Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G
"The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the best foldable device you can buy right now."
The foldable screen opens up new possibilities
Excellent hardware quality
Soothing hinge and screen durability
Very good triple camera
Top-end specs and core features
Difficult and awkward to operate with one hand
Many apps are not optimized for leaflets
Much more expensive than most phones
Foldable devices will play a role in the future of smartphones. Even if they seem expensive, fragile, and compromised right now, they won't be forever. Just the evolution of quality from the first Galaxy Fold, which got off to a terrible start, to the quality of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 shows that the industry is on the right track.
However, you are not buying a foldable phone, especially a $ 2,000 phone, as it is part of an advancement of new technology. You buy it based on what it does for you and what it offers beyond what you get from a regular smartphone. Here's everything the Galaxy Z Fold 2 brings to the table to justify its sky-high price tag.
Hardware, design and ads
The new Galaxy Z Fold 2 follows the same concept as its predecessor: a device the size of a mini tablet that is halved by a large hinge, with a folding screen on the inside and an additional "cover display" on the outside. However, it is no exaggeration to say that Samsung has touched the implementation of this concept for this generation in every way. And it's all for the better.
Samsung knows how to make high-end phones that look and feel like they're worth the money, and that carries over to this huge device. The two-tone matte glass and shiny metal pieces give the Z Fold 2 quite a bit of flair, and while I like it (you'll never be able to hide this phone anyway), black is an option too. The execution is flawless. Every angle is perfect, every gap is consistent, and all the details are spot on.
The redesigned hinge is most responsible for the Z Fold 2's rugged feel. It is no longer loose or thin at any point in its operation, as it sticks at every angle, e.g. B. a laptop screen or a Microsoft Surface stand. You can adjust the screen angle to whatever you want and it just stays there – but it retains a satisfactory lock when opened flat. With the screen open, you can hold the phone in one hand, shake it around, hold it vertically or upside down and it will not move.
It's also relatively easy to return it to a folded position with one hand – as long as you comfortably press your thumb on the screen. It closes with a solid, satisfying "click" while the bezels snap together with magnets. Regardless of whether you open or close, hardly a sound can be heard. Of course, if you hold your ear to the screen, you'll notice the various layers unfold and the little dusty bristles in the hinge, but this is an almost silent operation.
Samsung has revised the hardware design and brought both displays to a new level.
Even if Samsung had kept the exterior design identical to that of its predecessor, I would still welcome the improved display. The cover display used to be weirdly small, but like any other smartphone, it is now 6.2 inches and has small frames. Major changes have been made inside. The 7.6-inch foldable panel is now surrounded by 25% smaller bezels and a simple pinhole camera instead of the huge notch with multiple cameras before. The edges of the front bezel aren't raised nearly as much, and you barely notice them even if you're using the Android 10's gesture navigation system.
The display looks great. Of course, it's a Samsung display. The colors are saturated, the brightness is excellent even outdoors and there are no deviations when viewed at an angle. It even runs at a refresh rate of 120Hz, just like the S20 series, so the movement is buttery smooth. With the flexible display levels, the clarity is not on par with the glass covers of the iPhone 11 Pro Max or the Samsung Note 20 Ultra. That slight visual change aside, this display is indistinguishable from the best in the business – it's only twice that size and randomly folds in half. No compromise here.
Let's talk about the crease. It is there and yes you will notice. Sometimes. This is most noticeable on a screen with low brightness and on a white or light background. Even so, after a few days I noticed that my eyes were ignoring it. And since you mostly use the phone in portrait orientation – the display has a very wide aspect ratio anyway – rarely touch or swipe the crease.
However, most people are more concerned about the shelf life. I only used the Z Fold 2 for this test for two weeks. So I can't say how well it will hold up over time. But I'm pretty confident, especially since we've now seen people use the original crease (well, the revised original crease) for a year with little deterioration. This new model has the Samsung display "UTG" or Ultra Thin Glass for the display and is much more resistant to scratches and bumps. There's also a pre-installed screen protector made from the typical thin flexible plastic that I'm not a huge fan of, but it's another layer of protection.
