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(Pocket-lint) - Samsung opened Unpacked 2019 with a statement. That statement was the reveal of the Samsung Galaxy Fold, forging what Samsung described as a new category of device, setting the industry on a new path and comically seeing DJ Koh, Samsung CEO, describing the device as "quite good".

Unpacked was really the launch event for the Samsung Galaxy S10 family of devices - the reliably incremental Galaxy S10 and S10+, joined by what is perhaps the most revealing device, the slightly more affordable Galaxy S10e, all of which were overshadowed by Samsung's ground-breaking Fold reveal.

With smartphone sales going into decline, Samsung is betting each way - it's making its premium smartphone line more affordable at one end and also demonstrating its technological prowess at the other, with an eye-watering $2000 price tag for this unique device.

SamsungSamsung Galaxy Fold image 2

Samsung doesn't shy away from a challenge: it's a company that puts itself out there and sees what sticks - and the Samsung Galaxy Fold is a product of that creative crucible. The Galaxy Fold feels like Samsung doing something to challenge and change the market and that's always exciting.

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But for all of the Galaxy Fold's elegance and execution, what you end up with poses some serious questions. As a folded device, you have a 4.6-inch display on the exterior. That's almost the same on the diagonal as the Samsung Galaxy SIII from 2012, but narrower. It's not a big display, so it's not really going to fulfil the role of replacing your current phone.

That exterior display sits like an island on the front of the phone; while everyone is pushing bezels back and shouting about screen to body ratio, the Galaxy Fold's cover display looks dated: it doesn't replicate the smartphone experience that's familiar on conventional devices.

SamsungSamsung Galaxy Fold image 8

Does that matter? With a 7.3-inch display inside, there's plenty of space, but you can already see the practical dilemma here. You're walking down the street, you glance at your phone and want to reply to some messages - do you fumble on the small display, or unveil your tablet-esque display that you can't use with one hand? Jack of all trades?

Some see this as a break-through device. The Galaxy Fold could remove the need to carry a tablet because you have all that space when you open it up. But which segment of the Android market basically fell off a cliff a few years back? The tablet market. Why? Because the experience wasn't good and larger phones removed the need for a separate larger device.

SamsungSamsung Galaxy Fold image 7

That puts the Samsung Galaxy Fold in an interesting position. Samsung has achieved something technically marvellous. The first, real, folding device with consumer polish - and it does look fantastic. There are practical notes like three-app views and the continuum from outside to inside makes for an impressive expansion of your content - but it takes you back to a tablet place we've already left behind.

It is easy to be flippant about first-generation devices and we can't deny that Samsung has really produced something with wow factor in the Galaxy Fold. But at the same time, we're still a long way from figuring out how a device of this type will fit into the world it launches in to. That's the early adopter dilemma and wins or loses the Galaxy Fold demonstrates that Samsung is willing to put itself out there and innovate.

Samsung isn't yet letting people near the Galaxy Fold, but like any new exhibit, we're fascinated and want to know more. And believe us when we say, we want nothing more than to be proved wrong and have our doubts allayed. 

Writing by Chris Hall. Originally published on 21 February 2019.