Samsung is announcing new details for its next foldable Android phone, the Galaxy Z Fold 2. The main pieces of news are the price and release date: $1,999.99 in the US, with preorders starting today and shipping on September 18th. Samsung has also secured support for the Z Fold 2 from all three major US carriers: Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. It will also be available unlocked at Samsung’s website.
Samsung’s entire strategy with the Z Fold 2 is to convince potential buyers that it has overcome the design problems of the first Fold with a glass screen, stronger hinge, and better protection against debris. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is technically the third iteration of Samsung’s folding design, and even more technically it is Samsung’s fourth iteration of its hinge mechanism.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2. Image: Samsung
The most noticeable upgrade is on the outside: the display you see when the Z Fold 2 is closed is now much bigger than on the original Fold. The so-called “cover display” is now 6.2 inches diagonally, taking up nearly the entire front of the device. Although that sounds like a very big screen, it’s likely very narrow; the pixel dimensions are 2260 x 816. So though it looks much more impressive than before, we’ll need to wait to use it to see if it’s more usable.
The cover screen is taller but quite narrow. Image: Samsung
The interior screen has been upgraded on a number of fronts. Most importantly, it now uses Samsung’s Ultra Thin Glass (UTG), just as the Z Flip folding phone did. It appears to be much more durable than the plastic screen from the original Fold. Samsung is also preinstalling a plastic screen protector over the UTG, so it may still have a bit of a plasticky feel and could pick up dings from your fingernail.
The layers on the new display. GIF: Samsung
As with all of its folding phones, Samsung is putting up a couple of warnings and care instructions for the Z Fold 2 to hopefully keep users from damaging it. It’s also offering a one-time screen replacement for $149.
Aside from improved durability, the Z Fold 2’s big screen improvements are twofold. First, the 7.6-inch display no longer has a huge notched cutout for multiple cameras. That’s been replaced by a small single hole punch for the selfie camera. Second, it has a dynamic refresh rate of up to 120Hz. A high refresh rate could make a bigger impact on the overall experience on the Z Fold 2 than it does on phones. That’s because the original Fold suffered from “jelly scroll,” where one side of the screen refreshed noticeably slower than the other.
The Z Fold 2 can support itself at different angles now. Image: Samsung
After the screens, the next most important component of the Z Fold 2 is the hinge. Samsung has been iterating on the hinge ever since the very first Galaxy Fold review units (including one sent to me) were revealed to be fragile. This device’s hinge has four cams to increase rigidity through the entire unfolding process so that the Z Fold 2 can support half the screen sitting upright for certain software features like watching video.
There are also new elastic “sweeper” brushes — much like the brushes on some vacuum cleaners — to keep dirt and debris from getting into the hinge mechanism and damaging the screen from behind. Samsung says there’s also more reinforcement behind the display for strength and stability.
All of that effort has been put into a device with specs that are not too different from Samsung’s other flagship Android phones. It has a Snapdragon 865 Plus processor, 256GB of storage, and 12GB of RAM. It supports wireless charging, reverse wireless charging, fast charging, and has a 4,500mAh battery. It will support both sub-6 and mmWave variants of 5G. The phone is unlocked with a fingerprint sensor, mounted on the side. Samsung also claims that the stereo speakers are good enough to keep you from reaching for a separate Bluetooth speaker, but that’s likely to be hyperbole.
The camera system on the Z Fold 2 is fairly normal. Image: Samsung
From a raw numbers perspective, the Z Fold 2’s camera system is somewhat less impressive than what you can get on a Galaxy S20 or Galaxy Note 20. It has the usual array of wide, ultrawide, and telephoto cameras on the back, but all three have 12-megapixel sensors. There are two selfie cameras — one for the cover screen and one for the main display — and each is 10 megapixels.
If you’re taking selfies, the best way to do it will be to unfold the device and use the main cameras along with the cover display for your viewfinder. That’s one of several Fold-specific software enhancements Samsung is touting.
The Z Fold 2 is once again using Samsung’s dual or tri-paned interface for multitasking. You can save apps in pairs (or triplets) so they’ll open together. And when you take a screenshot of a multi-paned interface, each app’s screenshot will be stored separately. It will also still support the feature that maintains continuity between the outer and inner displays when you open the phone.
Samsung says more apps will support tablet layouts on the Z Fold 2, including apps from both Microsoft and Google. It has even put specific settings in to make it easier to switch between DPI settings. That means you can choose between phone layouts that are just bigger and tablet layouts that are shrunk down smaller, basically.
Samsung is positioning the Z Fold 2 as a “luxury” device
Overall, the aesthetic of the Z Fold 2 is a small improvement over last year’s model, with more squared-off edges and a “haze” finish on the back that’s matte instead of glossy.
The Z Fold 2 will come in two colors — bronze and black — and it will also offer buyers the ability to choose a different accent color for the hinge. There will be a Thom Browne bundle as well, which will include a watch and earbuds.
At $1,999.99, the Z Fold 2 is virtually the same price as the last Galaxy Fold, but this time Samsung at least recognizes that and is positioning the Z Fold 2 as a “luxury” device. Whether that makes the price more palatable depends on your definition of “luxury,” though. It’s at least a more honest way for Samsung to market this device — not as something for everybody, but as something for those who are willing to spend two grand on an unproven product category.
Unproven or not, Samsung is committed to foldables. At the Z Fold 2’s announcement, the company strongly hinted that a future Fold device would support Samsung’s S Pen stylus. So even if this Fold is too expensive for you today, you’ll likely have a chance to spend a bunch of money on the next one sometime in the future.
The Z Fold 2 comes in two colors: bronze and black. Image: Samsung