Foldable phones improved quite a bit in 2023, but you should still think carefully before buying one.

Foldable phones debuted almost five years ago, with Samsung and Huawei leading the charge in 2019. Initially, their steep prices, limited software capabilities, and delicate designs posed challenges for recommending them.

However, a lot has transformed over the past four years, and 2023 emerged as a promising year for foldable phones. The landscape now boasts a wider array of choices, including more affordable options like Motorola’s $700 Razr (2023), which hit the market in October. While there’s ample room for software experiences to advance further, companies such as Samsung, Google, and Motorola have made substantial progress in 2023.

For instance, the expanded outer screens on Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Motorola’s Razr Plus enable practical app usage without having to unfold the phone, a departure from simply checking notifications. Google’s Pixel Fold introduces a novel language translation feature that leverages both external and internal screens.

This year saw an unprecedented influx of foldable devices hitting the market, including new offerings from Samsung, Motorola, OnePlus, Google, and Oppo. Anticipated sales for foldable phones are on the rise, with the International Data Corporation projecting a substantial 43.9% surge compared to 2022. Additionally, Counterpoint Research indicates a notable 10% increase in sales in just the second quarter of 2023.

If considering a foldable phone purchase, it’s crucial to factor in your budget and how you plan to utilize your device, among other considerations. To delve deeper into the top choices, take a look at CNET’s curated lists highlighting the best flip phones and foldable phones for comprehensive insights into our top recommendations.

What’s your budget?

The foremost consideration revolves around your budget when contemplating a new phone purchase. While foldable phones have become relatively more affordable compared to their 2019 counterparts, they still command notably higher prices than standard models. For instance, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Google Pixel Fold kick off at $1,800 without trade-ins, while the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Motorola Razr Plus are priced at $1,000. Among these, Motorola’s 2023 Razr is the most budget-friendly at $700, albeit with the trade-off of a smaller external screen.

galaxy z fold 5

Book-style foldable phones such as the Galaxy Z Fold 5, OnePlus Open ($1,700), and Pixel Fold belong to the upper echelons of phone pricing. Flip phones, on the other hand, are in line with premium non-folding devices like the iPhone 15 Pro and Pixel 8 Pro, both commencing at approximately $1,000. For those accustomed to budgeting within this price range, splurging on a flip phone might not feel drastically different.

Keep an eye out for discounts and trade-in deals to soften the blow of these prices. However, it’s important to note that many of these deals often come with certain requirements, like opening a new line with a carrier or trading in a relatively recent phone. Be sure to consider these factors when seeking deals to make your purchase more manageable.

Are you careful with your phone?

Foldable Phones:

Today’s foldable phones have certainly improved in durability compared to their earlier iterations, yet their hinges and flexible screens still render them more fragile than conventional phones.Most foldable phones lack dust resistance and possess lower water resistance ratings compared to standard devices like the Pixel 8 and Galaxy S23 lineup.

If you work in outdoor environments, tend to be prone to dropping or handling your phone roughly, or prefer not to use a protective case, transitioning to a foldable phone warrants extra caution. Additionally, it’s prudent to acquaint yourself with repair options offered by the device manufacturer as well as third-party service providers.

Is it the right time to buy a foldable phone?

Foldable Phones:

Understanding the seasonal release cycles of foldable phones is crucial to avoid investing in a device that might quickly become outdated. While older models may sometimes be available at enticing discounts, opting for the latest version generally proves to be a wise choice.

Keep in mind that manufacturers typically support their phones with new Android versions for a limited number of years. For instance, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Z Fold 5 guarantee four generations of OS upgrades, while the Pixel Fold and Razr Plus promise three years of Android platform updates. Opting for the newest model ensures an extended period of software support.

Samsung traditionally unveils its new foldable phones around August, although this year, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Z Fold 5 debuted slightly earlier in July. If Google maintains an annual release pattern for Pixel Fold devices, a second-generation model can be expected in June. Motorola’s release cycle for Razr phones has been less consistent, with the high-end Razr Plus arriving in June and the cheaper model hitting the US market in October. The OnePlus Open, as the brand’s inaugural foldable phone, was launched in October.

Moreover, the Black Friday shopping weekend often presents excellent opportunities to snag deals on foldable phones, especially considering that new models for the year have already been launched. For example, Motorola Razr Plus experienced a $300 discount on Amazon during the Black Friday weekend. Keep an eye out for similar offers during this period.

What do you want from a new phone?

galaxy fold

Absolutely, beyond the budget, there are substantial considerations with foldable phones that might influence your decision. Their cost aside, these devices do present some trade-offs compared to traditional phones.

Foldables can occasionally feel bulky and slightly unwieldy when closed due to their unconventional designs. The camera capabilities on foldable phones often lag behind those found in premium non-folding phones like the iPhone 15 ProGalaxy S23 Ultra, and Pixel 8 Pro. There’s also a bit of a learning curve, especially with larger book-style foldables, and the visible crease across the screen remains a common feature in many current foldable models.

That being said, the compromises might be worthwhile for specific users. If you heavily engage in activities like watching videos or playing games on your phone, a phone-tablet hybrid such as the Galaxy Z Fold or Pixel Fold might be a worthwhile investment. When I tested the Galaxy Z Fold 4 for several weeks earlier this year, I found the larger screen extremely beneficial for tasks like writing and reading emails. In fact, I even opted to leave my tablet at home during a flight, solely using my phone for watching Netflix due to its expanded screen. Consider carefully whether the ability to switch between phone and tablet modes is essential to you and if you’re willing to pay a premium for that versatility.

On the flip side, flip phones cater to those seeking a standard-sized device that can fit more conveniently in pockets and purses. Devices like the Motorola Razr and Galaxy Z Flip, with their built-in kickstands, are also ideal for individuals who enjoy taking selfies or group photos without relying on someone else to snap the picture. These devices strike a balance between compactness and functionality, catering to those who prioritize portability and ease of use.

Foldable Phones:

Absolutely, the newer iterations of flip phones like the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Motorola Razr Plus have incorporated cover screens that enable running full apps even when the device is closed. This feature not only facilitates quick access to apps like Google Maps or Spotify but also transforms the phone into a mini smart display. During my test of the Razr Plus, I found it convenient to prop it open like a tent to play music, view album art, and manage my playlist while tending to household chores.

In essence, flip phones cater excellently to individuals who prioritize convenience and portability above other aspects in a smartphone.

Deciding whether to invest in a foldable phone ultimately boils down to your budget and your specific preferences for a new device. Considerations like durability and release timing are essential too, but the pivotal factors revolve around how much you’re willing to invest and what functionalities you seek in your phone. One thing’s for sure, 2023 marked a significant year for foldable phones, and their evolution and improvements are likely to continue in the upcoming years.

read more:

Categorized in: