Foldable smartphones are the latest revolution in mobile technology, featuring displays that can literally fold in half while still functioning as a high-end smartphone. After years of rumors and prototypes, foldable phones are now a reality with several excellent options available from big brands. In this post, we’ll explore what makes foldable phones so unique, rank the top models on the market, discuss how to pick the right foldable device, and answer frequently asked questions.
Remember when we thought large tablets would replace small smartphones? How quaint that seems now looking back! While tablets continue serving niche functions, smartphones have only gotten bigger and more powerful every generation. We’ve gone from 3.5″ displays just a decade ago to massive 6.5″ – 6.8″ screens today.
While big screens enhance content consumption and multitasking, there’s still a desire for maximum portability. Enter – the foldable smartphone! Foldable displays allow manufacturers to incorporate a tablet-sized 8″ screen that can literally fold down into a compact smartphone form.
This innovative new form factor aims to provide the best of both worlds. You get an immersive big-screen experience for watching videos or running apps side-by-side. But when you need to stash your phone in a pocket, it folds into a compact palm-sized device. The foldable mechanism and flexible display does add thickness, but forthcoming designs aim to minimize this.
Samsung pioneered this category in 2019 with the Galaxy Fold, showing that a foldable phone was more than just a tech fantasy. After earlier durability setbacks, the technology has improved by leaps and bounds. Now in 2022, foldable phones are sleeker, more refined and most importantly – reliable for everyday use.
Major brands like Samsung, Motorola, OPPO and Huawei have all launched well-received foldable smartphones, usually at the ultra-premium end. More models from Xiaomi, Google, Apple and others are rumored to join the bandwagon soon. This promises to drive costs down eventually making foldables mainstream.
But which foldable phone is the best in 2022 and worth that premium price? Let’s take a closer look at the top 5 models that provide an enticing glimpse into the future of smartphones.
Top 5 Foldable Smartphones
1. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4
The fourth-generation Galaxy Z Fold4 cements Samsung’s dominance as the pioneer of mass market foldable phones. While refining the iconic book-style foldable form factor, the Galaxy Z Fold4 packs significant upgrades under the hood.
It is powered by the latest Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor paired with 12GB of RAM for blazing fast performance. The triple rear camera setup now incorporates a 50MP main sensor for crisp detailed shots. The under display 4MP camera is also improved for more natural selfies.
But the star of the show is still the foldable display. The 7.6″ QXGA+ AMOLED panel with 120Hz adaptive refresh rate makes content look superb with minimal bezels. You also get a slim 6.2″ HD+ Dynamic AMOLED cover display for regular smartphone use.
Multitasking is a breeze on the Z Fold4 with features like App Split and Multi-Active Window that allow running up to three apps simultaneously. The updated hinge mechanism and slimmer bezels result in a lighter and sleeker industrial design.
Splash resistance and IPX8 water resistance rating provide extra peace of mind. Overall, the Galaxy Z Fold4 promises refined productivity and multitasking power that’s hard to match!
2. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4
Prefer a more compact clamshell design? The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 is the foldable to get. The vertically folding form factor easily slips into pockets when closed. But unfold it to reveal the stunning 6.7″ FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X flexible display running at a smooth 120Hz.
Under the hood, it packs the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor with 8GB RAM for blazing fast performance. The dual rear camera setup consisting of 12MP main and 12MP ultrawide sensors takes crisp detailed shots assisted by a 10MP front selfie camera.
The small 1.9″ Super AMOLED cover screen lets you view notifications, texts and widgets without opening the phone. New color options, upgraded hinge and a slimmer body make the Galaxy Z Flip4 the most polished clamshell foldable out there.
3. Motorola RAZR 2022
The upcoming Motorola RAZR 2022 aims to reinvent the iconic RAZR brand in a futuristic folding avatar. Leaked details confirm it will rock the flagship Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip with up to 8GB RAM and 512GB storage.
