For the last couple of weeks, I have been using the Galaxy Z Fold 2 as my daily driver. I had the Galaxy Z Flip as my main device back when it launched, and I had been impressed with how normal Samsung’s foldable flip phone felt despite only being the company’s second folding phone. And the Galaxy Z Fold 2 has given me a similar impression. It totally doesn’t feel like an experimental device, which is high praise considering Samsung has only launched three foldable phones in total up to this point.
And the Z Fold 2 has many of the same features we have come to expect from Samsung’s standard non-folding flagship phones, such as fast performance, feature-rich yet user-friendly software, an excellent main camera, and high-quality stereo sound (which is actually better here because there are two dedicated loudspeakers instead of the earpiece doubling up as the second speaker). Battery life is excellent as well, and that’s despite the 120Hz refresh rate of the main display.
Yes, that main display still has a crease, and it’s still plastic (the ultra-thin glass is too thin and covered with a compulsory plastic screen protector), but that is to be expected from all foldable phones for the foreseeable future, so I don’t hold it against the Z Fold 2, and it would not stop me from buying this thing on my own money. What is stopping me from doing so is that other screen, along with the outdated zoom camera.
The outer screen is just too narrow
One of the easiest criticisms to lay on the Fold was that the outer screen was just too small, and on the Z Fold 2, it’s how narrow the outer screen is. It’s not as narrow as to be a pain to use sparingly, but if you have to use it for the better part of the day, it quickly becomes a problem. And I realized that I was spending a lot of time on the cover display, as you don’t always have the luxury to open up the main display and dedicate both hands to using the phone.
Typing is unsurprisingly affected most because of the cover display’s slim profile. I didn’t have as much trouble typing on it as I had expected, but enough mistakes happen that it becomes frustrating after a point. The inner display is amazing for typing, but again, that’s moot unless you unfold it every time you want to jot something down or shoot a message.
Can Samsung do anything about the narrow cover display? I’m not sure. The Z Fold 2 is quite heavy, and a foldable phone with a wider outer screen would weigh even more. And I don’t think everyone will like that, no matter how much they may love the idea of being able to unfold their phone to turn it into a mini tablet. I guess it’s a compromise we will probably always have with in-folding foldable phones, though one can hope Samsung will find a way to make bigger foldables without a proportional increase in overall weight.
2017 called, it wants its telephoto camera back
I have said it before, and I will say it again: It’s downright offensive that Samsung decided to equip the Z Fold 2 with a 2x zoom camera. The Galaxy S20 FE, a $699 phone, has 3x optical zoom and up to 30x digital zoom, while the $2000 Z Fold 2 is stuck with a 2x optical/10x digital zoom sensor that Samsung first introduced to its phones with the Galaxy Note 8 back in 2017.
It totally ruins the camera experience for me and makes the Z Fold 2’s camera capabilities feel very outdated, especially since I brought home a dog a few months back. Dogs do cute stuff all day long, but anyone who has ever owned a dog knows those cute moments come and go quickly, and taking a photo by zooming in instead of physically moving closer is a great way to make sure you are actually able to capture those moments.
And 2x optical zoom is woefully inadequate for that, and for taking pictures in general. It was fine last year, when a 2x telephoto lens was all Samsung had to offer. But it just doesn’t feel right in 2020, especially on a device as costly as the Galaxy Z Fold 2. I’ll be sticking to the Galaxy S20 Ultra for now and keeping my fingers crossed that the next Z Fold series phone boasts more robust and modern camera system, because other than the outdated zoom camera and the lack of screen estate on the outside, the Z Fold 2 is downright awesome.