Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G vs. Galaxy Z Flip 5G: Foldable face-off

(Image credit: Samsung)

While foldables aren’t going to take over as the predominant smartphone design anytime soon, they do feel like a glimpse into the future. And no one is doing it better than Samsung right now. After a rocky start with the original Galaxy Fold, Samsung went back to the drawing board on both its display and hinge tech and its second and third generation foldables look fantastic.

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G and Galaxy Z Flip 5G are the pinnacle of Samsung’s foldable lineup with modern specs including the recently released Snapdragon 865+ chipset, 5G support and an ample 256GB of storage. You are still definitely paying a premium for the engineering marvel of a folding phone, but you are also getting cutting edge specs to go along with it unlike with the original Galaxy Fold or the Microsoft Surface Duo.

While these devices have a lot of shared DNA, they represent two very different takes on what a foldable phone can be. Here’s an in-depth look at the Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G and Galaxy Z Flip 5G to help you decide which of these powerful foldables is right for you.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G vs. Galaxy Z Flip 5G: Price 

Now given that these phones involve a folding piece of glass (sort of, more on that later) and a self-cleaning hinge mechanism that Samsung invented, perhaps it shouldn’t be shocking that they are quite expensive. Even so, it is hard to prepare yourself for the $1,449 starting price for the Galaxy Z Flip 5G and harder still to see the $1,999 price tag on the Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G. The one positive note is that there is no upsell on either smartphone, the base model is it.

The Galaxy Z Flip 5G comes with 256GB of storage and is available in either Mystic Bronze or Mystic Gray. Unlike the standard Galaxy Z Flip, it doesn’t include wired earbuds or a case in the box, just the fast charger and a USB Type-C charging cable.

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G similarly comes with 256GB of storage and is available in Mystic Bronze or Mystic Black. You do have the free option to customize the hinge, but be aware that those options will push your order out by 4-5 weeks at launch, you can choose from Mystic Bronze, Metallic Silver, Metallic Gold, Metallic Red or Metallic Blue. Despite the price bump, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G also eliminates the packaged extras of its predecessor, which included a case and the original true wireless Galaxy Buds, now it's simply a fast charger and a USB Type-C charging cable.

Winner: Galaxy Z Flip 5G 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G vs. Galaxy Z Flip 5G: Specs 

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Galaxy Z Fold 2 5GGalaxy Z Flip 5G
Display (refresh rate) 7.6-inch AMOLED (foldable, 120Hz) + 6.2-inch AMOLED (60Hz) 6.7-inch AMOLED (foldable, 60Hz) + 1.1-inch AMOLED
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+
Storage 256GB 256GB
MicroSD slot No No
Rear cameras 12MP f/1.8 (Wide-angle), 12MP f/2.4 (Telephoto), 12MP f/2.2 (Ultra-wide) 12MP f/1.8 (Wide-angle), 12MP f/2.2 (Ultra-wide)
Front camera 10MP f/2.2 (Wide-angle) 10MP f/2.4 (Wide-angle)
Battery size 4,500 mAh 3,300 mAh
Water resistance No No
Colors Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black Mystic Bronze, Mystic Gray
Size Folded: 159.2 x 68 x 16.8mm Unfolded: 159.2 x 128.2 x 6.9mm Folded: 87.4 x 73.6 x 17.3mm Unfolded: 167.3 x 73.6 x 7.2mm
Weight 282g 183g

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G vs. Galaxy Z Flip 5G: Design

(Image credit: Samsung)

Obviously the stand out feature for any folding smartphone is the design. For years we hadn’t really seen any new form factors in the smartphone world and folding displays have finally broken through the slab smartphone barrier. 

While the Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G and the Galaxy Z Flip 5G use virtually identical tech in terms of their folding displays and hinge mechanisms, the designs could not be more different in intent and use case.

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G basically presents itself as a very thick standard phone in its folded state with a nearly edge-to-edge 6.2-inch display and it then unfolds into something that falls closer to tablet territory at 7.6-inches. This makes it an amazing productivity device with extensive multitasking capabilities and of course a dream for content consumption.

The Galaxy Z Flip 5G on the other hand is essentially a throwback to a traditional flip phone. But instead of a small screen and number pad when you open it up you have a full 6.7-inch AMOLED display smartphone in your hands. The exterior screen is tiny at 1.1-inches, but can give you a glimpse of your notifications without having to open up the Z Flip 5G. If you have longed for the days of a truly pocketable phone, the Galaxy Z Flip 5G is the design for you.

Returning to that shared hinge mechanism, it allows you to move the display to any angle and it will hold in place which opens up some new use cases for viewing content or  video calling. Watching a video above the fold and using a messaging app below is one potential split that Samsung showed off and seems legitimately useful. From a pure utility standpoint, the hinge which debuted on the original Galaxy Z Flip also serves the critical role of clearing out any dust or debris that finds its way behind the screen before it can do any damage.

 Winner: Draw 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G vs. Galaxy Z Flip 5G: Display 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2

(Image credit: Samsung)

Both of these smartphones rely on the Ultra-Thin Glass (UTG) for their folding displays that was introduced on the original Galaxy Z Flip and while it may not be as resilient as the latest Gorilla Glass Victus tech found in the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra or on the cover display of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G, it is at a minimum not susceptible to the scratching that plagued the plastic screen of the original Galaxy Fold.

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G offers the same 120Hz performance found on Samsung’s other flagships for this year, but only on the interior 7.6-inch display. The 6.2-inch cover display is limited to 60Hz. Like the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G benefits from the adaptive refresh rate option. It automatically adjusts the refresh rate as necessary, ensuring that you still get solid battery life while enjoying the smooth 120Hz when possible.

