The Phantom Thieves are coming back for more in Persona 5: The Royal, an expanded version of the original Persona 5 that’s set to release in 2020 for North American fans. Among new places to explore and revamped dungeons, a new Phantom Thief appears in Tokyo as well.
The original cast of Persona 5 is mostly high school students and what appears to be a talking cat named Morgana, who dive into people’s subconsciousness to trigger a “change of heart.” Whether it’s a teacher who’s been abusing students or a corrupt CEO, the Phantom Thieves are first led by Morgana, who seems to have pre-existing knowledge of how to take someone’s heart.
A closer look at the official P5R website shows a screenshot of the main protagonist with a male character who goes by “Ikemen,” and who uses the same “wagahai” pronoun that Morgana uses to refer to himself.
The striking blue eye color is the same as Morgana’s, and the yellow necklace could be a reference to the yellow bandana that he wears. The “huhuhu” laugh at the end is also a trademark characteristic.
At the start of Persona 5, Morgana can’t remember where he came from, but is convinced that he was originally a human being. Other characters tease him about being a cat, which Morgana fiercely denies. In his official character reveal trailer, he says “Don’t call me a cat! I’m Morgana,” and later follows up with “My appearance might’ve changed, but I’m still an admirable human.”
The end of the game reveals that he’s not a cat after all, but also wasn’t a human either. While he and the others come to terms with this, we never got to see a what a human Morgana could’ve looked like. But maybe with Persona 5: The Royal, it’ll be different.
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.
While visiting Atlantic City’s greige boardwalk last Sunday, I set foot in my very first casino, a come-as-you-are joint called Bally’s with years’ worth of cigarette smoke ground into its red carpet. It was Easter—not a great day to commune with sin—but a day off nonetheless. Passing the ringing slot machines, I sat down at an empty $5 Blackjack table stewarded by an older grey-haired woman. She slid her hand across the felt with the grace of an ASMR YouTuber and dealt me my first hand. I knew how to play Blackjack, but I had not yet considered that Blackjack’s basic mechanics are only a small part of the game I had to play.
In its purest form, Blackjack isn’t top-tier entertainment. I’m used to having the opportunity to command twenty-person raids against huge, crystalline monsters or a battalion of anime babes in strategy warfare available to me on a setup just ten feet from my bed, so the prospect of guessing whether playing cards will add up to 21 is not very seductive. I’m apparently not alone in thinking this. Hand-wringing headlines every couple of months warn that millennials like myself will be the death of casinos, and consequently, of Atlantic City. We don’t gamble. Some say it’s because of our spoiled attention spans. Maybe it’s our utter lack of disposable income. Others say we just find it boring and unengaging.
Without the pomp and circumstance, casino Blackjack would have been boring and unengaging, at least for me. When the brain isn’t stimulated or intrigued enough, I believe it creates its own challenges.
As I picked up more strategy, like always “splitting” two eights, and as I won and lost money, I began to form new goals beyond simply experiencing Blackjack in Atlantic City. There’s the metagame. At first, it’s as basic as employing strategy to maximize wins and minimize losses. That’s an obvious next step, and a recognizable one for any gamer who, say, wants to quickly defeat a tough role-playing game boss while retaining as many stocks as possible for challenges ahead. As I grasped more and more of Blackjack, the organic game melted away and new goalposts emerged.
I had bought twenty dollars’ worth of chips twice, and after a stinging streak of losses, I began to gain momentum again. I hit on a 16 in an uncertain situation, a move that made my new tablemates cluck their tongues at me, but it was worth it: 21. Over time, I grew and grew my pile of chips until I was up $55. Then, just an hour in, I stopped. That’s because a new metagame had emerged over the last one: earning enough money to buy myself $55 worth of crab legs. Leaving high and extending the classic “Atlantic City” experience into free, overpriced seafood would be the sweetest and most extravagant reward. I did exactly that.
As I ate my stringy, tasteless crab legs, I thought about how the casino experience is an open-world game with similar metagaming possibilities. It provides ways for players to continually buy in, not just financially but emotionally and intellectually, and raise the stakes of gameplay. Casinos know this, of course. All the time, they offer reward programs, dangling free hotel rooms and steak dinners in front of patrons who spend enough money. In some instances, Las Vegas casinos would offer flights, hospitality and meals to tourists who promise to gamble a certain amount of money—and if they didn’t, they’d lose their shirt. So thus the game expands.
