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Galaxy Fold: Life with the screen crease, notch and air gap

Galaxy Fold without the screen. Unlike other phones, where screens are an afterthought to camera quality and battery life, Samsung designed the entire phone around the fact that its display bends in half. The perils of foldable phone design are sucking up all the oxygen in the room, after five early production Galaxy Fold review units experienced major problems . That's important, but so is the Fold's screen on a working model like mine.

Before the Galaxy Fold screens started breaking, it was the plastic crease running down the center of the fold that caused the most hand-twisting. How bad did it really look? Would it be over time? Started to take down the fold and get rid of it before the foldable phones have really started.

Let's also remember the notch. The thick thumb-shaped cut-out housing two front-facing cameras and two sensors inspired when Samsung first showed off the Fold prototype in late February.

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People also had words about the air gap, the little loop of open space at the Fold's, which is more than the end of the screen pages.

Having used the fold every day for over a week, I wanted to address three of your biggest concerns and share what they really like. Let's start with the crease.

The crease isn't as bad as it seems

The second you open the phone, you'll notice the crease. It dips into a little and catches the light. I noticed most of it on white or black screens, but when you're immersed in something – a movie, an article, a game – the crease becomes much less in-your-face. That's partly because you stop concentrating on it so intently, and partly because it's less apparent than pixels light up and change.

You can also see the increase, or more accurately, when you run your finger down or across the screen. Sensing its presence is not the same as the crease disrupting or distracting me from what I'm doing. That never happened to me, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility that it could be dragged into some specific scenarios.


Angela Lang / CNET

Just remember it's there because this is where the fold folds. I do not know how you should have a phone with us, at least with the materials we have now. Can you imagine a piece of glass folding in half and then unfolding? I can't.

Other foldable designs like the Huawei Mate X which puts the foldable screen on the outside of the device, have the opposite issue – not a "crease" but a bulge. I like it to the skin around your knee or elbow. A foldable screen is a joint.

Creases and bulges don't feel elegant or premium, but they're inevitable at this point. The only solution to this is that there is a futuristic material that rearranges molecules as you open and close the device.


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The air gap is related to the crease

Another thing the Fold doesn't have is close perfectly flat. There's an air gap on the end closest to the one and that's because … the plastic screen doesn't really stack on top of itself. Perhaps that really does cause the plastic to snap.

I didn't find that gap made the fold too awkward to stick in my pocket or purse. It's a lot of space to insert a credit card. When I did it, and then another, they held in place, but mostly because the Fold's magnetic edges kept it there. I wouldn't be able to slide in a pen.

Huawei boasts that its Mate X flat because of its superior "Falcon" hinge, but there's some clever engineering. there, too. The Mate X has a swoop on the page and "asymmetrical" screen lengths. It also gives you a grip on the phone, but it's a design workaround to the battery, cameras and other rigid electronics in an unmoving part. Still, it could be very good solution. We'll see when we spend more than 5 minutes with that foldable phone.

OK, the notch is a problem

Unlike the other screen groups, I actually think Samsung could have designed around the notch. It's thick, bulbous and takes up more space than it really needs to consider that it's only two camera lenses and two stacked sensors. Hold the fold up to the light and you see the dead space off to the right.

When you watch videos and play games, the notch slopes out onto the screen. You will not have a crucial stage or moment since the activity takes place in the center of the display and not on the edges, but there really is no need for the notch to be so big.

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Oh noch, why must you be so big?

Angela Lang / CNET

The logic here seems to be that Samsung wanted to center the cameras to the crease without having to fold the camera sensors over each other. I suspect Samsung extended the notch to the right edge because it looked less awkward than cutting it off and leaving you with an uncentered island of a notch.

Again, Huawei gets around this on the Mate X by putting all the cameras in a stack on the Mate X that doesn't move.


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If you don't like the notch, Samsung has the good grace to let you black it out in the settings menu. This creates a thicker bar at the top of the screen. When you open some apps, including YouTube, the screen in line with the notch blacks out anyway, leaving thick bars along the top and bottom (because the app can't fully resize in the Fold's dimensions). This does somewhat cut off the full-screen experience, which is a big point of the fold in the first place.

The best thing to keep in mind is that this first wave of foldable phones is laying the groundwork for a fire. new type of device, one that will be much more complicated than the phone in your pocket today.

The Fold may be flawed, even when it's working well, but Samsung and others can learn from the Fold's mistakes to create the foldable phone you'll really want.

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