These are the folding phones worth bending over backwards for (2023)

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In the space of just a few short years, folding smartphones have gone from a science-fiction concept to a viable, real-world product. But despite their booming popularity, even the best are still niche, expensive, and rarely spotted in the wild. Not quite mainstream, but no longer just a gimmick, foldables are the unicorns of the phone world.

So what’s the point of a folding phone? Well, book-style foldable phones let you use your device as usual on the front of the phone until you need a bigger screen, at which point you can unfold it to the size of a small tablet. This is great for watching movies and TV shows on the go, opening two or more apps side by side, or making more effective use of your email inbox with preview panes.

There are also clamshell-style folding phones. These are closer to the size of regular smartphones when fully unfolded, but fold down to half the size so that they can easily slip into a bag or pocket.

All share some drawbacks, however. Because the screen physically bends around a hinge, there’s an unavoidable crease across the display that can be seen under bright lights and be felt beneath your fingertip when scrolling. Newer folding phones are better at reducing this seam, but no phone has managed to eradicate it entirely. And because flexible displays use a combination of ultra-thin glass and plastic, they’re way more prone to being scratched.

Whichever style draws your attention, there’s actually not a whole lot of choice when shopping for folding phones in the UK. Samsung makes the best folding phones right now, producing three generations of the book-style (Galaxy Z fold), and two of the clamshell-style (Galaxy Z flip). But rivals Huawei and Motorola are catching up with innovative and eye-catching designs of their own.

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If you’re looking for a phone that stands out from the crowd of boring black rectangles, then check out the best folding phones of 2022.

How we tested

We tested each phone for a number of weeks by swapping them out for our regular devices, using them for activities like everyday web browsing and social media as well as more productivity-focused tasks.

We paid particular attention to each phone’s moving parts to gauge how likely they were to collect dirt and dust around the hinge and under the folding screen, but as these phones are still so new, determining the longevity of these devices will take more long-term testing.

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The best folding phones in 2022 are:

  • Best Samsung folding phone – Samsung Galaxy Z fold 3: £1,599,
  • Best compact folding phone – Samsung Galaxy Z flip 3: £949,
  • Best flip phone – Motorla razr 5G: £1,299,
  • Best display – Huawei mate xs: £2,299.99,
  • Best for business – Microsoft surface duo 2: £1,349,
  • Best budget folding phone – Samsung Galaxy Z fold 2: £579.99,

Samsung Galaxy Z fold 3

Best: Samsung folding phone

Rating: 8/10

  • Weight: 271g
  • Dimensions: 158.2mm x 128.1mm x 6.4mm (unfolded), 158.2mm x 67.1mm x ~15mm (folded)
  • Display: 7.6in, AMOLED, 120Hz (unfolded), 6.2in AMOLED, 120Hz (folded)
  • Battery: 4,400mAh with 25W fast charging
  • Camera (rear): 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP wide, 12MP telephoto with 2x optical zoom
  • Camera (front): 4MP (unfolded), 10MP (folded)
  • Storage: 256GB/512GB
  • Memory: 12GB

Samsung boldly pioneered the first mainstream folding phone with the original Samsung Galaxy Z fold in 2019. The first generation iteration was predictably flawed, prone to damage and notorious for collecting debris between the flexible glass and the phone’s display. But two generations later and Samsung finally has a folding phone we can recommend to anyone interested in the form factor.

The Samsung Galaxy Z fold 3 is a powerful 5G smartphone with S-Pen stylus support and a giant, beautiful, unfolding screen. The opening and closing action feels sturdy, the camera is decent, the display looks amazing and is well-protected against dirt and damage.

As with any folding phone, the software lags behind the potential offered by the hardware. Not many Android apps take full advantage of the folding design, but the extra screen space allows for seamless multitasking and comfortable full-screen web browsing.

