Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 first look: Improved hinge, bigger displays, and software enhancements

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One year ago I purchased and reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Fold, finding it to be an engineering marvel worth considering. I then spent a month with the Fold before giving up on it largely due to the price for some of the compromises I had to make.

This morning I unboxed the new Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, and I’m blown away by the design and quality improvements made by Samsung.

Samsung is clearly a company that listens to customers, and with the new Galaxy Z Fold 2, there are significant improvements that have been made to this unique folding smartphone. It’s still priced at $2,000, so there is a lot to consider before purchasing the new Z Fold 2, and with the competition from the new Microsoft Surface Duo, business users are gaining a couple of high-powered devices to help them get work done.

Also: Samsung Galaxy Fold review: Most innovative phone of 2019 nears Holy Grail of One Device

The remaining details of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 were revealed earlier this week. With pre-orders now available, Samsung sent me a Z Fold 2 this morning for a 14-day review period, and the timing is perfect, as my Surface Duo device arrives at the end of next week. Before that, I’ll be exploring every aspect of the Galaxy Z Fold 2, so if there is anything you want me to test, then please leave a comment below.

Unboxing experience

As a professional engineer with machine design classes in my educational background, I am fascinated by Samsung’s engineering chops. There is no doubt that Samsung is a leader in mobile innovation and the intricate details the company explores to create and refine its products is impressive.

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The Galaxy Z Fold 2 comes in a black box with colorful elements. Slid the outer sleeve off and a box inside is revealed. Open up the two halves to reveal the Z Fold 2, charger, and USB cable. It would have been great to see the new Buds Live included with such an expensive phone, just like they did with the Galaxy Buds on the first-generation Fold.

The Z Fold 2 test device is Mystic Bronze, and while it is not my personal color preference, it is well done on the Z Fold 2 with the hinge, edges, and back matte finish glass in this color. There is no case included this year either.

Also: One month with the Samsung Galaxy Fold: Productivity unfolded

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 specifications

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus
  • Main display: 7.6 inches, 2208 x 1768 pixels resolution (373ppi), Dynamic AMOLED Infinity Flex Display, 22.5:18 aspect ration
  • Cover display: 6.2 inches, 720 1680 pixels resolution (399ppi), Super AMOLED, 21:9 aspect ratio
  • Operating system: Android 10
  • RAM: 12GB LPDDR5
  • Storage: 256GB internal storage, UFS 3.1
  • Cameras: 12MP rear f/2.4 telephoto, 12MP f/1.8 wide-angle, and 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide cameras (123 degrees field-of-view). 10MP f/2.2 selfie camera on the main screen. 10MP f/2.2 front-facing camera on the cover.
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4/5GHz), Bluetooth 5.0, GPS/Galileo/GLONASS/Beidou, NFC, MST
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, Barometer, Capacitive Fingerprint Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Hall Sensor, Proximity Sensor, RGB Light Sensor
  • Battery: 4,500mAh non-removable with fast wireless charging. Two batteries compose this capacity. Wireless PowerShare is also available.
  • Dimensions (Folded): 68 x 159.2 x 16.8 mm (Hinge) – 13.8 mm (Sagging).
  • Dimensions (Unfolded): 128.2 x 159.2 x 6.9 mm (Frame) – 6.0 mm (Screen)
  • Weight: 282g
  • Colors: Mystic Black and Mystic Bronze
  • Custom hinge color options: Metallic Silver, Metallic Gold, Metallic Red, and Metallic Blue

Samsung conducted market research and performed surveys after last year’s Galaxy Fold release. It found that 34% of Fold users were using two apps at once compared to just 4% doing so with other typical smartphones. Fold users increased their video consumption by 71% compared to usage on their previous phones. This kind of video consumption shows that people were using the Fold in a manner similar to tablet users. The gameplay also increased by 35%.

Also: Sold the Fold: Samsung’s innovative device has room for improvement

Hardware

The first thing one notices on the new Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the drastic change to the outside display. The Galaxy Fold had a 4.6 inch outside display with massive bezels. On the Z Fold 2, we see a large 6.2 inch Super AMOLED screen with 2260×816 pixels resolution. While I found some use with the smaller outside display, with the Z Fold 2 users will have an experience very similar to a standard smartphone.

Flipping open the Galaxy Z Fold 2 reveals another significant improvement, the massive 7.6-inch main screen. The big block of sensors and camera found in the upper right of the Fold is now gone with a small hole-punch 10MP shooter now in the right panel. Bezels have been significantly reduced compared to the Galaxy Fold, so the Z Fold 2 offers an ultra-modern look and feel.

Speaking of feel, the Z Fold 2 incorporates Samsung’s innovative Ultra Thin Glass material. The glass is installed under another layer and a protective cover so the display feels the same as last year’s Galaxy Fold.

As far as looks of the main screen display, Samsung now has its 120Hz adaptive refresh rate screen here, so you will experience flawless display performance.

Also: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2: $1,999 for a device that has made progress, but not enough

Software

The hardware improvements are just what Samsung Fold users were looking for, and the only other features I would like to see in the future are some level of water resistance and S Pen support. So, with nearly perfect hardware on the Z Fold 2, it’s up to the software to convince me the Z Fold 2 is worth $2,000.

After using the Galaxy Fold and then a couple of LG devices with Dual Screen displays, the LG V60 and LG Velvet, I have several expectations for foldables and dual-screen devices. I occasionally used multiple apps at once on the Galaxy Fold, but felt that Samsung didn’t maximize productivity aspects of the software. LG’s Dual Screen experience is compelling with widescreen apps, keyboard on one screen, gamepad on one screen, and more. However, there are still plenty of opportunities to improve the dual-screen experience there as well.

Samsung advertises Flex Mode with App Continuity for enhanced software experiences. Multi-Active Window is provided, and one of the major functions I will be testing with applications that help me get work done.

Price and availability

Unlike most Samsung phones, there are very few options for the Galaxy Z Fold 2 with a single RAM and storage capacity model. There are two colors, Mystic Black and Mystic Bronze, with a price of $1,999. Customers do get a choice of hinge color with four options available.

Original Galaxy Fold and Z Flip users can trade in their existing device for a value of up to $800. You can save up to $650 on other devices, too. Samsung also has a Guaranteed Buyback program where you pay 50% in 20 payments and then get 50% back once you return the device.

There is also a Thom Browne model available, as part of a larger bundle that includes a Galaxy Watch 3, Galaxy Buds Live, and custom accessories with Thom Browne design and colors. The pricing and availability of this bundle will be revealed shortly.

Initial usage experiences

Last year, I traveled eight hours round trip to purchase the first Galaxy Fold, sight unseen. I regret getting rid of that device, because it was nearly perfect for my life as an engineer and mobile tech reviewer and served as a capable smartphone and tablet in a single device. It would be less expensive to purchase a tablet like the Galaxy Tab S7 and a phone, but the engineering put into Samsung’s foldable phones is tough for me to ignore.

I am thankful to get the chance to test out this year’s Z Fold 2 before launch, and after a single day, I may be hitting that pre-order button this week. I’ll be spending two weeks with the Z Fold 2, but so far, it is looking to be an awesome upgrade to the Fold.

I have two weeks with the Z Fold 2 unless I make my own purchase decision. Please feel free to interact with me here or on Twitter as I work to create a comprehensive review of this unique, expensive phone.

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