Of course, the casino metagame doesn’t usually come from a positive place, even though participating in it feels tantalizing. With uncomfortable laughter, my father used to describe his father’s gambling habits and how, eventually, that habit led him to squander away everything. The high was high, though, while it lasted. Pastel convertibles. Secret and sudden trips to Puerto Rico (“I’m just going around the corner to grab some smokes”). Late nights with the boys and some “white ones” (my grandfather’s term for vodka). The game of Poker wasn’t enough; it was about preserving and amplifying the winner’s lifestyle. But eventually, as it is for many, the metagame became paying back debt.
I kept my metagame’s win conditions small and forgiving. Next time, though, if I’m less lucky, the metagame that emerges could be minimizing loss or, if I’ve had a few drinks, convincing myself to stop.
Activision and Treyarch have officially started releasing teasers for the next Operation for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. This is the fourth Operation for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, with two more Operations expected in 2019.
The first teaser comes via a tweet post with “Armed and Ready” teased with a short video, shown below.
This new Operation is expected to begin Tuesday, April 30 on PlayStation 4, with other platforms to follow.
Treyarch is expected to announce full details on the new Operation in the coming days as the launch gets closer, so stay tuned. It’s not stated yet what the theme of the new Operation is for now.
EuroGamer shared an article earlier this morning in regards to the pictures of rising football players checking out Call of Duty 2019 at an event in Nashville, TN this week.
We shared some images from many of the players who had a chance to get hands on with the game, but no specific details on the game has been revealed.
EuroGamer’s article used some sneaky wording to reveal that their sources believe 2019 game is Modern Warfare 4.
The post in question uses the first word of each paragraph of a way of doing so, with the reporter who posted the article confirming in a tweet that he was waiting for someone to notice it. He uses “Modern,” “War”, “Fair”, and “Four,” as shown below:
EuroGamer has reputable sources in the industry. They have accurately reported details on Call of Duty and other Activision projects over the years.
Thus far, all hints suggest that this year’s Call of Duty game will be a new Modern Warfare series. Activision teased back in February that the game is “rooted in” some of the franchise’s “most important history.” They also stated that the game will have a new campaign, expansive MP world, and more.
No details yet on when the reveal will happen has been shared. For now, the waiting game continues.
For decades, Nintendo has enabled people to play games on the go. It’s been great, but it’s also been silly at times. Seriously, how did any of us even tolerate playing games on the Game Boy Advance’s dim screen? As much love as I have for the systems that brought us Advance Wars, WarioWare, Phoenix Wright, and more, I can’t help reminiscing about the weirdest and occasionally most aggravating ways Nintendo expected us to play portable games.
1) Shine A Lamp On The GBA Just To See The Game
I first had a sense that there was something lacking about the Game Boy Advance’s screen when I attended E3 in 2001. I headed to the Nintendo booth to find little lamps arched over some of the GBA demo stations. Uh-oh. The GBA screen was not lit internally. It just reflected the light around it. This was such a poor experience that a market cropped up for custom mods that’d make them brighter by adding a backlight.
Dig up a GBA these days and you might be shocked how hard it is to see the games. “Trying to play in a dimly lit area can be difficult, so we don’t recommend it—for any of our Game Boy systems,” Nintendo’s official customer support page warned. Then again, if you plugged the game Boktai into the system and tried using its cartridge’s special solar sensor to soak up the sun, you’d find that the GBA didn’t play well in really bright light, either.
2) Plug Your Headphones Into The Power Jack Of The GBA SP
Released in 2003, the clamshell GBA SP was so much better than the original GBA model. The screen was brighter, after all. There just wasn’t a headphone jack. Long before Apple ditched a dedicated headphone jack for its phones, Nintendo tried doing that for its handheld gaming system. You could plug a connector into the system’s power port and plug headphones into that, at least.
