Phones

Finest foldable cellphone in 2021: Samsung leads the best way

Decades ago when cell phones appeared in the hands of the average consumer, the flip phone was a dominant form factor. It was convenient to close the phone to end a call and close the display to protect the screen when you put the phone in your pocket. We have seen a technological advance so far that devices that we used to see in science fiction films are now available for everyday use by all consumers.

Foldable displays are a marvel of engineering, and while Royole first hit the market in late 2018 with the FlexPai, Samsung was the dominant provider of foldable phones. LG has demonstrated its foldable display technology, but with the recent phasing out of the smartphone space, we can only imagine what could have been. TCL recently unveiled its foldable and rollable device that appears to be a workhorse for future productivity.

While the future looks flexible and foldable phone use cases are still being developed, let’s take a look at the best foldable phones available right now.

The best is almost perfect

(Image: CNET)

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus | Main display: 7.6 inches, 2208 x 1768 pixels | Cover ad: 6.2 inches, 720 x 1680 pixels | RAM: 12 GB / 256 GB | Cameras: Three rear 12MP, 10MP front, 10MP selfie | Battery: 4,500mAh | Price: $ 1,599.99

Samsung conducted market research and conducted surveys after the release of Galaxy Fold last year. It found that 34% of Fold users were using two apps at the same time, compared to just 4% for other typical smartphones. Fold users increased their video consumption by 71% compared to usage on their previous phones. This level of multitasking and video consumption shows that users used the fold in a similar way to tablet users.

The Z Fold 2 is the best foldable screen out there right now. Software updates have been released since its release that have improved the ease of use for split screen and foldable views. Samsung has refined the technology with this model and there is really no shortage of this device.

Advantages:

  • Breathtaking technical performance
  • High quality materials, fit and workmanship
  • 5G and excellent RF performance
  • Optimized coverage and interior displays
  • Improved software for multitasking

Disadvantage:

  • No dust / water resistance
  • Expensive

$ 1,785 on Amazon $ 1,800 on Best Buy

Fold to make it more insertable

(Image: CNET)

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus | Main display: 6.7 inches, 1080 x 2636 pixels | Cover ad: 1.1 inches, 112 x 300 pixels | RAM: 8 GB / 256 GB | Cameras: Two rear 12MP, 10MP selfie | Battery: 3,300mAh | Price: $ 1,199.99

Samsung also offers a cool foldable clamshell form factor, the Galaxy Z Flip 5G. This phone is designed as a companion in the pocket, which then opens into a smartphone with a large display. The focus is clearly on providing a small phone that can be large when needed, but its effectiveness in terms of productivity is somewhat questionable.

The Z Flip 5G is better than the original Z Flip with 5G radio support and slight improvements to the hinge mechanism. It’s a very well-designed device, but the battery life won’t get you through a day.

Advantages:

  • High quality materials, fit and workmanship
  • 5G and excellent RF performance
  • Folds into a pocketable form factor

Disadvantage:

  • No dust / water resistance
  • Expensive
  • Barely acceptable battery life

$ 1,200 at Samsung

Second generation of an iconic design

(Image: CNET)

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G | Main display: 6.2 inches, 2142 x 876 pixels | Cover ad: 2.7 inches, 800 x 600 pixels | RAM: 8 GB / 256 GB | Cameras: A 48MP quad-pixel rear / rear with OIS and 20MP selfie camera | Battery: 2,800 mAh | Price: $ 1,199.99

Motorola’s first attempt at using a foldable phone with its iconic design influence was pretty disastrous, and I thought we weren’t going to see a second generation. The original’s battery life was terrible, the hinge came off quickly, and there have been many reports of the display falling apart.

Like Samsung, Motorola made design improvements and released the Motorola Razr (2020) in late 2020, which also offers support for 5G networks.

Advantages:

  • Slim, compact form factor
  • Can be used with the display closed
  • Water repellent properties

Disadvantage:

  • The rear glass rubs off easily
  • Expensive

$ 1,175 on Amazon $ 1,200 on Best Buy

The world’s first foldable brand brings a successor to the market

(Image: CNET / Royole / YouTube)

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 | Main display: 7.8 inches, 1920 x 1440 pixels | Cover ad: 6.2 inches, 720 x 1680 pixels | RAM: 8 GB / 256 GB or 12 GB / 512 GB | Cameras: 64MP Main, 16MP Ultra-Wide, 8MP Tele and 32MP Selfie | Battery: 4,450 mAh | Price: $ 1710 (Approx)

Royole launched the world’s first foldable display phone as Royole FlexPai at the end of 2018. The FlexPai 2 was presented at the end of 2020. Royole took the opposite approach to Samsung with the foldable display on the outside so that the visible area is always exposed. Unfortunately, it is only available in China so we cannot test or buy the phone.

The Royole FlexPai 2 may not be a large smartphone and more of a foldable tablet due to its size. The four cameras are arranged on the left-hand side in the area of ​​the front bezel so that the viewfinder appears on the back of the device when you point the cameras at your subject. Royole has a split-screen system similar to Samsung’s Fold 2 approach, so productivity can be optimized with the big screen.

Advantages:

  • Big display
  • Powerful triple camera system
  • Software for use with multiple apps

Disadvantage:

  • No dust / water resistance
  • Not available outside of China

$ 1,710 at Royole (China only)

Our process

Given that the technology for foldable displays is still relatively new, there aren’t many options available for foldable phones. We tested the second two Samsung Galaxy Fold models, the first generation Galaxy Z Flip and the first generation Motorola Razr. In addition to adding these models to our list, we’ve added the second generation Z Flip 5G and the second generation Royole FlexPai 2.

As foldable display technology advances over the years, we’ll consider the design, durability, software features, and so much more in our process to consider phones for this best list.

How to choose

As shown in the list above, some foldable phones offer a phone and mini tablet experience while the others offer a large phone / small phone experience. The first decision you need to make is what else you want in addition to a standard phone form factor.

The choice is pretty straightforward after you’ve decided what your main desire for a foldable phone is. Samsung’s models are second or third generation, so they are very nifty and trustworthy options. Given the high price of foldable phones, I recommend a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 or Z Flip 5G.

Also worth considering

The foldable phones in this article focus on foldable display technology. There are other unique options where two displays fold on top of each other to provide a foldable device but without a foldable display. Foldable device options include:

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