The future of folding devices inched a little closer with the release of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 last year. The follow-up to the first Samsung Galaxy Fold was announced alongside the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 family in August of 2020, and it’s a great option for those looking for something innovative (and don’t mind paying for it).
This device builds on the strengths of 2019’s Galaxy Fold and fixes some of the big issues we had with the first-generation device. It’s still early in the game for folding devices, but this was the best we saw until the Z Fold 3‘s arrival.
Of course, your being on board with the Galaxy Z Fold 2 depends on how much you’re willing to spend. If you’ve got the money to spare, here’s everything you should know about the 2020 foldable.
Editor’s note: This Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 buyer’s guide is current as of August 2021. We will update it with new content regularly.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2: At a glance
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the South Korean company’s follow-up to its first folding device, and it was the best option on the market upon its release in August 2020. When closed, it features a large 6.2-inch screen on one side and a fairly large camera bump on the other.
More interestingly, the device opens up to reveal a 7.6-inch AMOLED display with an aspect ratio that’s much closer to a square. Samsung ditched the unsightly notch found on the first Galaxy Fold for a smaller hole punch. It even has a variable 120Hz refresh rate that switches between high and low speeds to give the best performance while saving battery life.
As one would expect, Samsung heavily pushed the multitasking features of the Galaxy Z Fold 2. App continuity — using an app on the outside display and then continuing that app experience on the interior display instantly — is still a major focal point. Running multiple apps side-by-side on the interior screen is also something you’ll see in nearly all promotional materials for this phone.
Samsung already reinvented the phone with the Galaxy Fold. With the 2020 model, it was trying to make the overall experience better.
Aside from the obvious folding aspect, the phone offers excellent performance with the Snapdragon 865 Plus processor. Combined with great photos from five camera lenses (three on the back, one on the front, and one on the inside), the Z Fold 2 covers basic flagship features very well.
The obvious downside is the price, which comes in higher than most laptops. Retailing for $2,000, this isn’t the smartphone for most people. But the fact that you’re buying a phone and tablet in one device adds value in a way that few other phones can match.
What’s changed since the first model?
Samsung’s first folding device made waves when it launched, so you might be wondering what’s different. The first thing you’ll notice about the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 as compared to the previous model is the size of the outside display. It is much bigger, taking up almost the entirety of the closed front of the device.
You’ll also immediately notice the revised rear camera module, which looks a lot like the module on the back of the Samsung Galaxy Note 20. The cameras themselves also got a nice upgrade, which allows the Z Fold 2 to get better-quality images than its predecessor.
Not so visible, though, are the subtle refinements to the interior mechanisms of the device. Ultra-thin glass covers the interior display, which should prove to be more durable than the plastic on the original Fold. Samsung’s “sweeper” technology — first introduced on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip — should prevent dust particles from settling in the hinge or making their way under the display.
Essentially, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 refined the original Fold. The Galaxy Fold already reinvented how we perceive the smartphone, so the Galaxy Z Fold 2’s job was to prove that this design is a viable alternative to the black slate.
Is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 worth buying?
As of August 2021, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is no longer the latest Z Fold device from Samsung. The Korean company just launched the Galaxy Z Fold 3, so you might want to check out buyer’s guide for more info on that device. Nevertheless, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is still a great device.
In Android Authority‘s Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review last year, our own Eric Zeman called it “the only folding phone to buy.” He was very impressed with the improvements Samsung made over the first-gen device, like better cameras, a better display, and added durability.
By far the biggest selling point was the interior screen, and Samsung generally nailed it. The 120Hz display is bright and smooth, switching to lower refresh rates to save battery when simply browsing the web. This helps eke a bit more life out of the 4,500mAh battery. Eric got six to seven hours of screen-on time, which is comparable to most non-folding devices.
That said, the final verdict wasn’t that you should go out and buy it. It’s exceedingly expensive at $2,000, which is more than twice what most consumers are willing to spend on a phone. The device is enormous and heavy, so expect a long adjustment period no matter which device you’re using now. You’re also not getting water resistance or a headphone jack.
In saying so, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 does appear to fix some of the issues we had with the Z Fold 2. It offers an IPX8 water-resistant design, a cheaper price tag, a slightly lighter design, and a more durable folding display.
