The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 marks a milestone in the history of foldable smartphones, as it proves that this kind of device can be more than just a technological demonstration. At least, this is the role that this product wants to assume that we have tested meticulously in order to find out what this expensive jewel of innovation has in store.
More than the other attempts of the South Korean giant in the matter, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 marks a turning point in the establishment of the new paradigm that Samsung dreams of establishing in the years to come. Indeed, in the future imagined by the brand, the folding smartphone is the norm.
However, this new device, by its design and its finishes, is much more successful than its predecessor and seems more able to embody the beginnings of this new era desired by Samsung. We tested the Galaxy Z Fold 2 to give you a full feedback on this foldable smartphone.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 Data Sheet :
More Than A Know-How, A Know-How :
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is mainly intriguing by its design. As you will see, in the other parts of this test, we will see that this device more or less aligns with what is expected of a high-end product in 2020. However, its aesthetics are completely out of the ordinary , because we are talking about a foldable smartphone here.
For the trouble, Samsung persists and signs with its vision of things. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 thus folds inward to protect its large, foldable screen when stored in a pocket or placed on a table. For comparison, competitor Huawei, with the Mate XS, prefers an outward bend that promotes the “wow” effect, but poses more risk to the flexible panel.
In order to be able to bend a screen up and down, you have to use a panel made up mainly of layers of plastic. A material that is certainly softer than glass, but also more exposed to potential scratches. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 therefore wants to avoid this kind of risk. As a result: the device consists of two screens: a small one on the outside, made of glass, rigid and sturdy, and a large one on the inside that folds.
You have to already understand and approve this Samsung philosophy to appreciate it. Personally, I find the choice of the brand to be quite relevant even though it is still subject to two important constraints: thickness and weight.
Let’s start with the first point: the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is 16.8mm thick when folded up. It’s roughly the equivalent of two smartphones. In other words, you have to have large enough pockets or an adequate bag available to carry it. Over time, you get used to it, although it is quite disturbing. Samsung still has plenty of room for improvement to refine its product.
The weight now. Count 279 grams. Here too, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is well above average considering the fact that a smartphone is estimated to be heavy when it turns around 210 grams. Here, however, I will point out that knowing that the device can be unfolded and used in tablet format can almost forget this flaw. Yes, as I know that the telephone offers this atypical feature, I am more inclined to accept its imposing mass. I think other users are on the same page. For example, we can say that the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is a 279 gram tablet and it immediately becomes less shocking.
Here we are, we have laid some essential foundations. Once this premise is well digested, we can fully appreciate what this smartphone has to offer – for a device at 2000 euros, this verb is perhaps not very well chosen. The Galaxy Fold 2 is a source of wonder for anyone who appreciates technology and innovative products. Even if those who do not understand the usefulness of such a device cannot question the technical prowess of Samsung, which has deployed engineering treasures to achieve its ends.
The South Korean giant knew how to make foldable smartphones, this Galaxy Z Fold 2 proves that Samsung now knows how to do them well.
If the Galaxy Fold of 2019 allowed to show the world that the South Korean giant knew how to make foldable smartphones, this Galaxy Z Fold 2 proves that Samsung now knows how to do them well. The front screen occupies a large part of the surface it occupies, which makes its use much more relevant. Admittedly, this display area is still framed by fairly visible black bands, but these are not thicker than on a traditional smartphone. The punch on the forehead is also very classic.
Now let’s unfold the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and already take the time to appreciate the soft resistance offered by the hinge which has been reinforced compared to the first model. Opening the device becomes a much more reassuring gesture. You can also “stop” the folding at almost any time you want and thanks to this, the smartphone can be used on a table in seated or stand mode if desired. We will dwell on this subject later, in the part dedicated to the software.
So now we are facing the large internal screen of the Galaxy Z Fold 2. Let’s say it right off the bat: yes, the fold is quite easily distinguishable, especially if we observe it under the light of a bulb. However, it does not interfere more than that in use. On the one hand, because if you hold the lit screen in front of your gaze, the line largely disappears. On the other hand, because the indentation under the finger is not at all deep.
