The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is yet another attempt by Samsung to score a foldable smartphone on the market. The first Galaxy Fold had two versions: one very problematic, which never appeared in stores, and another that came to be sold, but still had a face of product in beta. Then, Samsung bet on the Galaxy Z Flip, which stoked the nostalgic feelings of many people who had a flip phone in the 2000s.
With these past experiences, we are talking about Samsung’s third or fourth generation of foldable cell phones. It is still an extremely expensive and niche product, but it promises to be more refined than previous models. Is it worth it? I already say that I no longer wanted to return the device to Samsung, but I will share my experiences in the next few minutes.
Galaxy Z Fold 2 video review
O Tecnoblog is a technology-independent journalistic vehicle that helps people make their next purchase decision since 2005. Our product reviews are opinionated and have no advertising intent. For this reason, we always transparently highlight the positive and negative points of each product.
No company, manufacturer or store has paid the Tecnoblog to produce this content. Our reviews are not reviewed or approved by external agents. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 was provided by Samsung on loan. The product will be returned to the company after testing.
Design and external screen
As I said at the beginning of the year, the Galaxy Fold was a prototype. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the finished product. There is no way to compare the two devices properly: apart from the fact that both are foldable cell phones and turn into a small tablet, the new model has a much superior finish, cutouts for selfie cameras that don’t look like gambiarras and a much more comfortable external screen to use.
The design lines of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra were a clear inspiration for the Galaxy Z Fold 2, especially in the rear cameras, which create a pronounced bump in the housing. The bronze color, which is a strong bet by Samsung in the latest products, pleases me for being elegant and escaping the sameness of the black and silver of the electronics industry, without being too flashy.
The weight of 282 grams and the thickness of almost 17 mm when folded are similar to those of the previous generation, so you should feel the Galaxy Z Fold 2 in your pants pocket at all times (and others around you too). Other features inherited from the first Galaxy Fold are the fingerprint reader on the side and the stereo speakers with excellent quality and high volume, as I would expect from a good tablet.
Closed, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 looks like a more conventional smartphone, leaving aside the giant frames of the previous version. The 6.2-inch external display is quite tall, with a 25: 9 aspect ratio, interrupted only by the 10-megapixel front camera hole. Those who are used to large cell phones will still be surprised by the first days of use, since the virtual keyboard is narrower, but typing was comfortable after I got the hang of it.
The AMOLED panel of the cover has quality as expected for a top of the line, with good definition, strong brightness and the perfect black of the technology, but it does not escape much of that, with a refresh rate of 60 Hz and a glass feeling to the touch. Despite being a much needed change to make the phone more useful when folded, an edge-to-edge screen is something that Samsung could (and should) have included since the first generation.
The new folding screen
The big advances, for me, are in the internal screen and the hinge. In the first Galaxy Fold, I complained about the brightness of the foldable AMOLED, which was significantly weaker than Samsung’s “ordinary” line tops. And it only had two positions: either fully folded, or fully open. After a Galaxy Z Flip in the middle, Samsung seems to have learned ways to make a foldable smartphone more interesting.
The 7.6 inch screen has excellent definition, strong brightness for viewing content even in sunlight and a 4: 5 aspect ratio; it is taller than broad. An interesting addition was the variable refresh rate, between 11 and 120 Hz, which seems to create an even greater sense of fluidity than on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s “small” 6.9-inch screen. There is no longer a huge notch for the front cameras, which enlarged the useful area of the panel.
Numerically, the 7.6 inches of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 don’t seem like much when we have a vast offer of 6.7 or 6.9 inch phones on the market, but the display area of the Samsung folding smartphone is almost double normal, thanks to the proportion of the panel. Editing a document, surfing the web or reading a book are much more enjoyable tasks in the Samsung folding. Only a Galaxy Note pen was missing to complete the package.
The new hinge features tiny internal brushes to prevent debris from entering and improving the product’s resistance, but the most interesting detail is the fact that it can fix the screen at any angle between 75 and 115 degrees. This opens up possibilities, such as taking pictures with a longer exposure time or shooting with the rear cameras without the help of a tripod. You can even leave your smartphone open on the table to use it as a mini-notebook or watch a video.
