Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the second iteration of its full-size folding phone. Or, more accurately, folding tablet since it’s a chunky phone when closed, a slim, elegant tablet when open.
There’s no doubt it’s a classy, premium device and there’s also no doubt that it challenges your expectations. When open, the display is almost square, which is an unusual shape. When closed, it’s a normal sized phone but for the significantly increased thickness. So, is this a phone you should consider, and if so, for what? And does the new tech and striking design justify the considerable price?
Here’s everything you need to know.
The holy grail for portable devices is maximum usable screen size combined with minimum phone bulk. Folding phones offer a remarkable way to achieve this. When unfolded, the display measures 7.6 inches, which is bigger than any other mainstream phone can boast. That’s quite a win, if you feel you have a need for a screen that big. After all, for many people there’s the option to choose other devices. Need something really small? A smartwatch can suffice. Need more than a smartphone offers? There’s a tablet for that, or a laptop.
But then again, the Apple iPad mini has a screen size (7.9in) that it just 0.3 inches bigger than the unfolded display of the Z Fold 2. Maybe you don’t need two devices after all. And, yes, this tablet fits in your pocket.
Of course, it’s not as simple as that. A nearly square display isn’t as useful for some things, such as watching video, as an oblong one. Movies look better with smaller, or no, black bars at each side and a squarish display doesn’t help with that.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 comes in colors which include the fashion-forward Mystic Bronze. It’s a delicate shade that is businesslike but eye-catching in equal measure. You can’t miss this phone.
The build quality is the best Samsung has ever done – and given the price of this phone, it probably needs to be. The result, once you get used to the unusual shape in your hand or pocket, is that this is a handsome and exciting phone.
The external display is bigger than it was on the first Samsung Z Fold, 6.2in, which is a significant bonus. It’s a big enough display to make it completely usable without opening it for much of the time. Though if that is how you use it, choose a different phone, you’re wasting your money.
But the truth is that you won’t use it closed all the time.
One of the key things about the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is that it repeatedly challenges your expectations, allowing you to find your way to new uses you may not have thought of before. All of which is revealed when you open it.
The opening mechanism is smooth and solid, feeling secure and reliable. The newly redesigned hinge and other details mean that it’s less likely that bits of stuff will get under the screen’s skin – a flexible skin that stretches tight when you open it.
Touch the screen and though it certainly feels more fragile than a regular glass display, it doesn’t make you want to pussyfoot around. Even though it feels like a screen with a springy screen protector on it, which essentially it is, this is still a proper screen. More than proper, actually, in other ways. Like a small number of flagship phones, this has a 120Hz refresh rate, aiming it a smooth, fluid screen that looks terrific. Last year’s first Fold did not have such a fast screen.
The way you use the phone is different, and it’s one of the reasons that the Galaxy Z Fold2 feels so futuristic. When the display is open, proper multi-tasking is possible in a way that’s rare on smartphones, and there are even split-screen capabilities thanks to a new Flex Mode which rearranges how apps look. This is a whole new way to use a phone, though it doesn’t yet apply to very many apps.
The real joy of the Z Fold2 is the enormous inner display. Google Maps looks fantastic on it, games are a delight and video playback is fun.
The near-square display means movies have big black bars around them, but the quality of the screen still casts an immersive spell.
Quite the performer
This is a fast phone, capable of handling whatever you throw at it. It may technically not match the iPhone 11 Pro, but in most instances, you can’t tell the difference. The performance is matched by strong battery life – a full day with ease. Mind you, the 120Hz refresh rate obviously will diminish the battery faster than you might like, but it looks so great that you probably won’t mind.
Three rear cameras, one front-facing camera and one inside make up the photographic capabilities of the Z Fold2. These are not as sparklingly cutting-edge as some phones, including the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, but they more than do the job.
The ones on the back sit in a raised camera unit, similar to the Note 20 Ultra, but here the lenses all cover 12MP sensors. There are neat extra features: from tips on taking pictures to the now-standard but certainly effective scene optimization settings. But the real standout is having such a big display on which to frame your shots.
Results are fast, sharp, detailed and gorgeous.
Foldable phones, we’re told, are the future. This is a dazzling phone and certainly feels like something very new and different. But there’s no denying you pay quite a bit for the privilege of having a foldable tablet in your pocket. It’s highly enjoyable to use, and immaculately built.
Is it one of those new experiences where you think that once tried you can’t go back to how things were? Not quite. But it’s not far off.
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