The RAZR 2022 is expected to feature a larger 6.7″ pOLED main display with an industry leading 144Hz refresh rate. This will make the visuals smoother than ever. The iconic 2.7″ Quick View external display has been retained to view alerts without opening the phone.
Motorola claims to have vastly improved the hinge and build quality for increased durability. The RAZR 2022 will also add splash-proof certification and much louder stereo speakers. Pricing and availability is still unconfirmed, but the RAZR 2022 seems promising as a premium flip style foldable.
4. Oppo Find N
The Oppo Find N made big waves as one of the best designed foldables yet. The 7.1″ LTPO AMOLED inner display is slightly smaller than the Galaxy Z Fold but offers a crease-free visual experience. There is also a handy 5.49” AMOLED cover display.
Powered by the previous-gen Snapdragon 888 and 12GB RAM, performance is still top-notch. The versatile camera system consists of 50MP main, 16MP ultrawide and 13MP telephoto sensors capable of shooting great photos. Battery capacity is also generous at 4,500mAh with fast charging.
But the key USP of the Find N is the innovative hinge system that allows the inner display to fold without a visible crease. This gives the Find N a very refined look that sets a new benchmark. Currently exclusive to China, Oppo is expected to unveil Find N globally in 2022.
5. Huawei P50 Pocket
Huawei makes a strong foray into foldables with the beautiful P50 Pocket. Powered by the Snapdragon 888 chip, 8GB RAM and large 4,000mAh battery; performance is not compromised. The unique selling point is the 6.9″ flexible OLED main display that folds into a stylish vertical clamshell design.
But all eyes are on the 1″ circular display on the flip cover which displays notifications in a futuristic ring format. Together with the premium gold and white colors, the P50 Pocket reminds us that foldables can be fashion statements too.
Huawei manages to pack flagship-level hardware into the slim body at just 190g weight. While currently exclusive to China, global fans are hoping for a worldwide P50 Pocket launch in 2022.
How to Choose a Foldable Smartphone
Foldable smartphones represent the cutting edge of mobile technology, justifying premium price tags upwards of $1,000. So it’s prudent to assess your needs and weigh all factors before purchasing one. Here are the 5 key factors to consider while choosing a foldable phone:
1. Display Quality
The foldable display is the most crucial hardware to evaluate closely. A larger 7-8″ screen size when unfolded provides enough real estate for immersive multimedia and multitasking. Sharp QXGA+ resolution and at least HDR10+ support ensures visuals are crisp and pop with detail.
Smooth visual performance is also vital. A high refresh rate display around 120Hz enables seamless scrolling and animations. It’s also important to check peak brightness levels upwards of 1200 nits for comfortable outdoor visibility in harsh sunlight.
Of course, you want the folding mechanism to feel solid and sturdy over years of use. The crease should not be too pronounced and disappear when display is on. Premium brands use the latest ultra thin glass or plastic layers reinforced with polymer film for durability.
The foldable display comprises the most delicate moving parts of the phone, so durability is paramount. Look for durability testing claims of over 200,000 folds which translates to around 100 folds daily for 5 years.
The external display also needs strong scratch protection – Gorilla Glass Victus or the newer Victus+ is ideal. While total dust and water proofing remains challenging, some degree of water resistance is expected via ingress protection ratings like IPX8.
Hinge design and panel layering needs to withstand wear and tear from long term use. Brands are making good progress here but it’s prudent to choose established players like Samsung or Motorola for proven technology.
A foldable phone’s unique form factor requires top notch hardware to deliver a seamless experience across both displays. Look for flagship processors like the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 that balance power and efficiency for demanding apps and games.
For smooth heavy multitasking, 8GB or preferably 12GB RAM should be the minimum. There needs to be generous 256GB base storage at least, ideally with microSD slot for further expansion up to 1TB.
Of course 5G connectivity is vital to fully utilize those large high-res displays with super fast downloads and minimal latency. The latest Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 provide speedy connections with accessories and local networks.
Foldables need great camera setups fit for their premium stature, as you’ll likely capture important life moments on them. Look for triple or quad camera arrays with a high resolution primary sensor between 50MP to 108MP for crisp detailed shots.