The crease will definitely change its shape a little, and over months of folding it will absorb some aberrations. And yes, if you dig your fingernail into the screen or drop it while it's open, it will look worse for wear and tear. However, most of the phones get damaged in the latter scenario. The biggest advantage of the Z Fold 2 is that the foldable screen is closed and cannot be compromised when you are not using it. With a large foldable phone like this one, there are user-friendliness concerns, but for me they don't relate to the durability of the screen and the hinge.
With a big foldable phone
Samsung has made strides to make this hardware as slim and compact as current technology allows. However, it is still a giant compared to single non-collapsible screens. That starts with a weight of 282 grams, which is about 25% heavier than an iPhone 11 Pro Max and 35% heavier than a Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. It's nearly 17mm thick, roughly twice that of a typical phone (as expected).
It adds up to a cumbersome device. It's big and heavy, and you never forget that – neither in your hand nor in your pocket. The phone is nowhere near so small that I can use it as a music source for my headphones in any kind of bag or holder. It's not waterproof either, so I wouldn't take the risk anyway.
The weight is most noticeable when it is closed. This is how you will use it a lot. Fortunately, the new, larger cover display is big enough to get most of your chores done, and gives you full access to a typical lock screen, notifications, a home screen, and all of your apps. The screen is a bit narrow which can make typing awkward (this can be fixed with a swipe keyboard), but the main problem is getting to the top of this very tall screen while balancing out a beefy and thick phone.
The other problem you will encounter is app compatibility. Some apps just don't scale to full screen because they're so big. This is more annoying than a real usability problem, but it's there. Most of these buggy apps are the same ones that will inevitably have to be restarted if you open the phone while it is running. This is an odd odd thing about resizing Android apps (or not).
You don't use the outside display more than necessary, however, as you can open up the Z Fold 2 and get the gorgeous control panel instead. The use cases are all easy to understand. It starts with just getting more of everything. More map area, more webpage before scrolling, more photos in larger size, more of each message in a list, more book before turning the page, and so on. This is great because you never feel cramped on the Z Fold 2 – there is always enough space to do what you want.
However, that again requires the apps that you play ball with. Many apps, including all apps from Google and Microsoft, make good use of this additional real estate when run in full screen mode. You get an additional appropriately sized panel or user interface controls, which gives you more content and less chrome. Other apps are just bad. Twitter, Seamless, Venmo, Strava, Telegram, Lyft, American Express, the list goes on. All of them just stretch out the UI and no longer offer you any content or viewing space as they were not designed for large screens. Instagram is notoriously bad at filling the screen, and now Samsung has just packed it with pillars to make it at least reasonably usable. (It's still bad.)
Samsung also uses the stiff hinge to prop the phone at an angle in "flex mode," which triggers a different user interface in a handful of apps – YouTube, Google Duo, Camera, and a few others. it's not very useful. Why cut the screen in half? I only used it for video calls when I didn't want to hold the phone or for photos where I used it as a de facto tripod.
Most of the time, you're running a single app on the Z Fold 2 and it feels clunky and like a waste of space. You really need to find and stick to the handful of apps that make good use of that space. Of course, you can also run apps side by side, which greatly improves the experience. It's instantly intuitive and extremely useful. Run Twitter while messaging, check the status of an order while viewing your credit card charge, and do a Wikipedia search while watching a YouTube video. Check your calendar while reading an email.
It's this dual app usage that makes the Z Fold 2 shine and really justify its size. You can set up pairs of apps (or groups of three if you really want to) to start automatically together with the press of a button. If you already have a full screen app open, you can always drag a second, third, or floating app with a small handle on the side of the screen. About 90% of my apps ran side by side – not perfect, but close.
If you don't open the Z Fold 2 regularly and use multiple apps at the same time, then you really are missing the point of this phone. You don't pay that much and bother with this great device just to use the cover display or a single app inside. You need to use its features.
Samsung offers the Z Fold 2 more than enough power to run three apps at the same time. You don't have to think for a moment that the phone has a Snapdragon 865+, 12GB of RAM, or 5GB – it all works like any high-end phone should and will do for years to come. However, you will appreciate the 256GB of storage space as well as useful features like stereo speakers, fast charging, fast wireless charging, and reverse wireless charging. There are no compromises in terms of technical data and functions compared to non-foldable telephones, which is currently not a matter of course for foldable telephones.
Unless you regularly use multiple apps at the same time, then you really lack the point of this phone.
