Before writing this test, we wanted to reread what we said about the first one Galaxy fold. That was just under a year ago and we called Samsung’s first folding smartphone a “Exceptional tablet” which, once folded in smartphone mode, “Was satisfied with the minimum”. In particular, we criticized it for having a cover screen that was too small, a notch too large in tablet mode and leaving too much play at the hinge, which did not really inspire confidence. Its high price point was also seen as a flaw, although more generally we said we were impressed with Samsung’s efforts. The Galaxy Fold clearly left us with incredible memories.
Marketed at 2020 euros, the new Galaxy Z Fold 2 costs as much as its predecessor. However, all of the above flaws have been eliminated by Samsung, which you will see has really gone out of its way to make its new folding smartphone a technological masterpiece. For two weeks, we put our usual smartphone and tablet in a drawer, the time to give the Galaxy Z Fold 2 a chance. Is the concept of Samsung finally ready to take off?
An irreproachable quality of finish
In the world of new technologies, it is often said that the second generations are the best. Samsung proves this to us particularly with its Z Fold 2 which, without exaggeration, could very well be a third or fourth generation. The difference in quality between the Fold and its successor is such that the former seems to have been launched several years ago. The Z Fold 2 is now slimmer and taller. It takes on more modern curves and, above all, looks incredibly more solid. You have to fold it and unfold it to realize it: the feeling of fragility of the first model has completely disappeared. Once the terminal is closed, the two parts of the screen do not move more than a millimeter. We have blind faith in this Z Fold 2.
Slightly downside, however, this increased strength deprives Z Fold 2 users of one of the most practical features of its predecessor: the ability to unfold the mobile with one hand. Unless you have a very muscular thumb, it’s impossible to open Samsung’s new folding smartphone without using both hands. This is quite unfortunate (especially for accessibility reasons), even if, in the end, it remains quite consistent with Samsung’s hybrid vision. We use the Z Fold 2 in smartphone mode with one hand, we operate it in tablet mode with two hands. A strong choice which shows that the Korean knows where he is going.
A nearly borderless tablet
Unfolded, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 sports a large 7.6-inch OLED screen in… 22.5: 18 format. Yes, it’s quite original, if not unique. Almost square, this screen is much larger than that of the first Fold and therefore allows two entire applications to be displayed side by side. As we said earlier the 4: 3 aspect ratio of the first one was easier to handle. Samsung has clearly decided to leave portability aside and focus on display comfort this year.
If like us, you spend a lot of time on your mobile, you should love this change. Surfing social networks, responding to messages, reading the press, watching videos or playing on the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is pure happiness, especially from the sofa. Buying a tablet is clearly becoming unnecessary. You would think you were handling an iPad mini without screen borders, Samsung having particularly minimized the size of the latter. The punch, where the 10 Mpix front camera of the smartphone-tablet is hidden, is significantly more discreet than the imposing notch of the first Fold. The progress in just one year is truly phenomenal and that’s not to mention the arrival of a 120Hz refresh rate which really improves the smoothness of navigation. Love this Galaxy Z Fold 2!
Without reaching the level of excellence of a Galaxy s20 high-end, the unfolded screen of the Z Fold 2 is very efficient according to the measurements of our laboratory. By pushing the brightness slider to the maximum, we reach 573 cd / m². This performance can be further improved by placing the device in strong light (to imitate the sun’s rays), which unlocks a “boost mode” allowing the screen to reach 710 cd / m². This is not a record but it is enough for outdoor use even if, plastic coating requires, the Z Fold 2 reflects a lot of light in tablet mode (we take this opportunity to reassure you: the folding of the screen is almost invisible when you look at it right in the face).
Finally, with regard to color fidelity, it is satisfactory without being exceptional. Our laboratory measurements confirm this with a default Delta E of 6.31 (this is very average for the time being). We can however opt for natural mode which offers a Delta E of 3.19 (this time it is much more correct). We therefore recommend this display mode if, by chance, you decide to purchase a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2.
Almost at the height of a smartphone
All the magic of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 lies in its ability to fold in half to fit in a pocket.