3) Wrap An Official Nintendo Strap Around Your Thumb To Play Super Mario 64 DS
The arrival of the Nintendo DS in 2004 gave the public a chance to play the esteemed Nintendo 64 game Super Mario 64 on an airplane, toilet, or wherever else portable gaming might occur. Just one caveat: Mario 64 on the Nintendo 64 relied on analog stick control, and to replicate that, Nintendo asked players to take a strap packaged with the DS, wrap it around their thumb with the plastic nub on the strap lined up against the pad of their thumb, then use that nub on the system’s lower screen to move Mario around. Weird. To probably no one’s surprise, the most successful games used the DS’ buttons or stylus for their controls, not the thumb strap.
4) Use A Stand So That You Can Properly Play A Portable Game
The good news: Smash Bros. mastermind Masahiro Sakurai was bringing back early Nintendo franchise Kid Icarus a year into the lifespan of the Nintendo 3DS. The bad news: The controls were so weird, so potentially uncomfortable, that Nintendo was packing in a stand. The idea seemed to be that a player’s left hand would be busy using the left shoulder button and circle pad to shoot and move and their right would be swiping the screen to move a targeting cursor character, leaving the player insufficient support for the system. You could play it without the stand or in an alternate control scheme, in theory, but the stand supposedly helped. Nice that they let game designers experiment, I guess, but the arguable need for a stand surely was a signal that the game’s controls should have been better.
Other Nintendo handheld hardware weirdness includes: the option to plug a second analog stick into the 3DS, the tiny telescoping stylus for the 3DS the actually pretty-neat ereader add-on to the GBA that let players add levels by swiping cards, and… what else? Oh, there was that really awkward setup for playing Pikmin 3 in the airport using the quasi-portable Wii U.
These days, I play my Nintendo Switch primarily in handheld mode. The games I play on it run smoothly. The control inputs I have on the Switch make sense. The screen is bright. There’s a headphone jack. And if I have to prop the console up to play a game on a table, it even has a kickstand (if a flimsy one). That all makes the Switch Nintendo’s most functional handheld and definitely its least weird one. I do miss the old weirdness, though, as inconvenient as it could sometimes be. Then again, if I want Weird Nintendo for my current Nintendo handheld, I could just encase the thing in cardboard.
The developers of Mortal Kombat 11 have introduced a new mechanic to the series called “Fatal Blows,” and, while the core concept is easy to understand and the moves are simple to pull off, it can take a bit of practice to learn how to use this system to your advantage.
We’ll help you get a basic understanding of what Fatal Blows are and how to use them wisely while playing Mortal Kombat 11.
How to use your character’s Fatal Blow
The first step is to get beaten up a bit.
You’ll see the Fatal Blow indicator once your character is under 30 percent health, and the indicator will also show you how to activate your Fatal Blow. The action is the same for every character in the game: You only need to hit both trigger buttons at the same time once your health bar indicates that your Fatal Blow is available.
What do the Fatal Blows do?
While the animation may be different for everyone, the effect of the Fatal Blow will always be the same. You’ll pull off a long, cinematic attack that looks like it should kill whoever is on the receiving end of it, but will actually “only” deal a substantial amount of damage to your opponent without necessarily ending the round.
Think of it like a Fatality that takes place during the course of the round, without always ending that round. Fatal Blows are a way to fight back from the brink of a loss, a sort of Blue Shell for Mortal Kombat 11. If your health is low and you need to make up a lot of ground quickly, the Fatal Blow can be a smart bet.
That seems a bit over-powered, doesn’t it?
Here’s the catch: You can only use one Fatal Blow per match. Total. Not one per round, one per match. So you need to pick your moment and make it count.
Using your Fatal Blow in the first round will leave you without one in the second round, and landing a Fatal Blow that doesn’t win you the round may just piss off the other player.
You’ll also need to be careful because, of course, both players get one Fatal Blow per match. You may land a Fatal Blow only to hurt the other player enough that their Fatal Blow is activated, allowing them to finish you off in turn. Keep an eye on both health bars, since having your Fatal Blow ready can give you a quick way out of a bad situation, but an enemy with a Fatal Blow ready to go should change how you approach them during a round.
What do I do if an opponent has their Fatal Blow ready to go?