Other Galaxy Z Fold 2 reviews around the web largely echoed our sentiments. Here’s a quick roundup:
- Dieter Bohn of The Verge was impressed but couldn’t recommend it due to the price: “I’d never recommend that anybody buy one, given the price. But unlike the first Fold, when I say the Z Fold 2 is an extravagant luxury most people shouldn’t even consider, I also have to admit that big screen is genuinely luxurious.”
- Mark Spoonauer of Tom’s Guide called the Galaxy Z Fold 2 a “productivity powerhouse” but docked points for being too heavy and expensive. He still didn’t recommend going out and buying one, writing, “At $2,000, this is a phone that’s still very much for early adopters, but the Z Fold 2 seems a lot less like a prototype and more like a viable product.”
- Mark Swider of TechRadar praised Samsung’s efforts, calling it the “smartphone from the future.” Again though, he stopped short of saying to buy it and recommended waiting for future revisions. “It’s far too expensive for average consumers … and the 256GB of internal storage with no microSD card slot make it feel as if Samsung is holding out on us.”
- Jessica Dolcourt from Cnet wrote in her Z Fold review that the phone “fixes nearly every flaw from the original.” While ultimately critical of other aspects like the camera, fingerprint sensor, and lack of waterproofing for the price, she doesn’t think the price is justified for most, but writes, “As a tech-lover’s dream, it presents a grounded possibility that didn’t exist before.”
How good are the cameras on the Galaxy Z Fold 2?
As mentioned above, the camera is one of the aspects that Samsung improved most over its first folding effort. Part of this is the bump up to five total cameras on the Galaxy Z Fold 2: three on the back, one on the front, and one on the inside. The one on the inside is a hole-punch camera, so it doesn’t take up as much of the screen as it did on the previous model. Otherwise, we’ve got three 12MP on the back, covering standard, ultra-wide, and telephoto shooters.
Apart from the hardware, the software experience is also improved, partially due to the larger front screen. It can now be used more effectively as a viewport, making the three outer cameras much more useful. You also get the same control settings on both the external and internal cameras.
See sample photos: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review — The only folding phone to buy
As for the pictures themselves, the results are quite impressive. Colors can be a bit over-saturated (as is the norm for Samsung), but still are an improvement over what we’ve seen in the past. Photos are sharp, but Samsung’s decision to include three 12MP shooters instead of its latest 108MP sensor is a bit puzzling, especially for the price.
Even so, the results won’t disappoint. Check out our batch of full-resolution photos here to see them for yourself.
How about battery life?
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 packs a 4,500mAh battery, which doesn’t seem like a lot considering how large the display is. Thankfully, we regularly got six to seven hours of battery life on a single charge in our testing. That’s enough for a full day and then some — even for heavy users.
It also has fast charging, so you can get about a 45% charge in just 30 minutes. Charging for 60 minutes will get you near 80% and a full charge takes about 90 minutes. And in case you were wondering, yes, it does come with a charger in the box.
If you have the Galaxy Buds Live or Galaxy Buds Pro, you’ll be happy to learn that it also features power share. It’s slow at just 4.5W, but it’s enough to give your Buds a little extra juice in a pinch.
Competition and alternatives
As far as devices that start as a smartphone and then open up into a tablet, there wasn’t much competition out there against the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 at first. There’s the slick Huawei Mate X2 but it’s only available in certain places and doesn’t come with Google apps. It’s just not a viable alternative. The same goes for the Mi Mix Fold, which offers a similar form factor but is limited to China.
The Microsoft Surface Duo is similar in some ways to the Galaxy Z Fold 2, in that it has a hinge and folds up. The comparisons end there, though, as the device has no exterior display and the two inner displays are separated by huge bezels, making the experience truly different from using the Galaxy Z Fold 2.
There are also the dual-screen devices from LG that allow for a tablet-like experience, such as the LG Velvet. Once again, though, the two displays are interrupted by hinges and bezels, which don’t allow for the seamless experience of something like a true foldable. The LG Wing is another interesting dual-screen device, but it doesn’t fold out into a tablet like the Galaxy Z Fold 2.
The only real competition in the foldable space so far is Samsung itself, with the latest Galaxy Z Fold 3. It’s cheaper than the Z Fold 2 but brings S Pen support, water resistance, and even an under-display selfie camera on the main screen.
Samsung has also recently launched the $1,000 Galaxy Z Flip 3. It’s a clamshell foldable akin to the Motorola Razr of years gone by, but opening the device reveals a smartphone-sized foldable screen. Close the device and you’ve got a tiny screen on the outside.
