Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review

Update: The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is now available with a more durable design, water resistance S Pen support and improved multitasking. We no longer recommend the Galaxy Z Fold 2. See our Galaxy Z Fold 3 review for our verdict.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is a quantum leap better than the original Fold. And it needs to be for the high price. The front display is a lot bigger, 5G is standard, and the unsightly notch on the inside is gone. Plus, this foldable is more durable than the first Fold.

Samsung has further innovated to make this phone-tablet hybrid a lot more versatile, thanks to a new Flex Mode. Plus, the multitasking is better for running up to three apps at the same time, and several apps have a dual-pane view for enhanced productivity.

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The Galaxy Z Fold 2’s cameras are not as advanced as what you’ll find on the Galaxy S21 Ultra (especially the zoom) and the design is pretty hefty. Plus, Samsung is reportedly prepping the Galaxy Z Fold 3 for a launch that’s tipped for August, a sequel that may offer S Pen support along with other upgrades.

But if you’re in the market for a foldable phone now, the Z Fold 2 does a very good job of justifying Samsung’s high asking price. It’s no wonder why we named this the best foldable phone in our Tom’s Guide Awards 2021 for phones.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review: What I like

(Image credit: Future)
  • Bigger front display makes a huge difference: The cover display has grown to 6.2 inches, which means you don’t have to use the internal display to get stuff done. The exterior screen is narrower than typical phones, though.
  • Apps finally make the most of tablet-size screen: For example, in Gmail you’ll see your list of emails on the left and the body of messages on the right, and Slack will display contacts on the left and messages on the right. The iPhone can’t do this.
  • The multitasking is better: It’s pretty easy to create app pairs to launch three apps at once. I also like that you can drag and drop content from one window to another in certain apps.
  • Flex mode adds versatility: Thanks to the cam mechanism in the hinge, you can open the display at various angles. Flex Mode is there to take advantage of that. For example, in the camera app, you’ll see the live previous up top and controls down below.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review: What I don’t like

  • The main display is smudge prone: Although the Ultra Thin Glass on the 7.6-inch screen is more durable and has a better feel, it picks up smudges quickly. And, yes, the crease is still noticeable.
  • Limited zoom: I can live without the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s 108MP sensor, but having just 2x optical zoom on a $2,000 phone when you can get 10x on the Note is a bummer.
  • No water resistance: When it started to drizzle outside I took the Z Fold 2 indoors because there is no water resistance promised for this device.
  • This is a hefty device: At 9.9 ounces, the Z Fold 2 is heavier than the original Galaxy Fold (9.5 ounces) and I felt a bit of strain after several minutes of typing. Then again, you are getting a phone and tablet in one.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review: Price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 release date was September 18, 2020. It’s available for sale through multiple carriers as well as unlocked.

When it debuted the Galaxy Z Fold 2 cost $1,999 for 256GB of storage and 12GB of RAM. Note that a microSD card slot is not included and there are no other capacities available. These days, after a permanent $200 price cut, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 sells for $1,799 (or less with a Samsung promo code…). That could be a sign that Samsung is looking to clear out stock in advance of the anticipated launch of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 later this year.

To put the Z Fold 2’s price in context, Microsoft charges $1,400 for its Surface Duo phone. To see how similar these two foldable devices are, check out our Microsoft Surface Duo vs. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 face-off.

If you’re looking for Galaxy Z Fold 2 deals, the phone has been discounted as low as $999. So it can pay to look for sales on this foldable phone. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is available through all of the major carriers, including AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile (Sprint), as well as unlocked.

Samsung offers the Galaxy Z Premier Service for the Z Fold 2, which includes on-demand concierge support from dedicated experts. In addition, Z Fold 2 owners can get a membership to FoundersCard, access to a prepared meal from a Michelin star restaurant and access to a various golf clubs.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review: Design and durability

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 immediately makes a better impression than the Galaxy Fold because of its larger exterior display. You no longer feel like you’re operating Android through a peep hole, and that’s because the cover screen has grown from 4.6 inches to 6.2 inches.

The interior display is also bigger at 7.6 inches for the Galaxy Z Fold 2, compared to 7.3 inches for the previous model. Even better, the ugly notch on the main screen is gone, replaced by a small cutout for a selfie camera.

Samsung also made several enhancements fo the Galaxy Z Fold 2 to improve durability and usability. This includes a sturdier new Ultra Thin Glass display, which is designed to provide a better touchscreen feel than the plastic screen Fold, and a Hideaway hinge that uses sweeper technology to prevent dust and dirt from entering the phone.

In a third-party test by YouTuber JerryRigEverything, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 survived having dirt thrown on it, which suggests that the new hinge works better than on the original model.

(Image credit: Future)

Similar to the Galaxy Z Flip 5G, the Galaxy Z Fold 2’s hinge uses a CAM mechanism that allows you to position the screen in multiple positions. And while there’s still a gap between the two sides of the phone when closed, it’s narrower than before.

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 comes in two colors: Mystic Bronze and Mystic Black. But you’ll be able to add some flair in the form of four hinge color options if you order through Options include Metallic Silver, Metallic Gold, Metallic Red and Metallic Blue.

Measuring 6.2 x 2.6 x 0.66 inches when closed and 6.2 x 5 x 0.27 inches when open, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is slightly shorter but wider than its predecessor. It’s also heavier, as the Z Fold 2 weights 9.9 ounces, compared to 9.48 ounces for the original model. I definitely felt a bit of strain after using the phone several minutes and typing out messages.

Another bummer: The Galaxy Z Fold 2 doesn’t offer water resistance, so you can’t get it wet as you can with other flagship phones.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review: Display

(Image credit: Future)

In addition to a larger size, the 7.6-inch main display on the Galaxy Z Fold 2 boasts a 120Hz refresh rate, so you should enjoy smooth scrolling and overall performance compared to the 60Hz rate on the Galaxy Fold. Plus, because the panel is adaptive, it’s smart enough to dial the rate down or up based on the content on screen.

The cover display on the Galaxy Z Fold 2 does not offer a 120Hz refresh rate, but it’s still a heck of a lot better than what the first Fold featured. Measuring 6.2 inches, this OLED screen is big enough to perform pretty much any task, and you can still instantly resume what you were doing on the main display when you unfold the device.

Just keep in mind that the aspect ratio on the Z Fold 2’s cover display is narrower than most phones, so typing can feel a bit cramped.

Galaxy Z Fold 2 review: Software and Flex Mode

(Image credit: Future)

One of the complaints we had about the Galaxy Fold is that many of the apps just felt like blow-up phone apps in tablet mode. But Samsung is addressing this drawback with the Galaxy Z Fold 2.

For example, in Gmail I could see my messages on the left and the body of emails on the right. And in Slack my contacts were on the left and messages on the right. You need to flip the Galaxy Z Fold 2 display’s orientation to landscape mode to see these changes, but it makes a huge difference in productivity. And it makes the Galaxy Z Fold 2 feel more laptop-like. Samsung also promises an optimized viewing experience in Microsoft Office and YouTube.

(Image credit: Future)