Read the full Samsung Galaxy Z fold 3 review

Samsung Galaxy Z flip 3

Best: Compact folding phone

Rating: 8/10

  • Weight: 183g
  • Dimensions (folded): 86.4mm x 72.2mm x 15.9-17.1mm
  • Dimensions (unfolded): 166mm x 72.2mm x 6.9mm
  • Display: 6.7in internal, 1.9in external
  • Battery: 3300mAh, six hours battery life
  • Camera (rear): 12MP f/1.8, 12MP f/2.2
  • Camera (front): 10MP f/2.4
  • Storage: 128GB built-in
  • Memory: 8GB (RAM)

Where the Galaxy Z fold 3 (£1,599, opens up like a book, the Galaxy Z flip 3 opens like a clamshell. This means the 6.7in screen can fold down to roughly the size of a 3in-wide square, so you can confidently chuck it into a small bag or pocket without worrying about scratching the screen. And unlike the novel square display of the unfolded Galaxy Z fold 3, which most apps struggle to utilise, you get a taller screen that’s well-suited to vertically scrolling user interfaces. That is, you can see more social media posts at once – though whether that’s a good thing or not we’ll leave it up to you.

The lack of a telephoto lens and a middling battery life puts the Galaxy Z flip 3 firmly behind the likes of the Galaxy S22 or S21, but to compare this to Samsung’s flagship is missing the point. This is still a relatively powerful Android device, with a Snapdragon 888 CPU and 8GB of RAM offering more than enough performance for most users. The flexible OLED display has that characteristic plastickiness seen with all foldables, but as a Samsung-built screen it still offers luscious colours and contrast, as well as a smooth 120Hz refresh rate.

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The best clamshell folding phone you can buy (though there’s really not much competition since Motorola decided to delay production of its next foldable), the Galaxy Z flip 3 is a stylish, smartly designed device.

Read the full Samsung Galaxy Z flip 3 review

Motorola razr 5G

Best: Flip phone

Rating: 7/10

  • Weight: 192g
  • Dimensions (folded): 91.7mm x 72.6mm x 7.9mm
  • Dimensions (unfolded): 169.2mm x 72.6mm x 7.9mm
  • Display: 6.2in
  • Battery: 2800mAh
  • Camera (rear): 48MP
  • Camera (front): 20MP
  • Storage: 256GB
  • Memory: 8GB

There’s so much to love about the Motorola razr 5G. A recreation of the ubiquitous 2003 flip phone, it squeezes a folding 6.2in display into a device that collapses down into a pocket-sized square of retro-techy goodness. On the outside it has a second screen large enough for running apps as well as showing notifications, meaning you can quickly respond to messages, see who’s calling and even snap selfies without opening the phone up. Inside, you can have the bottom half of the phone show the original razr’s old-school keypad to complete the illusion.

To its credit, Motorola pioneered the “teardrop” style folding mechanism. When closed, other folding phones leave a tiny air gap at the hinge to allow room for the screen to curve 180 degrees without creating a hard crease. The razr uses a clever mechanism to enable it to shut completely without creasing or leaving a gap, a small detail that feels like the more optimal way to build a folding phone.

That said, the Motorola razr 5G is beginning to show its age. The 2021 upgrade to the Galaxy Z flip (£949, improved Samsung’s folding rival immensely, leaving Motorola’s 2020 device looking dusty by comparison. The camera is below average, the battery life is poor, and the price is sky-high. But if you’re into the nostalgia trip, there’s really no other phone we can recommend.

The Motorola razr 5G is available on phone plan at Vodafone (£41 monthly, £49 upfront,

Huawei mate xs

Best: Display

Rating: 6/10

  • Weight: 300g
  • Dimensions (folded): 161.3 x 78.5 x 11mm
  • Dimensions (unfolded): 161.3mm x 146.2mm x 5.4mm
  • Display: 8in main display, 6.6in cover display
  • Battery: 4500mAh
  • Camera (rear): 40MP (wide), 8MP (telephoto), 16MP (ultrawide)
  • Storage: 512GB
  • Memory: 8GB

We’re forever repeating the same caveat when it comes to Huawei phones, but here it is again for the uninitiated. Because of a trade spat between the US and China, the Chinese manufacturer is unable to use Google software and services on its mobile devices. That means familiar Android apps such as Google Maps, Drive, Gmail, Photos and the Play Store are all missing. And while Huawei’s own stand-in apps do a decent job they’re still far from perfect. Even installing popular US-built apps like Twitter and Instagram take a bit of fudging around in settings menus.

