Last year Samsung broke the mould of what a smartphone should look like with the original Samsung Fold. The initial release of the device in April brought around a few problems which Samsung took in their stride and re-released the phone in September last year. The ‘new’ original Fold was a wonder to hold. I sometimes still open it with the amazement I did the first time.
That being said, let’s call the original Samsung Fold what it was. A test project. It may have been a folding display and a whole lot of bells and whistles, but it wasn’t something I could suggest to someone, that too at the cost of Dh7000.
This month, Samsung brings us the Galaxy Fold2. A new and rethought folding smartphone with a whole lot new, thanks to feedback taken from users and reviewers.
Samsung Galaxy Fold2 5G
Body and Build
The first signs of change are visible as soon as you get your hands on the Samsung Galaxy Fold2. It’s a much more premium, much more polished and most importantly much more rigid smartphone. The new CAM hinge on the Fold2 is an improved version of the hinge on the Samsung Galaxy Flip. When using the older Fold, you could feel a distinct difference between the two sides of the device, making it feel like two parts. This goes away on the Fold2. Whether open or closed, the phone feels like one solid unit at all times.
Like the Samsung Note20 series announced earlier, the Fold2 comes in Mystic Bronze (the company’s flagship colour for the line). It also comes in Mystic Black but if you do get your hands on the smartphone, go for the Mystic Bronze. Not only is the colour great but the back is also frosted glass which keeps you from seeing fingerprint smudges. A trait not available on the black version.
The new Samsung Fold2 does have one drawback as far as its body is concerned according to me. The older Fold felt smaller and nicer in the hand compared to this one. Thanks to the increased screen sizes (which we’ll come to in a minute), the Fold2 definitely shows its heft (weighing a massive 282g) in its new formfactor. Another thing I wish the body on the new Fold didn’t have is the camera bump. Matching the camera bump on the Note20 Ultra, the rectangle does have quite a bulge on the body.
One of the biggest gripes I had with the original Fold was its external display. It was a tiny 4.6” Super AMOLED (720 x 1680) with a 21:9 aspect ratio, which was barely usable specially on the large form factor of the phone. With the Galaxy Fold2, the external display gets a big spec jump to a 6.2” Super AMOLED (816 x 2260 pixels) with a tall 25:9 aspect ratio.
Now typing still isn’t the easiest on the keyboard (specially on the Samsung Keyboard. Use Gboard!) but general interaction is much better. Scroll through Instagram or check your emails with ease thanks to much more legible and usable display.
The main inner display on the Fold2 gets and even bigger spec bump. From a 7.3” Dynamic AMOLED (1536 x 2152 pixels), 60Hz, soft plastic display, it jumps to a 7.6” Dynamic AMOLED 2X (1768 x 2208 pixels), adaptive 120Hz, UTG (Ultra-Thin Glass) display. The display is beautiful to use. The 120Hz display makes gaming, video and general interaction buttery smooth on the phone. It’s unfortunate that both display’s don’t have a 120Hz refresh rate but anything you want to do to enjoy the ‘Fold experience’ you want to do on the larger display. But given the Fold2’s form factor when open, you do see black bars when viewing typical 16:9 or 18:9 content which takes away from the full experience.
And yes. The crease is still visible on the main display, but I said this with the review of the first Fold and I’ll say it again. Unless you go looking for it, the crease pretty much disappears in daily use.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold2 is an absolute powerhouse, as it should be considering its price. The Fold2 comes powered with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+, 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Now if you’re a regular Samsung user, you know that in most cases Samsung devices come with the brand’s proprietary Exynos processors to our market (like the Samsung Note20 series). So, it’s great to have the Snapgradon 865+ on the Fold2. Response during heavy usage is a quick and multitasking is piece of cake for the smartphone. Gaming too is amazing, especially if the game supports dynamic switching between the small screen, big screen and vice versa but not all games do that. Definitely check out Vaibhav’s in-depth gaming test to learn a bit more on that. We haven’t had very long with the device, so all this could change but a mix of the 865+ and Android 10 (One UI 2.5) should keep things running smooth in the long run. If there is one thing I wished for in this category, it would be for a micro-SD slot or atleast 512GB of storage. I’m not running out of 256GB of storage anytime soon but 512GB would be reassuring considering sizes of 4K video and such.
Now the cameras on the original Fold weren’t anything to write home about. It did the job, but they weren’t spectacular. The new Galaxy Fold2 comes with three 12MP cameras, a wide, an ultra-wide and a telephoto. You don’t get any of that fancy ‘Space Zoom’ from the S-line but they do a good job. The outer and inner displays come with the same 10MP camera which is ok for selfies and such but is better intended for video calls. You can also use the main camera for selfies, which improves quality drastically and overall, the photos seem to be as good as the Note10+’ camera but not quite that full flagship Note20 Ultra experience. Here are some of the samples we took with the Fold2 in the short time we had with it.
Even in its old iteration, the Fold was a great device to use on the daily. With the Fold2, that just gets better. Of course, it’s a large device so it takes a bit of getting used to, but it doesn’t take away from the functionality of the smartphone.
In my daily use, videos, chats and emails have been what I’ve used the device for the most. App optimisations are present but not as evident thanks to the lack of the adoption from third party apps. Thanks to the Fold2’s CAM hinge allowing it to stand like laptop, Samsung has added optimisations for apps like the camera, YouTube, the calendar and such which allows a split screen use that could be useful in some situations. One of the apps I was most happy to see somewhat optimised for the phone was Instagram. Instead of spreading all across the screen like Facebook or Twitter, the app allows you to use it in a sort of large 16:9 vertical aspect ratio when the phone is unfolded.
Now there isn’t much to say on 5G usage as the coverage isn’t as widespread as I’d like but that being said, I did love having it on the device. You can definitely spot the reduced loading times on Instagram and lack of buffering on YouTube.
Something I genuinely used this time with the Fold2 (which I’ve never used a Samsung device) is Dex. Connecting to an external display via a type-C cable and a Bluetooth keyboard gave me a whole new way to use the device. I attended to some work, wrote and email and even watched a video. All simultaneously, all through the power of the device.
Thanks to the short time I had with the Samsung Fold2, I can’t comment on long term battery-life but in my use the phone lasted me the whole day everyday with ease which I would say is pretty good considering its got not 1 but 2 displays and 5G to manage with the 4500mAh battery on-board, which you can charge both wired and wirelessly and even use it to wirelessly share power to charge other accessories.
Should you buy one?
Last year, it was impossible to recommend the Samsung Fold. It cost too much and had a lot of faults. This year, the Fold2 comes into a much more confident spot where recommending it isn’t difficult. It’s your phone, your tablet, your book-reader, your source of video-content and even your PC if you use Dex. At Dh7599, it’s an ultra-luxury device for sure but if you can afford it, you’re definitely not wasting your money on a gimmick.
The phone will get relatively more affordable when Etisalat or Du announce their 12,18- and 24-month instalment plans on the phone but currently it’s on pre-order for Dh7599 with a pair of Galaxy Buds Live worth Dh599 and 1 year of Samsung Care+.*
*Offer valid till September 21st 2020