The good news is that only opponents who have lost most of their health will be able to use their Fatal Blow, while the bad news is that this mechanic changes how you should go about finishing someone off.
The best way for most players to defend against Fatal Blows is to give their opponent space. These attacks connect from a relatively close distance, so you might want to back off a bit to give them your enemy more room. Fatal Blows can also be blocked, but that doesn’t mean that your opponent has wasted their one shot at a Fatal Blow for this round; they can try again after a set cooldown period.
The only times you don’t have to worry about a Fatal Blow are when your opponent has most of their health, or after they’ve already landed one during the round. But you should always keep your enemy’s Fatal Blow status in your head: Is their health bar low enough that they’re close to activating it? Have they already used one? Have you already used one?
Knowing when you’ll likely face a Fatal Blow, and whether you have one in reserve, is important if you want to be able to manage the flow of a match.
Wait, how do the characters survive these moves?
I have no idea, friend. They’re called “Fatal” Blows,” and the animation for each one certainly doesn’t look like something you could walk away from, but you’ll often see them used without finishing the round, much less the entire fight.
The fun of the over-the-top violence trumps realism, as it should be in a Mortal Kombat game.
Atlus will release a new and expanded version of role-playing game Persona 5, titled Persona 5: The Royal, for PlayStation 4 in Japan on Oct. 31. The game will come to North America and other regions sometime in 2020, according to Atlus’ U.S. arm.
Persona 5: The Royal will add a number of new features to the game, including a new Phantom Thief named Kasumi Yoshizawa; a new confidant named Takuto Maruki who works as a counselor at Shujin Academy; and a new location to explore, Kichijoji. The game will touch on the students’ third semester at school.
In a teaser trailer posted to Atlus’ Japanese-language YouTube channel, we get a look at many of these new game elements, as well as others: a new dating location (an aquarium) and a new bar where players can enjoy games like pool and darts. There’s also new animation and a peek at new characters in action. (The 15-second English-language teaser trailer contains little more than a logo and a release window.)
According to the game’s Japanese website, Persona 5: The Royal will also include elements like selfies sent via the in-game messaging system, new events with twins Caroline and Justine, and new enemies to fight. The game will also support PlayStation 4 Pro, offering enhanced visuals.
Fortnite has been slowly doling out teasers for an apparent Avengers: Endgame crossover event coming to its battle royale mode on April 25. The first two images showcased equipment from Captain America and Thor, so obviously, the third teaser to drop today had to feature the last remaining in the trio of lead Avengers, Iron Man. [Update: Shortly after the latest teaser, Epic confirmed the Avengers: Endgame event will arrive as part of Fortnite’s 8.5 update tomorrow, April 25. Downtime for the patch will begin at 2 AM PT / 5 AM ET / 10 AM BST.]
The tweet is just like the others, in that it quotes the Endgame tagline “Whatever it takes” and uses a #FortniteXAvengers hashtag. This one shows a Fortnite character with Iron Man’s repulsor gloves, which he uses in the films and comics for both propulsion and offense. The previous teases showed Cap’s shield and Thor’s axe, Stormbreaker.
All of these teasers suggest that the battle royale event will let players equip iconic Avengers weapons, most likely in a limited-time mode. Alongside Avengers: Infinity War, Epic introduced a special crossover that let players equip Thanos’ devastating Infinity Gauntlet. It was nerfed almost immediately so that more players would be able to defeat the “Thanos” player and don the gauntlet themselves. So far Epic hasn’t detailed this crossover event, or if the Infinity Gauntlet mode will be returning in some form. These limited-time modes are all separate from the usual battle pass goodies.
Avengers: Endgame concludes the story arc of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe to this point, and reviews have started to release online in advance of its debut. We also now know that for the first time in the MCU, this movie doesn’t have a mid- or post-credits scene–a way of bookending this as the end of a story arc. It is still three hours long, though, so if you need to take a bathroom break, we have you covered with when it’s safe to pee.