Either way, it’s clear that the best rivals to the Galaxy Z Fold 2 are Samsung’s own foldables. Other brands like Google and Vivo are tipped to launch foldables before the end of 2021, but those are still rumors at this point.
If you’re going to drop two grand on a phone, you should expect to use it for at least a few years. Having the latest update is a big part of that, and thankfully Samsung is one of the best companies for updates. Security updates often land on Samsung phones before Google’s own devices.
Samsung also promises three years of updates to most of its devices, including the Galaxy Z Fold 2. That means the phone will get upgraded to Android 12 and 13. As of January 2021, the phone has already received the Android 11 update (with One UI 3.0) in most regions around the world. We’re guessing that the Android 12 update will hit the device before the end of the year or early in 2022.
Where to buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is not cheap. In the United States, the MSRP of the phone is $2,000, roughly the same price as we saw with last year’s Galaxy Fold. In Canada, the phone comes in at a whopping $2,780 CAD.
Currently, you can get the device unlocked from Samsung’s US and Canadian websites, as well as specific carriers. At Verizon, the Fold 2 costs $83.33 per month for 24 months on a payment plan. At AT&T, you’ll pay $66.67 each month for 30 months. US Cellular also sells the Fold 2, and you can pick it up for $1,999 or installments of $43.32 each month for 30 months.
If you own the original Samsung Galaxy Fold, you may have been able to trade that device in to get a hefty discount on its sequel. But we’d recommend you trade it in for a Galaxy Z Fold 3 now that it’s out if you’re really keen on trade-in offers.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2: Specs
|Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2|
6.2-inch HD+ AMOLED
2,260 x 816 resolution
25:9 aspect ratio
60Hz refresh rate
7.6-inch QXGA+ AMOLED
2,208 x 1,768 resolution
22.5:18 aspect ratio
120Hz refresh rate
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus|
|Storage||256GB UFS 3.1 built-in|
No expandable storage
Reverse wireless charging
ƒ2.2, 1.22μm, 80-degree FOV
ƒ1.8, 1.8μm, 83-degree FOV
Dual-pixel AF, OIS
ƒ2.2, 1.12μm, 123-degree FOV
ƒ2.4, 1.0μm, 45-degree FOV
ƒ2.2, 1.22μm, 80-degree FOV
|Connectivity||Sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G|
MST and NFC
|Security||Capacitive fingerprint sensor (side-mounted)|
No headphone jack
|Operating system||Android 10|
68.0 x 159.2 x 16.8mm (at hinge)
128.2 x 159.2 x 6.9mm (at frame)
|Colors||Mystic Black, Mystic Bronze|
Q: Does the Galaxy Z Fold 2 support 5G?
A: Yes. Whether you buy it unlocked or from a carrier, it will come with support for both sub-6GHz and mmWave connections.
Q: Does the Galaxy Z Fold 2 have a headphone jack?
A: No, there is no headphone jack on the Fold 2.
Q: Does the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 have a microSD card slot?
A: No. You will be stuck with the 256GB of internal storage that is included with the Galaxy Z Fold 2.
Q: Does the Galaxy Z Fold 2 fold all the way back so two screens can be on the outside?
A: No, that would break the phone. The Fold 2 can close all the way up or open up into a flat state. It can’t fold further than flat.
Q: Does the Galaxy Z Fold 2 support wireless charging?
A: Yes. It also supports reverse wireless charging so you can leech power from the Fold 2 in order to charge your Galaxy Buds Plus, for example.
Q: Does the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 have a 120Hz refresh rate?
A: Yes and no. The inner display can get up to a 120Hz display refresh rate, but the outer display is locked to 60Hz only.
Q: Does the Galaxy Z Fold 2 support Dex?
A: Yes. You can use the Galaxy Z Fold 2 in a desktop experience using either a cable, dock, or a wireless connection.
Q: Will the Galaxy Z Fold 2 get Android 11?
A: Yes. Samsung’s new policy for its flagships is three years of Android upgrades. Theoretically, the Fold 2 should get Android 11, Android 12, and even Android 13. However, there are no guarantees for that, just Samsung’s stated policy.
Q: Can I use an S Pen with the Galaxy Z Fold 2?
A: No. The S Pen is not supported on the Galaxy Z Fold 2, likely because of the fragile ultra-thin glass on the interior of the device.