Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 – Ongoing review

This review will be modified in the coming weeks as we are using the phone as our “daily driver”.

The good

The phone is pocketable. Even in tight jeans. Yes, it is heavier than most phones, but still manageable.

Both screens are wonderful and a delight to use. We like the small width of the outside screen. Very easy to use, and we have no problems typing or swiping on it. In fact, we make fewer mistakes than on wider phones. The inside screen feels ok. Many reviewers are complaining about the screen protector. We have no issues with that. It does not feel as good as on the Flip, but it is nothing to complain about. Just start using the phone and you will forget about the crease and the screen protector. The inside screen is amazing for apps that display a lot of content , working with images, and things like spreadsheets, for example.

Battery life is stellar. After almost 5 hours of screen-on time, we still had 60% battery left. That is for surfing, youtube, texting, messaging, etc. No gaming. We use the outside screen about 70% of the time. Yes, it is that good.

Except for the speakerphone, sound is really good.

Samsung offers a next day repair service with this phone. Call before 3 PM, and your phone is repaired the next day. Or so they claim. If true, this is a terrific service.

The not-so-good

The phone is a bit difficult to open. Especially compared to the Flip. It takes more force to begin with. But our main issue is with the buttons on the side. As soon as you grab the phone to open it, you almost always press the power or volume buttons by accident. If you just want to look at something that you had on the outer display, and you open the phone and press the power button in the process, you end up with a black screen, and you will need to press the power button again and maybe even have to unlock again. If you try to unfold the phone to use the main camera to take a selfie, there is a very big chance of hitting a button, or touching something on the display, and you have to start all over again. Very annoying, but you get used to it. Just pay attention to where you put your fingers when you open the phone. Keep them on the bottom half. We set the fingerprint reader to not be enabled all the time for the same reason: it gets activated a lot when just carrying the phone. This way, we can still use it to unlock the phone, but we have to press the power button first. That is not a problem since these are the same, so 1 press does the trick. The ergonomics of the phone are not perfect, but we understand that there are not so many alternatives. You do get used to it, so don’t worry too much about this.

At launch, there are simply no good cases available and there is no case in the box. This is terrible for such an expensive phone that is also a bit slippery. We constantly feel scared when using the phone. It will take another month at least for good cases to become available. The cases from Samsung only protect the backside and are not worth it, we think. Same issue with car-holders: most of them cannot handle the weight of the Fold 2.

There is no oleo-phobic coating on the inside screen, and even on the outside screen it is clearly less than normal, probably due to the screen protectors. Simply said: prepare to clean the displays a lot. They become so smudgy that they are almost impossible to use in bright sunlight if you do not clean them. Removing the screen-protector from the inside screen does not solve this problem, because the ultra-thin glass below it also has no oleo-phobic coating. So better leave it on.

Update: we removed the inside screen protector to have a look at the difference. Some people are reporting that the smudge problem is gone and that the display looks sharper and colors pop more. We do not agree. The display quality is the same, but there are more reflections visible now. At first, the smudging seems to be better, but in fact that will only be temporary, just as it was on the Flip. After some time you will have the same smudging issue again. The display feels better to the touch, however. The feeling is the same as on the Flip. Removing the screen-protector is easy. Only do this if you cannot get used to the feeling. There are no real other benefits in removing it.

Speakerphone volume is too low. Even on maximum call volume we sometimes have problems understanding people. This is surprising since this phone has excellent sound quality for other things like music. Maybe we still need to find some setting, or maybe this will be fixed in an update. We will post here if this improves.

Most apps simply do not offer any advantage when viewed on the larger display. They just scale-up, and many look awkward. Many times you even see less content on the larger display. It’s just a lot bigger. We found that using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in the Samsung web browser offers a better experience than using the apps. Put the browser in desktop mode if you open the Fold 2 and the experience even improves more. It also saves battery life if you remove these apps from your device, so that is an extra advantage.

Using flex-mode

One of the things we love the most about the Galaxy Flip is using it in flex-mode. That means with the screen at 90°. Taking selfies, or scrolling through content is a delight.

On the Galaxy Fold 2 the experience is slightly different and we use it a lot less compared to the Flip. Sometimes the best view of an app is when you hold the phone in portrait mode, so you can’t fold the phone. Youtube is an example of that as we illustrate in the pictures below. And it also makes a difference if you started the app from the outside display or not. We feel that flex-mode is really only useful when taking pictures on the Fold 2. A built-in kickstand would be awesome.

