Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 hands-on: Taking it up a notch

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Samsung officially announced the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 at Unpacked last month, right alongside the Galaxy Note 20 family. However, unlike the Note 20 Ultra, we had to wait until now to actually get our hands on the thing. But bless the UPS driver, we’ve finally got one in-house.

So what’s new with Samsung’s newest foldable, and how does it actually feel to use? Let’s get into it.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2: A premium build

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold power and volume rockers

Probably the biggest difference you’ll notice right away between the first Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Galaxy Fold 2 is the build quality. While last year’s Fold used a decent amount of plastic around the body, the second generation has swapped that out with substantially more metal — and boy does it feel hefty. It’s quite thick like the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, but the lack of rounded corners makes it feel even more substantial than that device.

You’ll also notice that the front display has been enlarged substantially since the previous generation, which is something we were hoping to see in the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2. Last year’s Fold had a front screen that was barely usable with its awkwardly small size encased within the glass. With the Fold 2, you’re getting a much larger 6.2-inch display, reinforced with the latest Gorilla Glass Victus. While this display is about a third narrower than the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, it’s still perfectly usable. Make no mistake, though: just like the first Galaxy Fold, you’ll want to open this thing up and use the interior screen as often as you can.

The inner display: Many problems fixed

That inside screen has also been substantially improved since the last generation. It’s now a 7.6-inch dynamic AMOLED panel with a refresh rate of up to 120Hz. Unfortunately, just like the Note 20 Ultra, you can’t force the screen to maintain that refresh rate all the time — it will just change depending on the type of content you’re consuming. Reading an e-book? The screen will refresh at 10-11Hz. Watching a movie? That’ll be 24Hz. And of course, swiping around the UI and playing supported games will put you up to 120Hz.

Related: Refresh rate explained: What does 60Hz, 90Hz, and 120Hz mean?

You’ll also be happy to see that Samsung has replaced the plastic OLED display from last year with the ultra-thin glass (UTG) we saw in the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip. This composite material feels much more like real glass compared to the plastic display from last year. It also feels more sturdy and reinforced. There is still a bit of a crease on the center of the display, but it’s less pronounced than last year and is only really visible from certain angles. Otherwise, this feels quite similar to a traditional smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 punch hold selfe macro

The camera cutout has been drastically reduced from last year, with Samsung opting instead for a hole-punch cutout. This is similar to what we’ve seen in the latest Samsung Galaxy devices. The cutout leaves much more display and much less plastic rim. Overall, it looks a lot cleaner than the first Galaxy Fold. I’m a fan.

Beefed up internals

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 camera macro

Just like the first Fold, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is sporting some insane specs inside. You’ve got the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus processor, 12GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage (strangely down from the 512GB option we saw last year). The phone is also sporting a 4,500mAh battery with 25W quick charging and wireless charging.

Alongside those core specs, we have a brand new camera system for the Z Fold 2. The back camera module looks quite similar to the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, with three 12MP sensors flanking the camera bump. You’ve got a main, a wide, and a telephoto, which should allow the Z Fold to capture most any situation. If Samsung ported a similar color science from the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, these cameras should be nothing to scoff at.

Related: Galaxy Note 20 Ultra camera vs Galaxy S20 Ultra camera: Sibling rivalry

The internal punch-hole selfie camera is 10MP, but Samsung says you may be more inclined to use the rear cameras to take selfies instead. Because the Z Fold 2 has that outer display, you’re able to see yourself while taking selfies with the main back sensors. The screen obviously isn’t nearly as big though, so if you prefer to use the interior panel, that 10MP punch-hole camera should do quite well, too.

Another big change from last year is a much-improved hinge mechanism on the Galaxy Z Fold 2. While last year’s Fold could only sit in a couple of positions, the Z Fold 2 took inspiration from the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip to allow it to flex anywhere between zero and 180 degrees. That means you can open it at an angle if you want to watch YouTube videos in the internal display, or you can set it up to take a long exposure at any angle. Samsung calls this Flex Mode, and specific apps should scale to fit in the top half of the display if you’re using it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work on our unit quite yet. We’re asking Samsung for an update and will report back when we hear more.

Full specs:

 Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
DisplaysExterior:
6.2-inch HD+ AMOLED
2,260 x 816 resolution
386ppi
25:9 aspect ratio
60Hz refresh rate

Interior:
7.6-inch QXGA+ AMOLED
2,208 x 1,768 resolution
373ppi
22.5:18 aspect ratio
120Hz refresh rate

CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus
GPUAdreno 650
RAM12GB
Storage256GB UFS 3.1 built-in
No expandable storage
Power4,500mAh dual-battery
Fast-wired charging
Wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging
CamerasExternal front:
10MP sensor
ƒ2.2, 1.22μm, 80-degree FOV

External rear:
12MP wide-angle
ƒ1.8, 1.8μm, 83-degree FOV
Dual-pixel AF, OIS
12MP ultra-wide
ƒ2.2, 1.12μm, 123-degree FOV
12MP telephoto
ƒ2.4, 1.0μm, 45-degree FOV
PDAF, OIS

Internal:
10MP sensor
ƒ2.2, 1.22μm, 80-degree FOV

ConnectivitySub-6GHz and mmWave 5G
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax
HE80 MIMO
Bluetooth 5.0
MST and NFC
SecurityCapacitive fingerprint sensor (side-mounted)
AudioStereo speakers
Dolby Atmos-certified
No headphone jack
Operating systemAndroid 10
DimensionsFolded:
68.0 x 159.2 x 16.8mm (at hinge)

Unfolded
128.2 x 159.2 x 6.9mm (at frame)

Weight282g
ColorsMystic Black, Mystic Bronze

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2: Full review is coming soon

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 vs Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

We’re working hard on piecing our thoughts together on the Galaxy Z Fold 2. Until then, is there anything you guys want to know about this thing that we didn’t already cover? Drop your questions in the comments section below and we’ll be sure to get to them when we can!

If you want to get your hands on your own Galaxy Z Fold 2, it’ll cost you. Samsung is selling this thing for a cool $1,999. You can reserve a pre-order now, but orders open at midnight on September 2nd, with the phone officially going on sale on September 18th.



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