Best Foldable Phones: The Top Folding Smartphones that you can buy in 2022

Best Foldable Phones: The Top Folding Smartphones that you can buy in 2022

The idea of a foldable smartphone has seen its fair share of supporters and detractors, with the latter group mostly bemoaning their high prices and supposed fragility. Samsung has taken significant steps in addressing those concerns in the last couple of years, first by adding an official IP water resistance rating to the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3, while lowering prices for both devices to boot. This year Samsung has further refined the fourth generation of the Fold and Flip, and the results are two awesome mainstream-ready foldables that are proof that foldables are no fad — they are indeed the future of the mobile form factor.

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But Samsung’s not the only one making foldables — Xiaomi, Vivo, OPPO, and even an obscure brand named Royole have functional foldables out on the market now. And these brands have made breakthroughs of their own. Xiaomi’s latest Mix Fold 2, for example, is thinner and lighter than any previous large screen inner foldable before it. Vivo managed to cram not one but two in-display fingerprint readers into each screen. Granted, all but Motorola’s and the Huawei Mate XS 2 are officially sold in China only, but importing is possible.

The point is, while 2022 has given us some excellent slab smartphones, it is perhaps foldable phones that are most exciting. If you’re interested in trying now or considering it down the line, we here at XDA are here to help. We’ve tested every foldable released so far, and here’s our in-depth breakdown of what each foldable has to offer. Of course, if you want to stick with a slab phone, we have a guide on the best Android phones to consider too.

mix fold 2 and fold 4

Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Xiaomi’s Mix Fold 2.

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Best Overall Foldable: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

fold 4

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 took everything that was great about the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and 3 and added further polish and refinement. The changes are small this year, but they are crucial. The first thing Samsung did was shave a few millimeters off the somewhat bulky hinge, so it no longer protrudes from the side as much when folded. Then Samsung gave those few millimeters to the display so that the Fold 4 can offer a larger screen without increasing physical dimensions. This size increase is mostly horizontal, giving the Fold 4’s outside “Cover Display” a bit more room to breathe compared to the cramped screens of years past. It sounds minor — but the difference is noticeable. Typing on the Fold 4’s outside screen is better than before.

This outside screen size increase also carries over to the main screen — it too is wider and roomier than before. Samsung also shaved another few grams off the total weight too. At 254g, it is the second lightest inner folding foldable on the market, behind Xiaomi’s Mix Fold 2.

Samsung also gave the Fold 4 some significant camera upgrades. Last year’s Fold 3 used a dated camera system that was nowhere near flagship territory. This year, the Fold 4 upgrades to the same system used in the non-Ultra Galaxy S22, with a 50MP main camera with a large (for a foldable) 1/1.56-inch image sensor, and a 3X telephoto zoom lens that’s much better than the mediocre zoom lens in previous Folds. While this camera system still isn’t the absolute best of the best — it is close enough that they can be called flagship sensors.

The Fold 4 also brings back all the great features established in previous Folds, including a sturdy hinge that can stay in place mid-fold (Samsung calls this “Flex Mode), and IPX8 water resistance plus S-Pen support.

Flex Mode essentially allows the Fold 4 to stand on its own and shoot pictures or videos with either the selfie or the main cameras without the need for a tripod or other props. I’ve used it to do hands-free video calls, film myself at the gym, and capture time-lapse on a whim. It’s truly an ingenious design and a feature I miss when I use other rival foldables.

The Z Fold 3 in Flex Mode

Flex Mode in action.

And while you need to buy a separate S-Pen to use with the Fold 4, it would be useful for artists or creative types who like to jot and sketch on the go. The battery size, meanwhile, remains unchanged at 4,400 mAh, but the Fold 4 can last quite a bit longer thanks to the very efficient Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1. From our testing so far, the Fold 4 can easily last an entire 12-, 13-hour day of heavy use.

If you’ve been curious about foldable phones, now may be the time to jump on, because Samsung has refined its large foldable formula to almost perfection — the only thing left is to remove the crease from the display, which is sadly still here (don’t worry you only notice it if you look at the screen off-angle).

galaxy z fold 4

    The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is Samsung's latest flagship foldable, packing high-end specs and up to 512GB of internal storage. You can't expand it with a microSD card, though.