Battery life is almost the same as leading single monitors, but how long it lasts depends a lot on how you use them. With a lot of main screen use and multitasking, you can chew through the 4,500mAh battery (like the Note 20 Ultra) before you know it. It's not surprising that allowing yourself to watch videos more often and keep two apps running all the time will drain your resources. In my typical use, where I put what I normally do on the bigger screen, I lasted a full day on 10 to 20% battery life.
In contrast to the Microsoft Surface Duo, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 fortunately does not have any major compromises when it comes to the camera. You get a triumvirate of cameras loosely based on the Galaxy S20: the same 12 megapixel main camera with OIS (optical image stabilization) is combined with two smaller 12MP sensors for zoom and ultrawide applications.
It's a little disappointing that this $ 2,000 phone doesn't include a copy of the Galaxy S20 + (or Note 20 Ultra) camera setup. But where things matter most, the main camera, you get an identical experience. These photos speak for themselves folks: this is a really good camera.
Just like Samsung's 2020 flagships, the Z Fold 2 takes expressive, colorful, and engaging photos. I've never taken a really bad shot, and the camera is completely reliable and consistent every time I hit the power button twice to start it. There tends to be too much saturation and sometimes the sky can be blown out or strong halos around objects, but these are minor issues.
The zoom camera is a bit of a let down as it is a smaller sensor and there is no OIS in the main camera (and in the zoom camera on the Galaxy S20). You can easily see that zoom shots are softer than the main camera even if the resolution is only 2x, and in low light conditions the software switches back completely to the main sensor. This zoom camera dates back to the Galaxy S10 series and today's midrange phones, and that's not a good thing to see at this price point. The ultrawide camera absolutely does the job, even if it's not exactly the same as that of the S20 and Note 20 series.
Regardless of the camera chosen, shooting with a huge viewfinder with the screen open is even better than a typical phone.
Perhaps the biggest camera win of all is for selfies. You can flip the Z-fold 2 over and use the rear camera as a selfie shooter with the cover display as the viewfinder. Whether you want a high quality main camera shot or an ultrawide shot for a group of friends (or a backdrop for yourself), that typical front camera will be blown away – especially in low light.
The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is a huge evolution of the original. The hardware is perfectly made and exudes quality, while the functionality of the screens and the hinge has been dramatically improved. All of this without compromising the core smartphone experience – you get good cameras and most of the nice-to-have features of a regular phone.
The downsides are ease of use, size, and price. The Z Fold 2 is huge, which makes it difficult to operate with one hand at times – and if you don't use that large display all the time, carrying this massive device around with you is a chore. At the same time, many of the software experiences when you have this screen open leave much to be desired. And then there is the price. At $ 2,000, you need a lot of cash to spend twice as much money as a typical high-end phone, but not twice as many functions or features.
This is an amazing technological feat, but it still requires understanding that you are buying a collapsible smartphone that is on the cutting edge of innovation. That means there is compromise, and that's not what most people want (or need).
Is there a better alternative?
There really isn't a direct alternative to the Galaxy Z Fold 2. Some will sayis a loose competitor, but really offers a different experience with its separate displays – and ultimately the Surface Duo falls far short of the mark in terms of smartphone functionality and usability.
Elsewhere in the foldable space you have a choiceor the upcoming Motorola Razr, both of which offer completely different experiences. Realistically, your choice is: Are you doing this? or spend top dollars on a "traditional" high-end phone like this or upcoming iPhone 12 Pro Max? It's a personal choice.
How long it will take?
I'm not particularly concerned about the long-term durability of the Z Fold 2's hinge and display. Samsung clearly put a lot of work into fixing early hardware bugs, and even last year's Fold has proven to be quite durable over time. Samsung also offers good warranty protection and screen replacement if necessary. The Z Fold 2 also receives at least two major software upgrades and regular security patches that keep it going for about as long as someone actually uses the phone.
Should you buy it?
Yes. People will make fun of the $ 2,000 price tag for the Z Fold 2, and rightly so. However, if you are ready to part with that huge sum of money on the latest technology, then you are probably also interested in being an early adopter of foldable phones. The Z Fold 2 is currently the best foldable one on the (small) market.
However, if you do buy it, please do not fund the phone for more than four years as Samsung suggests on its website.