- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2: The best foldable smartphone
- Motorola Razr 5G: Cool and nothing else
- Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G: Mini foldable minus the charm
- Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold: Not available in the USA yet
- Microsoft Surface Duo: X does not mark the spot
- LG V60 ThinQ 5G: Goodbye, LG
What is the future direction of smartphones? This question has become a lot more exciting for some time now, as the first foldables have started to be released in force. Foldable smartphones have, of course, been around for a while, but models like the Samsung Galaxy Fold or the Motorola Razr have a special feature: they boast flexible displays that are simply out of this world.
After Samsung pioneered the first Galaxy Fold which fell flat on its face, we have drawn up a list of what we think are the best foldable smartphones in 2021. Admittedly: The foldable smartphone market is extremely small, and we’re virtually parading all of the available foldable smartphones that you can currently buy today.
In doing so, we’ll look at the smartphone market in June 2021 and present you with a few pros and cons of owning a foldable smartphone at the end.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2: The best foldable smartphone
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 isn’t just the best foldable smartphone around, it’s also one of the best smartphones that money can buy right now. Currently retailing for approximately $1,799, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 isn’t even the most expensive model on this list, but it is the best by far.
After the teething problems with the first Galaxy Fold, Samsung has learned a lot and built a great smartphone. Antoine’s review is titled: “This fairy tale may never end”, and he was thrilled about the huge, almost borderless inner display, the larger outer display, intuitive handling, as well as solid workmanship.
Of course, there’s also something to complain about this handset: there are far superior cameras in other smartphones within the $1,800 price bracket. Also, when it comes to just about every foldable smartphone, the battery life isn’t ideal for the average user. And yes, foldables are still expensive at the moment. Take some time to read our review and see why we are so enamored with it.
Motorola Razr 5G: Cool and nothing else
The Motorola Razr happened to be one extremely cool handset back in the day. 15 years ago, everyone was jealous of Motorola Razr owners and couldn’t wait to get their hands on one. The coolness factor continues to make its presence known today, but somehow the rest of the device hasn’t quite matured as we would have liked. Unfortunately, this latest iteration of the Motorola Razr carries mediocre hardware under its wickedly expensive hood.
Currently, it retails for approximately $1,399, pricing this out of reach of many. This second-generation Motorola Razr 5G foldable smartphone, unfortunately, comes with a mid-range Snapdragon 765G SoC, a single camera with rather mediocre performance, and a laughable 2,800 mAh battery. Such hardware specifications can be found in a smartphone that retails for $300 thereabouts, which means the €1,400 you spend on this are simply for the nostalgia and coolness factors.
If you don’t care about the hardware and only like the (really cool!) form factor, then I would recommend the older, non-5G version. Retailing for around $700, this Motorola Razr is definitely a decadent secondary smartphone to own which will definitely turn heads each time you whip it out from your pocket.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G: Mini foldable minus the charm
To stick with the school metaphor: The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G is the nerd counterpart of the Motorola Razr: it is less cool but somehow better adapted to real life. For just under $1,299, you will receive a rather potent Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 SoC, three cameras (selfie, wide-angle, and ultra-wide-angle), and a somewhat more powerful 3,300 mAh battery to help you get through the day.
However, you can’t buy this in many countries, and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G simply lacks the cool factor of the Razr (5G). Sorry, Samsung.
By the way, you can still find its predecessor, the Galaxy Z Flip, in various online stores. However, the price difference of about $200 does not necessarily justify the downgrade to the Snapdragon 855 chipset which is also accompanied by the lack of 5G, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity.
Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold: Not available in Europe yet
With the Mi Mix Fold, Xiaomi unveiled a foldable smartphone that blew away our minds in March this year. The display is larger than that of the iPad Mini when fully opened, the camera system carries a 108-megapixel resolution with the innovative liquid lens, and thanks to the Snapdragon 888 SoC, it is a performance beast. The bad news is, it is as easy to find a unicorn in Germany as it is to pick up the Mi Mix Fold.
So far, Xiaomi has announced the Mi Mix Fold for the Chinese market only. When one converts the sticker price tag, this smartphone would cost $1,550, which is quite a reasonable price when you take into consideration the hardware that is included here compared to what the competition offers. At various import shops like Trading-Shenzhen, you can pick up the foldable smartphone for around $1,500.
Whether the Mi Mix Fold will ever be released outside of China remains to be seen. According to rumors, however, Xiaomi already has the next foldable device in the starting blocks. Perhaps the first Mi Mix Fold could meet the same fate as the foldable Royole Flexpai 2, which never made it to Europe after its announcement about nine months ago.
Microsoft Surface Duo: X does not mark the spot
Redmond and their smartphones – this tale of endless woe continue with the Microsoft Surface Duo. From the announcement to its market launch in Germany took a whopping 505 days, and so on February 18, a brand new, already outdated smartphone arrived at store shelves.
For at least $1,199, it was armed with the already outdated Snapdragon 855 chipset sans 5G support, immature software, and not very up-to-date cameras. To say that it was a flop right from the beginning was a foregone conclusion. The performance was lacking for those who want to be productive on the move, while the wide gap between the two displays is a pox upon its existence when you compare it to the likes of Samsung, Huawei, and other early adopters in the foldable smartphone market.
LG V60 ThinQ 5G: Goodbye, LG
LG has been good at one thing in the recent past: showing that “different” doesn’t necessarily mean “good”. A glowing example of this is the V60 ThinQ 5G with its quirky add-on screen aptly known as the “Second Screen”. While the various gimmicks that accompany the add-on screen are definitely fun – they’re simply just that: gimmicks that wear their welcome out quickly.
Apart from that, the LG V60 is quite a good Android smartphone, which also scored 3.5 out of 5 stars in our review. However, competition from Chinese manufacturers proved to be too fierce and superior, not to mention cheaper when it comes to the price-to-performance ratio. The fabulous integrated Hi-Fi DAC did not help its case, either.
While it is not really a pure foldable smartphone, the LG Wing also sports a very interesting and unique design. With the LG Wing, you can rotate the display to landscape mode which exposes a secondary display that is half the size of the original display. What can you do with a T-shaped screen in everyday life? We reviewed the LG Wing and have yet to come to a proper conclusion until today.
The bottom line is, we are still quite unsure of the foldable smartphone’s place in society today in terms of its practicality and usefulness. The novelty factor is there for sure, but foldables can sometimes be a portend for the future, or sometimes plain weird, but they are always interesting to check out. And as in the case with LG, we’d miss out on a lot if they weren’t around. Here’s to more zany ideas in the future!
Here’s some food for thought: The next smartphone concepts are already in the pipeline. Here, the foldable becomes a “rollable” and you can probably figure out the future direction of where the smartphone is headed in terms of size and form factor.
This article was last updated in June 2021. Older comments have been retained.