when to walk away

Don’t Buy the Folding Phone

Samsung CEO DJ Koh announces the new Samsung Galaxy Fold, a phone you should not buy. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Samsung pulled back the curtain on its latest showstopper smartphone yesterday: the Galaxy Fold. It was news that everyone knew was coming — Samsung showed off a prototype of the device at its developer conference in November — so the crowd at the unveiling can be forgiven for not having gasped in surprise. What did make the crowd gasp? The price: $1,980. There were even audible groans in the audience as people realized just how much a folding phone was going to cost them.

And yet, the heart wants what the heart wants.

Thanks to the $2,000 price tag, I feel like this piece of advice is semi-redundant, but I’ll say it anyway: Don’t buy the folding phone.

Don’t buy the folding phone because you’ll be paying Samsung a huge amount for the right to help them field-test a first-generation device.

Don’t buy the folding phone because if even Apple couldn’t get app developers to make over apps to fit the iPhone X’s notched screen, how much sway will Samsung have to get those same developers to make versions of their apps for a folding phone?

Don’t buy the folding phone because Samsung wouldn’t even put the phone on display for journalists at the unveiling event, and yet it plans to put in on sale very soon. (Hint: This is not what a company with a great product does.)

Don’t buy the folding phone because so much of what will make a foldable phone work is how smoothly the phone’s UI and software interacts with the hardware, and historically, Samsung’s phone software has ranged from the very bad to the kinda okay.

Don’t buy the folding phone because the smartphone landscape is littered with phones that have attempted bold and innovative new industrial designs, from modular smartphones to Samsung’s gently curved and barely remembered Galaxy Round — now all, at best, tech curios.

Don’t buy the folding phone because there’s a difference between being an early adopter and being a sucker, and the Galaxy Fold has all the appearances of making you the latter.

Wait for reviews, wait for UI updates, wait for the competition from other companies, wait until you can walk into your local phone store and unfold the thing for yourself before you plunk down $2,000. Wait a generation or two.

The folding phone looks cool! I can imagine how it’d be nice to reach into my pocket once I find my seat on the bus or train and unfold my phone for a bigger screen. It’s a sound concept. But while I have plenty of regrets in this life, not jumping first on a tech trend has never been one of them. I’m going to let other people — people who didn’t heed my advice — be the guinea pigs to see if the folding phone actually has value, or is just another gasp from the smartphone industry as it enters into its slow decline.

Don’t Buy the Folding Phone