The Best Folding Phones in 2023

Remember the days when text messages and Snake on your Nokia 3310 were two of the most exciting things a phone could manage? We do, too. Fast-forward two decades and we have in-display fingerprint scanners, bezel-free displays, under-display cameras, plus a whole different take on slider and flip phones.


Flip phones were once slim, compact and hinged devices. Now, flip phones have morphed into these foldable phones with actual bendable screens. That tends to bring the potential for huge price tags, to get hold of a piece of this magic.

Here are the devices leading the foldable smartphone trend.

Our Top Picks: Best Foldable Phone

Pocket-lint

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

1. Best overall foldable

Best overall

The Z Flip stands out because it’s a pretty, cute phone that folds really small to make it easy to carry around. It’s as much fashion item as it is tech.

Pros

  • Improved build quality and hinge
  • Bright, vibrant display
  • Cute, compact design with waterproofing
  • Flex mode enhances software experience
Cons

  • Crease and screen reflection issues
  • Display durability over time still a concern
  • Cover screen could be more useful

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 features a more refined design compared to its predecessors – the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 5G – with a more durable hinge and frame design, making it feel more sturdy.

Like the Galaxy Z Fold 4, the Z Flip 3 has waterproofing too. The cover display is still small, and a little limited in functionality, but the internal display is a fantastic, vibrant panel with 120Hz adaptive refresh rates.

The camera specifications are good this time, as are the RAM and storage options and the battery capacity, plus with the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 onboard, you get fast and efficient performance too.

Other foldable phones we recommend

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 won’t be the phone for everyone, and there are plenty of other models and styles to choose from, with more manufacturers joining the flexible smartphone market all the time and each with their benefits.

Moto RAZR 40 Ultra outer screen

Motorola Razr 40 Ultra

2. Best cover screen

(Also known as Razr+ in the US)

Motorola’s latest Razr – known as the Razr+ in North America – has a big outer screen that’s really useful, plus speedy performance, great battery and it’s a sensible price.

Pros

  • Big cover screen is really useful
  • Clean, bloat-free software
  • Great battery life
Cons

  • Only IP52 water resistant
  • Software could be better optimised for folding screen

We were really torn between the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and the Moto Razr 40 Ultra (Razr+) in first place, both have strengths, but in the end the Samsung pipped it for its better software optimisation and better cameras in testing. With that said, we still like the latest flagship Motorola – a lot. The clean, bloat-free software is a breath of fresh air, and it has the flagship power and performance you’d want from a top-tier phone. What’s more – for a clamshell foldable – the battery life is very good, comfortably lasting a full day even with a lot of screen usage.

The big draw is the large cover screen on the outside. It’s great for taking selfies and surprisingly convenient for reading (and replying to) messages on the fly, meaning you don’t have to open the phone for every interaction like you do with the Z Flip 4.

best samsung phones galaxy s note and a compared photo 28
Pocket-lint

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

3. Best book-style foldable

It’s all about refinement

$1700 $1910 Save $210

More of a refinement than a reinvention when compared with last year’s Z Fold 3, the latest foldable is greatly improved in some crucial areas.

Pros

  • One of the most impressive-looking foldables around
  • S Pen compatibility
  • Speedy performance and good software
Cons

  • The under-panel camera isn’t great
  • The usual crease and screen reflection gripes

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 succeeds the Galaxy Z Fold 3, bringing a few small – but important – improvements over the older model. The design and hinge were upgraded to make the phone more durable and long-lasting. Samsung also increased the width of the front display, making it closer to a regular smartphone ratio. It’s still quite narrow, but it’s an improvement nonetheless. Add to that a decent triple camera system with great zoom, a vibrant 120Hz display, the convenience of S Pen support and Flex mode software optimisations and you have an epic multitasking machine. All of this is built on the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset, which is an incredibly fast and efficient platform.

Pixel Fold

Google Pixel Fold

4. Best cameras on a foldable

The Pixel Fold takes Google’s phones in a new direction, embracing the next-gen screen tech and presenting a premium PIxel option. It’s a great quality phone, but it’s clear there’s still work to be done on app optimisation to enhance the experience.

Pros

  • Great camera results
  • External display is very usable
  • Design is very premium, durable
Cons

  • It’s expensive
  • Still waiting on some software optimisation
  • Middling battery life

Despite owning the Android platform, it took a little while for Google to finally launch its own foldable. And when it did, it took a completely different approach to most other manufacturers. In a similar move to the Find N2, Google opted for a book-style foldable that was relatively short, but wide. It’s very different to the long, narrow Z Fold 4 from Samsung. That does mean you get a big, usable screen on the outside though, and in our testing it quickly became the one thing that set it apart from the others. We’d use it just as often – if not more so – than the internal display, because there really is no compromise. It’s not cramped, it’s easy to type on and even works for video and games.

The Pixel Fold also has a similar camera set up to the Pixel 7 Pro, which is to say, that – as a system – the Pixel has the best cameras of any foldable on the market. It snaps shots easily, is quick and delivers sharp, colourful results in any condition, even nighttime. Its only real issue – apart from the fact it doesn’t open completely flat – is that software optimisation isn’t quite where it should be for the wide internal display. There’s very much a sense that the UI experience is a bit rough around the edges. It’s also really expensive.

Oppo Find N2 Flip in hand open

Oppo Find N2 Flip

5. Fastest charging clamshell

King of the flips

The Oppo Find N2 Flip gets a lot right, offering an interesting vertical cover display, a big, bright internal display and 44W fast charging in a neat, pocketable package that doesn’t cost the earth.

Pros

  • Big vertical display on the cover
  • Main display crease is almost invisible
  • Gapless design when shut
  • Flagship power from Mediatek
Cons

  • Cover display functionality is limited
  • Ultrawide camera could be a lot better
  • No IP rated water resistance

It’s safe to say Oppo thought about things very differently from its competitors with the Find N2 Flip. Yes, you still get a portable, foldable clamshell that slips easily into a pocket, but you also get an unusual vertical display on the front which makes a lot of sense in specific scenarios. It’s essentially a mini smartphone display and is great for lists, message inboxes and recording vertical videos.

Marry that with a phone that has a brilliant internal display, an almost invisible crease in the display and a gapless design, and it’s a really tempting offering, especially at this price point. As an extra kicker – you get 44W wired charging – delivering a full charge in about an hour.

Honor Magic VS stood open on a desk

Pocket-lint

Honor Magic Vs

6. The best big external display

A no compromise folding phone

Honor’s foldable flagship has powerful internals and two big, vibrant displays. It folds flush too, offering a very different experience to the Galaxy Z Fold. 

Pros

  • Big front screen
  • