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The best foldable phones you can get in 2022
It’s taken a long time to get foldable phones into the hands of consumers. The idea of a smartphone that folded out to a larger display has been something of a dream product for both users and phone makers. Now, phones with actual flexible and foldable displays are a reality. The big problem is that, at the moment, most are prohibitively expensive. This article will look at the current foldable phones on the market, plus a quick preview of what we might see in the future.
Related: The best Android phones around
The pros and cons of foldable phones
Foldable phones are all the hype these days. Are they worth the higher price tag, though? The truth is we don’t believe they’ve quite evolved enough yet. And while foldable devices come with significant advantages, there are also plenty of downsides to look out for. Let’s help you decide by pointing out the pros and cons.
- Larger displays: This is an obvious advantage that comes with foldable phones. The inner displays can be so large that they start getting into tablet territory. This makes them much more functional and entertaining. Not to mention the larger foldables have a serious advantage when it comes to multitasking. And let’s not even get started with editing and gaming.
- Smaller bodies: Regardless of the type of foldable you get, the body can be made much smaller and portable. Flip phone foldables can often fit comfortably in a shirt pocket!
- The fun factor: Foldable phones are still novelty items, and they are downright the coolest gadgets mobile tech has to offer. Any foldable phone owner is at the forefront of mobile technology and is bound to turn some heads when using his device.
- Better front-facing photos: We can all agree that rear-facing cameras are pretty much always better than front-facing ones. This is what makes foldable phones so enticing for selfie aficionados. You can use the rear-facing cameras to shoot selfies most of the time, and the external display can serve as a viewfinder.
- Water resistance is rare: While IP ratings are standard in most other high-end devices, they are still relatively rare in the world of foldable handsets. So far, only a couple (Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4) have water protection. This makes sense, as these phones have more moving parts. It’s also important to note that dust resistance is even harder to achieve, and even the mentioned devices don’t have that.
- General durability is lacking: Furthermore, mechanical moving parts are yet another thing that can malfunction. Many of these devices are tested for about 200,000 folds, which is arguably more than enough. Still, having very reliable moving parts is always worse than having no moving parts.
- The crease!: Talking about moving parts, that typical crease that forms in the fold section is a serious eyesore. Manufacturers continue to improve this using advanced hinge mechanics, but only the Oppo Find N has accomplished an invisible crease.
- Thicker bodies: While foldable phones can be reduced in general size, all that material has to go somewhere. This is why foldables are much thicker than other phones. As an example, a Samsung Galaxy S22 is only 7.6mm thin. Meanwhile, when folded shut, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is 14.2-15.8 mm. There’s also the matter of uneven folds. Sometimes the hinge makes it impossible to create a uniform fold, leaving annoying spacing between the flaps.
- Foldable screens are still worse: Foldable smartphone screens can’t be made with glass, which is arguably much better than plastic. Glass isn’t truly flexible, a requirement when you have a screen that needs to be folded in half. Plastic screens have less clarity, don’t look as nice, and are more often to scratches and general damage.
- They are expensive: Foldable smartphones are still costly. The most affordable handset is the Moto Razr 5G, which can currently be had for about $800. That’s because it’s getting older, though. At launch, it was $1,400. The foldable with the lowest MSRP at launch is the Galaxy Z Flip 4 at $999.
The best foldable phones
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
- Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
- Motorola Razr 5G
- Microsoft Surface Duo 2
- Oppo Find N
Editor’s note: We will update this foldable phone list as more devices hit the market.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is now the latest and greatest foldable from Samsung and is a minor upgrade over its predecessor. It packs a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, 12GB of RAM, up to 1TB of storage, and a 4,400mAh dual battery. While the battery life still isn’t elite, it’s a solid cell to keep you moving throughout your day.
There are still three cameras at the back, a 10MP front-facing camera on the external display, and an under-display selfie shooter that packs just 4MP. The phone sports a side-mounted fingerprint reader and S Pen support in an attempt to capture some of that Galaxy Note glory.
The main display is quite big when unfolded at 7.6 inches, while the smaller one comes in at 6.2 inches. You also get an IPX8 rating, Android 12L, and wireless charging.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 specs:
- Display: 7.6-inch QXGA+ and 6.2-inch HD+
- SoC: Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1
- RAM: 12GB
- Storage: 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB
- Cameras: 50, 12 and 10MP
- Front camera: 10MP, 4MP UDC
- Battery: 4,400mAh
- Software: Android 12
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
Samsung’s other premium foldable takes on the clamshell market in the form of the Galaxy Z Flip 4. While the Fold 4 might take a lot of the headlines, this is the one to buy if you’re ready to test out a relatively affordable foldable phone.
The Flip 4 offers excellent build quality, with a premium exterior finish and a 6.7-inch internal display. The external display comes in at 1.9-inches to make managing your notifications that much easier. On the inside, you’ll find a powerful Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor leading the charge, with 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage backing it up.
There are two 12MP rear cameras and a 10MP front-facing camera. The handset also comes with a 3,700mAh battery and a side-mounted fingerprint scanner. The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is the most affordable folding option from Samsung, so it might just be the springboard the company needs to reach the masses.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 specs:
- Display: 6.7-inch and 1.9-inch
- SoC: Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 128/256/512GB
- Cameras: 12 and 12MP
- Front camera: 10MP
- Battery: 3,700mAh
- Software: Android 12
Motorola Razr 5G
The design is a throwback to the classic Razr V3 mobile flip phone, first released in 2004. Motorola’s Razr not only looks like that traditional flip phone but is about as thin as the original at 14mm. However, when it unfolds from its retro clamshell body, it exposes a large 6.2-inch 21:9 display. When folded, you can still use a square 2.7-inch display on the outside to check notifications, control media, and more. You can even take selfies while using the small display since the 48MP rear camera turns into a front-facing camera when the phone is folded.
The new Motorola Razr foldable phone specs are also better: it has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chip inside, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. There’s also a small 2,800mAh battery, but at least that’s a bump up. Actually, all specs are a bump up.
This is an interesting phone, but since it’s older, we recommend getting one of the Samsung foldable listed above to most people.
It’s worth noting that Motorola has recently launched a 2022 version of the Razr — learn more here — but it’s very hard to find outside of China and very few other markets.
Motorola Razr 5G specs:
- Display: 6.2-inch and 2.7-inch
- SoC: Snapdragon 765G
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 256GB
- Camera: 48MP
- Front camera: 20MP
- Battery: 2,800mAh
- Software: Android 10
Microsoft Surface Duo 2
Microsoft’s first attempt at an Android phone came in the form of the Surface Duo. The phone was really cool, with a super thin and elegant design. It had its downsides, though; the device was costly for the specs, and it came with a fair share of bugs and software issues. The newest iteration, the Microsoft Surface Duo 2, is much improved, even if it still has some problems and continues to be very expensive. A foldable from Samsung may offer a more refined experience.
All that said, most of the best foldable phones are pricey, and the Microsoft Surface Duo is a fantastic option for the right user. One thing to note is that while this is one of the best foldable phones, it doesn’t have a foldable display. The device has two 5.8-inch screens attached by a hinge. This makes it easy to multitask, turn one screen into a keyboard, or read books more naturally.
The hinge also includes a thin screen that can display basic information without unfolding the device. This can consist of notifications, the time, battery status, and more. The device includes both rear and front-facing cameras, which wasn’t the case with its predecessor.
Microsoft Surface Duo 2 specs:
- Display: 5.8-inch and 5.8-inch, 1,344 x 1,892 each
- SoC: Snapdragon 888
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 128/256/512GB
- Cameras: 16, 12, and 12MP
- Front camera: 12MP
- Battery: 4,449mAh
- Software: Android 11
Oppo Find N
While much less popular than the other devices on this list of the best foldable phones, the Oppo Find N is one of the best of its kind. For starters, the design is gorgeous, while keeping a smaller profile that will help with portability. Additionally, it’s the first foldable with no noticeable crease where the display folds. The hinge also feels much more robust, and looks much more seamlessly designed than others.
The Oppo Find N is not cheap, but you’ll get plenty for your money. Specs are plenty powerful, offering a Snapdragon 888 processor, up to 12GB of RAM, as much as 512GB of storage, and a 4,500mAh battery. Both the outer and inner displays are excellent, offering AMOLED technology with 120Hz refresh rates.
All in all, we would highly recommend the Oppo Find N to foldable enthusiasts. The only real issue is that it can’t be had officially in the USA, but it’s easy to get it imported.
Oppo Find N specs:
- Display: 7.1-inch and 5.49-inch (folded)
- SoC: Snapdragon 888
- RAM: 8/12GB
- Storage: 256/512GB
- Cameras: 50, 16, and 13MP
- Front cameras: 32 and 32MP
- Battery: 4,500mAh
- Software: Android 11
Are there any other options?
There aren’t that many foldable phones on the market right now, although the ones listed above aren’t the only ones you can choose from. A few other manufacturers have also released their own foldable phones, some of which you can check out below. However, remember that most of these are only available in China for now, and the possibility of them making their way over to the US or Europe is slim to none.
- Vivo X Fold (buy here): This foldable is similar to the Galaxy Z Fold 3, featuring a smartphone screen on the outside and a tablet-sized folding display on the inside. It also offers two ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensors (one for each screen), the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Soc, and four rear cameras. The starting price in China is around $1,400.
- Honor Magic V (buy here): This is basically a bigger, thinner Galaxy Z Fold 4. The inside panel measures 7.9 inches and doesn’t have a crease — well, at least not as noticeable as the ones on most other foldable. You also get the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset and a 4,750mAh battery with 66W charging that gets the cell to 100% in around 40 minutes. It starts at about $1,570 in China.
- Huawei Mate XS 2 (buy here): Unlike the two foldable listed above, Huawei’s device is coming to Western markets. It is available in some European countries for around €2,000. It’s not a device we’d recommend since it doesn’t have access to the Play Store and costs more than The Fold 4. To learn more about the Mate XS 2, read our hands-on post.
The future of foldable phones
What does the future of foldable phones with flexible displays look like? TCL gave us a look at two possible new designs back in 2020. One is called the Tri-Fold foldable concept device. The phone itself is thick as three phones piled on top of each other. Its two hinges cause it to fold out like an accordion, resulting in a big 10-inch tablet-sized screen.
The other TCL concept is not a foldable phone; it’s a rollable phone. It looks like a standard smartphone, but you can roll out the flexible design inside from left to right.
TCL has a pretty intelligent strategy of showing off prototypes and designs without releasing anything at the consumer level, so don’t hold your breath. However, it is an idea of where things may be going.
Furthermore, Oppo has previously demonstrated the Oppo X 2021 rollable phone. Again, this isn’t a foldable phone, but it does seem like a very intriguing alternative to foldables.
More recently, we’ve seen Samsung playing with the idea of a dual-folding device, which also has a unique way to store the S Pen.
Most manufacturers make their devices to handle at least 200,000 folds. That would be enough to fold and unfold a handset about 100 times daily for nearly 5.5 years. Of course, your mileage will vary, and you might get a defective handset, but phone makers swear by their technology.
Foldable devices aren’t cheap. Expect to pay $1,000 at the very least for a modern foldable. And this is for flip versions. Fold-out devices will cost significantly more. These are mostly considered high-end handsets, though. At least you’re getting a powerful device for all that cash.
Not necessarily! Many of these come with an external display that offers at least some level of functionality. Flip foldables like the Razr 5G have tiny screens in the front, which can be used to glance at notifications, change songs, and more, quickly. Fold-out phones have an external display that is more similar to a traditional phone in size. Technically, you could use it without opening the phone at all.
While there are a few options to choose from, we’d recommend getting a Samsung foldable to most people.
It’s too soon to tell, but at the moment, foldable are still niche devices. Despite being innovative, they still face many problems that prevent them from going mainstream.