Foldable Phones Are Here: 4 Full-Size & 4 Clamshell Options
Smartphones have come a long way since Apple invented the first iPhone. Not long after, many companies began on the same journey, competing against each other to create the best smartphone. In December of 2018, a new type of phone was introduced to consumers: the Royole FlexPai, a smartphone with the ability to fold.
The History of Foldable Phones
The Royole FlexPai
First shown at CES 2019, the Royole FlexPai was the first smartphone with a foldable screen. It featured a 7.8 inch flexible AMOLED display, up to 8GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of storage. The phone had two SIM card slots on each side, essentially giving consumers the ability to use each screen as two separate phones. The back featured two cameras: a 16MP camera and a 20MP camera. Like the older iPhone models, it also featured a fingerprint scanner. However, rather than sparking praise and interest for its foldable design, the phone received ample amounts of scrutiny from both consumers and the media. Yes, consumers wanted major phone manufacturers to take risks and develop new smartphone designs, but this phone made the unfortunate choice to sacrifice previously existing usability in favor of the ability to fold.
Image courtesy of Trusted Reviews
The FlexPai released with an 8999 yuan price tag in China. In USD, that calculated to approximately $1319 at the time. When in the hands of consumers, the phone looks as if two phones were connected together by a rubber hinge, making the phone look unattractive and uninteresting. In tablet form, it is a remarkably good looking device. When folded however, things tend to get weird.
The FlexPai doesn’t fold into a completely flat device. Instead, it folds into a wedge. The wedge-like shape makes pocketing and usability a humiliating and difficult challenge, a challenge that shouldn’t be an issue with phones. However, the durability is surprisingly strong as it can survive up to 200,000 folds and last a good number of years. While the AMOLED screen panel features 1920 x 1440 resolution, this doesn’t bode well for the device when folded. The display size is decreased in its folded state, and color calibration takes a hit as well. Furthermore, the area around the fold can be susceptible to serious amounts of glare.
Software and performance issues in the FlexPai were also present. Even with its 6 or 8GB RAM, reviewers reported entire days of lag and stuttering. Basic tasks such as using the multitask function or even just opening an app would take several seconds to load. Orientation of the apps would switch at random between portrait and landscape mode, and app screens were not the most responsive when folding and unfolding the device. Given the issues presented in the device when it was released to the public, it was clear that this phone was rushed through development in order to earn the title of the world’s first foldable phone.
The Galaxy Fold
In February 2019, Samsung announced the Galaxy Fold. However, they announced an indefinite delay of the phone days before the original release. Samsung released a statement to its customers explaining their vested interest in the consumers’ experience with the phone. This came as the initial testing of the Galaxy Fold experienced issues with durability and display.
The phones featured a protective layer to increase strength. However, the initial testing showed that users repeatedly pulled off this layer from the screen of the phone by mistake. In other tests, the phone endured catastrophic failure in just one or two days after use. Debris easily found its way into the hinges and underneath the inside display of the Fold. In another review, the device just simply failed without reason. Furthermore, substances found inside the device caused defects in the display.
While consumer disappointment was high, Samsung handled this situation carefully and professionally. Their approach would go on to lessen the damage done to the reputation of not only Samsung as a brand, but also the concept of foldable phones. The issues occurring with Royole’s FlexPai already caused disappointment and skepticism towards foldable phones. If Samsung had handled the situation with the Galaxy Fold in a less professional way, Samsung would now have two failures in the realm of foldables, reducing the interest in such technology even more.
The Motorola RAZR
In the same year as the Galaxy Fold, Motorola introduced the RAZR, a more modernized version of the iconic flip phone model they released in 2004. Rather than unfolding into a tablet-like device, the RAZR folded down on its horizontal axis. However, the $1499 price tag, lackluster specs, and missing features made this product unpopular.
Image via Tech Radar
The RAZR lacked a SIM card holder. This meant that the phone wouldn’t have the capability of performing as a primary phone. The design of the phone lacked quality in the sense that opening the phone from the closed position is difficult to do. The handset density, the width of the phone, and the overly resistant hinge made it difficult to flip the phone open with one hand, defeating the purpose of a flip phone. Furthermore, the lock buttons and volume controls were difficult to tell apart. Its fingerprint sensor only worked with the phone in its upright position. When pocketed, it was found that the RAZR was too thick to fit some pockets. Moreover, the phone made creaking sounds that were audible through the screen, creating unnecessary concern that something was wrong.
