Foldables have come a long way since the original Galaxy Fold went on sale back in 2019. They’re smaller, they’re tougher and while they still aren’t a great option for people on a budget, they’re now more affordable too. (Well, kind of.) And with more device makers getting into the space, there are a wider range of options than ever before. So if you’ve been thinking about buying your first foldable phone (or upgrading from an older model), here’s a guide covering the best models on sale today.
Note: For this guide, we’re focusing on devices that are widely available in North America and Europe. That’s because while there are even more options for people who live in Asia (especially China), they are often difficult to buy from abroad and may not support your local carriers.
How we test
When evaluating foldables, we consider the same general criteria as we do when we’re judging the best smartphones. Devices need to have good battery life (at least a full day’s use), bright displays (peaks of at least 1,000 nits), sharp cameras and responsive performance. That said, foldable phones come in different shapes (and sizes); there are varying designs that may appeal to different types of people.
For those who prefer more compact and stylish devices, flip-style foldables resemble old-school namesakes but with flexible interior displays (typically six to seven inches diagonally) and smaller exterior screens. Alternatively, for power users and people who want to maximize mobile productivity, there are larger book-style foldables (with seven to eight-inch main displays) that can transform from a candy bar-style phone to essentially a small tablet when opened.
A note on durability: Are foldable phones worth it?
Aside from their displays, the biggest difference between foldable phones and more traditional handsets is durability. That’s because while some models like the Pixel Fold and Samsung’s Galaxy Z line offer IPX8 water resistance (which is good for submersions of up to five feet for 30 minutes), their flexible screens – which are largely made from plastic – present some unique challenges.
Most foldables come with factory-installed screen protectors. However, unlike regular phones, users are instructed not to remove them without assistance from approved service centers. Thankfully, Samsung does offer one free screen protector replacement for its foldables, while Google charges between $29 and $129 depending on the warranty status of your device. That said, while we can’t do long-term testing for every foldable phone on the market, after personally using the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Fold 4 each for a year, I’ve found that Samsung’s pre-installed screen protector tends to start bubbling nine to 12 months after purchase. So you’ll probably want to factor in that your foldable may need some sort of servicing after about a year unless you plan on removing the screen protector entirely (which is possible, but goes against most manufacturers' instructions).
Furthermore, foldable phone owners need to be mindful about keeping sharp objects away from their flexible displays, as rocks, keys or even pressing down very hard with a fingernail can leave permanent marks. In the event that you need to get a flexible screen serviced, you’re potentially facing a much higher repair bill when compared to a typical phone (up to $500 or more depending on the model and the severity of the damage). In short, while the ruggedness of foldable phones has improved a lot, they're still more delicate than traditional handsets, which is something you need to account for.
The best flagship foldable phone: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
Despite a growing number of challengers, Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold line remains the best flagship foldable on sale today. On the Z Fold 5, Samsung introduced its new Flex Hinge, which has slimmed down the phone’s dimensions while allowing it to close completely flat. It boasts blazing performance thanks to its Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, excellent battery life and the flexible main display’s brightness is the best you can get with a peak of 1,750 nits. And, thanks to new multitasking gestures and updated taskbar, its capacity for mobile productivity is simply unmatched. If that’s not enough, unlike most of its competitors, the Z Fold 5 offers native stylus support, though you have to shell out extra for one of Samsung’s S-Pens (and a case if you want somewhere to stash it). The biggest downside is that with a starting price of $1,800, the Z Fold 5 is still extremely expensive. — Sam Rutherford, Senior Reporter
Read our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
Runner up: Google Pixel Fold
While the Z Fold 5 may be our favorite big foldable overall, the Pixel Fold isn’t far behind. Its wider design means its 5.8-inch exterior display feels a lot more usable than the Z Fold 5’s skinnier 6.2-inch Cover Screen. Additionally, that extra width results in a flexible main panel with a landscape orientation, so it’s super easy to open the Pixel Fold and launch straight into watching a TV show or movie; no need to rotate the device. And, despite being Google’s first foldable device, the Pixel Fold (12.1mm) is thinner than Samsung’s alternative (13.4mm) while boasting better camera quality and a longer 5x optical zoom. The phone also has IPX8 water resistance and Google’s excellent Pixel-only software including features like the Hold for me, Call Screener, the Pixel Recorder app and more. — S.R.
