It’s taken a long time to get foldable phones into the hands of consumers. The idea of a smartphone that folded was something of a dream product for both users and phone makers. Now, phones with actual flexible and foldable displays are a reality. The big problem is that, at the moment, most are prohibitively expensive. This article will look at the current foldable phones on the market, plus a quick preview of what we might see in the future.
Foldable phones are all the hype these days. Are they worth the higher price tag, though? The truth is we don’t believe they’ve quite evolved enough yet. And while foldable devices come with significant advantages, there are also plenty of downsides to look out for. Let’s help you decide by pointing out the pros and cons.
- Larger displays: This is an obvious advantage that comes with foldable phones. The inner displays can be so large that they start getting into tablet territory. This makes them much more functional and entertaining. Not to mention, the larger foldables have a serious advantage when it comes to multitasking. And let’s not even get started with editing and gaming.
- Smaller bodies: Regardless of the foldable you get, the body can be made much smaller and more portable. Flip phone foldables can often fit comfortably in a shirt pocket! And if you get one of the larger fold-out phones, these are essentially tablets that can fit in your regular pocket.
- The fun factor: Foldable phones are still novelty items, and they are downright the coolest gadgets mobile tech has to offer. Any foldable phone owner is at the forefront of mobile technology and is bound to turn some heads when using his device.
- Better selfie photos: We can all agree that rear-facing cameras are pretty much always better than front-facing ones. This is what makes foldable phones so enticing for selfie aficionados. You can use the rear-facing cameras to shoot selfies most of the time, and the external display can serve as a viewfinder.
- Water resistance is rare: While high IP ratings are standard in most other high-end devices, they are still relatively rare in the world of foldable handsets. So far, very few have water protection. And almost none of them offer dust protection. This makes sense, as these phones have more moving parts. It’s also important to note that dust resistance is even harder to achieve, and even the mentioned devices don’t have that.
- General durability is lacking: Furthermore, mechanical moving parts are yet another thing that can malfunction. Many of these devices are tested for about 200,000 folds, which is arguably more than enough. Still, having very reliable moving parts is always worse than having no moving parts.
- The crease!: Talking about moving parts, that typical crease that forms in the fold section is a serious eyesore. Manufacturers continue to improve this using advanced hinge mechanics, but very few have accomplished an unnoticeable crease.
- Thicker bodies: While foldable phones can be reduced in general size, all that material has to go somewhere. This is why foldables are thicker than other phones. As an example, a Samsung Galaxy S23 is only 7.6mm thick. Meanwhile, when folded shut, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is 15.1mm. There’s also the matter of uneven folds. Sometimes the hinge makes it impossible to create a uniform fold, leaving annoying spacing between the flaps.
- Foldable screens are still worse: Foldable smartphone screens can’t be made with glass, which is arguably much better than plastic. Glass isn’t truly flexible, a requirement when you have a screen that needs to be folded in half. Plastic screens have less clarity, don’t look as nice, and are more often to scratches and general damage.
- They are expensive: Foldable smartphones are still costly. Among the most affordable is the Moto Razr 40, which is not even available in the USA, but it can currently be had for about $699. Pricing standards are generally higher in the foldable market. We consider the Galaxy Z Flip 5 “affordable,” and it launched at $799.
The best foldable phones
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is now the latest and greatest from Samsung, bringing a few improvements over its successor, including a brighter internal display, a better hinge that folds completely flat, and a design that’s now 10g lighter. You’ll also get the power of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, 12GB of RAM, and up to 1TB of storage. There’s also a 4,400mAh dual battery.
The cameras remain the same as before, with a 50MP wide cam, 12MP ultra-wide shooter, and a 10MP telephoto lens. That’s not a bad thing, as the camera package is actually pretty decent, though not quite to the level as you’d find on phones like the Pixel 7.
The main display is quite big when unfolded at 7.6 inches, while the smaller one comes in at 6.2 inches. You also get an IPX8 rating, Android 12L, and wireless charging.
This is a great device, and definitely one of the best foldable phones, but it still suffers from most of the downsides we usually see in these devices. It is super expensive. As we mentioned in our Galaxy Z Fold 5 review, the weight and thickness are disappointing. We also weren’t convinced with the battery life, which we managed to push through for about a day.
