Orders went live on AT&T’s and Best Buy’s websites just after midnight 9/27 ET — but you have to pick the device up in a physical store.
Originally published by | SHARA TIBKEN | SEPTEMBER 27, 2019
People in the US can finally get their hands on Samsung’s revamped Galaxy Fold. The electronics giant on Friday started selling two versions of the Galaxy Fold — one model for AT&T’s network and an unlocked variant — nine days after the foldable phone arrived in the UK and Germany, and three weeks after it launched in South Korea.
The AT&T version is available in “select” AT&T and Best Buy stores and at Samsung Experience Store retail locations for $1,980. Best Buy and Samsung’s stores also carry the unlocked version.
It also became available online at att.com and bestbuy.com at 12:01 a.m. ET, though notably not directly from Samsung. You also can’t get the device shipped to your home. Even if you order online, you’re required to meet with a store rep to get the Fold.
For AT&T, customers in eligible markets can place an order for the device online starting at 12:01 a.m. ET and schedule an in-store pickup in one of the hundreds of areas it’s available. In markets that offer AT&T Ready to Go, you can order the device online and have it brought to you. San Francisco is one of those markets. You place your order online and then set up the time and location for an AT&T rep to meet you and set up your Fold.
Samsung’s Galaxy Fold runs on 4G LTE networks, unlike the models sold in Europe and Korea, which can tap into the super-fast 5G networks in those regions. It will be available in only two colors — space silver and cosmos black — not the flashy finishes originally planned. Samsung originally unveiled four colors of the Galaxy Fold, including martian green and astro blue.
To help Fold buyers, Samsung created a new customer service program called Galaxy Fold Premier Service. It gives Fold purchasers access to Samsung experts who can provide tailored guidance and support at any time, any day. It’s also likely why you can’t have a Fold shipped to your home.
Fold users can tap into the support through a dedicated phone number, video chat or by scheduling an in-person appointment. They can get a walk-through of the device, its accessories, and features, learn about the best way to care for the Fold, and get support to move content from their existing phones. After the initial walk-through, Fold owners can later connect with service specialists “in a way that’s most convenient for them for support anytime.”
Samsung worked on foldable displays for years before showing anything to the public. It demonstrated a flexible OLED screen at CES 2013 and gave the first glimpse of the Galaxy Fold at its developer conference late last year. It officially unveiled the Galaxy Fold at the beginning of its Unpacked Galaxy S10 launch in February and planned to launch it April 26.
The Galaxy Fold has a 4.6-inch display when folded and a separate 7.3-inch display when unfolded into a tablet. You’ll be able to start using apps like Flipboard on the small, front display and then pick up where you left off when moving to the big, inside display.
But after using the device for only days — or, in some cases, hours — during a short review period in mid-April, several technology journalists reported issues with their devices. Some peeled off a thin top layer on the display, which was an essential protective coating, not a removable screen protector. Others had detritus get under the screen itself, causing bumps and bulges. Samsung canceled the release date to explore what happened.
In late July, Samsung said the Galaxy Fold would hit the market in September.
At IFA in Berlin in early September, Samsung showed the Fold to some reporters and explained the alterations it made to prevent problems. CNET reviewer Jessica Dolcourt said the revamped Fold “feels more complete somehow.”Galaxy Fold redesign: Here’s how Samsung fixed its foldable phone29 PHOTOS
Samsung extended the screen’s protective top layer beyond the bezel, “making it apparent that it is an integral part of the display structure.” It added “reinforcements” to keep debris from getting under the screen, while new “protection caps” strengthen the top and bottom of the hinge area. Samsung also added reinforcements beneath the Infinity Flex Display, likely to make the plastic screen stiffer, and it reduced the air gap between the Fold’s body and hinge.
While there haven’t been a flood of complaints about the phone in places like the UK or South Korea, a reviewer from TechCrunch spotted a defect after using his revamped model for only a day. Samsung said that it encourages “Galaxy Fold owners to read the care instructions included in the box and in the product manual available online. Products used within these guidelines are covered under warranty.”
Samsung — and pretty much everyone else — is having a tough time selling high-end devices. Phone prices are increasing, and people are upgrading less often. If someone’s buying a $1,000 phone with all the bells and whistles they can imagine, they tend to hold onto it longer than before. In the US, consumers now upgrade to a new model about every three years instead of every two. At the same time, software updates make old phones feel new, hardware designs aren’t changing much from year to year and less expensive devices are getting features previously found only in pricey flagship phones.
Foldable devices and 5G are seen as two things that could revitalize the smartphone market. They’re both viewed as the future of mobile, even though the rollouts haven’t been smooth. This year, the Fold is mostly for early adopters who want to play with the absolute cutting edge innovations in mobile. Eventually, foldable displays will move down the lineup and drop in price, becoming an option for more of us.