Best foldable phones of 2023

best foldable phones
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There's no question as to who makes the best foldable phones right now. Samsung dominates this market, with both the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 available for anyone who wants a phone with an expandable display.

But how firm is Samsung's grip on foldable phones? While we're still waiting to see if the revamped Motorola Razr 2022 makes it to the U.S., other phone makers are reportedly working on foldable devices of their own. The question is whether any of them will surface this year to challenge Samsung's Galaxy Z lineup.

Until new contenders appear, you should turn to Samsung for the best foldable phone. Read on to see whether the Galaxy Z Fold 4 or Galaxy Z Flip 4 is more suitable to your needs, and what contenders might one day emerge to challenge those devices.

The best foldable phones

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best foldable phones: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4's inner home screen, with wallpaper theming enabledtom's guide top pick

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The best foldable phone you can buy

Specifications

Main screen size: 7.6 inches (21768 x 1812)
Secondary screen size: 6.2 inches (2316 x 904)
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1
RAM/Storage: 12GB/256GB, 512GB, 1 TB
Size, opened: 6.1 x 5.1 x 0.21 inches
Size, closed: 6.1 x 2.6 x 0.55-0.62 inches
Weight: 9.28 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
Upgraded 50MP main camera
+
Improved multitasking with new taskbar
+
Wider cover display

Reasons to avoid

-
Still very expensive
-
Underwhelming under-display camera

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.

galaxy z flip 4 in pink unfolded

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Making big improvements over last year

Specifications

Main screen size: 6.7 inches (2640 x 1080)
Secondary screen size: 1.9 inches (512 x 260)
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 **RAM/Storage:** 8GB/128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Size, opened: 6.5 x 2.8 x 0.27 inches
Size, closed: 3.3 x 2.8 x 0.62 to 0.67 inches
Weight: 6.5 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
Much better battery life
+
Great performance
+
Same $999 price

Reasons to avoid

-
Minimal camera upgrades
-
Display crease still prominent

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 may be the star of the show when it comes to the best foldable phones, but 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.

best foldable phones: oppo find n in hand

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The best foldable phone outside of Samsung's models

Specifications

Main screen size: 7.1 inches (1920 x 1792)
Secondary screen size: 5.9 inches (1972 x 988)
CPU: Snapdragon 888
RAM/Storage: 8GB, 12GB/256GB, 512GB
Size, opened: 5.5 x 5.2 x 0.3 inches
Size, closed: 5.2 x 2.9 x 0.63 inches
Weight: 9.7 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
Beautiful design
+
Stellar displays
+
Fits easily into a pocket when folded

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited to China
-
Cameras and battery life underwhelm

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 didn't deliver.

But Samsung's phone has a clear edge in one aspect — you can't get an Oppo Find N outside of China. 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 though the Oppo Find N won't reach other markets, we hope other foldable phone makers sit up and take notice of its sturdy design.

Read our full Oppo Find N hands-on.

Microsoft surface duo 2, one of the best foldable phones, running two apps at once

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Best dual-screen phone

Specifications

Main screen size: 8.3 inches (2688x1892)
Secondary screen size: 2 5.3-inch panels (1344x1892)
CPU: Snapdragon 888
RAM/Storage: 8GB/128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Size, opened: 5.7 x 7.3 x 0.21 inches
Size, closed: 5.7 x 3.6 x 0.43 inches
Weight: 10 ounces

Reasons to buy

+
Big boosts to processor and cameras from the first Surface Duo
+
Optimized apps take advantage of both screens
+
Elegant design

Reasons to avoid

-
Costs more than the first Surface Duo
-
Full-screen experience marred by separate display panels

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. The design works 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 the Galaxy Z Fold 2 in 2020, 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, keep your eye on China. In that country, devices like the Honor Magic V and Huawei P50 Pocket have joined the mixe of foldables. Oppo has also come out with a sequel to the Oppo Find N while also introducing the flip phone-style Oppo Find N2 Flip. And it's China where Motorola trotted out the Motorola Razr 2022 first.

As for foldables in the U.S., TCL showed 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. However, those prototypes emerged a year ago, with no subsequent release. Motorola has showed off a rollable phone, too, but it only seems to be a concept design at this point. 

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 Google could launch its first foldable around the same time that Samsung normally updates it Galaxy Z lineup in late summer.

A rumored Apple foldable is up in the air as well. The latest word we've heard is that the iPhone Flip could show up in 2023 — but that rumor is fairly thin.

Samsung is certainly committed to foldables — we'd expect new versions of the Fold and Flip in 2023 — and it may even try some new designs in the future. At CES 2023, Samsung showed off the Flex Hybrid, a prototype screen that both folds and slides and could wind up in a new phone one day.

Another Samsung 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 Wild Life Unlimited 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.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.