While RAZR’s attempt at bringing back the flip phone commanded intrigue, a $1499 price tag paired with the aforementioned issues meant the product wasn’t super inviting to those looking for an upgrade.
Types of Foldable Phones
Foldable smartphones fall under two specific categories: Full-sized foldables and Clamshell foldables. For a more expensive price tag, full-sized foldables tend to reveal larger displays when opened to create tablet-like experiences.
Clamshell smartphones appear the same as everyday smartphones when unfolded. Instead of unfolding into a tablet-like device, the folding mechanism on Clamshell foldables allows them to be stored more easily in pockets. When folded, a smaller screen is still available for use, as well as the back camera. While these phones also tend to be expensive, they are relatively cheaper than their full-sized counterparts.
Full-Sized Foldable Phones
Let’s take a look at some full-sized foldable phones that may fit what you are looking for. We may earn a commission on linked products.
Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB CPU: Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 RAM: 12GB
Display Refresh Rate: 120Hz
Screen Size: 6.2-inch cover screen (2316 x 904), 7.6-inch main screen (2176 x 1812)
Rear Cameras: 12MP Ultra Wide Camera, 50MP Wide-angle Camera, 10MP 3x Optical Zoom Telephoto Camera
Front Cameras: 4MP Under Display Camera, 10MP Cover Camera
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 unfolds wonders for those looking for something revolutionary. This phone features hands-free video, as well as a massive screen for multitasking. Additionally, its improved durability gives it strength both inside and out. Furthermore, it’s shorter, thinner, and lighter than its predecessor, making it easy to pocket. The rear of the phone features three cameras set up for zoomed-in shots, wide shots, and ultra wide shots. In the front, you’re given a 4MP under display camera, and a 10MP cover camera, adding up to a total of 5 different cameras at your fingertips. Its 120Hz display allows for a smooth, immersive experience when using the phone.
- Improved multitasking
- Wider screen
- Brighter display
- 50Mp camera
- Longer battery life
- Visible crease
- Still a bit heavy to carry
While the phone comes with plenty of benefits, there’s still room for improvement. Its hefty price tag at $1799 makes it the most expensive flagship phone out there. For the larger storage options, the prices rise even higher. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is designed more for people who are willing or able to pay an expensive price for what the phone has to offer. While it looks and feels better than other phones, it is still a bit heavy to carry around. When viewing certain apps, especially in the sunlight, the crease in the middle of the phone is still visible and can become an eyesore when being used. Overall, the Galaxy z Fold 4 is still a great phone to try out and is recommendable, but its price and required compromises may prove that it is not exactly what you are looking for.
Storage: 256GB, 512GB CPU: snapdragon 888 RAM: 12GB
External Display: 6.2 Inches (2268 x 832) 120Hz
Internal Display: 7.6 Inches (2208 x 1768) 120Hz
Rear Cameras: 12MP wide, 12MP ultrawide, 12MP 2x optical zoom, 10x digital zoom
Front Camera: 10MP, 4MP under display camera
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 comes in two models: a 256GB model and a 512GB model. Its external and internal displays feature 2268 x 832 and 2208 x 1768 resolutions at 120Hz respectively. Additionally, the phone features three cameras in the rear and two in the front, bringing the total camera count to five. The 12MP rear cameras feature wide and ultrawide sensors, as well as a telephoto lens capable of 2x optical zoom and 10x digital zoom. With the addition of the two under display cameras, you’re given many options for how you want to capture your adventures. Furthermore, the phone features improved multitasking, making multitasking through different apps easier on your phone.
- More durable, water resistant design
- Dual 120Hz displays
- S Pen support
- Improved multitasking features
- Optimized foldable apps
- Camera hardware not upgraded
- Charger or S Pen not included
- Bulky when closed
- Battery life needs improvement
Even though the Galaxy Z Fold 3 has its upsides, its cons can certainly impact which type of phone you may want. This phone still holds a hefty price tag at $1,199. For the 512GB model, the price increases an extra $100. Moreover, the charger and the S Pen aren’t included with your purchase, causing you to spend additional money on the pen and charger. The battery life can definitely be improved, as it has been reported that it only lasted 8 hours when being tested compared to others that lasted 10 hours or more.