“But most of all Endgame is a love letter to the entire MCU–the whole thing,” Michael Rougeau wrote in GameSpot’s review. “It’s messy and confusing, and there’s going to be a lot of discussion about whether the ending even makes sense–it basically breaks the rules set up throughout the entire movie leading up to it. But holy hell is it an emotional, fulfilling ride. I have no doubt we’re going to spend the coming weeks picking and pulling it apart until we’ve over-analyzed every single aspect imaginable. But right now, in the aftermath, Avengers Endgame feels like a win.”
Hindsight 20/20 is an upcoming action adventure game developed by Triple I, an independent studio composed of former BioWare, ArenaNet, and Sucker Punch veterans. We played through a Hindsight 20/20 demo with Triple I creative director Hemanshu Chhabra, who previously worked on BioWare’s MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic. Prior to playing the demo, Chhabra pointed to both Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask as inspirations for Hindsight 20/20’s gameplay loop and combat, before adding The Wind Waker as an influence for the game’s art style.
In Hindsight 20/20, you play as Jehan, an orphan who lives in a city that prides itself on being nonviolent. Despite this, Jehan’s father is killed–for reasons unknown–by Aurthur, a headstrong man whose influence in the city grows by the day. Jehan seeks vengeance for his father’s death, as well as answers in regards to a mysterious virus that is infecting the populace and transforming them into seemingly monstrous creatures called Raakshasas. We faced off against Aurthur in Hindsight 20/20’s demo, which can be seen in the video below.
Combat is relatively simple; you utilize dodges, melee attacks, and special abilities to manage groups of enemies. While fighting, both you and enemies have two meters: one for health and the other for morale. Non-lethal attacks wound someone’s morale, while lethal ones chip away at a person’s health. Your enemies, or you, are defeated when either of those meters is reduced to zero.
Jehan is armed with a stun baton that damages morale and a sword that damages health. The former gives him a more defensive playstyle that pushes enemies away and allows him to send out bolts of lightning to zap foes into submission. Wielding the latter gives Jehan a far more aggressive fighting style, one that allows him to utilize the sword as a deadly boomerang or summon a field of blades that impale everyone around him. You can switch between either one at any point in the game, and boss enemies will respond differently depending on whether you’ve shown yourself to be a peaceful fellow or a murderer.
However, combat choices didn’t create major changes in how enemies fought–Aurthur being the one exception. There weren’t enough enemy types to warrant the use of one of Jehan’s weapons over the other, so the choice of weapon felt arbitrary, at least during the demo. Simply picking whichever matches the type of run you’re going for dialogue-wise seems like the only real decision you need to make. Chhabra said there are several other enemy types, introduced later in the game, but whether these enemies push you to weigh the moral ramifications against any benefit either weapon might provide remains to be seen.
As is, combat isn’t all that engaging. Every encounter is reduced to waiting for an enemy to attack so they expose themselves for a counter. That style of gameplay has worked in games before, such as older entries in The Legend of Zelda, but Hindsight 20/20 seemingly lacks a wide enough variety of unique enemy types to make its combat stand out.
The best parts of the demo were the tense conversations with the main NPCs, knowing that one wrong word could change the outcome of Jehan’s story in several different ways–ranging from whether friendships were maintained to who would survive by a mission’s end. I can see those moments having a butterfly effect on the story that a player would want to correct.
As an example, we played through the Hindsight 20/20 demo a second and third time, making different choices in each one–deciding to be selfish in the second run and a merciless killer in the third. As seen in the video below, these choices lead to very different outcomes in comparison to the merciful run shown above. Some of the changes are minor (NPCs and enemies condemn Jehan for his behavior) while others have much larger, more story-driven effects (saving Jehan’s friend, Andrew, from committing suicide).
The concept of choice is at the center of every part of Hindsight 20/20, a game aptly named for the expression, “Hindsight is 20/20.” Chhabra said that the game has seven different endings, and the campaign is about six hours long. The game tracks every major choice you make, ranging from who you killed and spared, to how you responded in certain conversations. At the end of the campaign, Jehan is born again at the beginning of the story with this record in hand, and you can use what you’ve learned from every previous life to fix your mistakes in the next one.
“There’s no ideal ending,” Chhabra clarified. He continued by saying three of the endings have some overlap but the other four are all “very different, very distinct.” It’s impossible to save everyone and get a completely good ending–you’ll just have to replay the game until you get the conclusion that you think is best for Jehan.
