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Samsung unveils Galaxy Z Fold2 foldable phone--it still costs two-grand

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

Nearly a year after Samsung began selling its first foldable smartphone for, gosh, almost $2000, the tech giant has unleashed a successor, the Galaxy Z Fold2 5G. If you were hoping Samsung would significantly lower the price of this latest bendable hybrid, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Alas, you’re still looking at two-grand folks.

In its closed or folded position, the $1,999.99 Fold2 resembles an attractive candy-bar shaped smartphone. Open it up like a book, lay it flat, and it becomes a tablet. And since the Fold2 is anchored by a flexible hideaway hinge, it can also be propped at an angle between 75 and 115 degrees—no stand required.

The original Galaxy Fold generated a lot of excitement when it was unveiled last year because after years of hype surrounding this nascent foldables category, Samsung truly had cooked up something that was not only innovative but frankly stunning.

Only the backstory proved anything but pretty.

Samsung was forced back to the drawing board after the widely anticipated device never launched as planned in April 2019 following reports from early reviewers of broken screens and other damage. Samsung had to retrieve all of the review units it had sent out, including mine. When a redesigned Fold finally went on sale last September, the early adopters who got their hands on it were advised to treat the phone with kid gloves, recommendations that were impossible to miss given all the be-gentle warnings that came in the box.

At least that retooled Fold seems to have held up fine.

I have no way of knowing how durable this latest Fold will be over time—Samsung hasn’t yet seeded the press with test unit. But Samsung claims the thin glass applied here is stronger than ever (Gorilla Glass Victus on the front; Gorilla Glass 6 on the rear). The company is also making available a factory-installed screen protector. And the aforementioned hinge uses a “sweeper” technique to repel dust and dirt particles from the gap between the body and hinge housing.

Be careful at the beach though: the device is not rated as being water resistant.

Preorders start on Wednesday, with the phone launch coming on Sept 18. It will be supported in the U.S. by AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon. Samsung will also sell an unlocked version.

Here’s what to expect with the new Galaxy Z Fold2.

*Bigger screens. Samsung has gone bigger. The cover screen measures 6.2 inches and is nearly bezel-free and best I can tell without seeing it in person, far more inviting, compared to the 4.6-inch cover display on the original that was nothing to write home about. Meanwhile, the also bezel-free inner display is now 7.6-inches (with what promises to be a fluid 120Hz refresh rate). Last year's model had a 7.3 inch internal screen. There’s no longer a notch in the upper right corner of the screen as on last year's device, replaced instead on the Fold2 by a punch-hole camera.

A flex mode feature (introduced earlier this year on another Samsung foldable, the Galaxy Z Flip) orients compatible apps automatically depending on whether the device is open, closed or somewhere in between.

Samsung says that through an auto-framing feature, the camera can automatically zoom in or out to keep everyone in the frame. It sounds promising but I'd like to see it in action.

*5G and power: All the new Samsung handsets, including the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra handset I reviewed last month will be able to tap into the next generation of wireless. Same goes for the Fold2, which will support both the mmWave and sub-6 flavors of 5G. That means you won’t have to fret about future compatibility, though 5G is less of a big deal today than the early hype around it suggests.

The phone is outfitted with a robust Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus processor.

*Better multitasking: Samsung says Fold users are seven times more likely to take advantage of multi-active window feature that lets you keep working on compatible apps at the same time, compared to the company’s Note customers who often buy that device to get work done. On the new Fold, you can have three such apps open at the same time. As you play a game, for instance, you might simultaneously peek at work email or a PowerPoint. On select apps you can drag content from one app to another.

But unlike the Notes, the Fold doesn't come with an S Pen stylus.

Camera: The Fold2 has two 10MP selfie cameras, one on the cover and one on the front when you unfold it. Meantime, the three 12MP cameras on the rear handle ultra-wide, wide-angle and telephoto shots. Samsung also includes pro video, night mode and other features found on its recent flagships.

*Battery and storage. Samsung is claiming all-day juice on the internal 4500mAh dual battery (but I obviously have not been able to do any testing.) The phone comes with 256GB of internal storage and 12GB of RAM.

*Colors and style. The phone is available in “mystic” black or bronze. But you can also customize the color of the hinge (“metallic” red, silver, gold or blue).

Samsung is also continuing a partnership with fashion designer Thom Browne. So you can purchase a luxury package with a limited edition Thom Browne version of the phone, plus Samsung’s recently introduced Galaxy Watch3, Galaxy Buds Live and other custom accessories. Price: only (read the sarcasm here) $3299.

Did I miss something? Aren't these tough economic times?

Speaking of premium pricing, the $2000 you’ll pay for the "regular" Fold does afford you some extra goodies, including on-demand concierge support, Founders Card membership, a prepared meal from a Michelin star restaurant and complimentary green and cart fees at participating private country clubs. You’ll want to consult terms and conditions for details.

These remain early days, of course, for foldable phones, an intriguing but unproven category of devices that still seem far from mainstream. Samsung isn't alone in trying to drum up interest. Huawei, Motorola and even Microsoft, whose recently announced $1399.99 (on up) Surface Duo device can now be preordered, are also dabbling in foldables. But unless or until prices for these various plunge dramatically, expect consumers to steer clear.

Who out there is ready to plunk down $2000 for a foldable phone?

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