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Look closely. That’s a closeup of the new Galaxy Fold, taken at Samsung’s sprawling space at IFA in Berlin. One of the apparently major design upgrades is staring you right in the face. Do you see it?
I don’t either. Last night, Samsung announced that the new and improved Galaxy Fold would go on sale in South Korea on September 6. “During the past several months, Samsung has been refining the Galaxy Fold to ensure it delivers the best possible experience,” the company said in a press release. “Not only we improved the Galaxy Fold’s design and construction, but also took the time to rethink the entire consumer journey.”
When I got to the Samsung press conference, the message was more succinct. There are two visible design updates on the Galaxy Fold, a Samsung rep told me, and you really have to know what you’re looking for. The first one wasn’t impossible to find. Can you spot it?
That little upside-down “T” shape is a new clip that’s supposed to prevent people from peeling the protective film off of the display. (Click to the next image in the slideshow above to see another shot of the same spot on the previous iteration of the device.) This addresses one of the most visually disturbing issues some tech journalists experienced when the first Galaxy Fold review units shipped in April. Many of them thought it was a screen protector and so they just tore the dang thing off, not realizing that they were effectively destroying the phone. Gizmodo’s own Sam Rutherford did not do this and experienced no major durability issues when he reviewed the phone.
Still, having looked closely at the new clips, I do think it would still be possible to rip the screen off. Why anyone would do this to a device that’s sure to cost nearly $2,000 is beyond me, but at least there’s a little bit of hardware in there to discourage such destructive behavior.
The second design upgrade is harder to discern. Can you make it out?
Look right where the hinge meets either side of the device. Samsung says that they’ve reduced the size of the space in between so that dust won’t get into the device. This address another issue experience by some reviewers who noticed little bumps under their Galaxy Fold screens. Some people had their phones short out completely. Apparently, dust was sneaking in and causing problems. Thanks to the tighter design, this problem will hopefully be history. It’s worth pointing out that the Fold still seems eminently breakable. According to Samsung’s website, “Almost all newer Galaxy phones have an IP rating of 68, excluding the Galaxy Fold and the S10 5G.” We’ve asked Samsung about the IP rating on the new Galaxy Fold and will update this post if we hear back.
Other than that, the new Galaxy Fold looks just like the old Galaxy Fold. It’s an impressive device and fun to use! Because I only had a few minutes of supervised hands-on time with the folding phone, I can’t speak to any software tweaks that Samsung has added. And based on my conversation with the Samsung rep, the two design tweaks mentioned above are the only visible changes to the hardware.
The extent to which the Galaxy Fold news felt slight turned out to be a trend at Samsung’s IFA hall. Although the company’s space was roughly the size of an airplane hangar, there just weren’t many new products. Samsung quietly announced a new 55-inch 8K TV that will go on sale in the United States later this year. There’s a new blockchain-friendly Note 10 variant that will come with a preinstalled crypto wallet and related apps. There’s also a 5G version of the Galaxy A10 that will go on sale in Europe this October for €750 euros, which is around €500 cheaper than Samsung’s other 5G phones.
There were a couple of totally new products for the European market worth noting, however. One is a free-standing closet that will also clean your clothes. (It looks a lot like the Whirlpool Swash that I reviewed a few years ago.) Samsung also announced the Cube air purifier. (It looks like a cube and purifies air.) Finally, there’s a new Samsung stick vac that can also polish floors with a special attachment. (It looks like a Dyson knockoff.) Again, these products will only be available in Europe for now.
As for new details on when the Galaxy Fold will come to the United States, we have none. Following the September 6 release in South Korea, the device will go on sale in France, Germany, and Singapore on September 18. There’s a rumor that it will finally come to America on September 27, but that’s not official.
What is official is that the Samsung Galaxy Fold will exist. People will be able to buy it. Undoubtedly, some of these people will find novel ways to break it.