Also Great Overall Foldable: Vivo X Fold

Vivo X Fold

The Vivo X Fold is an inner-folding foldable just like Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4, but it tops Samsung’s device in several ways. The first is the large 8-inch folding display exhibits a much fainter crease — it’s much harder to see and feel compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s crease. The second improvement is the device folds entirely flat without a gap. Third, the Vivo X Fold offers an in-display fingerprint reader (the first foldable to do so), and finally, it also packs a Periscope zoom lens that can do 5x optical zoom.

In fact, the other cameras (wide and ultra-wide) are superior to the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s cameras too. Vivo’s optics use newer and larger sensors, and they’re covered by Zeiss’ T-Coating which reduces lens flare in shots. Vivo’s excellent HDR processing wizardry is here too. Elsewhere, the phone runs on a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 with 12GB of RAM and has a faux-leather back that stands out from the crowd. In terms of hardware, this may be the most impressive hardware on this list, just edging out the nearly two year old Huawei Mate X2.

If you’re wondering, with all noticeably superior hardware, why does the Vivo X Fold rank behind the Galaxy Z Fold 4 in this category then? It’s because of three reasons: first, the Vivo X Fold is only selling officially in China, so most readers will have to import if they want one. Second, Vivo’s software for foldable screens just isn’t as polished as Samsung’s right now. There are more app scaling issues, the multi-tasking system isn’t as well designed, and other inconsistencies here and there (but don’t worry about Google, as those apps can be sideloaded and run perfectly fine). Finally, the Vivo X Fold is too heavy at 311g. This weight will probably be fine the first hour with the phone as you’re still enamored by the design, but eventually, maybe by day two or week two, you will dread having such a brick-like device in your pocket, and one handed use for extended periods of time will tire your wrist faster too.

So while these factors keep the Vivo X Fold in second place, there’s no denying that Vivo’s foldable hardware is very well made and makes part of the Fold 4 looks outdated. It would be nice if Vivo could make a smaller, sleeker version of this device — and release it internationally too.

If you know you’re okay with the 311g weight and don’t mind importing (or if you live in China or Hong Kong where you won’t have to import), then the Vivo X Fold is a great option to show off what foldable phones can do.

    The Vivo X Fold has hardware that's in many ways superior to Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 3 -- but there's more to a foldable phone than just hardware.

Best Compact Foldable Phone: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

flip 4

While large foldables like the phones above are essentially tablets that can fold into a smaller smartphone-sized form factor, there are these clamshell ones that are smartphones that fold up into a compact little square no bigger than a stack of coasters or a wallet. If you find your pockets constantly cramped due to slab smartphones being too big, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 will be music to your ears.

Galaxy Z Flip 4 with AOD on

Measuring just 84.9 x 71.9 x 17mm when folded, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 should fit into not just pants pockets (both men’s and women’s), but even the smaller breast pockets in jackets or button-down shirts. It’s also petite enough to fit into most women’s purses. Unfold the device and you have a vivid 6.7-inch OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate; close it up and the 1.9-inch screen allows you to keep up to date with notifications.

We adore the two-tone finish and find the Galaxy Z Flip 4 to be one of the best-looking phones of the year so far. Of course, Flex Mode is here too for easy hands-free selfies.

Galaxy Z Flip 4 with screen partially folded and camera open

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 offers a dual-12MP camera system that can capture sharp and vibrant images, although the lack of a zoom lens entirely will be noticeable for those who jump over from a recent flagship slab smartphone.

Performance is no issue thanks to the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 and 8GB of RAM. The new Qualcomm chip is very battery efficient, so even the relatively small 3,700 mAh battery here will be able to go all day — provided you’re not going too crazy with the cameras. You can also top up the phone wired or wirelessly.

Oh who are we kidding, you will want to use the cameras, because Flex Mode makes them so fun to play with. Whether it’s taking photos with friends without needing someone to hold the camera, or recording time-lapse videos anywhere as long as you have a flat surface, the Flip 4’s cameras are made better because of the phone’s foldable structure.