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- Interior Display: 7.6-inch AMOLED with 120Hz
- External Display: 6.2-inch external AMOLED with 120Hz
- SoC: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
- RAM: 12GB
- Storage: 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB
- Cameras: 50, 12 and 10MP
- Front camera: 10MP, 4MP UDC
- Battery: 4,400mAh
- Software: Android 13
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
So far, all the options on this list have been full-sized phones that turn into tablets, but what about foldable flip phones? That’s where the Flip series comes in.
The Samsung Z Flip 5 sees a major upgrade to its Cover Screen, now rebranded as the Flex Window. Jumping from 1.9-inches to 3.4-inches, the new screen has a unique folder-like shape and improved widgets. There are even ways to get full apps running on it, though they are basically dubbed experimental by Samsung.
In addition to the new outer display, the Z Flip 5 has a new gapless folding internal display and improved internals, including the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. Beyond this, you’ll find a lot of similarities to the Flip 4, including the same 3,700 mAh battery, same cameras, and same 8GB of RAM. The Z Flip 5 has dropped the 128GB storage variant, though, now offering just 256GB and 512GB configurations.
The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is the most affordable folding option from Samsung in 2023, so it might just be the springboard the company needs to reach the masses. It is also made beautifully, and offers a great experience. In our Galaxy Z Flip 5 review, our only main complaints were that battery life is average at best, and sustained performance can be a bit iffy.
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Galaxy Z Flip 5 specs:
- Internal display: 6.7-inch FHD+ AMOLED with 120Hz
- External display: 3.4-inch Super AMOLED 60Hz, 720×748
- SoC: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 256/512GB
- Cameras: 12 and 12MP
- Front camera: 10MP
- Battery: 3,700mAh
- Software: Android 13
OPPO Find N2
While much less popular than the other devices on this list of the best foldable phones, the OPPO Find N2 is one of the best of its kind. For starters, the design is gorgeous, while keeping a smaller profile that will help with portability. Additionally, it has no noticeable crease where the display folds. The hinge also feels much more robust, and looks much more seamlessly designed than others. Not to mention the design and materials, which are nothing short of premium. OPPO sure knows how to make good hardware!
The OPPO Find N2 is not cheap, but you’ll get plenty for your money. Specs are plenty powerful, offering a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, up to 16GB of RAM, as much as 512GB of storage, and a 4,520mAh battery. Both the outer and inner displays are excellent, offering AMOLED technology with 120Hz refresh rates.
All in all, we would highly recommend the OPPO Find N2 to foldable enthusiasts. The only real issue is that it can’t be had officially in the USA, but it’s easy to import it.
Find N2 specs:
- Display: 7.1-inch and 5.54-inch (folded)
- SoC: Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1
- RAM: 12/16GB
- Storage: 256/512GB
- Cameras: 50, 48, and 32MP
- Front cameras: 32 and 32MP
- Battery: 4,520mAh
- Software: Android 13
Are there any other options?
The foldable market has expanded a lot over the years, though the vast majority of options still remain mostly available in China, Europe, or other markets outside the states. Just be aware none of these can be currently purchased in the US:
- Razr 2023 (on the product’s website): The Razr 40, also known as the Razr 2023, will arrive in the United States eventually, but for now remains exclusive to Europe, India, and China. The new model has a design more akin to the OG Flip than modern foldable flip phones, but it also aims to be hundreds cheaper than your typical foldable flip phone.
- HUAWEI Mate X5 ($999 Ripesale): This phone is pretty powerful, and actually comes with an IPX8 rating. It also has great cameras and a gorgeous design. comes with Harmonyos 4.0 (China) OS.
- HUAWEI P50 Pocket ($419 at Ripesale): The Pocket S is a great flip phone if you can live without Google services, too. It comes with mid-end specs, but a great design.
- Xiaomi Mix Fold 3 ($799 at Ripesale): This is definitely one of the best foldables. It has amazing performance, great cameras, and an overall great experience. It is also one of the thinnest foldable phones at 10.9mm folded. The only downside is that it’s only officially available in China, and it has no IP rating.