The Galaxy Z Fold 2 proves Samsung is killing it right now
One of the clear takeaways from Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold2 5G is that this is a product made by a company at the top of its game. The phone is not only a major improvement on the original model, it’s also a good phone.
I’m typically reticent when it comes to heaping praise on an experimental device, or something I’m yet to fully test out. And, of course, the usual caveats apply here. There could be some display or hinge nightmare that is yet to rear its head, as was the case with the original Galaxy Fold.
But until that happens – if it does at all – it’s clear Samsung has done a very good job of making an unusual concept work exceptionally well.
A folding phone is one thing, but making sure the software experience lives up to the magic of flexible glass is another. Samsung has achieved that. Apps seamlessly switch from the cover display to the larger inner display without missing a beat. You can also toggle which apps you allow to do this. It doesn’t work for all of them, like Instagram or some games. But it does for important apps like Netflix, YouTube, Reddit and Spotify.
New additions like flex mode, which means the display stands up by itself at any angle when bent, and hole-punch screen, add that necessary bit of class to a phone that is this expensive.
There’s a lot of wow-factor with the Fold 2. Access to a larger display makes using apps like Photos and Maps a joy. Playing games like Dead Cells with on-screen controls is far more manageable. I’m also looking forward to streaming Xbox Game Pass Ultimate games if there’s an appropriate controller clip that fits the large bendy screen. Although it’s a shame that theres’s no option to make other apps like Adobe Lightroom or Instagram full screen.
I have questions about how realistic it is to use a phone of this size for the next few months. There are jeans pockets it doesn’t fit in and carrying my phone around in the gym is now a distant memory. It’s large and I’m undecided if it’s too large. I’ll know more once I fully review the phone.
Elsewhere, the cameras and camera options are good. But Samsung’s overzealous texture smoothing and penchant for warmer images isn’t my bag. It’s worth noting that I’ve just come from the Google Pixel 4’s outstanding AI-powered snapper, which is hard for anyone to beat.
Overall, Samsung has nailed the concept of a phone that folds into a tablet. It doesn’t feel proof of concept, or like a prototype. It’s a legit, worthy of a purchase, piece of tech with more wow-factor than I’ve experienced from a phone in years.
No one else is doing this right now. Only Motorola is competing in this space with the Razr, but its mid-range specs don’t quite match up. Huawei’s foldable Mate range doesn’t have access to vital Google services, so, for now, it’s not a serious competitor.
Google is switching its attention to the low-end, and rightly so, and we haven’t seen any concrete news about Apple’s future foldable plans. I can’t see Apple releasing a phone this large and heavy. So until the technology is more advanced and the company has a uniquely Apple form-factor to work with, I doubt the iPhone-maker will be much of a threat to Samsung’s foldables for a while. Only Microsoft’s Duo is the worthy competitor, but it’s quite a different phone and it doesn’t come with top-range specifications like the Fold 2.
The Galaxy-maker has a clear run and it is building a very strong case to not only buy foldables, but also to only buy Samsung foldables. The Korean company is making its mistakes early and rectifying them, whilst perfecting the technology and experience, long before any other serious contender is even close to releasing something similar. That is a big advantage.
This is also the second time in as many months Samsung has impressed me with one of its innovative products. The last time was with the Galaxy Buds Live. In my review I said that “Samsung has genuinely innovated in a space that’s difficult to be creative in”. That’s because of their unusual bean-like shape, which perfectly contours to your ears whilst delivering excellent audio playback.
This year I’ve used the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and Note 20 Ultra 5G, both excellent phones in their own right. Particularly in the display department. But the Fold 2 and Galaxy Buds Live are in a different league of ingenuity. Samsung is pushing the industry forward with these devices and it is doing so without the gimmicks that has plagued its past, or the technical device failures it sometimes falls victim to.
There’s also the extras. The Korean company has added another year of Android OS support for its phones, bringing its total to three years for current Galaxy devices. Long OS support is true value for money and whilst it’s not quite Apple’s unofficial five years, Samsung is on the right path at least.
Then there’s the partnership with Microsoft that brings three months free of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate – the game streaming service currently known as Project xCloud – with certain Galaxy phone purchases.
I can’t really think of many better smartphones I’d like to use for game streaming than the Fold2. The 7.6-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate makes it ideal. It’s the same for the displays on the S20 Ultra and Note 20 Ultra. There aren’t many better starts for a new game streaming services then a few months free on the best hardware available.
Samsung is managing to aptly pull off innovation and quality,which isn’t easy to do. The global slump in sales doesn’t look good for the company, as is the case for most manufacturers, but in terms of hardware output, Samsung is at the top of its game. If it can maintain this level of quality, then the competition might struggle when they finally enter the foldable arena. – forbes.com