While the overall camera quality for the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is good, the 4MP front camera isn’t the greatest camera for selfies. Furthermore, phones like the iPhone 12 Pro feature better settings for sharp and colorful images. When folded, the phone feels bulky to carry around and dust can easily find its way into the creases and screen of the phone. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 would be a perfect fit for use during work and the occasional adventure, but if you’re looking for a phone to just use wherever you go, you may want to consider looking at other options before choosing this one.
The HUAWEI Mate X2
CPU: 8 GB RAM + 256/512 GB ROM
Interior screen: 8 inches
Exterior screen: 6.45 inches
Resolution: 2480 x 2200 interior, 2700 x 1160 exterior
CPU: HUAWEI Kirin 9000
Rear Camera: 50MP Ultra Vision Wide Angle Camera, 16MP Cine Ultra-Wide Angle Camera, 12MP Telephoto 3x Optical Zoom Camera, 8MP 10x Optical Zoom Super Zoom Camera
Front Camera: 16MP Wide Angle Selfie Camera
Image via Notebookcheck
The Huawei Mate X2 is another option for people looking for a foldable phone. This phone features outstanding screens and positive design improvements based on reports. The “innie” design of the phone protects the folding display exceptionally well. Its folding mechanism folds completely flat, preventing grime and dust from accumulating inside. The Mate X2 resolution is outstanding with a 2480 x 2200 resolution interior display and a 2700 x 1160 exterior display. The rear cameras work together wonderfully for capturing those perfect moments on your adventures.
- Outstanding screens
- Positive design improvements
- Excellent cameras
- Great performance
- Good battery life
- Very expensive
- Limited availability
- No Google apps or services
- Limited app options
- Not available in US markets
With its pros, the cons of the Mate X2 are quite noticeable. The most noticeable being that it’s extremely expensive. This phone will cost you a whopping $2750 USD for 256GB or $2900 USD for 512GB. That’s a huge investment for a phone. Furthermore, no Google apps or services are available to use on this phone, creating limited options for apps and limited use in general.
The Xiaomi Mix Fold 2
Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB RAM: 12GB LPDDR5
Rear Cameras: 50MP Sony IMX766 primary with OIS support, 13MP OmniVision OV13B ultra-wide snapper, telephoto 2x optical zoom camera
Front Camera: 20MP Wide camera
Display: 1914 x 2160px resolution, 1080 x 2520 pixels
Image via GSMArena
The Xiaomi Mix Fold 2 is quite solid for a foldable smartphone. The cover screen displays at 2520 x 1080 resolution. Its battery life was reported to also be exceptionally good with an absolute maximum of 82 hours. Additionally, charging the phone was quite fast, going from 0% to 77% within 30 minutes when using the 67W charger that comes with the phone. A phone case also comes with your purchase. No need to spend additional money on a case or charger for your phone. The cameras in the front and the back all provide excellent photo quality so capturing your selfies or fun adventures will be a breeze.
- Outstanding design
- Class-leading Dolby Vision OLED screens
- Reliable battery life, fast charging
- Good speakers
- Excellent photo quality across all cameras
- Rich retail bundle with a 67W charger, a premium case and a 3.5mm dongle
- 5G, dual-SIM, IR blaster, NFC
- China-exclusive with Chinese bloatware
- No waterproofing
- Can’t be operated in semi-folded state
- No Android 12L, limits foldable features
- GPU overheats under pressure
- Underwhelming video quality and stabilization
The Xiaomi Mix Fold 2 is certainly an interesting phone and definitely stands out from other competitors. However, this phone is quite difficult to get a hold of as it is only sold in Chinese markets. It also has no waterproofing capabilities and will certainly struggle if it gets wet or dropped in a puddle. Furthermore, the Mix Fold 2 runs on a regular Android 12 instead of the foldable-specific L version. This limits its capabilities of supporting the foldable-oriented functionalities its competitors offer. The GPU of the phone seems quite weak as it overheats under pressure. For anyone outside of China, this phone may not be worth importing or purchasing unless you’re looking to do a review.
