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It's finally time to consider a foldable for your next phone

Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Galaxy Z Flip
Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Galaxy Z Flip (Image credit: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

I'm always excited to see new form factors start to emerge in tech. Gadgets like foldables or even dual-screen devices recall a more experimental time before the ubiquitous glass slab smartphones we know today, and they come with unique new use cases that can eventually influence the entire mobile industry.

But naturally, with new ideas come various problems and setbacks. The necessary materials for foldable displays, including thin, flexible glass and plastic, aren't as durable as the glass used on most smartphones, and with so many moving parts, these gadgets can't be water-resistant, either. You'll also inevitably run into apps that don't support the often-unusual aspect ratios of foldable phones, which can lead to letterboxing, poor scaling, or some combination of the two.

Using the Galaxy Z Fold 2 mostly feels like using any other phone. That's a big deal.

Foldables are very much still a work in progress, as companies like Samsung and Huawei race to solve the problems they largely already tackled years ago in traditional phones. Here's the good news, though: they're getting there at an incredibly fast rate.

Last year's Galaxy Fold was riddled with so many display issues that Samsung had to delay its launch by nearly six months — yet just a year later, the followup Galaxy Z Fold 2 has outstanding build quality that rivals even Samsung's mainstream Galaxy S and Note designs. There haven't yet been any widespread display issues on review units (fingers crossed), and the specs are exactly what you'd expect from a flagship phone in 2020.

I think we're finally a point where foldables can be actual products worth recommending to consumers, rather than neat experiments to admire from a distance. They're still expensive, sure; the Z Fold 2 costs a whopping two grand, and even more affordable foldables like the Z Flip 5G cost as much as top-end devices like the Note 20 Ultra.

But I can't remember the last time I've been as sad to return a review unit as I was last week, when Samsung sent me a shipping label for my Galaxy Z Fold 2. It was the first foldable I'd used that felt like a finished product, and one with immediately clear benefits over a typical smartphone. Being able to switch from a somewhat standard smartphone experience to a 7.6-inch mini tablet enabled a unique multitasking experience, and created a feeling of deliberacy with every app I opened.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2

Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

Its drawbacks were few and far between; the only one that regularly stayed at the top of my mind was the lack of water resistance, which made me particularly careful not to pull out the Fold 2 in the middle of the rain. Otherwise, using the Z Fold 2 felt like using any other phone, and that's a remarkable feat.

Does that mean you should go out and buy a Z Fold 2 right now? Not necessarily; I don't know that anybody should spend $2000 on a smartphone unless they're really convinced it'll positively impact their life. As much as I loved my time with the Fold, I'm not even sure that I would spend that kind of money on it — though Samsung's high trade-in offers would certainly help ease the blow.

It's getting harder to make the argument that foldables aren't ready for the mass market, though. Not everybody needs one, just like not everybody needs the S Pen on Samsung's Note line, or a 108MP camera, astrophotography, or reverse wireless charging. For those that think they can take advantage of the various advantages of foldable tech, though, I don't see many reasons not to buy one at this point.

Even the Z Flip 5G has the latest Snapdragon 865+ processor, and fits more easily into a pocket than any other phone in years. The Motorola Razr 5G has a large cover screen that makes it easy to take selfies with the main cameras. The Z Fold 2 opens up to become a tiny tablet that fits in your pocket. These are all great features that you won't easily find elsewhere, and they're a testament to the weird, wacky, and wonderful world of foldables. If you want one, go out and get it.

Hayato was a product reviewer and video editor for Android Central.

11 Comments
  • I really like the Zfold2. Vastly improved specs and looking like the 🐈's meow. If they add the S-pen on the next model, come to Papa, yikes. But I still may consider this one. The 120hz display with the 865+processer, wow-we, a super trick tablet phone!
  • In addition to an S-Pen, I would also want MicroSD storage. Then I would consider it.
  • These 2 additions, plus a completely gapless hinge design and a screen that can handle an s-pen without immediately getting all marked up = the perfect phone
  • Would need better cameras too. A $2000 phone with cameras that aren't as good as phones that cost half as much isn't ideal.
  • Nah, I'm still very far off from actually wanting these. The current form factor we have may be boring but it's mostly perfected and works fine. As I continue to keep my phone longer I will wait until these have minimal compromises.
  • No way am i paying out silly money for a phone that will be of no benefit to me.
  • The Qualcomm 875 will have the modem integrated (and will be manufactured by Samsung). Also, 3 years in, Samsung should have lots more materials and capacity. Those SHOULD reduce the price of the Z Flip 3 (no 5G this time as it will be the default instead of presumed on every phone that costs more than $400).
  • Foldable phones won't mean anything until Apple launches a foldable iPhone with 5G support.
  • Perhaps for late as hell Apple fans, yes.
  • Yeh, like Apple are the be all and end all.
    If they are then they wouldn't need to keep relying on the manufacturer of the foldable phone to help them out with their screens.
  • I'm not convinced. I respect what Samsung and Microsoft have accomplished but these devices look incredibly awkward to use. I never got into using a tablet as another device so maybe this form won't ever be for me.