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Besides, when it comes to touch, even if this large panel is mainly made of plastic, a thin layer of ultra-thin glass has been integrated as was the case on the Galaxy Z Flip. The feeling under the finger is therefore much more pleasant. Normally, the screen resistance should also be improved, but we prefer and recommend not to test this theory too much.
On the Galaxy Z Fold 2, the large internal screen presents itself without an unsightly notch. Instead, we find here a punch to house the front photo sensor. In addition, the frame around this slab does not interfere. It is indeed a pleasant mini tablet to use that you hold in your hands. Note also on the edges, near the right angles at the top and bottom, the presence of small plastic tips to absorb the shock when you fold the phone. Don’t go in there like a nag, but let’s just say the device isn’t made of sugar either.
On the back, our test model is fitted with a matte bronze-colored glass for the most beautiful effect. On the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, this finish had already seduced us in exactly the same way. Samsung has really gone above and beyond on this color. Note that there is also a black version, but dressed in glossy glass.
Also on the back side, the triple rectangular photo module protrudes in relief, which can make the phone wobbly, when laid flat. Otherwise, the fingerprint reader is located on the right edge – even in tablet format – under the volume keys, and also serves as an unlock button.
The Galaxy Z Fold 2 benefits from two speakers, one at the top, the other at the bottom, and also a USB-C port. The 3.5mm jack was not preserved and the phone also does not have an IP68 certification to ensure its resistance to water and dust. To bend without breaking, the device intentionally leaves a few empty spaces that prevent it from being waterproof. Also pay attention to the fine gap between the two flaps of the smartphone when it is folded up.
Small balls of tissue coming from the bottom of the pocket can get in and hang onto the internal screen. Worse, an object could slip in and damage the device. In my case, my public transport card has been found two or three times in this case. No damage to report, but things could be much more serious with keys for example.
Two Screens, Double Pleasure :
Two AMOLED screens are available here to owners of Galaxy Z Fold 2. Outside, we have the panel to consult in smartphone mode: 6.2 inches, 25.9 ratio and HD + definition. Inside, a larger 7.6-inch diagonal awaits us with an almost square 22.5: 18 ratio and QXGA + definition (very similar to QHD +). This larger screen is the one that folds, but also the one that takes advantage of adaptive 120Hz mode. The refresh rate therefore drops depending on the applications and can even drop to 10 Hz on still images to conserve battery power. On video games and navigation in the system interface, the 120 frames per second are always so pleasant as they promote the feeling of fluidity.
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Samsung has consistently demonstrated the breadth of its expertise in display quality over the past few years. This smartphone does not dishonor this beautiful heritage, on any of its two screens. These are almost as good as each other. Infinite and perfect contrast on each side and very high brightness measured at 610 cd / m² indoors and outdoors. Suffice to say that even the brightest of suns cannot interfere with readability.
Note that by default, this Galaxy Z Fold is set to a “vivid” mode which sublimates the colors a bit, but out of the box, the color temperature slider is set a notch towards the warm to avoid tones too blue. This makes it possible to have an average temperature running a little below 6500 K, which is therefore very close to the level deemed to be perfect.
In addition, our probe and CalMan software from Portrait Displays reveal that the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is very good at displaying a wide variety of colors. Both small and large displays cover 202% of the manageable RGB color space. The DCI-P3, larger and more complicated to include, and covered to the tune of more or less 136% on each slab. All is well in the best of all possible worlds then.
You should know, however, that Samsung really likes to beautify things and the colors that its device displays are not very faithful to reality. Evidenced by an average Delta E on the DCI-P3 measured at 5.65 on the small screen and 6.41 on the large. This index should be closer to 3 to be truly realistic. On each of the panels, we notice that it is mainly on the red and its shades that the Galaxy Z Fold 2 deviates greatly from what it should normally display.
