The second generation of Samsung's foldable smartphone is here. While the 5G device seems to be a better investment than last year's model, the $1,999 price is still prohibitive for many users.
Samsung has announced the second generation of its vertically-folding smartphone line: The Galaxy Z Fold2. Like the groundbreaking model released last year, the Galaxy Z Fold2 is hinged from top to bottom and sports internal and external screens. Compared to last year's model, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 reportedly has a better screen that's more scratch resistant, an improved hinge, and 5G connectivity.
While the Galaxy Z Fold 2 does provide a bit of flash for professionals in industries where appearance matters, the skepticism about foldable devices for business use won't go away with this model.
Here's what business professionals need to know about the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2. This article will be updated with the latest information about the 5G mobile device.
What is the Galaxy Z Fold2?
The Galaxy Z Fold2 is the second generation of Samsung's original folding phone, which folds vertically from a skinny front screen to an almost square 7.6" internal screen. The Galaxy Z Flip, Samsung's other folding phone, folds on a horizontal axis from a small square to a full-sized smartphone. Think of the Galaxy Z Fold2 as the "phablet" version of a folding phone, and the Z Flip as a regular smartphone made foldable.
The Galaxy Z Fold2 is designed to be a step up from the original, with improved internals, a new kind of folding glass screen, and a hinge that Samsung said will address many problems that the old one had.
Samsung also added a variety of new productivity features that are designed to make the Galaxy Z Fold2 more practical as a business device, too. Productivity features may not be enough to make it worth the price ($1,999 USD) if Samsung's new screen and hinge technology don't address the problems that the first generation had.
Specs for the Galaxy Z Fold 2
- Internal display: 7.6" Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) folding display, 120Hz refresh rate
- External display: 6.2" 120Hz refresh rate
- Dimensions: 2.67" x 6.26" x 0.6" (folded), 5.04" x 6.26" x 0.26" (unfolded)
- Storage: 256 GB
- RAM: 12 GB
- Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus
- Cameras: 12MP ultrawide, wide, and telephoto lenses, 10MP cover and inner selfie cameras
- Login security: Power button-integrated fingerprint reader, face recognition
- Battery: 4,500mAh dual battery (2,155 mAh and 2,345 mAh)
- Charging: Fast charging compatible on wired and wireless, wireless power share
- Ports: USB-C (no headphone jack)
- Connectivity: 5G, Wi-Fi 6, NFC, GPS
How has Samsung improved the Galaxy Z Fold2 over the first model?
Aside from the enhanced internals one would expect with a standard year-to-year upgrade, the Galaxy Z Fold2 received several enhancements that Samsung said will make it a tougher, more reliable, more usable device.
The first is the internal folding screen, which was roundly cited as a critical weak spot of the first Galaxy Fold, with creasing, cracking, no real scratch resistance, and general fragility all mentioned in various reviews.
The Z Fold2 has a new screen made of Samsung's UTG, similar to the screen in the Galaxy Z Flip, but its redesigned screen may not be the breakthrough Samsung claims. TechRepublic sister site CNET notes that the Z Flip bendable screen is still quite fragile, and a YouTube video test of the hardness of the Z Flip's UTG screen found it was still scorable with a fingernail--not exactly reassuring if you're potentially shelling out $2,000 for the Fold2.
Suzanne De Silva, Samsung's head of product management and marketing, stated in a press briefing that the glass is improved: "We've optimized the glass on the device, and now it's stronger than ever."
The outside of the Fold2, including the outer display, is made with the latest and strongest version of Gorilla Glass called Victus. So while the internal display may need attentive protection, the outer one is sure to be able to take a beating.
Samsung also said it addressed the tactile feeling of the screen to make it "more pleasurable" to see and touch by rearranging the multiple layers of UTG and other materials that make up the folding screen.
Along with the new UTG screen, Samsung also redid the hinge design, which was another problem point on the first generation Z Fold because of how easily it trapped dust, dirt, and debris. The new hinge has a cam-and-sweeper design that doubles the amount of cams and sweepers from the Z Fold, and also supports Flex Mode, which allows the device to stay open at multiple angles for hands-free use.
Samsung said in its September 1 presentation about the Galaxy Z Fold2 that it listened to user feedback and found the external screen was used more than the company thought. In response, the Galaxy Z Fold2 has a larger, edge-to-edge 6.1" screen, up from the 4.6" screen of the first-generation model.
The internal screen has eliminated the notch on the right side in favor of Samsung's hole-in-screen design that leaves a small pinhole for the 10 MP selfie cameras in both the cover and internal screens.
As for cameras, the main rear camera has three lenses: A 12 MP ultra-wide, a 12 MP wide angle, and a 12 MP telephoto lens. When the device is opened, the rear cameras can be used to take selfies with the external screen acting as a viewfinder, and pictures can also be taken with the main lenses using the internal screen, with the front screen acting as a duplicate viewfinder so your subjects can see what the camera sees, too.