Once folded, Samsung’s hybrid device can behave like a real smartphone. A 6.2-inch edge-to-edge screen covers almost the entire front and the device can be operated fairly easily with one hand, although the Z Fold 2’s screen is very long, for 25: 9 aspect ratio. The top of the screen is therefore not always very accessible. Fortunately, Samsung’s One UI software overlay is very well optimized and makes most of the interface elements easily accessible. There are always some exceptions, like Facebook or Instagram, which lodged some elements of their software environment too high.
Thanks to this new larger screen, the Z Fold 2 is clearly more comfortable to use than its predecessor. Not everything is perfect, however, especially when you have to type long messages on the keyboard and the small size of the screen makes them difficult to compose. The 282 grams of the terminal does not improve this aspect. We often prefer to unfold our Z Fold 2 to better distribute the weight, and work in tablet mode. In short, Samsung is doing better, but has yet to find the magic bullet. A diet would do good for the future Galaxy Z Fold 3.
Z Fold 2’s “smartphone version” screen quality is similar to that of the large “tablet version” screen. We were able to reach 555 cd / m² and even 659 cd / m² in boost mode. This is also more than enough, especially since this screen is covered with Gorilla Glass and reflects less light outdoors than the 7.6-inch screen. Like last year, Gorilla Glass also acts as a shield against falls. When the device is closed in your pocket or bag, it is not likely to break.
Samsung invents new uses
Like his little brother, the Galaxy z flip, this new Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 has a folding screen based on “ultra-thin glass”. The device’s OLED panel is covered with a very light layer of glass, itself covered with a layer of plastic. When you touch it, it feels quite strange. We feel that the material is different from that of a classic smartphone (the finger slips less easily) but that at the same time, the resistance of the glass is present. We don’t mind scratching this screen with a fingernail.
The new material comes with a rather incredible novelty: the hinge that allows the screen to fold is now similar to that of a laptop computer. This means that where the first Fold was limited to two positions (smartphone or tablet), the Z Fold 2 has endless possibilities. For example, you can open it 90 degrees, put it on a table and watch a video without having to hold it. Some applications are also compatible with what the Korean calls “Flex Mode”, a mode that automatically adapts the interface according to the angle adopted by the terminal. In Youtube for example, the video appears at the top of the screen, the description and comments at the bottom. You just have to enjoy it.
Other applications are compatible with Flex Mode. In Camera, the preview of your photo is displayed for example on the upper part of the screen while the settings are at the bottom. With Google Duo, video calls work just like a laptop. Too bad no other email software is compatible yet.
When an application is not compatible with the tablet format of the Z Fold 2, we also have the possibility of using the “smartphone version” screen to, for example, launch a Netflix series, then fold the device to 90 degrees to be able to put it down and no longer have to hold it. All these possibilities are quite enjoyable. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is so much more than a smartphone-tablet, it’s a whole new kind of device.
Still in the category of new uses, we discover the tent mode which, in our opinion, does not really deserve further explanation. Also to take advantage of the cover screen, you can put your device on a table and watch / play without having to hold it. It’s quite fun.
Always high-end equipment
Samsung hates compromise. Where manufacturers like Motorola have decided to sacrifice performance and components to design folding devices, the Korean brand has decided to equip its Galaxy Z Fold 2 with all its latest features without exception. Thus, it is the brand new Snapdragon 865+ processor that equips this hybrid device. Accompanied by 12 GB of RAM, the latter allows the Z Fold 2 to be the most powerful Android smartphone on the market. This chip also gives the device Wi-Fi 6 and 5G compatibility, so that it does not quickly fall into obsolescence.
To unlock the smartphone, in addition to 2D facial recognition that works in smartphone or tablet mode, Samsung offers a fingerprint sensor on the right side of the device. Unlike the one on the first Fold, which was located just below the unlock button, this biometric sensor is integrated directly into the power button. You touch it as soon as you grab the device, which is very convenient.
The other features of the Z Fold 2 are just as premium. Its stereo speakers are extremely powerful (be careful, however, not to hold the device on the wrong side at the risk of blocking them with the palms of your hands), the smartphone benefits from a 25W fast wired charge and, icing on the cake , the Z Fold 2 supports wireless charging. This folding device is a real high-end smartphone. Only complaint, Samsung is limited to 256 GB of non-expandable storage against 512 GB with the first Fold. It wouldn’t be disturbing if the device cost less than its predecessor. Unfortunately, the prices are the same.