So much for the technical feedback. All these technical data, which paint a rather positive portrait, do not obscure a small criticism, however: the external screen is certainly much more pleasant to use than that of the first generation of Fold, but this 25:9 ratio makes it very narrow and thin. Some might have difficulty typing the small keys on the physical keyboard correctly.
More annoying, this atypical format is not suitable for the vast majority of videos. So, to enjoy a 16: 9 or 18: 9 video in its entirety on this panel, you have to accept having very large black borders on the sides. If you want said video to fill the screen, the image becomes too zoomed. Moreover, one might regret that the definition does not reach Full HD.
On the internal screen, consuming a video also comes at the cost of large black bands, but it’s less annoying because the image is larger and always more complete. The experience remains pleasant.
ONE UI: Some Squirts In Perfection :
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 runs Android 10 with the One UI home interface. As on the other devices of the brand, this software experience is really very pleasant in itself with a nice design, and navigation in the system very intuitive, pleasant and adapted to large screens since a good part of the interaction elements are lowered. and accessible to the thumb.
Dark mode, choice between two navigation gestures, native screen recorder … We find all the classic and expected features on One UI. In this, it is perfect.
We also welcome the very fluid complementarity between the external screen and the internal screen. Fluidity that is felt especially when watching a video in smartphone mode. While playing, you can open the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and enjoy your content in better conditions without interruption. In this, Samsung has done a very big job. Moreover, thesehelm remarks are also valid when moving from the large slab to the small one. To do this, you just have to think about indicating, in the display settings, which apps should continue to rotate when you fold up the device. Otherwise, this action causes the phone to lock. Personally, I gave this permission to YouTube and Google Maps.
As enjoyable as One UI is, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 has some skirmishes. I was confronted with three bugs, little serious but striking, while I was using the phone. The first, the most recurrent, concerns an animation. Several times, screen unfolded, leaving an app to return to the home screen, the icons present on said desktop did not show immediately. I could see my wallpaper in its entirety for about 2 seconds before the elements mentioned were loaded.
On the Chrome browser two or three times, when a site viewed read a video and I went into landscape mode, a section of the screen would only display a black rectangle. However, this display concern is easy to adjust by closing and then reopening the app. Finally, another bug concerns YouTube and has manifested itself twice. What happened? The Galaxy Z Fold 2 didn’t display video quality beyond 720p even though the big screen has a similar definition to QHD. I had to delete the data from the app to review options 1080 or 1440 percent.
We could also talk about the few optimization concerns that prevent some applications from running smoothly from one screen to another. For example, if you launch Instagram in tablet mode, close your device and then return to the social network from the external slab, an error message will appear to let you know that Instagram is forced to restart.
Here, the fault does not entirely rest with Samsung, in the sense that it is up to the developers of applications to adapt to this format to invest it in the best way possible. The South Korean giant will have to encourage them to do this quickly.
There is also the question of the occupation of the internal screen. As mentioned above, a YouTube video in 16:9 or 18:9 format will have two large black headbands at the top and bottom, but it’s not very annoying. On the other hand, you get more ticks when you see that The News Feed on Instagram doesn’t spread more about the space it’s offered. It’s a bit of a shame, but aesthetically, the rendering is still good enough not to frustrate. An application like Xiaomi Mi Fit on the other hand, if it is opened from the small screen and then viewed on the big one, will occupy only a thin space of the slab. The app will need to be restarted for a suitable display.
So for the few items to be refined by Samsung and the app developers. With the era of folding smartphones still in its infancy, it is understandable that the formula is not yet perfect at this level. Especially since the manufacturer has already laid some foundations. For example, some apps benefit from some adjustments to the foldable screen through Flex Mode.
Flex Mode allows you to use certain services when the smartphone is sitting. For example, the camera interface will show the preview on the high half, the photos recently taken on the low half laid flat on the left while the interaction buttons are on the right. For some selfies or to enjoy a makeshift tripod, this can be really convenient.
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Apps like YouTube and Google Duo also benefit from Flex Mode compatibility. On the first, it is not very relevant since we do not take full advantage of the video and the comments on the lower part are really readable only if we look forward.