It’s a shame, because Huawei makes some of the best phone hardware in the world. The Huawei mate xs is the company’s second-generation folding phone, and it is gorgeous. The bright OLED flexible display wraps around the outside of the phone rather than being enclosed inside the fold, giving you an enormous square 8in canvas display when unfurled. Because the back of the phone is a screen when shut, the Huawei mate xs can do some fun tricks too, such as becoming a viewfinder for taking selfies with the main camera.

It’s also very thin at just 5.4mm at its narrowest edge, and because one half of the device nestles snugly into the other when closed, it’s not much thicker than an average phone when folded. The outside-folding does mean that scratches are inevitable – the entire phone is a screen after all – but the included bumper case helps alleviate the problem.

Read our round-up of the 6 best Huawei phones

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Microsoft surface duo 2

Best: For business

Rating: 6/10

  • Weight: 284g
  • Dimensions (folded): 145.2mm x 92.1mm x 11mm
  • Dimensions (unfolded): 184.5mm x 145.2mm x 5.5mm
  • Display: 8.3in AMOLED
  • Battery: 4449mAh
  • Camera (rear): 12MP (wide), 12MP (telephoto), 16MP (ultrawide)
  • Camera (front): 12MP
  • Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
  • Memory: 8GB

Technically speaking, the surface duo 2 is a dual-screen phone rather than a true folding phone. This means that when the phone is unfolded, you don’t get a seamless widescreen display. Instead you’re seeing two screens side-by-side, with a visible gap between. This is fine for productivity tasks – for example, you can use a desktop-style interface in Outlook with your inbox on the left screen and your open emails on the right – but it’s less than ideal for watching entertainment.

Another benefit of splitting the screen in half is that the surface duo 2 can be opened 360 degrees to be used like a regular phone. In this formation, the phone is shorter and wider than most, which makes navigating tricky as your thumb can’t reach the opposite side of the screen.

Still, the surface duo 2 is an interesting proposition and a powerful folding phone in its own right. The 90Hz displays feel fast and responsive, the cameras are decent, and a growing number of Android apps are taking advantage of the display configurations possible.

Samsung Galaxy Z fold 2 5G

Best: Budget folding phone

Rating: 7/10

  • Weight:282g
  • Dimensions (folded): 159.2mm x 68mm x 13.8-16.8mm
  • Dimensions (unfolded): 159.2mm x 128.2mm x 6.9mm
  • Display: 7.6in main display, 6.23in cover display
  • Battery: 4500mAh
  • Camera (rear): 12MP (wide), 12MP (telephoto), 12MP (ultrawide)
  • Camera (front): 10MP
  • Storage: 256GB,512GB
  • Memory: 12GB

The previous generation Samsung Galaxy Z fold 2 is still available to buy refurbished, and while it lacks some of the refinements of the latest model it remains a great folding phone and an affordable alternative to the Galaxy Z fold 3. It uses a 60Hz refresh rate for the outer screen rather than 120Hz, it doesn’t have S-Pen stylus support, and it uses a traditional punch-hole style selfie camera rather than the novel under-screen camera introduced by the newest model. It also lacks the IPX8 water resistance of the third-generation phone, so you’ll need to be a little more careful by the pool.

Otherwise, this is still a sprightly and responsive phone with full software support, a fantastic screen and all of the major improvements to the folding mechanism made since the original Galaxy Z fold launched. If you can find a good deal on the Galaxy Z fold 2, you’ll find this folding phone is far from over the hill.

We found out which is the best Samsung phone in 2022?

The verdict: Folding phones

The best foldable phone is undoubtedly the Samsung Galaxy Z fold 3. Building on the hard lessons learned from pioneering one of the first truly mainstream folding phones in 2019, Samsung has produced an innovative and distinctive-looking smartphone that we can confidently recommend to anyone even faintly interested in the form factor.

The clamshell-style Samsung Galaxy X flip 3 is also highly recommended for anyone looking for a fashion-first Android phone that doesn’t compromise on performance or functionality. Available in a range of customisable colourways, it’s as much an accessory as it is a great piece of tech.

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