The Galaxy Z Flip 5G sticks to 60Hz for its 6.7-inch AMOLED display, which if it matches up to the Galaxy Z Flip will offer a bright and vibrant display, even if it lacks the high refresh rate. The exterior cover display remains a diminutive 1.1-inch Super AMOLED that delivers your notifications and offers enough of a camera preview that you know you aren’t missing yourself completely with that selfie.

The other shared feature of both of these folding smartphones is the crease that exists at the hinge point for the display, while the newer hinge has helped to reduce the appearance of the crease, it is nonetheless still present. Looking at the display directly, it is much less apparent than from an angle. Most claim that like the notch or hole-punch on most smartphone displays you stop noticing it eventually, but this feature is going to remain a fact of life for foldable displays for the foreseeable future.

Winner: Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G vs. Galaxy Z Flip 5G: Durability 

(Image credit: Future)

After the Galaxy Fold started breaking within 48 hours of reviewers receiving them, it seemed like Samsung might have been a little too quick to market with foldables. However, after first reinforcing the Galaxy Fold and then reinventing the hinge and display tech that went into its foldables, the company appears to have solved all of those early woes. 

To be clear, these foldables still can’t hold up to the same treatment as other modern flagships. The new UTG displays are much stronger than the original Galaxy Fold, but not as tough as the Gorilla Glass Victus found only on the exterior display of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G. Naturally they also lack an IP rating for water resistance as that simply isn’t possible yet for the hinged design.

This is one area where foldables by their nature simply aren’t going to catch up to a standard smartphone anytime soon. But with the changes Samsung has made both of these devices seem capable of surviving the rigors of life with just a bit more care. Thankfully Samsung does offer a first-time screen replacement for just $149 on either device in case you do have an accident.

 Winner: Draw 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G vs. Galaxy Z Flip 5G: Battery Life 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2

(Image credit: Samsung)

We haven’t put these phones through our battery tests yet, but the Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G includes a 4,500 mAh battery while the Galaxy Z Flip 5G naturally comes in smaller at 3,300 mAh.

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G has added a bit more battery than the original Galaxy Fold and that seems appropriate given the larger and presumably more battery hungry exterior display. When our sister site Tom’s Guide reviewed the original Galaxy Fold last year, it held up pretty well. The device lasted t 10 hours and 1 minute of continuous web browsing over 4G at 150 nits of brightness. As always, your battery life will vary widely depending on your tasks, but that is especially true of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G given the power needs of that internal display vs the cover display.

The Galaxy Z Flip 5G has simply maintained the battery capacity of the Galaxy Z Flip, which given the identical form factor and design from the original was expected. The Galaxy Z Flip did fine, but not great, in Tom’s Guide’s battery testing with 8 hours and 16 minutes, well below the average. 

The hope for these smartphones is that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ processor, which features a more power-efficient 7nm “N7P” node as compared to the Snapdragon 855 found in their predecessors will help to deliver a bit of a boost to battery life.

Winner: Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G vs. Galaxy Z Flip 5G: Cameras 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2

(Image credit: Samsung)

The cameras on the Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G and the Galaxy Z Flip 5G aren’t going to hold up to the competition from the Galaxy S20 lineup or the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. But they’re not seriously out of date. There are simply limits to what Samsung can do without introducing a massive camera bump on the back of a smartphone and that would look very out of place on these foldables.

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G features a triple camera array with an ultra-wide, wide, and telephoto lens, but unlike its siblings, these sensors are all 12 megapixels. The same can be said of the Galaxy Z Flip 5G, but it drops to a dual-camera losing the telephoto from the lineup. Now while this may feel like a letdown compared to Samsung’s flagships with 64MP or 108MP sensors, the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro features are well regarded in the smartphone photography world and offer a double and triple camera array of 12MP sensors respectively.

Now what you do get with the cameras on the Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G and Galaxy Z Flip 5G are some really cool features. These include using the cover display as your viewfinder which allows you to use one of those more robust rear cameras for your selfies, including that handy ultra-wide to get everyone in the photo. If you want to let your subject make sure they like the photo before you snap it, then Dual Preview is the answer, showing them on the cover screen while you use the full interior screen to frame the shot. Flex Mode is another great selfie option. You place the folded phone down on a flat surface, the top half of the display is your preview and the bottom half your controls, this is also a handy option for conference calls on the go.

Winner: Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G 

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G 

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G Galaxy Z Flip 5G
Pricing (10) 6 7
Specs (10) 87
Performance (15) 14 13
Design (10) 9 9
Durability (10) 6 6
Display (15) 14 12
Battery Life (15) 12 9
Cameras (15) 12 11
Total 81 74

With higher price tags than their predecessors, at just shy of $2,000 and $1,500, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G and Galaxy Z Flip 5G are proof that progress can be costly. However, if price isn’t a factor the hardware for both of these smartphones feels polished and refined as compared to the original Galaxy Fold that felt like an amazing prototype.

In a sea of similar slab smartphones, these Samsung foldables stand out. And while the Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G is the clear winner when stacking these two up next to one another, it truly depends on what you are looking for out of your smartphone.

If you love the idea of a single device that can be your smartphone, your tablet and even take the place of your laptop in the right circumstances, then the Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G is the way to go. It represents an unbeatable array of features with its large 120Hz interior display, robust multitasking and solid battery life.

On the other hand, if you want all of the power of a high-end flagship, but can’t stand the massive size of most modern smartphones, the Galaxy Z Flip 5G is the solution you’ve been waiting for. It delivers an excellent 6.2-inch Super AMOLED display that folds up safely and neatly in your pocket until you are ready to use it again.

Sean Riley

Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more.  Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.