It’s an intriguing concept–utilizing the replayability of an RPG as an in-game feature–but it’s certainly one that feels more prominent when it comes to dialogue. I’m not wholly convinced the combat side of the game matches that level of intricacy. At the very least, there definitely needs to be some more variety when it comes to the kinds of enemies you fight in order to challenge how you think about approaching combat.
Hindsight 20/20 is scheduled to release on Xbox One, PS4, Switch, and PC in Q2 2020.
In a lot of ways, doing a traditional review of the $2,000 Samsung Galaxy Fold is pointless. Anyone who buys one isn’t doing so because it’s a good value or a sound purchasing decision. It’s not. They’re buying one because it’s new, innovative, and exciting. Besides, pre-orders for the Galaxy Fold have already sold out, so even if you want one, it’s probably too late. And yet, for a product with many flaws, even in its current state, the Galaxy Fold presents a vision that makes a ton of sense, and it’s one of only a handful of gadgets that you can call a game changer and mean it.
The Galaxy Fold by the numbers
The Fold is truly an outrageous gadget. Weighing in at 9.3 ounces and measuring just over 17 millimeters thick, the Galaxy Fold is almost twice as heavy and more than double the thickness of a standard Galaxy S10.
Sure, it might fit in your pocket, but you’re never going to forget it’s there, and if your pants are loose or you forgot to wear a belt, you’re going to be at risk of randomly dropping trou throughout the day. You can’t stash the Fold in a breast pocket either without looking like you’re trying to smuggle a bar of gold out of Fort Knox.
But the real sticking point for most people is Fold’s $2,000 price tag. For the same money, you could almost buy four OnePlus 6Ts, a phone that can generally do the same stuff the Galaxy Fold can. Or you could buy everyone in a family of five plus weird Uncle Jerry their own Nintendo Switch, and still have some cash left over.
On the flip side, the Galaxy Fold is a spec monster boasting six cameras, 12GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and two displays: a 4.6-inch “cover screen” on the outside, and a flexible 7.3-inch screen on the inside. Compare that to an iPhone XS Max which has a screen that tops out at just 6.5-inches and costs $1,450 when kitted out with the same 512GB of storage. Suddenly, the Galaxy Fold’s price doesn’t seem quite as preposterous. And that’s before you consider the Fold comes with a pair of Galaxy Buds and a Kevlar-like case included.
Then there’s the Fold’s 4,380 mAh battery that delivers incredible longevity on a charge: Using its big folding screen, on our video rundown test, the Galaxy Fold lasted 17 hours and 6 minutes, which is the longest runtime we’ve ever seen on a phone.
What’s the point of that big ‘ole screen?
Aside from all the trouble people have wrapping their heads around Galaxy Fold’s price, the other main question I get about the Galaxy Fold is: What the hell are you supposed to do with a screen that big? It’s a fair question, especially considering apps like Twitter, Instagram, and others don’t function any differently on the Fold than they do on other phones. Things just look bigger, similar to what you’d get if you were using a tablet. Phrased like that, the screen’s an underwhelming gimmick.
But if you’ll allow me to generalize for a bit, you know who loves tablets? Grandparents. For them, the bigger screen makes it easier to tap icons and read text, while the ability to fold the thing in half means you can take the Fold places a tablet might not usually go. Forget that abstraction, though, because that’s not what I love about the Galaxy Fold. To me, the Fold’s big, bendy screen means it can consolidate multiple devices into a single gadget. It’s tech simplification at its finest.
Instead of using a tablet to read comic books, the Galaxy Fold delivers an experience that’s just as good or maybe better. Same goes for ebooks. By installing the Kindle app and setting the background color to black, I can turn the Fold into a high-quality reading device. That’s two entire devices I no longer have to worry about again. How’s that for savings?
That big screen is useful for everyday stuff too, whether it’s watching videos on the train, looking for nearby attractions in Google Maps, or playing mobile games like PUBG or Auto Chess. With that much real estate, getting a wider view of all your units is more engaging, and hitting headshots is legitimately easier too. And if you like watching stuff while you work out, the Galaxy Fold’s screen is nearly as big and a lot damn sharper than any screen built into an exercise machine not made by Peloton.
