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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 hands-on: This is the future!

It’s hard not to be excited about the Galaxy Z Fold 2. Samsung showcased its commitment to the foldable form factor with the Galaxy Z Flip earlier this year. The clamshell foldable was very well built and it came with innovative new technologies to improve durability. We were excited to see that tech on the Galaxy Fold’s successor.

The Galaxy Fold was a significant leap forward and while it stumbled out the gate, the device achieved its intended purpose. It sparked our imagination, made us think about the possibilities that a foldable device could unfold. With the Galaxy Z Flip, Samsung showcased its engineering prowess, demonstrating how easily it can create foldable phones that don’t feel like experimental devices. Now, with the Galaxy Z Fold 2, Samsung is sending a clear message: This is the future, and we’re in the lead.

Hands-on: Galaxy Z Fold 2 design and feel

We have had the opportunity to play around the Galaxy Z Fold 2 for some time now. It’s impossible not to be impressed by the device the moment you take it out of the box, even though I’ve been using the Galaxy Fold as my main device since last year. Samsung has made some subtle yet meaningful changes to the design.

The curves around the sides have been trimmed down for a more robust industrial design. It all feels very premium and solid, courtesy of the metal frame and Gorilla Glass Victus on the front (cover display) and back. The buttons are placed on the right side of the frame and this is also where you’ll find the physical fingerprint sensor.

The camera housing at the back is quite similar to what we find on the Galaxy Note 20 lineup. It protrudes out of the case and has circular cutouts for the different cameras. Samsung is offering the Galaxy Z Fold 2 in Mystic Black and Mystic Bronze colors; the Bronze with the haze finish feels particularly premium on this device.

Galaxy Z Fold 2 Hideaway Hinge

Samsung has overhauled the hinge mechanism for the Galaxy Z Fold 2. We’ve seen this tech on the Galaxy Z Flip before. The CAM structures that Samsung is using inside the hinge allow for increased rigidity, which makes the hinge feel very solid. This rigidity is also what makes Flex Mode possible. Yes, the much-loved Galaxy Z Flip feature has made its way to the Galaxy Z Fold 2.

With Flex Mode, the hinge can freely stop at various angles (between 80 to 160 degrees) between fully open and fully closed, enabling a variety of use cases for the internal display. It works very well on the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Samsung has made some software improvements that will help users extract the most out of Flex Mode.

Samsung has also improved the hinge’s durability by equipping it with fibers that occupy the gap between the body and hinge housing to prevent dust and grime from getting in. We’re impressed with how robust the hinge feels. The folding and unfolding motions are done very smoothly. There are no creaks or wiggles, no play in the mechanism or really any behavior that would give us cause for concern. Samsung says that the hinge is rated for 200,000 folds so it should be able to last you a few years at the very least.

Galaxy Z Fold 2 display

I love the fact that Samsung has increased the cover display size on the Galaxy Z Fold 2. The 4.6-inch cover display on the Galaxy Fold felt too cramped to do anything beyond checking notifications. I eventually developed a habit of unfolding my Galaxy Fold every single time I wanted to shoot off a text or email.

The 6.2-inch Super AMOLED cover display on the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is much better by comparison, even though it has a rather tall 25:9 aspect ratio. I’ve been able to get more use out of it and don’t nearly have to unfold the device as often as I would, even though I’ve basically developed muscle memory for that now. The notch has been replaced by an Infinity-O punch hole for the front camera and that’s a welcome change.

It’s the foldable display that’s the star of the show, though. The impressive 7.6-inch Infinity Flex foldable display is in a league of its own. It’s made from Ultra Thin Glass so it should be slightly more durable than the Galaxy Fold. The improvements don’t end here, though, as the main display also has support for 120Hz adaptive refresh rate.

We have grown to love the higher refresh rate since it was first introduced on the Galaxy S20 series this year. Experiencing that on the Galaxy Z Fold 2’s main display is visually appealing on a whole other level, partly because of the larger screen size.

The notch on the inside has been replaced with a punch hole as well and that allowed Samsung to significantly trim the bezels on the inside. When unfolded, this makes the Galaxy Z Fold 2 feel like a premium tablet and I’m all for it. The quality of this display feels great too. It gets brighter than the Galaxy Fold, the colors are on point and there doesn’t seem to be any jelly scrolling effects plaguing the panel this time around.

As you’d expect, there’s a crease going straight down the middle of the internal display, but it’s not going to bother you too much. Galaxy Fold owners are already quite used to it and for them, it won’t even register as something out of the ordinary. Even if you’ve not used a foldable phone before, the crease isn’t going to be a deal-breaker for you.

Galaxy Z Fold 2 performance and camera

Samsung has equipped the Galaxy Z Fold 2 with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865+ chipset and paired it with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage (a 512GB variant will be offered in some markets). There’s also support for 5G. These are flagship-level specs and the phone performs as such. I’m already using it as my daily driver and my workload is such that I need the maximum performance out of my phone. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 has been pretty impressive so far but we’re going to run more tests on it to form a comprehensive assessment of its performance and battery life for our detailed review.

The company isn’t positioning its foldable smartphones as camera champions, at least not yet. That’s why it hasn’t really pushed the envelope in this department for its latest foldable. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 has a 12-megapixel primary sensor that we’ve already seen on the Galaxy S20/S20+. Check out our Galaxy S20+ review to learn more about its performance. A 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera is also present. However, what we’re disappointed to see is that the 12-megapixel telephoto (zoom) camera that Samsung is using in the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the one that was introduced with the Galaxy Note 8 three years ago.

For the price that Samsung is asking, one would expect a far better camera setup on this device but that’s not the case. It’s not that these cameras are going to be bad, but they’re certainly not going to be exceptional. Samsung has included some great new camera features, though, including auto framing, Night Mode, Single Take, Pro Video mode and more. It’s also finally possible to get a camera preview on the cover display when taking a photo using the main cameras.

We’re going to test the Galaxy Z Fold 2’s camera setup over the coming weeks and will share the findings with you in our full review.

Galaxy Z Fold 2 conclusion

There is a lot to like about the Galaxy Z Fold 2. For Galaxy Fold users, it brings exactly those improvements that they were wishing for. The cover display is larger, the main display is bigger with thinner bezels, the notches are gone and there are new software features that let you get the most out of its screen real estate. If you’re pro-foldables like I am, it’s going to be pretty hard to keep you from spending your money on this device.

What I find most incredible about the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is how it’s making a conscious effort to reach out to customers who may be on the fence about foldables. This is no longer about making people realize that there’s more than one form factor for smartphones. Samsung has already done that. It’s now telling people exactly how they stand to benefit from making the switch. It has built several useful productivity features into the device that take full advantage of the larger display. Vloggers, influencers and content creators will find Flex Mode indispensable and mobile gamers will be able to enjoy a gaming experience that no other smartphone can offer.

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the future and you can’t help but be excited about where Samsung will take us from here.

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