but OLED technology has won the day in high-end displays. At DisplayMate, display technology expert Dr. Raymond Soneira has written a shoot-out on Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10+, and declared it the best phone display he’s measured to-date. The question is, does anyone really care any longer?

According to Dr. Soneira, the Note 10+’s display has “has again raised the bar significantly higher.” But the significance of that movement as a whole has never looked more tenuous. Consider how close the Note 10+ ranks against the S10, the display Samsung launched earlier this year. Data below drawn from the Galaxy Note 10+ and Galaxy S10 display reviews:

Note 10+ versus S10

Data by Dr. Raymond Soneira, chart by ExtremeTech

We’ve created this chart using the metrics Dr. Soneira declares are most significant for each display. As you can see, the Note 10+ and the S10 displays are extremely similar. This is not a bad thing on the face of it — both the Note 10+ and S10 are recognized as having an excellent panel to begin with. Dr. Soneira declares that the shift in color accuracy and intensity values for both the Note 10+ and S10 are record-setting. While there’s a numerical difference between the two, the value is below 1 in both cases, which means it’s visually indistinguishable from perfect. The fact that we’re literally measuring differences that humans can’t visually perceive tells you something about how far down the rabbit hole device manufacturers have gone already.

As Dr. Soneira notes in his evaluation of resolutions, moving to 4K over 3K in a panel this small does not provide a noticeable improvement. He states, “As a result, it is absolutely pointless to further increase the display resolution and pixels per inch (ppi) for a marketing wild goose chase into the stratosphere, with no visual benefit for humans!” We may have hit this point in more ways than one. Reading over the Note’s performance, it’s one “excellent” score after another. The iPhone XS and S10 are scarcely different. It’s not that there are literally no differences in the designs of these screens, but that the differences have shrunk to virtually nothing. The major chatter these days is on when Android vendors will adopt panels with high refresh rates, because moving to 90-120Hz makes a display feel faster than a 60Hz equivalent.

Even so, screens don’t really feel like the upgrade-drivers that they once were. There was a time when a faster phone, better panel, and sharper image combined to make a new iteration of Android or iOS feel like a reinvention of mobile computing, especially if you skipped several OS versions at once. The strength of this effect obviously depended on when you upgraded — some Android and iOS versions have overhauled the UX more than others — but the boost used to be significant. Larger devices may have also indirectly helped with this — if you went from a 4-inch panel to a 5.5-inch or even 6-inch display, you obviously got a very different experience in that regard as well.

For all the hubbub over foldable displays in 2019, it seems telling that the most interesting and important aspect of the panel is a trait that has nothing to do with its actual ability to display an image. In 2012, the hottest thing in smartphone displays was a phone that could display a crisp, sharp picture. In 2019, the hottest thing in smartphone displays is a phone that can fold like a washcloth (until it breaks). Apart from faster refresh rates, smartphones seem to be topping out against the limits of human visual perception if nothing else. The enduring problems of smartphones, like the difficulty of reading them outdoors, are intrinsically difficult to overcome. The Sun, being powered by nuclear fusion, has a distinct performance advantage over the hapless OLED screen attempting to outshine it. Incremental improvements in JNCD, viewing angles, and reflection certainly seem possible, but these gains are all subject to diminishing marginal returns.

This leads to an odd scenario: The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ may indeed have the best screen you can buy today, but I’m less certain than ever that this empirical observation will lead to additional sales. Much of the conversation around the phone has debated whether or not(e) it should even exist with the extremely-similar S10 on the market, though stylus lovers continue to defend it.

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