Should I buy the Galaxy Z Fold2?
Foldable devices are still a question mark for business users: Are they going to hold up to daily business use, or are they just gimmicks for early adopters and trendsetters? The latter has been the case thus far, but Samsung is trying to break out of that mold with the Galaxy Z Fold2, adding lots of productivity features that make use of its innovative design.
Two productivity features stand out on the Galaxy Z Fold2: Advanced multitasking and App Continuity.
The big standout for those looking for a productivity reason to invest in the Galaxy Z Fold2 is how it handles multitasking. When the Galaxy Z Fold2 is open, three apps can be displayed simultaneously, with one taking up half the screen, and the other two sharing the remaining half. Rotating the device or holding and dragging will reposition them, and best of all there's a shortcut creation option to pair three frequently-used apps together for one-touch access to all three at once. Multitasking shortcuts can be added to the homescreen, dock, or the slide-out multitasking bar that can be swiped open from the right edge.
Samsung has also added drag-and-drop functionality to multitasking, making it easier to move content between applications. "If you're working on a presentation, say you've got PowerPoint open in one window, you can open another window and seamlessly just pull over images to finish out the presentation while you're working just from your mobile device," Drew Blackard, Samsung's vice president of mobile product management, said in a press briefing.
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App Continuity is what Samsung calls a feature of some apps to automatically resize to fit the inside screen when being used on the cover. Apps like Mail, Spotify, YouTube, and others will have their interface extended and additional content visible when the device is opened, which could be great for professionals. See an email you need to respond to? Just open the device to get a full-featured editing space that's far more useful than what's visible on the external screen.
The one big drawback to this feature, like the Galaxy Z Fold2's flex mode, is that not all apps support it. Samsung mentioned a few apps (listed above), and it's possible that most if not all of Samsung's stock apps will support App Continuity and flex mode, but it remains to be seen if there will be widespread adoption of these features for the Galaxy Z Fold2.
What are the Galaxy Z Fold2's top competitors?
When it comes to competition in the folding smartphone market, there isn't a whole lot to speak of. Samsung has its two form factors (the Fold and Flip), Motorola has the Razr, which resembles the Flip, and Microsoft has its new Android-powered Surface Duo.
The Surface Duo is the real competitor to the Galaxy Z Fold2 since it's the only other smartphone with a similar form factor. There are differences that may affect your decision to invest in one or the other.
First off, the Surface Duo doesn't have a folding screen; instead, it sports two separate 5.6" Gorilla Glass screens that support other Microsoft Surface peripherals, like the Surface Pen.
The Surface Duo also lacks an external screen, and only sports a single camera. The device is designed for productivity, with none of the bells and whistles of a flagship consumer phone.
The Surface Duo does have similar multitasking features that allow two apps (compared to the Galaxy Z Fold2's three) to be displayed at once--one per screen. App groups can be created like on the Galaxy Z Fold2, and apps can be dragged from one screen to both, launching them into an extended view if the app supports it.
There are lower-end devices that are competitors to the Galaxy Z Fold2, like the LG V60 ThinQ, which is technically a folding device with two screens if you opt to buy the phone case that makes it such. In reality, it's a traditional smartphone that CNET called a "cheap but boring alternative to the Samsung Galaxy Note 20."
When and where will the Galaxy Z Fold2 be available?
Preorders for the Galaxy Z Fold 2 are available in the US beginning on September 2, 2020 at 12:01 am ET. Beginning on September 18, 2020, the device will be available on Samsung's site, through carriers, and from various retailers online.
The Galaxy Z Fold2 comes in two colors: Mystic Black and Mystic Bronze. Buyers can customize the hinge from five color options: Blue, red, gold, silver, and black.
Pricing for the Galaxy Z Fold2 starts at $1,999 USD, which is $20 more than the first-generation model. That price does come with Samsung's premium Galaxy Z Concierge program, which has perks that include:
- On-demand customer service and consultation;
- Six months of LinkedIn Premium;
- First-time screen replacement of $149;
- 12 months of Founders Card benefits for preorders, six months after launch;
- A prepared meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant;
- Fairway Pass Elite golf club access;
- Six months of Obe Fitness online workouts; and
- A discount on in-home hair service through Glamsquad.
There is also a Thom Browne edition of the Galaxy Z Fold2. The price is $3,299, and it comes with a Galaxy Watch 3 and Galaxy Buds Live. Only 5,000 Thom Browne edition devices will be made available worldwide.
Correction: This article was updated to reflect the accurate information about preorders.
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2: $1,999 for a device that has made progress, but not enough (ZDNet)
- Galaxy Z Fold 2 is set to impress: Every spec and feature you'll get for $2,000 (CNET)
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