The ultrawide and telephoto lenses should have 12MP+ sensors with useful magnification up to 10x hybrid zoom. Optical image stabilization is vital for good low light photos. For selfies, a 32MP sensor under the inner display gives your social feeds a boost.
See if camera apps are optimized to make full use of the unique form factors enabled by foldable displays. Shooting modes that utilize the cover screen as a viewfinder add creative possibilities. 8K video recording support enables capturing pivotal memories in their full glory.
5. Battery Life
The large foldable displays and 5G connectivity demand ample battery capacity. Look for at least 4,400mAh capacity as a minimum, with higher 5,000mAh capacities preferred for all-day usage. Quick charging support of 25W or 45W helps quickly top up the battery when running low.
Processing components like the Snapdragon chipset and displays used should be power efficient to optimize battery runtime. Useful battery modes that limit performance and connectivity during low power situations further help. Fast wireless charging support provides additional convenience.
Foldable Smartphone FAQs
1. Are foldable smartphones durable enough for daily use?
Most modern foldable phones are tested to withstand over 200,000 folds in lab tests, equivalent to around 100 folds daily for 5 years. Premium brands have worked hard to reinforce the ultra thin glass/plastic layers covering the display with polymer films for endurance. The hinge mechanism is also protected against wear from repeated folding. So while early concerns about durability existed, current generation foldable phones will last 2-3 years of regular use with proper care. Do note that displays remain relatively delicate compared to regular slabs of Gorilla Glass, so be gentle and keep away from sharp objects.
2. Do apps need special optimization for foldable displays?
The good news is that most apps functional normally across the foldable display without any unique optimization. App developers have access to standard Android APIs and frameworks to make their apps work well. But certain productivity and multitasking focused apps offer customization to better use the larger display real estate. For example, they enable split-screen capabilities with up to 3 apps open simultaneously. Samsung’s own apps are optimized to switch seamlessly between the cover and inner screens. So while not absolutely necessary, app optimization can lead to a better foldable experience.
3. Is the crease noticeable on folding displays?
Early foldable phones had a very visible crease running down the middle due to the sheer folding action. But with each generation, brands have minimized the crease through the use of thinner protective layers over the display and smaller hinge designs. On 2022’s models, the crease is only faintly visible from certain angles and essentially disappears when the display is on. It does not hamper real world usage at all. The crease may be more visible after 1-2 years of heavy usage as protective layers wear, but should not affect functionality.
4. Do foldable phones offer enough protection from dust and water?
Foldables do not offer the same level of ingress protection as flagship slabs due to the moving display parts. But they have improved significantly over early models. Many like the Samsung Z Fold4 and Flip4 now offer IPX8 water resistance. This allows them to withstand submersion in 1.5 meters of freshwater for up to 30 minutes. While not rated for dust, their hinge mechanism has internal brushes and mesh barriers to limit dust entry which is quite effective under test conditions. Of course, do not actively expose the phone to excessive water or dusty environments. But rest assured the occasional splash or shower is not a danger to most premium foldables now.
After early skepticism, foldable phones have demonstrated they are the future of smartphone innovation and here to stay. Each new generation brings meaningful improvements to display quality, durability and performance that make foldables increasingly viable for everyday use. Their unique ability to transform from a compact pocketable phone to an expansive tablet fills a useful niche for both productivity and content consumption. And the wow factor of pulling out a phone that bends in half garners attention like no slab of glass can!
No doubt, pricing remains the biggest barrier to mass adoption currently. But like all cutting edge technology, costs will eventually come down as manufacturing scales up and more competition enters the segment. This future is not far away judging by major brands lining up with new foldable offerings.
The bottomline is that foldables present a truly exciting shift in the static “glass slab” paradigm that has dominated smartphones. They add new possibilities like better multitasking experiences and more discreet carry factor when folded. As the technology matures in durability and capability, many of us will be upgrading to foldable displays as the next big leap. It’s a question of when, not if.