On the second, it’s much more interesting, because the seated position of the Galaxy Fold 2 has a use for video conferencing. Just a few buttons on the bottom of the screen and a video review on the top part.
To type text when the phone is sitting — as if it were a computer — I did not find the experience innothantly convincing, but if you are interested I advise you to use the Gboard keyboard from Google or Swiftkey from Microsoft, because they occupy the space well while the one from Samsung divides into two parts with a disturbing separation of keys in the middle. It is not very practical.
Very interesting, but not really popular with Samsung, the option “Screen layout and zoom” has an extended name, but it is very practical. In fact, this feature in the display settings helps to arrange the way certain applications look on the big screen. Instead of simply enjoying an enlarged interface, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 can adopt the behavior of a tablet and reorganize certain elements so that the user sees more things on the screen. On the phone app, for example, contacts will appear on the left and details on them on the right.
Beware, some applications need the device to be held horizontally for their interface to adapt in this way. This is the case for example of Gmail, YouTube and YouTube Music. In the vast majority of cases, I found this provision very appropriate and more enjoyable.
To improve your productivity on the big screen, you can open three apps at the same time. The easiest way to do this and shoot the small tab rowed on the right side of the screen. From this side menu, you’ll be able to see all the apps running in split display and drag and drop the ones you’re interested in. When you have three apps open at the same time, a small button in the center of the screen will allow you to change the layout or save this trio in your favorites to get easier access afterwards.
Finally, a quick note on the fingerprint reader to the right of the phone. it sometimes annoyed me because he refused at times to recognize my thumb for reasons that still elude me. As for SVoD service, premium smartphone obliges, you will have no worries to read content in HD quality. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 takes advantage of the DRM Widevine at the highest L1 security level.
Good Stereo Speakers :
With its two speakers, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 offers a real stereo sound for a good spatialization of sound. Powerful and well balanced, the device offers a pleasant listening experience, despite some saturations, quite rare, when the volume is pushed to the bottom.
Note that when holding the phone horizontally, it is common to clog one of the speaker grilles. You will notice quite easily the difference that this makes. To optimize, the sound quality, a Dolby Atmos option is at your disposal, but the effects of it are felt especially in headphones with music that coats the ears better.
For headphone listening, there is also the equalizer and the Adapt Sound function that allows to adjust the sound according to the age range of the user. You can also customize this setting yourself. Personally, I found the equalizer more interesting to use than Adapt Sound, but everyone will see noon at their door.
Photo: An Old Formula That Is Always Effective :
For the photo, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 does not deploy the same range as Samsung’s recent high-end smartphones in the S and Note ranges. So don’t expect sensors with big definitions, we’re on a more modest formula, rather at the level of a 2019 device.
We are entitled to the following configuration for the rear module:
- 12-megapixel (f/1.8) main sensor.
- 12-megapixel (f/2.2) ultra wide-angle.
- 12-megapixel x2 telephoto lens (f/2.4).
Overall not really surprised. Images with good light conditions are detailed and benefit from good dynamic management. Samsung assumes its taste for saturated colors that reinforce the contrast. The rendering is often more beautiful than reality, making many users happy to the chagrin of those who prefer shots faithful to what their eyes have seen.
At night, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 manages to keep lots of information in the image for photos that remain detailed. There is still a very light fuzzy sail and the strong light sources are difficult to manage.
Also be aware that the scene optimizer, activated by default on the camera, can act as a kind of night mode to better illuminate really dark scenes. However, don’t stop yourself from using this feature. The night mode, even if it requires a longer installation time, manages to catch up well with the blocked areas in the image.
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The ultra wide-angle of this Galaxy Z Fold 2 is also in the very classic with a color saturation pushed a little notch above that of the main sensor. The distortion of the image on the edges is felt a little, but never really shocks, because it remains relatively well attenuated. Finally, we lose a little sharpness and this is felt especially on the night shots.
The x2 zoom, on the other hand, is very effective for clean and crisp images in most situations. We will simply regret not being entitled here to a higher level of optical magnification, in x3 for example.
