Samsung unveils the Galaxy Z Fold 2—is it enough to put it back on top?

Samsung has just revealed its latest foldable smartphone: the Galaxy Z Fold 2. As the sequel to the original Galaxy Fold released in early 2019, the new Z Fold 2 looks to address a number of the flaws of its predecessor.

Prior to the announcement, a supposed leak featuring a blurry image of the device hit the internet. The official announcement reveals that the leak was spot on, right to the fact that the new smartphone/tablet hybrid would be folded (no pun intended) into Samsung’s “Z” sub-brand for foldable devices. (READ: First low-resolution photos of the Samsung Galaxy Fold2 surface)

Flaws of the original Fold fixed

When the Z Fold 2 leaks first hit the internet, speculation based on that blurry shot focused on it supposedly fixing many of the flaws of the original Fold.

One of the most noticeable problems of the original Fold was the size of its front screen, which did not extend all the way to the phone’s edges, having a comically large bezel instead. The leaked shot of the Z Fold 2 seemed to indicate that Samsung was addressing that, and the official release confirms it.

The Z Fold 2’s front screen features a sizeable 6.2-inch display, a big upgrade from the originals’ 4.6-inch one. The inside screen, on the other hand, has also gotten an increase in size, albeit only a small one at 7.6 inches, compared to the original’s 7.3.

Beyond the small front screen, the biggest issue that many had with the original Fold was how fragile the folding screen was. When it first launched, many users reported issues with the folding screen breaking just after a day of use.

According to Samsung, they have made improvements to the Z Fold 2’s designs to make it more durable, starting with a reinforced hinge. The company states that it has tested more than 100 different ideas to keep debris from entering the phone. Their solution is a sweeper mechanism that uses fiber bristles to keeps debris out of the phone.

If this works, then it’ll a big step forward from the original Fold. Even though it was delayed specifically to address issues with dirt getting into the hinge and breaking the screen, the latter still experienced these issues.

In addition to fixing the flaws of the original Fold, the Z Fold 2 will also borrow features from other, newer devices in Samsung’s lineup.

Like the Galaxy Z Flip released earlier this year, the Z Fold 2 will now come with a folding screen made off glass instead of the plastic one of the original Fold. Also, like the Z Flip, the Z Fold 2’s screen can now stay open at multiple angles.

Meanwhile, the Z Fold 2 also borrows from the Galaxy S20 Ultra in that its screen will feature a fast, 120Hz refresh rate for smoother scrolling.

Also borrowed from other Samsung devices is the hole punch-lick cutout for the front camera—no more ugly camera notch.

Other features of the Z Fold 2 include a thinner body with a smaller gap between the screens.

Can folding phones put Samsung back on top?

Samsung looks to be banking on forward-looking technologies such as 5G and foldable screens to stay ahead of rivals such as Apple and Huawei. The latter recently surpassed Samsung for most phones shipped during the second quarter of 2020.

For foldable devices, however, one of the roadblocks to their adoption is their price.

When the original Fold came out, it did so with a ₱100,000 ($2,000) price tag. While no price has yet been given for the Z Fold 2, it’s expected to retail for around that amount.

The ongoing pandemic has made the already high price even harder to swallow. Data from the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker shows that sales of Samsung’s flagships such as the original Fold were negatively affected by the economic slowdown from the pandemic.

Other, smaller manufacturers, such as TCL, have been more cautious in entering the segment. In an interview, last month, TCL’s general manager of global marketing for its phone business, Stefan Streit, said that he believes foldable phones could see more momentum in two years.

Even with the slow adoption of foldable phones, however, Samsung still can’t afford to slow down on their development. Earlier this year Huawei released the Mate Xs—its second foldable smartphone/tablet hybrid.

With its biggest rival encroaching on the segment, it looks like Samsung’s going to have to keep going at it if it wishes to regain its lead.

Franz Co

managing editor | addicted to RGB | plays too many fighting games

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