As you read in this story, a couple of years back, foldable phone designs still looked unfinished and something like a prototype that escaped from a lab. But in recent months, the scene around these devices has completely changed.
The latest foldable phones in the fray not only look stylish but perform exceedingly well in almost all the departments. So which ones are the top models to keep an eye out for? Here's a look at five of them.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3: Samsung continues to set the standard for foldables, and the Z Fold 3 isn’t just the best foldable yet, it’s one that can be recommended without any major provisos…provided you can stomach the price. This one goes all the way, right from the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip and the 12GB/512GB memory/storage combo to 120Hz refresh rates on both the internal folding and external cover display. Yet, the big news is the improved durability courtesy the IPX8 rating for water resistance and a more durable screen, which will certainly ease concerns of many who wonder if the phone was up to scratch for daily use. The upgraded screen protection also allowed Samsung to bring S Pen stylus support to the expansive internal display, which affords users ample space for note taking and sketching. Samsung has worked with several of the most popular apps to make the most of the Fold 3’s 7.6-inch folding display, and the Fold 3 multitasks like a champ. At Rs. 149,999, it’s still extremely pricey, but if there’s an Android phone to go all out and splurge on, this is it.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3: Leading the charge for the horizontally folding flip phones is the Galaxy Z Flip 3, with its stylish clamshell design opening up to reveal the 6.7-inch, 120Hz folding display inside. Not only does the Flip 3 share the Snapdragon 888 and IPX8 water resistance rating with its larger, pricier sibling, but it also features a vastly improved 1.9-inch cover display that’s finally in the realm of being usable for viewing notifications and doubling as a viewfinder for selfies. Perhaps even more important than the hardware upgrades is the price tag, which at Rs. 84,999 puts the Flip 3 squarely up against premium ‘regular’ flagships from Apple and Samsung and more importantly, a bit of a bargain going by foldable phone standards. The slim and immensely pocketable form factor may have led to a smaller battery than most would like, an aspect that we suspect might be overlooked owing to the Flip 3’s stylish high fashion appeal.
Motorola RAZR 5G: Motorola rebooted the clamshell RAZR lineup with the RAZR 5G late last year, and the nod to the nostalgia-inducing iconic design was more than apparent. Unlike the Samsungs launched this year, the RAZR is largely all novelty, with a mid-range Snapdragon 765G processor, 8GB of memory and a 2142x877-pixel resolution on the 6.2-inch internal folding plastic-OLED screen. The relatively large 2.7-inch display on the outside allows basic app usage, replies to texts and previews for selfies shot via the rear 48MP camera. At a level, it feels like the phone’s primary calling card is the ability to flip open in place and hang up on someone by snapping the lid shut with the same sort of drama that characterized the flip phone nearly two decades ago. At its Rs. 124,899 price point, it’s strictly recommended to the few remaining RAZR fans who want to relive the flip phone from their youth.
Huawei Mate X2: The Huawei Mate X2 is what happens when you supersize the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and strip it of all Google services whatsoever. Like the Fold 3, the Mate X2 features a 6.45-inch OLED 90Hz display on the outside that works in consort with the large 8-inch edge-to-edge screen on the inside, and while the Leica-branded camera system and Kirin 9000 chip may redeem it somewhat, the limited availability outside of China and the absolutely bonkers price tag of ~$2700 means that there’s far too much holding it back from being an option folks can consider.
Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold: Xiaomi entered the segment as recently as earlier this year with the Mi Mix Fold and, if you can forgive the device’s limited availability outside of China, has shown us a hint of what Xiaomi has in store. With a 6.52-inch external display and a huge 8.01-inch OLED display, the Mi Mix Fold packs in a Snapdragon 888 chip and a 108MP main shooter with a secondary 8MP camera with a liquid lens setup that mimics the working of the human eye to switch from zoom to macro shooting. The Mi Mix Fold also includes the largest battery (5020mAh) seen on a foldable alongside its speedy 67W fast charging. The fact that Xiaomi managed to price the Mi Mix Fold at ~$1500 is the most interesting development, one that signals further democratization in the segment in the months to come.
Tushar Kanwar, a tech columnist and commentator, tweets @2shar.