The portrait mode of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is pleasing to the eye with a good highlight of the person photographed whose face is finely transcribed. Beware of the delimitation of the bokeh effect: some hair is too smooth and blurred.
For selfies, you have a 10-megapixel (f/2.2) front sensor housed in the external screen and another exactly the same in the internal screen. We then take advantage of rather correct photos that lack however a little fishing as soon as we are in a bright environment a little complex to manage or on night shots.
Finally, be aware that it is possible to film up to 4K to 60 fps with the Galaxy Z Fold 2, the 4K/60 fps is also available for selfie videos.
A Powerful Smartphone Doesn’t Make A Trick :
No homemade Exynos by Samsung in this foldable smartphone. The latter tastes the most powerful chip on the market at the time of its release: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865. And you can feel that. The biggest problem encountered during a part of Fortnite for example was a fall of the framerate from 30 to 25 fps for a few short seconds. Epic Games’ flagship title is an “epic” quality on the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and is generally very stable. No 60 fps mode in sight at the moment, the game editor will have to remove this barrier for this model.
A game on Call of Duty Mobile also enjoys great fluidity even by pushing the graphics on the “very high” level and the number of frames per second at the max. The two licenses mentioned here also run very well on the big screen of the Galaxy Z Fold 2, we dive particularly well into the battle. Fortnite has the small advantage of better adapting to the external slab of the foldable smartphone despite its strange ratio.
Note that the above benchmarks were performed on the big screen of the Galaxy Z Fold 2, a fairly cumbersome exercise due to the higher definition than most devices on the market. This may be part of the reason for some of the slightly worse-than-expected results over some exercises. Rest assured, however: this phone remains extremely powerful.
12GB of RAM support the Snapdragon 865 while the storage space extends to 256GB.
Autonomy: Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde
The 4500 mAh battery blows hot and cold and it’s finally quite logical, because throughout the day, we have to alternate between an energy-efficient HD and 60 Hz screen and a larger Slab QHD and 120 Hz much more energy-intensive. So you’ll have to deal with poor battery life if you’re essentially using the Galaxy Z Fold 2 as a tablet. On the other hand, the endurance of the folded smartphone is much more honorable. It does not suddenly become a champion in this field, but to last a whole day without sweating heavily becomes quite possible, even with a fairly active use.
In my case, having quite naturally alternated between these two scenarios, I ended up with less than 8% battery at 7pm on some days and with 35% at midnight on other days. However, my daytime activities have not varied as much as I have since I tend to always go around the same applications: a lot of messaging (WhatsApp, Messenger), heavy consumption of YouTube videos, surfing the web throughout the day, occasional Google Maps navigation and very regular music playing. The real difference was that sometimes I favored the small external screen, other times not at all.
The right reflex, if you go out at night and you don’t have a lot of energy left, will be to prefer use in smartphone mode and, why not, to force the 60 Hz mode on the big screen, because it positively affects the battery cycle life.
Tested during our ViSer custom testing protocol, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 couldn’t last more than 6 hours and 36 minutes, it’s simply the worst result ever recorded in this exercise since we’ve been using this system. Again, there is nothing surprising about this, because this score is to be put into perspective. Said protocol launches several applications as a result and does not necessarily allow time for the device to properly adjust are refresh rate. Add this to the large diagonal and the large definition of the slab that also precipitate the battery into its limits.
On the charging side, a 25W block will be delivered with the Galaxy Z Fold 2. Samsung’s jewel only needs 30 minutes to recover 50% of its energy. Free yourself another little more than half an hour to get back to the 100%.
Ready For 5G :
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 works with the 5G network so it won’t be obsolete next year. It is also compatible with all 4G frequency bands.
The telephone is also particularly good… for telephoning. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 manages both to filter the noise around you very effectively so as not to interfere with the conversation, but it also avoids unpleasantly compressing the voice. Samsung is doing a very good job here. For geolocation, the device is also very efficient. Rather, it’s the compass that needs some tweaking, as it sometimes points in the wrong direction on Maps.