The best foldable phones rankings are getting a jolt this summer with the arrival of the much anticipated Google Pixel Fold. Google is now taking orders for its first foldable phone, with the device slated to ship sometime in June. That means a new competitor ready to take on Samsung's dominant foldable devices.
But the Pixel Fold could be just the beginning. We're already expecting Samsung to release follow-ups to the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4, and OnePlus says its coming out with a foldable in the second half of the year, too.
We've only had the time to do a Google Pixel Fold hands-on, so until we finally get a chance to completely review that device, Samsung is still the place to turn to for the best foldable phone. You'll still need to decide which Samsung foldable design you prefer. Read on to see whether the Galaxy Z Fold 4 or Galaxy Z Flip 4 is more suitable to your needs, or whether you should wait for the new foldable devices that will be here before you know it.
The best foldable phones
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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. Galaxy Z Fold 4 deals can help you get this best foldable phone for less.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review.
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.
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.
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.
Rumors suggest Microsoft may address our design complaints with the Surface Duo 3. And while that's welcome news, we're a long way from seeing that device.
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 Motorola Razr 2022, Honor Magic V and Huawei P50 Pocket have joined the mix of foldables. We've gone hands on with a few of these products like the Oppo Find N2 Flip and Honor Magic Vs — in both cases, we wish those phones would reach the U.S. market.
We're going to get our wish very shortly. OnePlus has confirmed that it's going to release a foldable device, and we're curious to see what the OnePlus V Fold has to offer, and how it might take on Samsung's well-established foldables. The Pixel Fold and OnePlus V Fold are exciting enough, and there's also the possibility of the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra joining them.
A rumored Apple foldable is more up in the air than those other devices. The latest word we've heard is that the iPhone Flip could show up in 2023 — but that rumor is fairly thin. If we're to see an Apple foldable, it seems more likely to happen next year than this.
Samsung is certainly committed to foldables — we'd expect the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5 to arrive in August, if Samsung sticks to its normal launch schedule. And Samsung may even try some new designs in the future. At CES 2023, the company 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. (See our look at how Tom's Guide tests and review smartphones for a more detailed explanation of our process.) 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.