Read our full review of the Google Pixel Fold
The best flip-style foldable phone: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
Packing a faster Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, better cameras and longer battery life, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is our favorite compact foldable. This year, Samsung even added its new Flex Hinge, which makes the phone thinner while also eliminating the gap between its screen when closed. Also, thanks to its larger 3.4-inch exterior display, the latest model can do much more without needing to open it up. You can even run full Android apps, though you’ll have to mess around with Samsung’s Good Lock software first. Its display is also brighter and more colorful than what you get from rivals, and starting at $1,000, it’s not that much more expensive than a more conventional high-end phone. — S.R.
Read our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
Runner up: Motorola Razr+
While the Razr+ (or the Razr 40 Ultra for those outside North America) may not be quite as sophisticated as the Galaxy Z Flip 5, what it lacks in tech it makes up for with its personality. It’s available in three colors, with the magenta model featuring a soft vegan leather back. In addition, its exterior display features a neat cutout that wraps around its cameras and compared to Samsung’s flip-style foldable, it’s actually a touch easier to use. There’s no need to fool around with extra settings just to view all your favorite Android apps. And for those who are nostalgic for the original Razr from the early 2000s, Moto even included an easter egg that features a retro UI. Unfortunately, its water resistance is much less substantial, as it’s only rated to withstand spills or small splashes. — S.R.
Read our full review of the Motorola Razr+
A more affordable option: Motorola Razr
The non-plus Moto Razr (aka the Razr 40 internationally) is the company’s first attempt to make a more affordable flip-style foldable. Starting at £800 (U.S. pricing still TBA), it’s one of the least expensive options on sale today. However, it features a much smaller 1.5-inch exterior display along with a slower Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chip and somewhat underwhelming cameras. On the bright side, it features the same display you get on its more expensive sibling. The one difference is that it’s limited to 144Hz instead of 165Hz due to its less powerful processor. And, similar to the magenta Razr+, all the colors of the basic Razr (Sage Green, Vanilla Cream, Summer Lilac) come with a soft vegan leather back. — S.R.
Read our full review of the Motorola Razr
As mentioned earlier, there’s an abundance of exotic – and often more advanced – foldables well beyond the Samsungs and Motorolas of the world. However, you either need to have access to phone importers or actually live in Asia, and don’t mind sideloading missing Google apps on your own.
Xiaomi Mix Fold 3
The best overall book-style foldable is none other than the Xiaomi Mix Fold 3, which packs Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, four Leica-enhanced rear cameras (including a 5x zoom periscope) and a 4,800mAh battery within its surprisingly slim body – 10.86mm when folded, and 5.26mm when unfolded. Xiaomi even goes as far as boasting a 500,000-fold durability – more than doubling that of the Galaxy Z Fold 5. Despite its absence in the western markets, the Mix Fold 3’s newly-added 50W wireless charging option would be much welcomed over there. The phone comes with a protective case for both halves of the body, with the rear shell offering a kickstand for easier video playback and video calls. One Hong Kong-based specialist can send a Mix Fold 3 to the US from around $1,500 with shipping included, which is still much cheaper than Samsung’s equivalent. — Richard Lai, Senior Reporter
Honor Magic V2
Another worthy contender is the Honor Magic V2, which currently holds the title for the slimmest foldable phone available. We’re talking about just 9.9mm thick when folded, and a mere 4.7mm thick when opened, but it’s still a full-blown flagship device. Weighing at just 231g (8.15oz), this is the lightest book-style foldable phone as well. Funnily enough, the Magic V2 also packs the largest battery capacity in this category, offering 5,000mAh of juice thanks to Honor’s silicon-carbon battery – a breakthrough tech in the mobile industry. The obvious trade-off here is the missing wireless charging feature, but you do get a durability rating of 400,000 folds. Sadly, due to limited availability, the Magic V2 costs slightly more – around $1,670, shipping included, from the same Hong Kong shop. — R.L.
Oppo Find N3 Flip
If you’d prefer a smaller flip-style foldable from overseas, the Oppo Find N3 Flip is the only triple-camera option at the time of writing this guide. While others only offer a main camera and an ultra-wide camera, the Find N3 Flip benefits from an additional 32-megapixel 2x portrait shooter next to its 3.26-inch external screen (and you still get a 32-megapixel selfie camera on the inside). As a bonus, this clamshell has a physical mute switch, a whopping 600,000-fold durability and a generous 4,300mAh battery. That said, wireless charging is again a no-show here. You can pick up a Find N3 Flip in either black, gold or pink, and importing from Hong Kong should cost around $1,090 with shipping included. There’s no price advantage in this case, so it’s more about how much you want Oppo’s designs, features and accessories than anything else. — R.L.
This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-foldable-phones-160030013.html?src=rss