Samsung also improved the software for the outer “Cover Display,” allowing users to open any app on the smaller 1.9-inch display. Sure, some apps will look silly in the cramped space, but other apps will benefit from it. You can, for example, scroll through your Spotify playlist directly from the outside screen. Overall, the Flip 4 is an iterative refinement to already an excellent small foldable.

    The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is the ideal phone for those who want something more pocketable -- and more stylish.

Also Great Compact Foldable Phone: Huawei Mate XS 2

Huawei Mate XS 2

The Huawei Mate XS 2 isn’t a clamshell-style foldable so it’s nowhere near as compact as the Galaxy Z Flip 4. But compared to other large screen foldables — and with a 7.8-inch display, this phone belongs in that category — the Mate XS 2 can be considered compact. Weighing just 255g and measuring 11.1mm in thickness, the Huawei Mate XS 2 is barely heavier and thicker than big slab phone with a case.

Those who are familiar with smartphones should know that the Mate XS 2 is not a new design, but an iterative update on the original Mate X. But that original phone was noticeably heavier at 300g — so how did Huawei shred so much weight? By shrinking the screen slightly (7.8-inches compared to the original’s 8-inches) and using lighter, aerospace-grade aluminum all around the backside.

Huawei Mate Xs 2

When the Mate XS 2 is folded, it feels most like a normal slab phone than any other large foldable, so those who find the Galaxy Z Fold series too thick and heavy may like this. The rest of the hardware is almost top-notch too, with a beautiful OLED panel that’s covered by four layers of protective coating, a rock-solid hinge that stays in place, and an above-average camera system for a foldable phone.

If you’re concerned about the main display constantly being exposed due to the outer fold nature, Huawei has addressed that a bit with a case that covers the back of the phone when it’s folded, and slips off relatively easily to let the phone unfold. It’s still not a flawless solution, as this case adds an extra action before you can unfold the Mate XS 2, but at least it offers a bit more protection. The case is also part of the phone’s packaging — no extra purchase required.

However, there are a couple of major caveats. This phone, like all recent Huawei releases, cannot run Google Mobile Services. It’s also running on a last-gen 4G-only version of the Snapdragon 888. Both of these are not small setbacks, so interested consumers need to really think about this purchase. Still, as a concept, the Mate XS 2 is a nice alternative to other inner folding foldable devices.

    The Huawei Mate XS 2 is the lightest large screen foldable around.

Best Nostalgic Foldable: Motorola Razr 2022

motorola razr 2022

If you’re older than, say, 37, you may have pined for a Motorola Razr at some time around 2003 or 2004 — that was when the ultra-thin clamshell was arguably the coolest cell phone on the market. If you still remember those days fondly, then Motorola’s new age Razr clamshell foldable will bring back the nostalgia for you. The new 2022 model, which is only selling in China, for now, improves on the previous models significantly, with a more ergonomic design that shrinks the chin bezel, and brings along a sturdier hinge.

In fact, the Motorola Razr 2022 makes the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s hardware looks slightly outdated. The Razr, for example, can fold completely flat. There isn’t a harsh crease in the display. And the outside cover screen, at 2.7-inches, shows much more content than the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s screen. You can actually use the Razr even in folded forms to do many smartphone tasks.

Unfolded, the Razr feels like a modern slab phone, with a 6.7-inch OLED display in a more conventional 20:9 aspect ratio. All the iconic Motorola elements are here, from the sleek jet black coating to the Motorola logo. You can even use software to turn the bottom half of the phone screen to resemble the original Razr’s dial pad.

Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, with 8GB or 12GB of RAM along with 256GB or 128GB of memory. For optics, you have a strong 50MP main camera with a 1/1.55-inch image sensor, along with a 13MP ultra-wide camera. A 32MP selfie camera burrows itself underneath the main folding display. But if you want higher quality selfies, you may want to shoot with the main camera, using the smaller screen as a viewfinder.

With a thickness of just 7.6mm (unfolded) and 200g in weight, the Motorola Razr is compact and lightweight and a very easy phone to carry. And best of all, it will bring back the early 2000s for many of us.

