Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 long-term review: Still exciting?
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I vividly remember how excited I was two years ago, when I first heard word of the Samsung Galaxy Fold. Some people may not have asked for this, but a smartphone that unfolds into a tablet – I sure did! As an Android power user, the idea of one device pulling doubles as both my phone and my tablet sounded like a dream.
And this dream not only came true, but was refined in 2020 with the Galaxy Fold's second iteration – the more polished and sleeker Galaxy Z Fold 2. So how does it feel using the best folding smartphone available right now, long past the honeymoon period? I'll tell ya!
You may also find interesting:
- The Galaxy Z Fold 2 experience: Here's how videos look, games play, and more
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G review
- Huawei Mate Xs 5G foldable phone review
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 vs Huawei Mate Xs: Which is the superior 5G foldable phone?
It fits in most pockets just fine
In my "Galaxy Z Fold 2 experience" article I said that the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is easy to pocket. After using it for longer, I still think so, but pulling it out of your pocket is definitely not as easy as pulling out a normal smartphone.
Because it's a thick one, and pockets are normally tight, the Z Fold 2 is pretty hard to take out, especially if you're sitting down. I found myself discouraged from even attempting to use it during car rides, for example. This might sound like a minor gripe, but if you're getting this smartphone – you should be aware of the quirks you'll have to deal with, and this is a frequent one.
Going from the outer glass screen to the inner gross screen
Unless you're planning to take a risk and remove the screen protector, you best be okay with this smudgy look.
Going from the outer glass display to the inner folding one, you'll feel a difference, and not a small one. The big folding screen is covered with a screen protector that me, and everyone who touched it disliked immediately. In a support page, Samsung has this to say about the pre-applied screen protector in question:
So, I didn't remove it, even if I really wanted to. Because it just feels bad, it collects fingerprints like nobody's business, and you can't really glide your fingers too smoothly across it. The screen protector looks bad, feels bad, and you're advised against removing it; how unfortunate.
If we stretch to ignore the screen protector, though, the main display of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is large and beautiful to look at. Bright, sharp and colorful. Watching Netflix or YouTube on that folding screen is a joy, even if there's still a crease in the middle of it. Trust me, that crease never gets in the way, nor does it affect your viewing experience.
Some Android apps don't look too good here
YouTube definitely hasn't been optimized for this screen size. You get to see one huge thumbnail and not much else at a glance.
Smartphone apps are generally designed with tall screens in mind, but when you unfold the Galaxy Z Fold 2 you get a squarish one. A few apps, such as Samsung's own are prepared for this screen's 5:4 aspect ratio. But many other apps, plus most mobile web pages in general look pretty odd and unappealing here. For example, YouTube shows giant thumbnails, so you only see one at a time, and have to scroll down a lot in order to see all the new videos from your subscriptions.
Instagram's solution for this squarish display is to add empty space to the left and right.
Other apps such as Google Play, Discord, Skype and Netflix look just fine. You may still face the occasional too-big square image here and there, filling too much of the screen, though.
Watching older shows on this large, squarish screen is awesome
How YouTube videos generally look on the Galaxy Z Fold 2 (center) against a dedicated tablet (left) and smartphone (right).
Because the Galaxy Z Fold 2's large folding screen has a 5:4 aspect ratio, modern videos and movies will have black bars above and below the picture, as they're made with wide screens in mind. If you'd like to see how modern movies look on this smartphone, check out the "Galaxy Z Fold 2 experience" article linked at the start of this one. You can pinch-to-zoom on Netflix, for example, although that crops out too much of the picture, so it's far from ideal.
I've been watching old shows on Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, such as "Married... with Children" and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air", which were filmed back when TV's had similarly squarish aspect ratios. In fact, many TV shows produced up until the mid-2000's were filmed at 4:3. Thus, such shows fit almost perfectly on the Galaxy Z Fold 2's screen, no pinch-to-zoom needed.
Of course, that's not to say you won't be able to enjoy your modern shows on the Galaxy Z Fold 2, but they will not fill the screen, so you'll have to settle for the black bars. Aside from that, any movies and shows look great, and the stereo sound you get from the Galaxy Z Fold 2's speakers is loud and spacious.
Performance, build quality and battery life are top-notch
The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is a joy to use, because on top of sporting a cutting-edge folding display, it's also a flagship-feeling smartphone with fantastic build quality. Prior to using it, I actually used the Huawei Mate Xs folding phone for a bit, and its lesser build quality did impact my experience. Thankfully, Samsung has refined the Galaxy Z Fold 2 to the point of near perfection. It feels great in the hands, the hinge is sturdy, and I'm convinced that this is generally a durable phone.
Games look and run great, and Android flies with no hiccups. You can split the screen between three apps at the same time, with even more apps open in windowed mode, and they'll all still be running smoothly. By the way, at the time of publishing this article, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is running Android 10 with the September security patch and OneUI 2.5 on top.
Battery life on the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is great.
As for battery life, you'd think that the unique form factor of this smartphone would mean you'll have to charge it daily, but it doesn't. It comfortably lasts me over two days of light-to-medium usage between charges. It's quite amazing what Samsung has accomplished here by employing two batteries, one on each side of the phone, while keeping those two sides as thin as possible.
The folding display is perfect for thumb-typing
An ideal typing experience, for me at least.
As I do on all Android smartphones, I installed Google's Gboard keyboard, which I find to be well-sized for thumb-typing on the Galaxy Z Fold 2. The width of the main screen, when unfolded, is truly perfect for a comfortable thumb-typing experience.
Now this is a bit cramped, but it gets the job done.
Of course, in stark contrast, the narrow outer screen is much more difficult to type on, but autocorrect helps, and you'll still get the job done.
Making and taking calls feels as natural as on any other smartphone
Phone calls feel as normal as on any other smartphone.
In case you were wondering if this form factor has an impact on how you take phone calls – thankfully, it doesn't. Making and taking phone calls on the outer display is as easy as on any other smartphone. Your voice sounds nice and clear to the people you're calling. Similarly, you hear them loud and clear also.
There are cameras everywhere, so you can always snap a photo with ease
I haven't been using the cameras that much, but in our initial Galaxy Z Fold 2 review we have samples of just how good they all are at taking photos and videos. And even though I think it's unnecessary, we do have cameras on every side of this phone.
We have a selfie holepunch camera inside the outer display, another selfie holepunch camera inside the inner folding display, and we have three cameras on the back of the phone. No matter if you're using it folded, unfolded, taking selfies or filming someone in front of you – there's a camera for that exact situation, ready to be used.
Are you a vlogger? You can just place the Galaxy Z Fold 2 on a table and aim the main camera at yourself, it works great!
Plus, you can half-unfold the phone in order to aim it at yourself or another subject, and not have to hold it afterwards, which is one of the many benefits from its great, sturdy hinge.
Is the Galaxy Z Fold 2 worth it?
The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is definitely more worth it than any other folding or dual-screen smartphone, as it delivers the best performance, has the most bells and whistles, and sports arguably the best build quality. If you truly believe that this unique form factor will be useful to you, then it's worth it.
I will personally go back to a regular smartphone for now, though, as I have plenty of Android tablets and iPads at home, to use when I need them. Personally, I don't think I'm gaining that much from the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and its ability to turn into a squarish tablet. At least not enough to warrant dealing with its quirks over just using a standard phone and tablet. But I do think that the Galaxy Z Fold 2 the most exciting smartphone I've ever used, and am looking forward to its next iterations. Ultimately, what Samsung has delivered here is truly amazing.