Life with a folding smartphone revealed
Do you ever worry you've overlooked your soulmate?
Maybe the timing wasn't right. Maybe they appeared too fragile for something long-term. Maybe you looked too hard at their annoying features and not enough at their unique skills.
I fret about it all the time.
I only spent three days with the Samsung Galaxy Fold before its Australian launch, and after months of pining to see the world's first folding smartphone.
In our brief time together, the Fold was a stand-up individual, a reliable partner, but I thought it lacked some of the skills required of a modern mate, and didn't have enough experience.
But, like a consumer tech rom-com, we met again. And this round we got to spend more time together to go over where things went wrong, what really worked, and what we could do better.
This is what happened when I spent a month with the Galaxy Fold, and a look at whether you could really live with a flexible smartphone.
THERE WERE TIMES WE WERE INSEPARABLE
Spending more time with the Fold gave me a greater appreciation for it.
It sounds superficial but its unique form factor is the best - hands down - for viewing Instagram.
If you've ever tried to visited the social network on a tablet, you'll know you have to flip your head sideways, library-style, or reorientate your device.
Instagram will not appear in landscape mode but the Fold is already in the right position for it.
This phone's 7.3-inch screen that opens like a book also shows details in photos you might otherwise have missed on a smaller screen.
And it comes in handy during other tasks too.
The Fold has also become my favourite smartphone for reading email (sorry, BlackBerry).
It's easy to use the Fold's big screen to scroll down a long list of messages, move them to folders, and dismiss them, even without a stylus (sorry, Galaxy Note).
And reading? I downloaded Kindle titles to check its skills and I wasn't disappointed. I read much of Rainn Wilson's The Bassoon King on its big screen and the only people who weren't jealous must have had a Fold too. It's the ideal screen size for mobile reading.
Accessing multi-tasking windows on this phone as also surprisingly easy to do and came in handy when checking calendars to co-ordinate clashing Christmas schedules.
And, because everyone asks, the big screen's visible crease becomes less and less noticeable with time. You can certainly see it, and it shines in the wrong light, but it's no impediment to seeing what's on the screen.
THERE WERE TIMES HE ANNOYED ME
During our first, brief time together, my biggest annoyance was the Fold's excessively small, first-generation front screen.
It's much smaller than it should be and capable of little more than making and taking phone calls.
Turns out, my first impression was right. It's too small to be significantly useful.
I used it to set alarms, to answer calls and, occasionally, to check notifications. I had to squint to read them though - the text is very small - and it's not something you can do when walking.
Missing features are another frustration. You can't get this phone wet, for example, and I was much more fearful of it slipping off the couch than any handset before it. A rectangular phone will probably survive a bump in a way a hinge with moving parts will not.
And there are annoying software inconsistencies too.
Instagram Stories, for example, appear edited. Their format is too long for this phone's squarish main screen so it cuts off the top and bottom sections of the images.
Photos are also captured in a 3:4 format by default, making them look odd when shared on many online platforms.
I also found myself snapping fewer photos than usual with the Fold. No one wants to be that person taking photos with a tablet and the front screen is just too small to focus on individual details.
There's nothing wrong with the cameras on this phone; it will just take a while to work out the best way you can capture them.
There's also no way to boost the storage in this fancy smartphone (though it does come with 512GB), no headphone jack (though it comes with wireless earbuds), no 5G connection, no stylus, and its battery can get rather warm when powering that big screen for long periods.
COULD WE MAKE IT WORK?
"Should you fold a smartphone? Absolutely.
"Will the future be full of flexible phones? Probably.
"And you should you wait for the second generation to iron out some of the screen creases? Yes. Yes, you probably should."
This was my advice after three days with the Samsung Galaxy Fold and, while it holds up, spending a month with this phone has made me reconsider whether eager users should take the plunge anyway.
I was worried its hinge would loosen with time. That didn't happen.
I was concerned its big screen could be harmed by dust, dirt, cat fur or water droplets, as it warned. That didn't happen either.
And I was anxious the novelty of having a big screen in my pocket would diminish or even becoming annoying with time. Nope.
Having a giant screen you can unfold at a moment's notice is pretty great, actually, and would be useful to anyone else who spends more time scrolling, reading, and playing with their phone than actually taking calls.
There's still the issue of that $3000 price tag to overcome with the Galaxy Fold, that small front screen, and the fact that you might be too nervous to take it anywhere near a pool, of course.
But, after a second run at it, I think we could make it. At least until a new folding beau came along.