Samsung bets that the future of mobiles looks a lot like this: You carry a device in your pocket that looks a bit like today’s phones, but you can just open it up and use its hidden larger screen like a tablet.
It first proposed this idea with last year’s Galaxy Fold, which broke during our review and was ultimately delayed while Samsung worked on fixes. That felt like a beta product. This year’s Galaxy Z Fold 2, which launches on Sept. 18, fixes pretty much every complaint I had with the original.
It’s proof that you really can have a regular phone that doubles as a tablet when you open it up. But this sort of gadget is still very expensive. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 costs $2,000, which is why Samsung’s messaging this year is: It’s for rich people who like neat toys.
My first impressions of last year’s Galaxy Fold were bad. The outside screen was tiny and basically unusable. The inside folding display was unprotected (before Samsung fixed it) and looked like glossy cheap plastic. My first impressions of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 were the opposite.
It’s clearly a very premium and well-built device. It’s all metal and glass with a bigger, but skinny, screen on the outside. The more fragile inside display comes with a screen protector that seems to work well, and the edges are protected by plastic and metal. It doesn’t seem like it’ll break very easily if you take care of it.
The inside display is now made out of super-thin, but fragile, glass. It looks and feels light years better than the original, but you still have to baby it to prevent it from damage. Samsung has lots of warnings to let you know to do so. Sometimes you can see the crease in the middle of the folding screen, but it’s not really a big deal. It’s mostly visible if there’s a lot of glare, and it usually just disappears into the screen.
The display also has a higher refresh rate, which means everything looks smoother when you’re scrolling through apps or websites. And the weird camera area on last year’s model has been slimmed down to a single 10-megapixel camera cutout, which looks nicer.
The outside display is much larger, running from edge-to-edge, so you can use it like a normal phone now. Some things are cramped, like the keyboard, but I got used to it over time.
Samsung and Google optimized the software so that you can easily run up to four apps on the inside screen at once. Most of the time this doesn’t really make sense, since apps like Facebook and Google News are too small to really use.
It really shines when you’re running two apps side-by-side, like on an iPad. I was able to talk with friends in a group chat while browsing Twitter at night, for example. Or keep an eye on Twitter while interacting with colleagues in Slack. And I loved being able to use that big screen to watch “Hamilton” on Disney+.