The best foldable phones continue to be dominated by Samsung, though at least a pair of new models now top of our picks.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 are both out, and they're definite improvements over their respective predecessors. The latest Fold from Samsung makes some key improvements to the hinge, cameras and battery life. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 gets a much-needed boost to its battery life, making it a more compelling choice if you want to get one of the best foldable phones out there.
Will anyone challenge Samsung's dominance? Right now, the most likely candidate is the revamped Motorola Razr 2022. This flip phone is available in China, but Motorola has yet to announce release dates for other markets, including the U.S. We hope the phone does wind up here, though, because it sounds like a big step forward for this particular foldable.
While we wait to see what happens with this new Razr, we've got our current rankings for the best foldable phones that show how these devices compare.
What are the best foldable phones?
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 inherits the title of best foldable phone from its predecessor by improving upon the Galaxy Z Fold 3 in nearly every way. Not only do you get a more capable processor in the new model, Samsung has also upgraded the main camera with a sensor that allows the Galaxy Z Fold 4 to hold its own against the best camera phones.
But for people who can't swing the Z Fold 4's $1,799 cost, the best foldable phone will be the one they can afford. Thankfully, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 retains its predecessor's $999 price tag while making its own improvements to the phone's hinge and cameras.
Microsoft's Surface Duo 2 tries to take on Samsung's foldables with a dual-screen approach. And while it's a big improvement on the first Surface Duo, the two-screen approach doesn't quite work for people who just want an expanded screen space — which is really the case for foldable phones at this point.
The best foldable phones
Samsung continues to tinker with its Galaxy Z Fold, and as a result, the best foldable phone gets better with the Galaxy Z Fold 4. We're particularly impressed with the addition of a 50MP main camera to the new model, which addresses a long-standing complaint about camera quality with Samsung's foldables. The new Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset boosts performance, too.
Samsung has gone with a slimmer hinge on the Galaxy Z Fold 4, and while that makes the new version a little bit lighter than its predecessor, this is still a big, bulky device. The new version takes greater advantage of the foldable design, though, with a taskbar at the bottom of the screen making it easier to multitask. You'll also appreciate a wider aspect ratio on the outer cover display, which makes it easier to use closed Fold with one hand.
Foldable phones may not yet be mainstream devices, but the Galaxy Z Fold 4's many improvements take another step toward making this still-expensive phone a more realistic option for more people.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review.
2022 brought us new foldables from Samsung and although the Galaxy Z Fold 4 may be the star of the show, you shouldn’t discount the Galaxy Z Flip 4. With very notable improvements over its predecessor — such as better battery life — the Flip 4 is a pocketable powerhouse with enough oomph to do just about anything.
Although the camera hardware saw little improvement, Samsung’s night mode software has gotten a big upgrade. Low-light shots are leagues better than those the Galaxy Z Flip 3 could manage. Daytime photos aren’t all that exciting, carrying the old-school Samsung fantastical look.
The folding 6.7-inch display amazes with its colors and clarity, even though the display crease is here to stay. All told, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is a huge improvement and it’s a lot easier to recommend.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review.
As we discovered in our Oppo Find N vs. Galaxy Z Fold 3 face-off, this foldable phone from Oppo tops the best foldable phone from Samsung in several key areas, not the least of which is the lack of a gap near its hinged display. When the Oppo Find N is closed, its two halves sit flush against each other — something the Galaxy Z Fold 3 doesn't deliver.
But Samsung's phone has a clear edge in one aspect — you can't get an Oppo Find N outside of China at the moment, and the phone is unlikely to ever reach the U.S. That's a shame because it offers a great display, and the phone remains useful even when folded up. It's well-designed enough to slip into a pocket, too. Even if the Oppo Find N doesn't ever appear outside of China, we hope other foldable phone makers sit up and take notice of its sturdy design.
Read our full Oppo Find N hands-on.
Unlike Samsung's two phones, the Microsoft Surface Duo 2 is not really a foldable device. Instead, it features two separate 5.3-inch panels that open up to give you an 8.3-inch workspace. You can run apps across the two panels, though you'll have to contend with a gap running right down the middle of your app where the screens come together. It's better when using optimized apps where different tasks are relegated to different screens on the Surface Duo. You can also multitask, running two apps on different sides of the device.