When you put all of these functions together and then add the ability to multitask by having three or more apps all open at once, while other handsets have tried in the past, the Galaxy Fold feels like the first real phone for power users.
A combination of high tech and nifty software
The way the Fold goes about all of this is also pretty slick. Using what Samsung calls App Continuity, the Fold can switch seamlessly between apps on the cover screen and apps on the inside display. Just flick the Fold open, and that’s it. Not every single app works perfectly, but Samsung has worked with Google to make sure all the first-party Samsung apps and essential Google apps work as expected.
And despite full support for flexible screens built into Android (which isn’t scheduled to arrive until Android Q), even less popular apps usually don’t run into problems.
One of the few exceptions to this is YouTube. Instead of being able to crop in to fill the screen or stick with the video’s native aspect ratio, YouTube videos almost always default to 16:9. In landscape, this leaves letterboxes at the top and bottom, which are fine, but not ideal. The bigger problem is that no matter which way you hold it, there will always be a cutout for the Galaxy Fold’s cameras. What makes this even stranger, is that this doesn’t happen in YouTube TV or other video players.
Six cameras might be too much
Speaking of cameras, the Galaxy Fold’s six shooters are probably a bit much. I know why Samsung does it, as the cameras on the front and inside are mostly reserved for taking selfies and face unlock. But at the same time, I would be totally happy if there weren’t any cameras on the inside of the Fold at all—though with the sheer number of selfies people take nowadays, that’s probably not going to happen. At the very least, positioning the two inside cameras vertically (in portrait mode) instead of horizontally would let Samsung hide the cameras inside the letterboxed portion of the screen.
As for the Fold’s triple rear cameras, they appear to be the same sensors and optics you get on a standard S10. There’s a 12-MP primary lens, a 12-MP 2x telephoto lens, and a 16-MP ultra-wide angle lens. There are no real surprises here. All of them are quite sharp, but in a pure image quality face-off, Samsung’s cameras are still often edged out by what you can get from a Pixel 3. However, since the Fold has two extra lenses that the Pixel 3 can’t match, the comparison is basically even.
A bent beginning
By almost any metric, the Galaxy Fold’s early days have been troubled. Samsung should have told reviewers not to peel off the Fold’s polymer layer. The Galaxy Fold box reviewers received is different from standard retail packaging, which contains explicit instructions not to go digging your fingernails into the Fold’s delicate gadgetry.
Regardless, you can’t go back in time, so those stumbles are things Samsung has to live with. To Samsung’s credit, the company recently issued a statement saying it’s delaying the Galaxy Fold’s launch to address early concerns about the phone’s durability.
More pressing issues
The first thing most people point out about the Galaxy Fold is its crease. You can see it, you can feel it, and it can be distracting, but after using the Fold almost non-stop for a week, the crease is really just the Fold’s fourth or fifth biggest problem.
To me, the Fold’s greatest shortcoming is the size of its 4.6-inch cover screen. It’s just too small. It’s fine for quickly scrolling through texts or emails, but the second you start typing a reply, the frustration begins. Due to the cover screen’s extra tall aspect ratio, there’s not much room for a keyboard, which makes things feel exceedingly cramped.
Furthermore, when you think back on how much work Samsung has done to eliminate bezels on previous Galaxy phones, the cover screen appears even more awkward. With that much-wasted space around the outside, the cover screen looks like a guy wearing a t-shirt three sizes too small.
Then there are the obvious concerns about the Fold’s durability. Samsung says its flexible screen should be able to handle thousands of bends, but the real answer right now is that we just don’t know. One reviewer encountered issues after something got stuck under the Fold’s screen and caused the display to malfunction, while at least one other Fold bugged out for seemingly no reason.
That said, even though our review unit is a European model, the Fold has functioned without issue since we received it, and that includes surviving a two-foot fall onto hardwood without a case. Still, considering the Galaxy Fold’s price, any bugs or defects feel even worse than they might on a regularly priced device.
