Galaxy Z Fold 2 Ongoing Review Day 2: Is it a laptop replacement?
Welcome to day 2 of our ongoing review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2. In today’s episode, we look at how it functions as a laptop replacement, while in day 1, we went through initial thoughts around the on-screen keyboard, the hinge and more!
Maybe it’s the workaholic in me, but I’ve always wanted a portable, lightweight device off which I can work anywhere, anytime. In years past that meant either a laptop or a smartphone. The former isn’t pocketable, and the latter lacks screen space. The promise of foldable phones and foldable devices is general is that, if done right, it can offer that happy medium.
For my second day with the Galaxy Z Fold 2, I decided to make it my main work machine and see if the device lives up to that promise. After a whole day, I’d say it does — in fact, I am writing this sentence on the Fold 2 right now.
I have a bit of help though, in the form of a foldable hardware keyboard. With it connected — and the on-screen keyboard out of the way — I can type away at close to the same speeds as if I was working on a laptop. But even if I didn’t have a hardware keyboard, I can still type much faster on it than I could a phone due to the larger, more spaced out onscreen keyboard.
During my day 1 impressions, I mentioned the dilemma that Gboard does not offer a split option, which makes it slightly unwieldy to use on the Fold 2’s 7.6-inch screen. SwiftKey (and Samsung’s native keyboard) does give the option to split, but I generally prefer to use Gboard due to what I feel is superior autocorrect and support for Cantonese, a version of Chinese I grew up speaking.
Still, after a day of being forced to use SwiftKey because I really want split keyboard typing, I must say it’s grown on me. For one, the autocorrect of SwiftKey is better than I thought (or perhaps it’s improved since the last time I used it years ago). I also enjoy the option to freely resize the keyboard height, whereas Gboard gives you six pre-set keyboard sizes.
There’s also the option to lay the Fold 2 down on a desk, with the top half bent at 90-degrees, and peck away like it’s a mini laptop. I find this typing method slightly cramped because I’m using eight fingers; I prefer thumb typing on a split keyboard instead.
My morning routine consists of checking emails, various news feeds, and messaging colleagues and contacts via either Slack, WeChat, or WhatsApp. I’m happy to report that all three apps can run in spit-screen mode on the Fold 2, although Slack feels a bit cramped due to its multi-paned layout.
There is one app I use often that doesn’t quite work on the Fold 2: Adobe Lightroom. For some reason, Samsung’s One UI forces Lightroom into a 16:9 aspect ratio on the full screen, with major pillar-boxing on the sides. This effectively makes editing photos nearly impossible due to editing bar taking up most of the horizontal space. Curiously, this app works fine on the original Galaxy Fold. I’m confident this Lightroom issue should be fixed as the software gets refine.
In the afternoon I had to ship a review unit back to a company, which had kindly provided a UPS return shipping label, so that all I needed to do was bring the package to a UPS office and let them scan the barcode on the label.
Usually, showing a large piece of information like a shipping label on a smartphone screen to a clerk in Asia is asking for trouble — chances are they’re not too tech-savvy and annoyed to have to scroll and swipe to see the full piece of information. Not with the Fold 2’s large screen, however. I handed the UPS guy my device with the shipping label and he was able to scan and process the shipping directly from my Fold’s screen. I must admit, handing a stranger a $2,000 device had me a bit nervous.
It started raining on my way out the UPS office, and while I know the Fold 2 doesn’t have official IP water resistance rating, I decided to brave it anyway to navigate to my next spot for a meeting. The Fold 2 didn’t miss a beat despite being exposed to minor rain.
In the late afternoon, I used the Fold to watch a live stream of Huawei’s Developer Conference keynote on YouTube while chatting on Slack with my XDA colleagues. Then I continued to work in the back of a cab as I rushed home.
Battery life has been impressive, considering I have been using the device all day. I left the house with the Fold 2 fully charged at 10:05am, and by 8:30pm as of time of this writing I still have 38% battery life. This should be enough juice to last me through the rest of the night.
One last note: the Galaxy Z Fold 2, with its slightly wider dimensions (5.05-inches) and heavier weight (9.97oz) is a bit tiring to hold with one hand for extended periods of time. But it’s still a heck of a lot lighter than any of my previous portable work machines.
And that’s what makes foldables – or dual-screened devices like the Microsoft Duo – so exciting: it is more than just a phone, but a mini computer that we can use to make the occasional phone calls.
Join me tomorrow for day three as I explore the cameras and the unique methods with which you can shoot — including the different camera modes and shooting selfie style vlogs with the main camera system.
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