If you’re looking to spend a little less, and you don’t need the massive tablet-sized unfolded screen, our list of clamshell foldables might have something for you.
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB CPU: Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 RAM: 8GB
Display: 6.7-inch AMOLED inner display (2640 x 1080), 1.9-inch AMOLED outer display (260 x 512)
Outer Cameras: 12MP ultrawide camera, 12MP main camera
Inner Cameras: 10MP selfie camera
The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is lighter, flatter, and slimmer than its predecessor, making it easier on you to carry. This line has three storage options, ranging from 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. The Z Flip 4’s inner display comes in at 2640 x 1080 resolution while the outer display measures at 260 x 512 resolution. It out matches last year’s model in terms of durability and performance. The front features a 10MP selfie camera, while the back houses ultrawide and wide cameras at 12MP. Cheaper than the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and 3, the Z Flip 4 starts at $909 for 128GB, $909 for 256GB, and $1029 for 512GB.
- Much better battery life
- More durable than last year
- Not as expensive
- Great performance
- Minimal camera upgrades
- Display crease still prominent
The display crease unfortunately remains prominent. When sliding your finger over the phone, it is easily noticeable and can be irritating when in use. The cameras also have minimal upgrades. Looking at an image comparison between the Galaxy Flip 4 and the iPhone 13 Pro Max, the image captured by the Galaxy Flip 4 is brighter but fuzzier. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is darker but more realistic. This makes the image easier on the eyes to view, whereas the Galaxy Flip 4 seems to be a bit harsher on your eyes. It’s also worth considering that the iPhone 13 Pro Max is only $100 more than the Flip 4. Considering the image quality of the Pro Max, it would be worth it to spend the extra $100 on it for improved camera quality while completely avoiding the creasing issue.
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 RAM: 8GB, 12GB LPDDR5
Display: 2.7-inch AMOLED cover (800 x 573), 6.67-inch FHD + POLED main 144Hz refresh rate
Rear Cameras: 13MP ultrawide camera, 50MP primary camera
Front Camera: 32MP hole-punch selfie camera
The Motorola Razr 2022 was released first in China on August 15th, then launched internationally on October 25th. It consists of three models with a storage space of 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. The RAM storage ranges from 8GB up to 12GB depending on the model. The AMOLED external quick view display measures out to 2.7 inches and displays at 800 x 573 resolution. Two rear cameras and one front camera are present on the phone. The rear cameras feature a 13MP ultrawide lens and a 50MP primary lens while the front camera is a hole-punch selfie lens shooting at 32MP. The battery life is fairly decent and can charge quickly and easily. Furthermore, the display crease is barely visible, adding a more appealing look to the phone.
- Good battery life & rapid charging
- Richer user experience and features
- Barely-there display crease
- Performance and camera jitters
- Limited update support
The Razr 2022 is around the same price of the Galaxy Flip 4. However, given the additional cons the Razr 2022 possesses, it’s not as cost effective as other choices. The biggest drawback of this phone is its limited update support. It only supports up to two years of OS updates and 3 years of security updates. This is heavily outmatched by Samsung phones as well as the Google Pixel. Furthermore, the cameras still need some improvements, with the main and the ultrawide cameras being fairly inconsistent with each other. Finally, the selfie camera seemed to be heavy-handed on skin when tested.
Storage:128GB, 256GB CPU: Snapdragon 888 RAM: 8GB
Display: 6.7-inch Super AMOLED inner display (2640 x 1080), 1.9-inch Super AMOLED outer display (260 x 512)
Rear Cameras: 12MP ultrawide camera, 12MP main camera
Front Camera: 10MP
With a starting price of $724, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is built with a 6.7 inch Super AMOLED inner display capable of displaying at 2640 x 1080. The outer display is similar at 1.9 inches and displays at 260 x 512 resolution. Based on reports when testing, the screen is 80% more durable than that of its predecessors. Furthermore, the Flip 3 has water resistance, keeping it safe from the rain or being dropped in puddles. Additionally, the cover display is larger, so you’ll be able to see more information than before. The cameras on the phone go head-to-head with other leading options, making this one of the best camera phones you could purchase.