Is this the ultimate multi-tasking machine?

Not quite yet. That is not because of the device, but because of the apps. Samsung already does a lot here to offer a good experience, but a lot of apps are still lacking in this regard.

Just putting two apps side-by-side is not multi-tasking for us. Browsing Facebook and Instagram side-by-side for example. Or watching Youtube and scrolling Facebook at the same time. That is not multi-tasking. That is multi-consuming. We do not see any advantage of that.

We expect an easy way to transfer data between two apps that are open side-by-side and some interactions between the two. “Drag and drop” is non-existing between most apps, and if you share something in one app to the app that is next to it, Android will just switch to the same app, so you end up with two times the same app next to each other. Microsoft is trying to improve multi-tasking in their Office apps and with their Duo device, but we feel that most Android apps still have a long way to go here to be able to offer true multitasking. Copy & Paste works as expected between 2 apps that are running side-by-side, though.

Don’t buy this device if you think it will allow you to multi-task a lot better. It’s better than a normal phone, but the difference for most people will be too small to justify the extra cost and bulk.

That said, for business use there are benefits: putting an email with suggested dates next to your calendar is indeed very useful. And Microsoft Office apps behave on the Fold 2 exactly like on the Duo and support drag & drop. The Samsung Internet browser is also a delight. We have always preferred it to Chrome, but on the Fold 2 it has an extra trick: when you open a link in a new window, the phone will automatically put the windows side by side. This is very handy when reading blogs or use social networks like Facebook with a mobile browser. You never loose track of where you are on the first page. Some other Samsung apps also support drag & drop. For example, you can drag a picture from your gallery to a Microsoft Word document.

Using the Fold 2 on 5G (NR)

We are now testing the Fold 2 on 5G networks. Average speed is about double of 4G+ At the moment it doesn’t offer much benefits because 4G+ is already fast enough. 250Mbps or 400Mbps: you will not feel the difference. Once the real 5G with low latency and higher bandwith for large crowds will be available, the advantages will make it worth it.

We did not notice any impact on battery life when using 5G (NR), so that is good.

So who is this device for then?

Photographers and designers will love it. The way your pictures and designs look on the big screen is simply breathtaking. And editing them is also far easier.

IT-people will love it because it makes controlling a remote computer or server a lot more easy on the big screen, and modifying a website is also a lot easier.

People who consume a lot of media will love it, obviously. Even with letterboxing, you still have a better view.

People who read a lot on their mobile devices will also love it. The Kindle app only supports column view in landscape orientation, by the way. Reading magazines with apps like Flipboard or Zinio offer a wonderful experience on the Fold 2.

People who spent a lot of time in Office applications like Outlook and Excel will love it.

Travelers will love it because street and public transportation maps are far more readable on the big screen, and watching movies while flying is also a better experience.

There are a lot of reasons to love this device. It’s a great device.

Conclusion

The Fold 2 is a foldable tablet that is also a phone, and it is very good at both. If you use a lot of apps that can benefit from a larger screen, then the Fold 2 is a dream come true. If most of your mobile time is spent in social media apps, then the extra cost and bulk may not be worth it as most Android apps just scale-up on larger displays and offer no extra functionality or use the extra screen-estate. This might improve as developers start to modify their apps to embrace foldable and dual-screen devices. You might be better off with the Flip if that is your usage.

It offers some advantages for multitasking, but if this is your main purpose for buying a foldable device, you might better take a look at the Microsoft Duo. As an all-round device the Fold 2 is clearly the best foldable smartphone you can get because it can be both a normal phone and a tablet and allow for apps to run side-by-side. The Duo is great for multitasking but is not a great tablet, and also not so handy as a phone and the camera is not that great.

Update: we received an update on September 26. The Fold 2 now supports e-sim. We will let you know if we find any other improvements.

Flip or Fold?

We think for most people, the Flip is the best choice. It’s more handy and fun to use, and Flex mode makes a lot more sense on the Flip. If we would only be able to keep 1 foldable phone, it would be the Flip.

That said, the Fold 2 is the more capable of the two, and because I do a lot of photography and IT stuff, I always grab the Fold 2 now.

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