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Samsung’s February reveal of a foldable smartphone-tablet hybrid at Galaxy Unpacked was a somewhat confusing affair. The $1,980 Galaxy Fold was promised in both 4G and 5G versions, but it wasn’t initially clear which version would launch first in countries with early 5G networks, including the United States and South Korea. Following the device’s widely publicized delay to address serious screen issues, Samsung has secured wireless certifications for the 5G model (via SamMobile), which appears set to launch in at least one territory soon.
Though the 5G phone is substantially similar to the 4G version, it is somewhat different internally, due to antenna and component tweaks that notably include a 4,235mAh battery and single SIM slot versus the 4G model’s 4,380mAh battery and double SIM slot. Due to these changes, the 5G model requires separate third-party certifications for features such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi — which it recently received from the Bluetooth SIG and Wi-Fi Alliance.
Shortly after the Galaxy Fold’s debut on stage, Samsung CEO DJ Koh told Korean journalists that the 5G model would launch soon after the LTE version, and first in South Korea, where it would carry a roughly $150 premium over the base $1,980 price. The 5G model was originally supposed to become available to Korean consumers in May, following the 4G version’s U.S. launch on April 26.
But South Korean carriers are currently said to be testing the 5G model, and there’s still no rescheduled date for the 4G device. Amidst retailer cancellations of Galaxy Fold preorders, individual Samsung executives have reportedly suggested that “most” of the screen issues have been resolved and that a new launch date is coming soon. Regardless, the company has not yet made a formal announcement of its intentions.
It remains to be seen whether consumers will embrace the Fold, which was already saddled with an eye-watering price tag and reports of a visible screen seam before reliability issues came to light. Rival Huawei subsequently delayed its own expensive folding phone, Mate X, citing a need for “extra” testing — primarily on the software side. Absent the ability to sell Folds, Samsung has been seeing solid sales of its more conventional Galaxy S10 5G, thanks to aggressive discounting and its position as one of relatively few early 5G devices.
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