- More affordable
- Enhanced durability
- Bigger cover display
- 120Hz refresh rate on inner display
- IPX8 water resistance
- Short battery life
- Slow charging
- No telephoto lens
- Crease is still noticeable
The Galaxy Flip 3 unfortunately lacks the most in the charging and battery life department. It was found that the battery lasted up to around 5 hours and 40 minutes, less time than that of its predecessor. Additionally, charging the battery to a full 100% seemed slow compared to the Galaxy Flip 4, which has a better battery life and charging speed. The crease in the middle is also still noticeable, and can certainly be a deal breaker if you’re looking for a foldable phone with a more subtle crease. This phone would definitely be perfect for those who are looking for something affordable with excellent cameras. However, the battery and charging life are definitely something to consider before upgrading to the Galaxy Flip 3.
Storage: 256GB 8GB RAM, 512GB 12GB RAM; Nano Memory up to 256GB
Display: 6.90-inch Foldable OLED, 120Hz, (1188 x 2790), 1.04-inch OLED cover display (340 x 340)
Rear Cameras: 13MP Ultrawide camera, 40MP Wide main camera, 32MP UV camera
Front Camera: 10.7MP Ultrawide Camera
The HUAWEI P50 Pocket is another option for those more interested in flip phones. This phone features a fast charging rate, as well as outstanding inner and outer displays at 1188 x 2790 and 340 x 340 resolutions respectively. When tested, the charging speed was found to be better than its competitor, the Galaxy Z Flip 3. Its four cameras work well and offer solid ultrawide shots as well as great potential for shooting selfies on your adventures.
- Looks appealing
- Folds with no gap and fits in tighter pockets
- Outstanding inner and outer displays
- Fast charging
- Great main camera, solid ultrawide, great selfie shooting potential
- EMUI 12 is quite powerful
- Works well with other Huawei devices
- No IP rating, won’t stay open at arbitrary angles
- Underpowered speaker system
- No Google services
- Few HDR-compatible apps
- No 5G
- Tendency to throttle harder under continued load
- Unreliable Portrait mode
The P50 Pocket unfortunately has some major drawbacks despite its pros. The biggest deal breaker would most likely be the lack of 5G support, followed by the absence of Google services and Netflix. Because of the absence of 5G, the phone wouldn’t stay up to date on the latest and strongest data coverage, and if you’re someone who relies on Google Maps, you’ll need another phone or device to help you. Additionally, not being able to stream your favorite Netflix shows is pretty disappointing in this day and age of technology. Furthermore, the speaker system seems underpowered compared to the Galaxy Z Flip 3.
So if you’re in the market for a flip phone where you don’t need Google or Netflix and are only in it for the camera or like Huawei products, this is your phone. However, even with the P50 Pocket’s pros, having access to 5G and Google apps would certainly make this phone easier to recommend.
What about Apple?
It’s quite interesting seeing how many different types of foldable phones and flip phones are out there. What’s more interesting is that none of these are products from Apple. According to some rumors however, Apple may be presenting their first flip/foldable phone in 2023 or 2024. Apple has tested both a full foldable and a clamshell type of design already. It’s also been rumored that its display will reach up to 8 inches long. That’s nearly as big as the 8.3 inch iPad mini! In terms of competition, if the iPhone Flip doesn’t arrive until 2023, the competitors may have a head start. It’s still too early to fully confirm what the iPhone Flip will be like, but it’s quite possible Apple could create the greatest flip/foldable phone on the market.
Google is also rumored to be working on their own foldable, but they are reluctant to launch until they can truly offer value that’s proportionate with the inevitably high price that foldable smartphone manufacturers are forced to charge.
There are many options to choose from if you’re looking for a full-sized or clamshell style foldable phone. All the phones listed here have their pros and cons, with some harder to get your hands on than others. The prices of each of these phones are quite high, which already makes choosing a phone difficult. Camera quality and functionality vary depending on each phone. Furthermore, these phones are all android phones. Apple has yet to jump into the competition of foldable/flip phones and it’s quite possible their product may outmatch the current android options. If you’re in the market for android phones, then you may want to consider getting a foldable. If you’re interested in waiting for what Apple has in store for you, or are more of a fan of Apple software, stay on top of the rumor mill and know that something’s coming.