Three good photo modules
On the photo side too, Samsung does not make fun of its customers. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 sports a very versatile camera module based on three 12 Mpix sensors. The first is associated with the main camera (and clearly out of the game), another is dedicated to ultra wide-angle while the last allows you to take photos with an optical zoom x2. We appreciate the simple choices made by Samsung, which does not complicate life with false telephoto lenses connected to 64 Mpix sensors as with the S20s and is betting on efficiency.
As a result, Samsung is doing Samsung. The photos from the Z Fold 2 aren’t as magical as those from a trendy Pixel or Huawei, but it’s hard to fault them for anything. Day or night, the main camera excels. The ultra wide-angle and the x2 telephoto lens are logically less good in low light, but this is not their main use. In any case, the Z Fold 2 is a good photo smartphone, especially since its giant screen allows you to frame with more stability and, above all, a better idea of the end result. That’s very cool !
Another advantage of the Z Fold 2 is that the person you are photographing can see themselves in real time thanks to the cover screen. No need to start a photo shoot over again because of a flyaway fuse.
Two batteries equip the Galaxy Z Fold 2. In total, they allow the smartphone to benefit from a capacity of 4500 mAh, which is (a little) more than with the first Galaxy Fold (4300 mAh).
To be transparent with you, the 01net.com laboratory asked itself many questions about how it should test the autonomy of the Z Fold 2. Our usual tests do not correspond at all to the hybrid use that we are using. little to do with the device, since we constantly alternate between two screens. We therefore decided to test the Z Fold 2 twice, in smartphone mode and then in tablet mode. There is a huge gap, the truth lies in between.
Thus, in smartphone mode, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is one of the most enduring high-end mobiles on the market. Its versatile autonomy of 4:21 p.m. is exceptional while in video streaming, the 2:23 p.m. Many movies we’ve been able to do make the Z Fold 2 an endurance monster. His 25:33 communication (the maximum time you can spend on the phone on a single charge) are also very satisfactory.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said in tablet mode. Huge screen, Quad HD + definition and 120Hz refresh rate have a colossal impact on the autonomy of the device. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 does not exceed 10 hours of versatile battery life (9:39 a.m.) or video streaming (9:14).
You are probably thinking that these measures do not reflect reality and you are partially right. In use, the autonomy of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 did not strike us as exceptional or catastrophic. The alternation between the two screens allows us to last a whole day without too much difficulty even if, let’s face it, we ended up in the red every day (under the remaining 20% of battery life). To make the experience really better, Samsung must find a way to make its Z Fold 2 consume less in tablet mode.
Regarding the recharging time of the device, it is 1 hour and 21 minutes according to our measurements. So the 25W charger that comes in the box is fast, but not super-fast.
Android is still not suitable for folding format
Finally, let’s conclude this test with a review of the software used by Samsung. There are good things (multitasking up to three applications, for example, for which the Korean brand was well inspired) and not so good. In the latter case, it is especially Android that poses a problem, more than Korean.
Let’s give a simple example, Google’s OS is unable to automatically adapt its applications to the different formats of a folding smartphone. If you open Facebook in tablet mode, the app will take the form of a tablet app. Fold the Z Fold 2 and display Facebook on the cover screen, you are now entitled to… the compressed tablet version of Facebook. The tabs are then unusable. The only solution: close Facebook and reopen it in smartphone mode where, this time, it will be the smartphone version of the application that you will be using. We let you guess what happens if you unfold the Z Fold 2 … This time you will have the smartphone version of the app displayed and stretched out on the big screen. The experience is not perfect and comes with some bugs in the animations. There is no consistency when switching from one screen to another, unless the developer has done the necessary work (Samsung apps for example benefit from it).
Silly, but you can’t help but think that a folding iPhone or Google Pixel wouldn’t have these issues. Samsung is a victim of its addiction to Android, which forces it to use an OS it did not create itself. It’s a shame, the magic of Z Fold 2 often evaporates because of these bugs. Hopefully the future Android 12 really fixes these issues.