    The Motorola Razr 2022 is a clamshell foldable that one ups the Galaxy Z Flip 4 in several areas. However, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 still has more polished software.

Foldable Phone with the Best Cameras: Huawei Mate X2

The Huawei Mate X2's screen unfolded

Despite the Huawei Mate X2 being well over a year and a half old now, we still have to give this title to this phone, because it is still to this date the only foldable to cram a 10X Periscope zoom lens into the main system. On top of that, the main camera sensor here has a huge 1/1.28-inch image sensor — also the largest in the foldable scene by far. These two combos essentially give the Mate X2 a camera system that can rival the top modern slab phones. The Galaxy Z Fold 4’s cameras are very good but you can’t beat a large sensor and Periscope zoom lens.

Mate X2's camera array

There are other areas in which the Mate X2 one-up’s the Galaxy Z Fold 4 too, including the fact the Mate X2 can fold completely flat without a noticeable gap. The screen hinge is also less noticeable.

But it comes down to the camera — the Mate X2’s system is in a class of its own in the foldable category.

Unfortunately, there are three major obstacles that prevent the Mate X2 from being a viable purchase for most readers. The first is that due to the ongoing US sanctions, the Huawei Mate X2 can’t run Google Mobile Services. The second is the Mate X2 has a whopping retail price of $2,700 and is only sold in China. Finally, the Mate X2, being one of the oldest devices on this list, is running on a Kirin 9000 SoC that isn’t quite the highest-end processor today. Still, the Mate X2 can be considered something of a collector’s item, as it’s one of the very last phones to ship with a flagship Kirin chip. Due to US sanctions, Huawei has no longer been able to manufacture flagship silicon.

The Huawei Mate X2 using the main camera system as a selfie camera

If you have the money to spare and don’t mind not being able to run YouTube or Google Docs (among other Google apps), the Huawei Mate X2 is the foldable with the best camera system around — even nearly 18 months after release.

Best Value Foldable Phone: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

The next phone on this list, the Xiaomi Mix Fold 2, is probably a better value in a vacuum, but that phone is only officially sold in China, and importing increases cost plus loses warranty, so for most readers, the best value foldable right now is probably the Galaxy Z Fold 3. It’s no longer on sale officially from Samsung, but you can find it on Amazon or other retailers for under $1,000, which is over 40% cheaper than the Fold 4.

Yes, buying the older Fold means you lose out on the upgraded cameras and the awesome Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, but the cameras and processor here are still no slouch.  Samsung’s computational photography still does enough to offset this older camera hardware. The Snapdragon 888, even in 2022, is more than good enough to meet most people’s needs. Even for heavy gaming or video editing, the Snapdragon 888 is fine; if your phone usage is mostly just social media, chat and emails? You won’t have to worry at all.

The Fold 3 still features the large 7.6-inch OLED folding screen, and a 6.5-inch OLED outside screen that allows the phone to turn from tablet to phone back to tablet at the blink of an eye. The hinge is super steady, allowing you to fold and unfold over and over without worry. You still get IPX8 water resistance, and the body of the Fold 3 is still using Samsung’s toughened aluminum, which the company calls “Armor Aluminum.”

Flex Mode is still here, as is S-Pen support. So really, if you want to save a bit, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is still a very capable foldable to buy in 2022, and only loses out to the Z Fold 4 in areas like zoom photography, low light photography, and a bulkier hinge.

With Samsung guaranteeing at least four years of Android updates, you can buy a year-old Fold 3 and know it’ll still be supported for at least another three years. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 was one of our absolute favorite phones of 2021, and even in 2022, it still holds up very well. We think buying a year old Fold may be the best way for fans who are intrigued by foldables but find the price too high to dabble in the market before foldable prices (hopefully) drops.

    The Galaxy Z Fold 3 may be a year old, but it's still very capable, and right now on Amazon, it can be had for below $1,000, making it quite a good deal.

Also great value Foldable Phone: Xiaomi Mix Fold 2

Xiaomi Mix Fold 2

The Xiaomi Mix Fold 2, with a China retail price of 8,999 yuan ($1,310), is technically the best value phone on this list, because you’re getting modern 2022 components for this price. But, as we said, it’s only selling officially inside China, so importing will add another $200 to it at least.

