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On April 26th, a smartphone that Samsung has worked on for close to a decade will hit the market. This smartphone is also a tablet: the Galaxy Fold literally unfolds from a smartphone into a tablet.
In its folded form, the phone resembles a book. In this case, the book’s cover is a 4.6-inch phone screen, and its back cover is where the phone camera is located, as with standard smartphones. Analogous to the book’s pages is the 7.3-inch tablet screen that can be used by unfolding the smartphone. Watch the Fold convert from a phone to a tablet in this video.
Since this device is the first of its kind — a smartphone and a tablet in one — it won’t be cheap to buy. It will retail for $1,980, a price that isn’t rooted in solely the device’s shapeshifting nature: the Galaxy Fold includes 12GB of RAM and an absolutely massive 512GB of storage, and it boasts a total of six cameras. Three cameras can be found on the back of the device, two are located on the tablet screen, and the final one is a standard selfie camera on the phone side’s front screen.
The Galaxy Fold might not be the only folding smartphone-tablet hybrid arriving in the coming months. Hauwei, the second-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, announced its own folding smartphone-tablet hybrid, the Mate X, at the 2019 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Royole, another smartphone developer, prototyped a hybrid known as the FlexPai in 2018, although this prototype currently has no final version scheduled for release. Rumors are swirling that Apple could launch its own folding smartphone-tablet hybrid in the next couple of years.
The arrival of the Galaxy Fold and its competitors comes thanks to one long-awaited scientific breakthrough. Over the last few years, Samsung has led innovation in the field of curved screens, such as that on its Galaxy S9 smartphone series. Its curved screen offerings are rooted in flexible OLED technology. Until just recently, Samsung was unable to figure out how to use this technology to design folding screens such as that in the Galaxy Fold. The new device represents the company’s long-sought success in this quest.
Since the Galaxy Fold hasn’t quite yet become available to consumers, much of the conversation about it concerns how it will perform compared to its $2,600 Hauwei rival. The Mate X operates differently than the Galaxy Fold does and offers a different vision for the future of smartphone-tablet hybrids than Samsung has.
Whereas the Galaxy Fold’s 4.6-inch mobile screen unfolds to become the back of the interior 7.3-inch tablet screen, the Mate X uses its exterior screen in three different modes. Although the Galaxy Fold has two more cameras than the Mate X does, the latter device is only available in 5G, whereas the Fold will be offered in both 4G and 5G; furthermore, the Galaxy Fold won’t lie completely flat on a surface in its tablet form, whereas Hauwei claims the Mate X will.
Whether someone interested in buying a smartphone-tablet hybrid opts for the Mate X or the Galaxy Fold, one thing is clear: long-awaited, revolutionary technology is on its way to consumers, but, for now, it will come at a rather large price.