I also have questions about a potential point of weakness on the Galaxy Fold: the intersections at the top and bottom of the flexible screen where the display meets the hinge. There’s a small gap that seems like a possible vector where the Fold might collect small debris that could eventually cause some damage. Or maybe I’m just overly cautious. Once again, we don’t know.
There’s also the Fold’s overall weight and thickness. It’s manageable, but not ideal. It’s something Samsung will almost assuredly improve in future generations, but if anyone said the Fold’s size was a deal breaker right now, it’s completely understandable.
The Fold’s flexible screen is still a work in progress too. Samsung’s flexible displays don’t quite live up to the industry-leading screens found on other phones equipped with Samsung display. The Fold’s screen is without a doubt bright and vibrant, but with a 2,152 by 1,536 resolution that has to span 7.3 inches of screen, the Galaxy Fold’s pixel density is almost 30-percent lower than what you get on an S10+. That means if you pixel peep, you can sometimes see text that doesn’t look as sharp as it would on a typical high-end phone.
The Fold also suffers from a slight wobble or unevenness while scrolling, where the left side the screen moves just barely ahead of the right side. It’s very subtle and something most people probably wouldn’t notice unless it was pointed out to them, but it’s there.
All told, Samsung has work to do for the second-gen Fold. As daunting as they may sound, none of these problems stopped me from enjoying the hell out of the Fold. It’s thick, but it also feels substantial. The magnets hidden inside the screens deliver a reassuring snap every time you close the phone, while that big screen makes everything on it more enjoyable.
So should you get one?
In almost all every scenario, the answer is no. Are you someone searching for an affordable phone? Then don’t buy the Galaxy Fold. Do you want something durable? Don’t buy the Fold. (Unlike the IP68 rating for water and dust resistance that’s become standard on almost every flagship handset, the Galaxy Fold has nothing.) Do you not see the point of having a huge screen on a phone? The Galaxy Fold is not for you. Do you hate reading instructions, researching a device, or testing out something experimental? Then definitely don’t get the Galaxy Fold. The Galaxy Fold is undoubtedly an impressive piece of tech, but it hasn’t been perfected, and to expect immaculate performance out the gate is a bit unrealistic. If the Galaxy Fold doesn’t interest you, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Don’t buy one.
This might sound damning, but that’s the way things go for revolutionary gadgets. The original iPhone opened eyes and minds, but the iPhone 3G was actually the one you wanted to buy. It was a similar situation for the first Surface. The blueprint for an entirely new class of laptop was there, but the keyboard and the OS didn’t really feel complete until the Surface Pro 3. And that’s probably how it will go for the Galaxy Fold.
If you’re intrigued by the idea of a big bendy screen that still fits in a pocket or clutch but are scared of first-gen tech, just wait. In a couple of years when the Galaxy Fold 2 or 3 comes out, many of Samsung’s growing pains could be distant memories. Right now, the Galaxy Fold is for people who can handle some rough edges in exchange for trying out a gadget that’s unlike anything else on the market.
The Flexible Future
With a price this high and ambitions this big, a lot of people are positioning the Galaxy Fold as the phone of tomorrow. But that’s only partially correct. The Galaxy Fold isn’t the future, it’s just one branch of it. The Galaxy Fold can coexist with traditional phones, it’s not a bendy screen assassin, at least not yet.
However, despite all of its caveats, there’s one thing I found telling. Anytime I had to put the Fold down to run a test or perform some other hands-off activity, more than any other phone in recent memory, I couldn’t wait to ditch my daily driver so that I could use the Galaxy Fold again. The Galaxy Fold won’t strike everyone the same way, but for the people who get it, it hits really hard. The Galaxy Fold is a device that’s hard to appreciate until it’s actually in your hands, and while Samsung has work to do, even this early, folding is believing.
It might seem like a gimmick, but having a phone with a screen that big has the power to make secondary devices like a tablet or e-reader obsolete.
Unlike most modern Samsung phones, the Galaxy Fold doesn’t have water-resistance or a headphone jack, and its long-term durability is questionable.
If you have any concerns at all about the Galaxy Fold’s tech, its durability, or its price tag, don’t buy it.
Despite its flaws, the Galaxy Fold remains an incredibly engaging device.