Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G: Will the new Fold unfold a new era for Samsung phones?

By: |
October 22, 2020 5:00 AM

A massive improvement over last year’s iteration, Galaxy Z Fold2 has to now get the price and the ecosystem right

Samsung has made improvements to the sound as well.

Last year, when Samsung launched its first folding design phone, reviewers spent a lot of time explaining the flaws in its design and the unsustainable nature of its hinge. The phone, although stable, was too sensitive. The first iterations, in fact, suffered from screen cracks and Samsung had to recall and relaunch the device. The South Korean brand seems to have learned from its mistakes. The hinge this year is more stable. Still not the best hinge, but the Galaxy Z Fold2 feels more durable. So, finally, we can focus on the power and performance of the device. And, of course, the price.

Design and camera
Last year, Samsung was more focused on showcasing its innovation. Just putting a folding phone in our hands was enough; the company did not have to do much more. However, this time around Samsung has worked hard to give the phone a premium look and feel. The colours are beautiful and with a matte finish, the phone is aesthetically pleasing. Although we got the famous mystic bronze, the black is equally enviable.

The feel of the device remains the same. The hinge is certainly stronger and better designed, but it still feels weird to hold the device closed. Think about holding two Note 20 phones together, but of less width. As we are accustomed to phones fitting in our palm, Fold2 is a bit different. The volume and power buttons are on the side. And, thankfully, Samsung has moved the fingerprint scanner to the side, which makes the detection and unlocking much faster.

The camera setup is the same as Note 20 Ultra, with a bump at the back. Although that is a bit uncomfortable if you are using the device without a cover, with a cover the bump is hardly noticeable and the phone doesn’t seem wobbly on the table. Instead of a 108MP camera, Fold2 has a triple 12MP camera setup. But it doesn’t disappoint. There is depth in photographs and the field of view is much larger than a note camera. The over-rendering of a photograph and colour correction still remains a problem though. The night mode was perfect, but Note Ultra had better colour saturation than the Galaxy Fold2.

The real delight is the inside fold camera. The screen angle is wide, and this time Samsung has done well to settle for a punch-hole on the left side of the screen, barely noticeable. The field of vision is excellent and so are the colours and saturation. For those using a host of video conferencing apps, the camera does not disappoint at all.
Screen and sound

While last year around there were hardly any complaints with the fold screen, the outer screen was an issue because of its size. Samsung has corrected this with the screen encompassing the entirety of the phone. It is bright and perfect for light operations, such as checking mail, responding to some texts and picking up a call. You can even read news snippets on the screen. The real magic lies in the unfolding. Screen has gotten slightly bigger and better. The brightness is perfect and the blacks are really pronounced. Samsung’s blue light filters have improved too. The crease which was visible last time around is barely noticeable. At considerable brightness, I was hardly able to find the crease, unless I specifically looked for it. The 120Hz refresh rate betters the whole experience, especially in gaming.

Samsung has made improvements to the sound as well. While the volume pitch remains the same, there is more depth, and with more Dolby Atmos content online, some of the apps worked very well.

Battery and performance
This is where Samsung really takes the cake. The Snapdragon 865+ improves performance, just what is expected of a premier category phone. The phone did heat up a bit, but nothing too major. It handled multiple apps and background services very well, thanks to the 12GB RAM. The real surprise was the battery; even though only a slight improvement over last year’s at 4,500mAh, Fold2 ran comfortably for 14 hours with heavy use involving video conferencing, videos, calls and music. With light use, it may be able to survive for little over a day.

What’s missing?
Now, for a device that costs `1,49,999, a user expects more than just a fancy folding device with a large screen. And, it would be unfair not to nitpick. With that big a screen, what is really missing is a pen. The S-Pen compatibility can change the device completely, as it would enable many more uses. The other issue we faced was the fragility. Fold2 is a marked improvement over its predecessor, but it is not there yet.

But the bigger problem is transition. While Samsung has reduced the lag time when you open the inner screen, many app developers have not created their apps for this device. Video in WhatsApp, for instance, spread right across the screen, even though the phone was in L-shape. So, while the phone and functionality is great, unless the app ecosystem supports it, folding devices won’t have much of a utility.

Final verdict
At that price, you have to ask, who is the final user. At `1,15,000-`1,20,000, Fold2 is a steal for anyone upgrading to a higher-end iPhone or Galaxy Note Ultra, but asking `50,000 extra is a bit much, especially when there aren’t many apps that can support it. It’s a fashion statement and a head-turner indeed, but it is still not there. By the next iteration, hopefully, we’d be talking less about the design and more about who all will buy it. Are we there yet? No, not really.

SPECIFICATIONS:
Dimensions: 159.2 x 128.2 x 6.9mm (unfolded)
Display: 7.60-inch (2208 x 1768) Foldable Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 6.2-inch cover screen (2280 x 816)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+
Operating system: Android 10
Memory & storage: 12GB RAM, 256GB storage
Camera: 12MP + 12MP + 12MP (rear), 10MP fold camera + 10MP front camera
Battery: 4500mAh
Estimated street price: Rs 1,49,999

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