This year is officially the year when foldable phones are taking the stage in earnest. At MWC 2019 for instance, which just wrapped Thursday, we learned about a bunch of new foldable phone ambitions from Huawei, TCL and Motorola. And while Samsung isn’t the first to release a mass-market foldable phone (that honor would go to the Royole FlexPai), it certainly is the biggest name to throw its hat in the ring.
That’s why when Samsung introduced its Galaxy Fold at Unpacked earlier this month, it stole most of the spotlight from the other four(!) phones the company announced there as well (including a 5G phone). Though many are intrigued by the Galaxy Fold, not many will be able to buy it given its price, uncommon design and limited availability. Instead, Samsung’s steadfast flagship, the Galaxy S10, will likely be the Galaxy phone most people will purchase.
Still, we wouldn’t blame you if you were seriously considering both devices. The Galaxy S10 may be reliable and familiar, but the Fold represents the bold and exciting. Read on to see other ways these two phones differ in key ways.
Design: Galaxy Fold ushers in a new era
The biggest difference between the two Galaxy phones is the design. While Samsung tweaked the Galaxy S10’s design a bit compared to the S9 (more on that later), the Galaxy Fold represents a new form factor altogether.
The Fold, if it’s not obvious already by its name, has a foldable OLED screen. When closed it has a secondary 4.6-inch display that serves as its “cover,” with all the usual features you’d expect on a phone. When you’re ready for something bigger, the Fold opens up hot-dog-style like a book to a 7.3-inch tablet.
To achieve this design with no visible line across the screen, the Fold has what the company calls the “Infinity Flex Display.” Essentially made out of a fancy plastic material, the screen can flex and fold hundreds of times without breaking. With the help of Google’s OS, apps will switch smoothly between display sizes as well.
The Galaxy S10, on the other hand, adopts a more traditional phone look. Though the design is familiar it’s not exactly dull — it still has a sleek glass encasing and slimmer bezels make the display even bigger from its predecessor (from 5.6 to 6.1 inches). It also comes in an array of new colors (though not all are available to every market), including a vibrant yellow, pink and an iridescent white.
Camera: Multiple cameras everywhere
The Galaxy S10 has a total of four cameras, which to many casual users is quite enough, thank you very much. There are three cameras in the back and one in the front. The rear setup includes an ultra-wide-angle, a wide-angle and telephoto lenses while the front has a 10-megapixel camera.
The Fold, meanwhile, has a total of six cameras. Six does sound like camera overkill, but if the idea is that users should be able to take a picture no matter what configuration the phone is in, it sort of makes sense why the Fold has so many.
On the back, the Fold has the same triple-camera setup as the Galaxy S10. The camera on the front is a single 10-megapixel camera as well. When you open the Fold in its tablet form, there you will two additional cameras inside: a selfie camera and an 8-megapixel depth camera.
This second camera is used for depth sensing, meaning it will use the second lens, not software algorithms, to render a portrait image with the blurred, depth-of-field effect.
Price: From expensive to extremely expensive. Fun!
When Samsung unveiled the Note 9 last year, many balked at the $1,000 price tag (£899 and AU$1,499). But then the Galaxy Fold came along, said, “Hold my beer,” and revealed itself to cost a whopping $1,980 (about £1,500 or AU$2,800).
In some ways it’s understandable why the Fold costs so much. The novel design, two screens, handful of cameras and bigger battery add up. Indeed, now that people are holding onto their phones longer, such an innovative look may be enough for users to justify an expensive upgrade these days. In the end, it’s also as if you have two products: a phone and a tablet in one.
But the reality for most users is that they can’t afford, or would be too afraid to use, a $2,000 phone. For that kind of money you can go through two generations of Galaxy S-phones (if prices stay relatively the same), or fund your next phone upgrades for up to eight years (if you update every other year) with four $500 Moto Z phones!
If you do want to stick with a premium Samsung device, the Galaxy S10 would be the more “wallet-friendly” choice of the two. (Though I hesitate to even call a $900-starting-price phone “affordable.” For an even cheaper Galaxy S phone, consider the $750 Galaxy S10E.)
Since the Galaxy S10 has the same processor and most of the top-tier specs as the Fold, it won’t sooner become more outdated than the other. Well, except for the whole thing of not having a futuristic foldable screen, anyway.
Other features: 5G, storage, battery and the fingerprint scanner
- 5G: The next generation of high-speed mobile data is rolling out throughout 2019 and 2020 and many phones will be compatible with 5G. The Galaxy S10 has a different variant known as the S10 5G that will run on the network (price is still TBD, but it’ll likely be more expensive). Likewise, the Galaxy Fold will also have two versions, one that works on 4G and another for 5G.
- Fingerprint scanner: Though it has an untraditional look, the Galaxy Fold’s fingerprint reader is in a pretty traditional place: the power button on the side. That way, users can access it whether the phone is open or closed. But the Galaxy S10’s scanner is embedded within its display, a rather new innovation that the , , and others have also adopted.
- Storage: While the Galaxy S10 has two storage options (128GB and 512GB), the Galaxy Fold only has the latter. It also doesn’t have expandable storage either, whereas the Galaxy S10 can hold an additional 512GB of storage. That means if you purchase the S10 and the appropriate SD card, it can hold twice as much (more than 1TB!) than the Fold. Now that’s a lot of photos and video.
- Battery: Both products have wireless charging and can wireless charge other devices (including phones), but with its bigger screen the Galaxy Fold unsurprisingly has more battery power: 4,380mAh across two batteries compared to the Galaxy S10’s single 3,400mAh battery. We don’t expect the S10 to be a slouch though; every year Samsung’s flagship usually tops our list for the best battery life.
Galaxy S10 vs. Galaxy Fold
|Samsung Galaxy S10||Samsung Galaxy Fold|
|Display size, resolution||6.1-inch AMOLED; 3,040×1,440-pixels||4.6-inch Super AMOLED; 7.3-inch QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED|
|Dimensions (Inches)||5.9 x 2.77 x 0.31 in||N/A|
|Dimensions (Millimeters)||149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8 mm||N/A|
|Weight (Ounces, Grams)||5.53 oz.; 157 g||N/A|
|Mobile software||Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI||Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI|
|Camera||16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto)||16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto)|
|Front-facing camera||10-megapixel||Two 10-megapixel, 8-megapixel 3D depth|
|Processor||Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855||Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855|
|Expandable storage||Up to 512GB||No|
|Fingerprint sensor||In-screen||Power button|
|Special features||Wireless PowerShare; hole punch screen notch; water resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0||Foldable display; Wireless PowerShare; Fast Wireless Charging 2.0|