Samsung’s first foray into foldables – 2019’s Galaxy Fold – pleasantly surprised us when it eventually found its local release. As a first attempt at a foldable device everything should have been a hot mess, but the phone was actually quite powerful, capable and even compelling – quirks and all.
Samsung’s spent a year (well, a little longer as they tell it) revising and updating the Fold and is ready to take another shot with an update that looks like it addresses pain points from the original. Welcome to the market, Galaxy Z Fold 2 (and we’re sorry your name is such a mess).
Make no mistake – the Fold 2 (as we’re going to call it) is a premium, premium phone. It comes in at the original’s $2,999 price point, but delivers upgrades on it in many key areas. Last year’s Fold was really a tech pioneer’s device, this year’s phone is squarely aimed at the luxe market – users who want a powerful phone and, of course, those who want to turn heads in a crowded room (remember what those were like?). Samsung knows more about the foldable market this year, and it says that Australia’s smartphone market loves a premium device.
It’s hard to talk about Fold 2 without comparing it to the original, so we’re going to take it as read that you’re familiar with the original Fold, even if you don’t own one.
First up, the general form hasn’t changed (it’s still a tall, thin device that opens up like a notebook into a device about the size of a small tablet) and doesn’t quite close flat, but the design of the phone has been updated so that it fits in with Samsung’s 2020 range.
The new Fold 2 obviously shares the same design bloodline as the just-launched Note 20, and even shares its “Mystic” colour scheme (Bronze and Black). These new phones are, frankly, gorgeous, and fit right in with other Samsung products – just take a look below if you need convincing.
Samsung’s addressed the first major complaint about the original fold on the outer screen (the “cover” screen as Samsung likes to call it) – it’s no longer a weird small portion of the body, it’s now a full (well, almost) face display with an Infinity-O camera looking out at you from a modest punch hole in the screen.
While the phone, folded, is still itself tall and narrow (a 25:2 ratio), this is much more like a traditional phone. The cover display is a 6.2-inch Full HD Super AMOLED display.
Opening the Fold 2 reveals the next major difference – the inside is now pretty much all display, all the time. It’s a 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with QXGA+ resolution. Besides its foldable nature, the inner display also features 2020’s hot new feature – a 120Hz adaptable refresh rate.
Like the Z Flip earlier this year, the inner display features Samsung Ultra Thin Glass, which should give you a much more familiar experience than the original Fold’s plastic display. The plastic-y feel of the screen was one of the main downers on the original Fold, and while it was really okay once you got used to it, nothing really compares to the feel of glass.
The inner camera also peers through a minute hole in the display, Infinity-O style. Both the cover and inner cameras are 10MP units with f/2.2 aperture and an 80-degree field of view.
The Hideaway Hinge
Companies making foldable devices love to talk about their hinges, and Samsung’s no exception.
Samsung says its re-engineered the Fold’s Hideaway Hinge to make the device stronger. We haven’t actually had hands-on time with the device to put this claim to the test, though. The hinge now has three angles at which it will naturally rest while open, and disappears into the body of the phone when fully open.
If you’re worried about dust and other things getting into the hinge mechanism, Samsung’s bringing updated “sweeper” technolgy into the gaps of the hinge to ensure this doesn’t happen.
We’ve mentioned the cover camera and the inner camera, but the rear camera is really where the party’s at. It’s a familiar-looking triple-camera design on a (frankly, massive) camera island that looks similar to the Note 20.
Samsung’s stopped short of packing the massive megapixel cameras from its other premium devices into the Fold 2, with three 12MP shooters (f/2.2, 123-degrees; f/1.8 83-degrees with dual pixel autofocus; f/2.4 45-degrees telephoto camera that can go from 0.5x to 2.0x optical zoom). So far, so good.
Where the Fold 2’s camera experience looks to excel is in all the neat features Samsung’s packed into the camera software. You can really use the Fold 2 in almost any configuration imaginable for shooting photos or videos, and the software will adapt and offer some useful features for you on screen.
Unfold the device to 90-degrees and you’ll get a viewfinder on one half of the screen, with a shutter button and mode selector on the other – you could sit the phone down on a flat surface and tap on the shutter button to take a photo. In this configuration you can also make use of the subject tracking in video mode that will adjust the zoom and pan on the video to frame the subject – an impressive trick in a smartphone, though it remains to be seen how well it works in practice. You can also use the rear camera while the phone is open and output the camera’s viewfinder on both displays so both you and your subject can see what the camera sees.
Fold 2 supports the Pro Video Mode that was introduced with the Note 20 as well – Samsung’s doing a lot to ensure that things like external microphones work as expected and are easy to integrate, and this should be a useful feature combined with subject tracking.
Other camera modes are pretty much as you would expect for a 2020 flagship – you’ll find Samsung’s usual names for them in Night Mode, Single Take, and Bright Night.
The original Galaxy Fold acquitted itself well on the software experience front, but Samsung’s aiming to improve this side of things on Fold 2. There’s enhancements to App Continuity (the ability to take an app from the cover screen to the inner, larger screen while it’s still running).
You can still run three apps side-by-side-by-side, and there’s some enhancements to multitasking featurs – including the addition of drag and drop features between app windows. You can now predefine groups of apps to launch in multitasking mode if, for example, there’s a particular app layout you use a lot for a specific workflow.
There’s also a way to get apps to work in “detailed view”, which looks like it triggers the multi-pane tablet layout of apps (eg, Outlook) that may not have otherwise run in that mode. This could really help when apps are confused as to whether the device is a phone or a tablet.
Samsung’s throwing almost everything you could think of into the Fold 2. As you’d expect, there’s 5G connectivty on board as well. Of course, ther’s also wifi, bluetooth, NFC and MFT hardware on board.
There’s a 4,500 mAh battery with fast-charging and wireless fast charging (of course USB C). You might need that big battery and fast-charging capability with that 120Hz display.
We don’t quite know whether Australian variants of the device will feature Qualcomm or Exynos processors, but we’ll update when we have confirmation. Whatever it is, it’s paired with 12GB of RAM.
Pricing and Release Date
Preorders for Fold 2 will open next Wednesday (September 9), and the phone will make it into your hands a couple of weeks later, on Friday September 25.
Samsung says there’ll be preorder offers, but hasn’t detailed what those offers will actually be. If you’re interested in the Fold 2, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out to see whether your carrier will be offering the device with a preorder bonus, or check out whatever Samsung has to offer. We’ll be sure to update you on the offers as they become available.
The Galaxy Z Fold 2 shares its older sibling’s $2,999 price, and looks like it’s improved in every way. If you have the original, you might well have the cash to burn on the upgrade. If you didn’t jump on the first gen hardware, maybe you’ll be compelled to check out this year’s model with all the upgrades.
Will you be taking the plunge on Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2? Tell us in the comments.