Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 2 is less science experiment and more worthy of consideration, but a high price and trade-offs make it a cutting-edge device that may be another year from maturity. The 5G foldable device category is definitely worth watching though.
The consumer electronics giant has made it clear that its portfolio and strategy revolve around the 5G upgrade cycle as well as foldable devices. Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip is an interesting device at $1,499, and the Galaxy Z Fold 2 checks in at $1,999.
Pre-orders start Sept. 2 with availability Sept. 18. CNET's Jessica Dolcourt noted that the latest iteration of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 has made a lot of progress relative to its predecessor.
Watching the Galaxy Z Fold 2 spurred a few reactions from me. First, I wanted one since it can save space the 6.2-inch cover screen can save space and the 7.6-inch main screen can boost productivity. Second, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is more refined than its predecessor and simply has better craftsmanship. And then the price tag, trade-offs, and perils of being on the bleeding edge of a phone category scared me off.
In the end, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 looks like it could be a primary device in another year or two but is headed in the right direction. For now, the better move would be to carry around a Galaxy Tab 7 5G for a lot less and S Pen support. The conundrum for a Galaxy Z Fold 2 buyer: Buying a phone and tablet may still be less expensive than buying the Z Fold 2.
Here's what needs to happen for Samsung's premium Galaxy Z Fold series to scale:
A lower price. Yes, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is unique, can usher in more productivity and bridge tablets and phones, but the $1,999 price is too high even in a good economy. Samsung has bundled a service for screen replacements and other perks, but a $1,500 price is more justifiable. Samsung's screen production for foldable devices should be able to scale enough to bring prices down over time. You could buy a $500-ish 5G phone like the Motorola One 5G or Google Pixel 4a 5G and a Samsung Galaxy Tab and come out more than $600 ahead of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 price.
Better specs. For a $1,999 device, you'd expect more than 256GB of storage. You'd also expect S Pen support. The S Pen works with the Samsung portfolio except for the foldable devices and would be effective with the Galaxy Z Fold 2.
More use cases for the Galaxy Z Fold 2 camera. While there are some interesting camera features such as Flex mode and Capture View, which utilizes both screens well, there needs to be a few more to justify the price. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 camera (cover, front, and rear triple camera) isn't as strong as the Galaxy S20 Ultra and Note 20 Ultra setups. Now there are space limitations, but you want the best camera possible for $1,999.
A breakthrough productivity use case. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 has better multi-tasking and a device that can drag and drop between screens. DeX is also embedded. However, S Pen compatibility would be a win and perhaps give the Galaxy Fold Z 2 an enterprise hook. The most useful update so far is that Microsoft Office docs can be opened in multiple windows with drag and drop capability. Outlook is also optimized for multiple screens.
A beefed-up Galaxy Z Premier Service. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 has on-demand experts to walk you through the device as well as one-time device protection against display damage within one year of purchase date. There are other perks to golf and country club programs as well as restaurants. Beyond the screen repair, which is the price of admission for a new category of device, the service needs to have more to it.