Almost a year ago, I reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Fold, which had some launch issues centered around build quality that resulted in a pretty long delay in actually shipping the phones.
I called the $1,980 Fold too expensive and said: “This phone is not for everyone. The price alone will ensure that.
“I’ll likely be waiting for Samsung and the rest to release the next-generation folding phones that will offer more choices and most likely be cheaper.”
Now Samsung has released the Galaxy Z Fold2 5G. Everything about it is better than the original Fold, but darn if it isn’t more expensive.
The Fold2 costs $1,999.99. It’s the first $2,000 phone I’ve seen.
There are a few other folding phones, but none as big or as expensive as the Fold2, which is a huge step up from the original Fold. Let’s look at what’s new and improved with the Fold2.
Fold phones have a smaller display on the front and open up to reveal a larger display inside.
Both screens are larger on the Fold2.
The front cover display on the Fold measured 4.6 inches, which seems tiny compared to the Fold2’s 6.2-inch front screen.
The Fold2’s inside screen measures 7.6 inches, up from 7.3 inches on the original Fold.
The Fold2’s inside screen is also covered in very thin glass, where the Fold had a plastic screen. Neither screen looks like it can take much punishment, but the glass seems less prone to scratching.
There is still a visible gutter running down the center of the screen where it folds. I don’t find this to be distracting at all when the screen is on.
The big display’s screen-to-body ratio has been raised from 85.79% to 89%, so the bezels are thinner.
You’ll also notice the inside camera notch is gone, in favor of a small punchout hole for the selfie camera.
Hardware and cameras
Inside, the Fold2 gets the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+, an updated Adreno 650 graphics processor.
It keeps the same 12 gigabytes of RAM from the old Fold but it has the faster DDR5 RAM.
Internal storage comes in one configuration, 256 GB, which is not expandable.
The Fold2’s 4,500-milliamp hour battery is a bit larger, but so is the phone itself.
The Fold2 measures 6.27 by 2.67 by 0.66 inches closed and 6.27 by 5 by 0.27 inches when open. It weighs 9.95 ounces.
Biometric unlocking can be done via fingerprint (the sensor is on the right side under the volume buttons) or with your face. I tried both, and they reacted as you would expect with no hassle at all.
The Fold2 has Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0, and the charge/sync port is USB-C. It also has fast wireless charging and reverse charging (it can wirelessly charge other devices).
The Fold2 does not have a headphone jack.
Like all of Samsung’s high-end phones in 2020, the Fold2 has 5G with both bands (sub-6 and mmWave), so it should be compatible with 5G from all the major carriers as it rolls out.
The cameras didn’t improve much in the Fold2. The main camera keeps the 12-megapixel sensor and 2x optical zoom lens. The wide angle stays at 12MP as well. The ultrawide drops from 16MP on last year’s Fold to 12MP on the Fold2.
There are two selfie cameras on the Fold2, one on the inside screen and one on the front display. They both have identical 10MP sensors.
The Fold2 can shoot 4K video at 30 frames per second, and it has image stabilization.
Flex mode and continuity
One of the more interesting features is called Flex mode, which lets apps take advantage of the folding screen.
For example, you can open the main screen halfway and sit the phone down like a little laptop. This is perfect for video conferencing. The part of the screen with the selfie camera is facing you, and the portion of the screen sitting flat on the table has the call controls.
App developers will be able to use flex mode in their apps.
The Fold2 is also great at app continuity, which means you can use the front screen to check an email, for example, then open up to the big screen and the contents from the front appear inside, ready for you to keep working.
The Fold2 can work with up to three apps at a time on the big screen. Things can get a little tight when you divide that screen into three parts, but I found it useful for moving text and images between apps with a finger drag.
The entire Fold2 experience hinges on one part of the phone: its hinge.
The hinge and the screen seem 100% stable and smooth, but Samsung warns you not to get water, dust or dirt anywhere near the Fold2.
There have been many improvements in the hinge mechanism, but it still has tiny openings at the top and bottom of the screen on the center line where the hinge opens and closes.
The hinge has an internal brush system called the Sweeper that’s designed to keep dust and debris out of the hinge mechanism.
The Fold2 doesn’t feel fragile or vulnerable, but I can’t help thinking that the $2,000 phone in my pocket could be seriously hampered by a few grains of sand in the wrong place.
I have no data to back up my feelings, but I feel tons more confident about using my iPhone in the rain, and it has an IP68 rating for water and dust resistance. The Fold2 has no IP (ingress protection) rating.
The Fold2 is really two devices. It’s a 6.2-inch smartphone when folded and a 7.6-inch tablet when open.
The question is, when do you use it closed and when do you open it up?
I found it difficult to try to limit my use to the front screen for normal phone tasks. I kept thinking, “You’ve got a huge screen in your hands — why not use it?”
I had to force myself to think about when to keep it closed, like when I was talking on the phone or reading a quick text message.
I have to say that typing on the narrow front screen is very cramped (comically so), but opening up the keyboard on the inside screen is luxurious.
My conclusions in my Fold review still apply to the Fold2.
I don’t see myself spending $2,000 for a phone, but if you are the kind of person who needs to have the latest and greatest, you’ll get lots of attention with the Fold2.
The Fold2 is only available in one configuration — 256 GB — and it costs $1,999.99. You can choose from Mystic Black or Mystic Bronze. You can also choose the color of the hinge: black, silver, gold, red or blue.
Samsung is offering trade-in credit on its website for certain Samsung, Apple or Google phones.
The Fold2 goes on sale on Sept. 18 from Samsung and all major carriers and big electronics stores.
Pros: Beautiful screens, top-of-the-line specs, improvements in every area.
Cons: Can’t recall a more expensive phone (besides the ones that are solid gold or diamond-encrusted).
Bottom line: This phone has the best of everything and the biggest screen. Well done, Samsung.
(Article written by Jim Rossman)