Still, if you’re open to it, the Mix Fold 2 is an awesome foldable for this price. Xiaomi somehow managed to shave significant bulk off the Mix Fold 2,  getting the thickness — or shall we say “thinness” — to 5.4mm when unfolded, and 11.2mm when folded. The Mix Fold 2 also weighs just 262g, making it the lightest and thinnest large inner foldable on the market.

Xiaomi Mix Fold 2

Mix Fold 2

The Mix Fold 2 is powered by a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 with 12GB of RAM. The large folding display is an 8-inch LTPO 2.0 OLED panel, with the outside smaller screen coming in at 6.5-inches. Unlike Samsung’s foldables, the Mix Fold 2’s outer display is in a more conventional 20:9 aspect ratio, which, when paired with the 11.2mm thickness, makes for an in-hand feel that’s very similar to a normal phone.

For optics, the Mix Fold 2 features a triple camera system headlined by a 50MP main camera, a 12MP ultra-wide, and an 8MP 2X telephoto zoom lens. Xiaomi says Leica also helped fine-tuned colors science, owing to the two company’s partnership.

Elsewhere, the Mix Fold 2’s 4,500 mAh battery can power the device all day thanks to the efficient SoC. However, unlike most foldables on this list, the Mix Fold 2’s hinge cannot stay midrange in place. This means the phone cannot serve as its own tripod and shoot hands-free the way the Galaxy Z Fold 4 or Vivo X Fold can.

Most Obscure Foldable Phone for Collectors: Royole FlexPai 2

The Royole FlexPai 2 in hand

Most people shouldn’t buy the Royole FlexPai 2. It’s sold only in China, it’s made by a smaller company without the track record and reputation of a Huawei or Xiaomi, it’s got a more fragile design than everything else on this list, and the phone can’t run Google Mobile Services.

But if you’re a diehard tech enthusiast — let’s say you’re a collector, or maybe a foldable phone historian — the FlexPai 2 may be of interest because Royole actually beat Samsung and Huawei to the market with a foldable phone (the original FlexPai), and the company has said it will keep making foldable phones.

Royole FlexPai 2 folded front side

Plus, the FlexPai 2’s hardware isn’t bad at all. The phone utilizes an outside fold design in which the flexible OLED screen wraps around the device when folded, the device folds completely flat and is noticeably thinner than the Galaxy Z Fold 2.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 vs Royole FlexPai 2 -- Hinge and Gap

When unfolded, you get a 7.8-inch OLED display that looks good, but not great. It refreshes only at 60Hz and feels more plasticky than other foldables. The 64MP main camera does a surprisingly decent job, but the other cameras, including the 16MP ultra-wide and 8MP telephoto, fall apart in less-than-ideal lighting conditions. The cameras aren’t terrible per se, they’re just the worse on this list. Software is also below par, with a wonky split-screen mode, though the Snapdragon 865 keeps things running zippily.

Royole FlexPai 2 back

I’m also not sure about the outside fold design that sees the screen exposed at all times. This is the route Huawei went for a couple of years before completely backtracking and going with the inward-folding route. Still, the FlexPai 2 looks really cool — I like the silver aluminum metallic finish.

More foldables are coming soon – Here’s what to expect

As we said at the beginning, foldables are the future of the mobile industry. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 do an excellent job of addressing some of those concerns from foldable skeptics, while the Vivo X Fold and Xiaomi Mix Fold 2 show off what is possible in terms of adding the latest components or slimming down in size.

Personally, we love both the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4, as well as the Oppo Find N. The Vivo X Fold is a contender too but the software needs more polish. The good news is there will be more foldables coming, with Google rumored to launch one eventually, and other Chinese brands working on follow-ups to devices on this list.

About author

Ben Sin
Ben Sin

I'm a senior editor at XDA Developers. I have been a journalist for a decade, the last five years covering the mobile tech scene closely, reviewing just about every phone and attending trade shows and launches. I also run a gadget review channel on YouTube.

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