Samsung has made a pretty consistent habit of staying at the very helm of display tech. Mobile panels in particular. The pair of displays on the Galaxy Fold is no exception and really stand out in more ways than one. There is plenty to love about the vast 7.3-inch flexible panel beyond the fact it can close on itself.
Once that becomes less of a novelty, which is inevitable at some point, you are still left with a very capable panel. One with a 4.2:3 aspect ratio for superior productivity and also one that wears Samsung's new "Dynamic AMOLED" moniker proudly and does it justice.
Blacks on the inside display are nearly perfect, with just a slight bit of reflection added by some of the top layers of the flexible panel. Those very same layers that certain people were rather eager to try and scrape off on the original hardware revision of the Fold.
Samsung has tweaked the design in a few minor but important ways this time around, basically tucking the top layers of the panel underneath the front bezel. This probably helped decrease the minor light reflection we are referring to even further. The Fold delivers the same infinite contrast and deep blacks we have come to expect from Samsung OLED technology.
With such a radical change in the underlying construct of the panel itself, plus the added handicap of being a first-generation product, one would think that Samsung's generation one foldable panels would come with some notable drawbacks.
Yet, here we are, genuinely enjoying pretty much every traditional aspect of the phone's panel instead of trying to justify certain shortcomings as a necessary sacrifice for the futuristic form factor.
We never felt strapped for brightness. It's just worth pointing out this scren does not get as bright as other Samsung displays, like the one on the Galaxy S10 and its 800 nits of white light. The main drawback and concern, however, is the crease.
We are absolutely certain that it grew in both size and intensity during our time using the Fold. However, only to a certain point. Of course, the question still stands as to how well it will fair under, let's say a year of actual real-world use.
After a month or so, we found the Fold had mostly settled in one stable, for the lack of a better word, state of its crease. There are certain areas along the vertical line that have more pronounced grooves than other. But, on the plus side, these seem to stay constant in their non-uniformity. We really hope these sentences make sense.
And while we are still on the topic of scratch-resistance of the internal display, we are already well-aware that the surface is rather soft out of necessity and that it's way more susceptible to scratching than your traditional Gorilla Glass or otherwise tempered glass.
This surface also has more friction to it and makes for a noticeably less fluent sliding and swiping experience. The closest thing we can liken it to is an older-style resistive touch screen. One you don't really have to push in for the touch detection to work, though.
The foldable panel is also a magnet for smudges and grease. Noticeably more so than a glass surface.
Plus, once you actually start using the Fold and carry it in your pocket, it ends up accumulating large amounts of dust and lint very quickly. Our working theory on the matter is that it has something to do with the accumulation of static electricity, combined with the convenient little air gap that the hinge design leaves for all sorts of things to get through.
We quickly got into the habit of cleaning the display using both a microfiber cloth and a degreasing spray for glasses. Skipping on one of these will definitely result in scratches on the surface sooner or later. Of course, if you don't care about any of that, you can just rub the Fold against your shirt or pants. Even if that is the case, you will find yourself doing so a lot more frequent than most other smartphones due to the quick accumulation of dirt. Whichever way you slice it, it's one extra thing you have to worry about.
We also feel obliged to point out that the "jelly" wobbling effect sometimes seen on OLED panels in certain conditions - low brightness and a transition from black to grey is quite apparent on the huge panel on the Fold. The main issue is that in its "standard," vertical, book-like orientation, the panel ends up refreshing from left to right rather than top to bottom. This, combined with the relatively slow black-to-grey response time, intensifies the wobbly scrolling effect even further. Annoying - definitely, but not a deal-breaker by any means.
The external 4.6-inch display on the Fold is no slouch either. It isn't quite as fancy in tech terms as its folding sibling, bearing the older Super AMOLED branding. Thanks to its more traditional construction, the skinny 21:9 display gets a solid glass surface and the piece of mind that comes with that. It also has a more respectable maximum brightness of 620 nits.
Samsung has also clearly put in the effort to calibrate the two panels to look as close as possible in terms of color reproduction, while also being impressively well-calibrated on their own.
The Galaxy Fold has a pretty decent 4,380mAh battery to work with. "Decent" here is our best effort to take into account the new form factor and increased number and footprint of displays on the device. Without a frame of reference, it is really hard to say whether the 90 hours of endurance the Fold managed in our official test are any good or not. What we can comment on is the actual real-world usability of the Fold, and it is rather impressive. I can easily get through two full days on a single charge and even have about 25% left over. If I make a point of sticking to the external display as much as possible, I can bump that up to 3 days or a whopping 72 hours with as much as 20% left at the end.
Since this is not much of a metric without any info on my typical use case, here it is in short. I tend to run quite a few apps on my phone, including sketchy Chinese companion apps for various accessories. Also, quite a few services run in the background for things like my smart home devices. I also tend to get a large number of notifications. Let's say a couple of hundred a day, including all the IMs and emails. On the flip side, I tend to have very low actual screen on times. I don't play games, nor watch video on my phone. Rarely do I stream music off Spotify.
My unique kind of passive drain was probably part of the reason why I managed to squeeze three days out of a single charge. Your mileage will probably vary if you are heavy on the internal display, especially if you don't take care to mostly switch your apps and UIs to darker shades for power savings. Still, in my book, three days is a massive accomplishment. One I can't get anywhere near on the Galaxy Note9.
As for charging, this might be a controversial opinion, but I believe Samsung's Adaptive Fast Charging is quick enough with its 15W. It charges the Fold from flat to full in 1:50h with the battery indicator showing 37% at the half-hour mark - so not really all that bad, especially considering the big battery. Plus, you don't run the added risk of prematurely degrading your battery with a more powerful Quick Charge-style scheme.
And a side note. Since the Fold has two physical batteries inside making up that 4,380mAh total capacity together, so it seems like kind of a missed opportunity on Samsung's part not to try their hand at a VOOC-style parallel charging scheme. Just food for thought.