Microsoft deserves credit for addressing many of the problems with the first Surface Duo in this sequel. The hardware is up-to-date, and the design is as elegant as ever. But the problem with Microsoft's approach is that this really isn't an expanded work surface — instead it's two separate 5.3-inch panels that are further squeezed by significant bezels. The Surface Duo 2 represents a better phone before, but it's still not the best big-screen experience out there.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Duo 2 review.
What to look for in a foldable phone
Before you buy a foldable phone, you'll need to consider what that kind of device will be able to do for you that a standard phone can't. Even with the Galaxy Z Flip 4's $999 price, you'll still pay up for foldable phones, so unless you really need the extra screen real estate, you may be better off with a phablet or one of the other best big phones that we've tested.
If you do think a foldable phone will help you get more done, though, be sure to pay attention to the device's construction. Early foldable phones like the Galaxy Fold and original Motorola Razr had design quirks that led us to pan those handsets. With 2020's Galaxy Z Fold 2, though, Samsung made some critical changes that made the phone more likely to withstand everyday use, and that work has continued with subsequent models. After adding water-resistance to the Galaxy Z Fold 3, Samsung worked on a lighter, slimmer hinge for its latest foldables like the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4.
There are two screens to consider when buying a foldable phone — the larger internal display and a secondary screen, usually on the outside of the device. Find out just what you can do with that exterior screen — can you run full apps or is it just there for notifications and a few other features? And does the screen support something like Samsung's continuity feature where the app you're using on the cover screen is waiting for you when you open the device?
Some foldable phones don't actually fold. The Microsoft Surface Duo 2, for example, is a dual-screen device that opens up to reveal two separate panels. Many of LG's now-departed phones took the same approach.
Apart from size — you'll want to make sure a closed foldable phone is something you're comfortable carrying around — you're looking at a lot of the same criteria you'd use to judge conventional phones. That includes the processor, cameras and — especially — the battery life. After all, there are usually multiple screens to keep powered up on a foldable phone.
Best foldable phones: What's coming soon
While Samsung dominates the global market — something that will likely continue thanks to the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 — keep your eye on China. In that country, devices like the Honor Magic V and Huawei P50 Pocket have joined the Oppo Find N. And it's China where Motorola trotted out the Motorola Razr 2022 first.
As for foldables in the U.S., 2022 kicked off with TCL showing off its Fold and Roll phone concept, which features both a folding screen and a way to extend that screen for an even larger workspace.
It's hard to know if Google is working on a foldable, reportedly called the Google Pixel Fold. The phone has been the subject of dueling rumors about its status — some say it's cancelled, others claim it's revived — with the latest report claiming that a 2023 launch is in the cards. Specifically, display industry analyst Ross Young has tabbed a March 2023 launch for the Pixel Fold.
A rumored Apple foldable is similarly up in the air. Rumors say something's in the works, but the likely reality is that an iPhone Flip wouldn't show up until 2023 — if it ever ships at all.
Samsung may not be done with foldables, as the company is said to be experimenting with different designs. One concept that could see the light of day eventually is a device with a scrollable screen that some people are calling the Galaxy Scroll. You can read our foldable vs. rollable explainer that looks at how this design should differ from Samsung's foldable models.
How we test foldable phones
We test for the best foldable phones the same way we review any smartphone. We conduct lab tests, including synthetic benchmarks as Geekbench 5 and 3DMark to measure graphics performance. We also run a real-world video transcoding test on each phone using the Adobe Premiere Rush app and time the result.
To measure the quality of a phone's display, we perform lab tests to determine the brightness of the panel (in nits), as well as how colorful each screen is (DCI-P3 color gamut). In these cases, higher numbers are better. We also measure the color accuracy of each panel with a Delta-E rating, where lower numbers are better and a score of 0 is perfect.
We run a custom battery test in which we have the phone surf the web over cellular with its screen set to 150 nits of brightness. We then time how long it takes the phone to run out of power. For foldable phones, we conduct this test on the phone's main display.
We also test the cameras on each foldable phone, taking them out into the field to perform comparative shots, usually with another device that features comparable specs. In some cases, that's a foldable phone or another device in the same price tier.