To be fair with an expensive R $ 14,000 cell phone, I just didn’t like the factory-installed protection on the folding screen: it has a kind of sticky look, which reminds me of those cheap films you find in accessory stores of dubious origin. And, of course, there are still limitations inherent to the current state of technology: the crease in the middle of the screen remains very visible and there is no IP certification for water protection.
The Galaxy Z Fold 2 runs Android 10 with the One UI 2.5 interface and brings the same visual aspect as other Samsung phones, with square icons with rounded corners, clean screens and interfaces more thought to be used with one hand. The main adaptations for the foldable format are Flex mode and multitasking.
Flex mode takes advantage of the flexibility of using the hinge to adapt applications. If you want to type text, you can use the Galaxy Z Fold 2 as a mini-notebook, leaving the virtual keyboard at the bottom half of the screen and the document at the top. The division also works on YouTube: you can make the video occupy one half while you browse the comments on the other.
A nice possibility is to make a video call by leaving the Galaxy Z Fold 2 on the table, with the internal front camera pointing at your face, as in an ordinary laptop, leaving your hands free. Unfortunately, this only works on a few applications, such as Google Duo (who uses this?). The most popular of all, WhatsApp, did not yet support Flex mode at the time of this review, in November 2020.
With a larger screen, there’s also room for real multitasking. A bar accessible from the side allows you to quickly open an application in split view: you can write text in Samsung Notes while you browse an article through the browser, for example. You can also run two applications at the same time in a pop-up view, as if they were desktop windows. This brings us to another feature of Samsung’s expensive smartphones: DeX.
DeX simulates a desktop experience, with windows floating on a desktop and a bottom bar to switch between running applications. As with the Galaxy Note 20, it is possible to activate DeX mode on any TV with Miracast support without wires; there is also the option to connect the phone to an external screen with an HDMI cable. I missed an autonomous DeX mode, like the Galaxy Tab line, which could make more people out there drop a notebook.
The cameras of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 are good, but don’t expect the same whim as the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. The optical set is more similar to that of Samsung’s 2019 phones, without the 108 megapixel sensor or even the 8K recording of the new models. Here we have two 10-megapixel front cameras and three rear cameras: a main, an ultrawide and a telephoto lens, all with 12 megapixel resolution.
Like any top of the line two years ago, photos in ideal lighting conditions are great by any criteria with the main lens: the definition is excellent, there is no visible noise and the dynamic range is very good. The telephoto lens has a 2x optical zoom, which already helps to frame more distant objects or capture photos in macro, while the ultrawide is satisfactory, presenting small chromatic aberrations, but doing a good job in general.
In the dark, Samsung’s night mode is about creating a show of light and colors that doesn’t please everyone, but that satisfies me visually. Photos with the main camera have low noise and show a certain sharpening filter to improve sharpness, but it is not as aggressive as in some Motorola models, for example. With ultrawide and telephoto lenses, night shots are at the “satisfactory” level: they are not incredible, but they are also not to be thrown away.
The front cameras, both internal and external, have good quality within what is expected of a Samsung, with that embellishment filter activated by default that smooths out the imperfections of the face and divides opinions among the western public. But the format of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 opens up another possibility: you can use the external screen to frame your face in one of the rear cameras, taking “selfies” with much better quality than with a small front camera sensor.
Hardware and connectivity
The Galaxy Z Fold 2 sold in Brazil has 12 GB of RAM, 256 GB of space (without the possibility of expansion) and a Snapdragon 865 Plus octa-core processor, from Qualcomm, a manufacturer that has been a bit lost on the Samsung line tops sold in the Brazilian market.
With this set of hardware, I don’t need to waste time talking about performance: it’s excellent, even for running games with graphics at maximum. This is also the most powerful Android launched in Brazil so far, taking into account that the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra arrived in the country with an older Samsung Exynos 990 chip.
The 5G is not yet a decisive factor of purchase, but it is useful for a device like the Galaxy Z Fold 2, which has guaranteed updates until 2023, when the technology should be present with force in Brazil, at least in the capitals. The device supports both the 5G DSS that is being adopted by operators in the initial phase and the 5G in frequencies below 6 GHz that will be auctioned by Anatel in mid-2021. Unfortunately, no millimeter waves here, like any other cell phone launched in the Brazil so far.
