In 2022 we saw more foldable devices than in all previous years combined, which is only natural as the technology begins to mature. Here are the most interesting designs we tested throughout the year, each with a number of advantages and disadvantages over the competition. In fact, each approaches foldable design in its own style, catering to specific use cases.
Huawei Mate Xs 2
The Huawei Mate Xs 2 could have been the best foldable phone on the market (review) if Huawei had worked more on the software component. From a hardware point of view, it’s hard to find any major drawbacks compared to a traditional phone. The dimensions are similar to a flagship that doesn’t fold, and its performance is within expectations for a device that measures only a few millimeters when fully open.
The outward-folding screen can take on a “regular” screen format when closed and turn into a compact tablet when open. Incidentally, despite the limited space, the cameras perform above expectations and charging is even faster than on Samsung’s alternatives.
But Huawei hasn’t created very many interface optimizations to encourage using the foldable screen to its true potential. Multitasking abilities are limited to displaying two apps on half the screen, while managing them is quite tedious at times. And that’s before you factor in the fact that this model doesn’t come with Google services. But if on the app side, Huawei phones are getting better and better, with many of the most popular ones already listed in the AppGallery, the multitasking side for the foldable screen should clearly be improved.
Galaxy Z Fold4
The Galaxy Z Fold4 is probably the most “complete” foldable device on the market (review), offering both top-notch hardware and a well-rounded software experience for such a device. Even so, there’s plenty of room for improvement, especially for the outer screen, which is still quite narrow for regular use.
The interface is easier to use than on other models, and the fact that the screen can be split several ways gives users more possibilities in multitasking. It’s disappointing, however, that the new model doesn’t offer many improvements over the last generation. Thus, it’s hard to recommend this model for upgrade for someone who has a Fold2 or 3.
For someone just getting into the foldable area, the Fold4 is the easiest model to recommend, as long as you need a phone that offers a larger screen in tablet form factor. Otherwise, the next model on the list might be the right one.
Galaxy Z Flip4
Neither does the Galaxy Z Flip4 seem, on the outside, to be much of an upgrade to the previous model (review). However, it does solve one of the Flip3’s biggest problems: battery life. With a significantly larger battery, it can offer the experience of a “regular” phone, with the ability to fold it up to take up less room in your pocket.
Sure, compared to the Fold4, it doesn’t come with a lot of extra features dedicated to the foldable screen, but it does have a useful outer screen for quick notifications or controlling music, and even for selfies.
The Galaxy Z Flip4 is the foldable phone that anyone can use without requiring a lot of getting used to, and its price has come down quite a bit, being comparable to that of a flagship on the candybar format.
Oppo Find N
Of all the “Fold” format phones with a foldable inner screen, we found the Find N to be the easiest to use (preview). It comes with a smaller screen, both inside and out, but the fact that it’s in “landscape” format when open gives a bit more space for multimedia apps without requiring a flip.
As with Huawei, however, Oppo hasn’t developed many features to take advantage of this screen format. And in the case of the Find N, the fact that it’s only available in China means it doesn’t have Google services. On Oppo, however, these are easier to install manually, but there’s another problem: the only way to buy it is by importing it, since Oppo hasn’t launched this model in the West.
The Find N has recently received a successor, the Find N2, which represents an evolution in performance and construction, with a thinner and lighter body.
Zenbook 17 Fold OLED
Also in the foldable category is the ZenBook 17 Fold OLED, the first foldable screen laptop from ASUS (review). It’s not exactly compact compared to an ultrabook, judging by its thickness when folded, but it comes with a major advantage for this category of computers: a 17″ OLED screen with HDR, great for movie and series playback, but also for productivity.
ASUS has made a few kinks on this first generation, especially when it comes to connecting and charging the magnetic keyboard, but these can be fixed in time on subsequent generations. The ZenBook 17 Fold OLED is a good demonstration of the technology, however, and may offer those who can afford it a “futuristic” device right now.