Earlier this month, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G became available for purchase. The Z Fold2 5G is Samsung's second iteration of the Galaxy Fold and comes with some needed design improvements. The foldable form factor is a breath of fresh air, considering the incremental improvements that we have witnessed in the last few years in the smartphone market. Initially, foldable phones encountered some market resistance, but I believe they are here to stay with this more refined foldable phone. I see the Z Fold2 5G as a productivity device for enterprise users, and that is how I plan on utilizing the device. I wrote about the first iteration of the Galaxy Fold, and you can access that here. I also wrote about the other foldable phone in Samsung's lineup’s, the Z flip, and you can access that here. I spent a week using the Galaxy Z Fold2 5G as my primary device, and I wanted to share my experience.
Build quality and first impression
Out of the box, this device feels very different than a traditional phone form factor. It is very long and narrow yet thick and doesn't feel much like a phone. The 6.2" external display with a selfie camera on top looks long and squished. Although still squished, I can instantly tell that the front display is more useable than the first generation. I could send a quick text, call, or read an email, but I would not recommend using the external display for extended use. Open up the device The main display is massive and immediately very responsive to the touch. It feels like a small form factor tablet but with an ultra-responsive display. The three rear cameras sit flush with the bezel and lack the protruding bump that we saw on the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra. The phone itself feels heavy, and it weighs in at 9.95 ounces. For comparison's sake, the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra weighs 7.3 ounces, and I consider that phone top of the heap in terms of standard smartphone size. The weight became less noticeable when using the main display and held with two hands. My review unit came in the mystic bronze color, but the mystic black option is also available. If you directly purchase a device from Samsung, you can also customize the hinge color with mystic black, metallic silver, metallic blue, metallic yellow, or metallic red.
The Z Fold2 has a volume button and a screen unlock button that doubles as a fingerprint sensor. The biometric login goes through the unlock button only and not on display itself, as we have seen on other Galaxy phones. The login is instant once your finger hits the unlock button, and I was pleased with how quickly I could log in with my fingerprint. It felt like a quicker login than Gen1.
The speakers are at the top and bottom of the display. The audio experience was crisp, but I did find myself covering up the speakers with my hands when watching videos horizontally. It may be because I am not used to holding a phone of that size, so I won't promise that this will be your experience. All in all, the device feels different and premium.
The sweep hinge is a step up from Gen1 as it feels more taut and commanding.
The external display is 6.2" and 60Hz, which is a significant upgrade from the 4.6" display on the original Fold. The increased size and responsiveness make the external display a viable option for quick use like texting, calling, or video chatting. It’s so much better that I put all my top apps there. As I mentioned above, this squished version of a display is not my go-to, but it will work fine for quick actions.
The main display is a significant improvement from the original Z Fold. The main AMOLED display is now 7.6" in size compared to 7.3" of the last-gen Z Fold. The display has a crisp 2208 x 1768 resolution, which equates to 374 PPI. The Z Fold2 also offers a 120Hz main display like many phones from the Galaxy S20 series. When I used the display, it felt extremely responsive to touch. It was a great experience watching history videos on YouTube and the latest season of Blacklist on Netflix. If I wasn't covering up the speakers, it felt like I was watching videos on a tablet and not a smartphone. The main display was the most immersive entertainment experience I have had on a smartphone. Thanks to the foldable design, I had a massive amount of screen real estate for my viewing pleasure, but I can easily fit in back in my pocket afterward.
The large display's primary value is the ability to use my leading productivity apps like Outlook, PowerPoint, Word, or Edge. Excel is still a stretch, but with a Bluetooth keyboard, you may be able to crunch some numbers. For maximum productivity, I split applications and multitask with plenty of screen real estate to do multiple tasks at once. One of my most used app combinations is running Outlook and Chrome at the same time. The main display also supports three different applications split at once; although it is nice to have, I found myself using two applications more often than three. Using three apps simultaneously reminded me of the Z Fold2's external display and looked a little squished, in my opinion. A pen would have been nice for apps like DocuSign, but you cannot have it all in a single device.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G has some impressive specs, including an Android 10 operating system, Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ processor, 12 GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. Qualcomm's processor is top of the line and what we have become used to seeing in Samsung's premium smartphone lines. I was disappointed to see no support for an additional MicroSD card. Other Galaxy tablets and smartphones often give the ability to upgrade to an additional 1 TB of storage by popping in a MicroSD. 256GB is the max amount of storage on the device as well, which is disappointing. I would have liked to see at least 512GB of storage since the device doesn't offer MicroSD. Cloud storage may be a safe bet with this device if you run out of system storage.
My review unit came with 5G wireless connectivity from T-Mobile, but Samsung offers 5G connectivity from AT&T and Verizon as well. The network speeds will vary by region and carrier, but the T-Mobile network's use in Austin was speedy. While I streamed content from YouTube and Netflix, the pace felt noticeably faster than my 4G network experience. The Z Fold2 felt future proofed from a network standpoint.
The Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G has five different cameras on the device. Two are front-facing, punch hole selfie cameras with one on the external display, and one on the main display. The device also has three rear-facing cameras. You can use the rear cameras from the external display or main display, which is nice.
The two front cameras on the external and main displays are both 10 MP. The front-facing cameras were great for taking selfies or video chatting with my kids on Facebook messenger. The Z Fold2 has a 12-megapixel primary camera, 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera, and a 12-megapixel telephoto camera. The camera offerings are excellent and provided some sharp images for taking family photos, Austin skyline sunsets, and pictures of my dogs. But if you are used to using Samsung's best cameras like the 5x optical and 50x digital zoom that we saw on the Note20 Ultra, you will be disappointed. The Z Fold2 comes with 2x optical and 10x digital zoom, respectively. I didn't have any issues getting sharp images out of the device, but there are better cameras within the Galaxy lineup for users looking for the absolute best.
The 4,500mAh battery is larger this year when compared to the 4,380mAh of the original Fold's. Despite having a battery hungry 120Hz display and 5G, I could get a full day's worth of battery life out of the Z Fold2 5G. For those that want even more battery life, you can configure the display down to 60Hz to conserve power if need be. I sent texts, replied to emails, watched YouTube videos, read articles, and took photos on a single charge. When I first got the device, it lasted three days on standby with little use.
Once I fully depleted the battery, it took around an hour and a half to recharge the device to full charge. One thing I admire about the new Samsung devices is the USB-C charging support. With more and more laptops moving to USB-C charging, it is nice to carry a singular charger for my Android phone, tablet, and Windows PC.
The Galaxy Z Fold2 5G brought some needed improvements to the foldable form factor like a better hinge, more responsive main display, and better front display than the first iteration of the Z Fold. The high price tag of $1999 lands the Z Fold2 5G as one of the most expensive smartphones on the market. The question is, does the specs, display, and performance justify the large price tag? For users looking for the best productivity and entertainment experience that a smartphone can offer, the answer is yes. When you add 5G connectivity, the Z Fold feels like a ready device for any task you can throw at it. I am very happy with Samsung's improvements on the Z Fold2, and I believe this is just the beginning for Foldable smartphones.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.