In numbers, the battery’s 4,500 mAh capacity looks good if you think of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 as a, say, normal phone. But Samsung’s foldable smartphone instigates you to consume more audiovisual content, and the audience itself of this type of device must get used to using multiple productivity apps at the same time. In other words, in practice, we are talking about a tablet with a theoretically below average battery. But until she surprised me, see?
In my quarantine pattern, with three hours of Netflix, one hour of web browsing and half an hour of Asphalt 9, always with maximum brightness, screen in adaptive mode and Wi-Fi, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 went from 100% to 49%. As expected, the bright 7.6-inch screen with a refresh rate of up to 120 Hz consumes considerable power, but Samsung has done a great job of optimizing resources here.
I confess that I missed a faster loading. As the Galaxy Z Fold 2 has a double battery (there are two cells of 2,250 mAh), Samsung could well include a more powerful charger than the 25 watt adapter included in the box, a number that is already common in competitive mid-range phones and on the Samsung Galaxy A line itself. Well, at least the charger is still included in the box.
It is obviously not worth it, we are talking about a fourteen thousand reais cell phone. Fourteen. Thousand. Reais. A cell phone. Do you know what you can do with all this money?
But if you don’t need an honest answer to the “is it worth it” question and if money isn’t an issue, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is an excellent product. If the first Galaxy Fold looked like a prototype that happened to be available in stores, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the finished version of that test. It is what the Galaxy Fold should have been from the beginning to show what it came from.
Although the technology still exposes its limitations, such as the considerable thickness, the crease on the screen and the design without water protection, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 fulfills the proposal of being a “compact” smartphone when folded and a tablet when opened. The screens of conventional cell phones are getting bigger, but they are not expected to arrive at 7.6 inches anytime soon. And even if they did, Samsung could adopt an eight- or nearly nine-inch foldable screen without changing the design so much.
Working, watching a movie or playing on a bigger screen is better. All of this could be done on a tablet, but here we come in the same analogy as the cameras: the best camera is not the $ 10,000 lens DSLR, it’s the one you have at the moment (and it’s almost always a smartphone). We are probably reaching an era in which the best tablet may not be a tablet: if you have a Galaxy Z Fold 2 in your pocket, it is the best tablet and also the best smartphone.
If the Galaxy Fold was the most sensational smartphone of the decade I would never buy, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the most sensational smartphone of the decade that I would love to buy. It is still a product for early adopters who want to have the latest technology in hand even though they know that the next generations will be much better and cheaper. But if you can afford to spend that money on a cell phone, there is little reason to look back.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
- 5G, reverse wireless charging, UWB: nothing is missing
- Flawless performance and fluidity
- Sophisticated design with more expensive final product
- New screen and hinge open up possibilities for use
- Screens with excellent quality and strong brightness
- Worse cameras than the Galaxy S20 and Note 20
- This crease on the screen is not really cool
- Lack of water protection
- external: 6.2 inches, Dynamic AMOLED panel, 2260 x 816 pixel resolution, 25: 9 aspect ratio, 60 Hz refresh rate, Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) and Infinity-O
- internal: 7.6 inches, Dynamic AMOLED panel, 2208 x 1768 pixel resolution, 22.5: 18 aspect ratio, 11 to 120 Hz refresh rate and Infinity-O
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus octa-core (3.1 GHz Kryo Prime) and Adreno 650 graphics chip
- RAM: 12 GB
- Storage: 256 GB
- Triple rear camera:
- main: 12 megapixel f / 1.8 with optical image stabilization
- ultrawide: 12 megapixel f / 2.2
- telephoto: 12 megapixel f / 2.4
- Frontal camera:
- external: 10 megapixel f / 2.2
- internal: 10 megapixel f / 2.2
- Drums: 4,500 mAh, 25 W fast charging (wired), wireless charging and reverse charging (Wireless PowerShare)
- Operational system: Android 10 with One UI
- Connectivity: USB-C, 5G, 4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS and UWB
- closed: 159.2 x 68 x 16.8 mm
- Open: 159.2 x 128.2 x 6.9 mm
- Weight: 282 g
- Colors: Mystic Bronze and Mystic Black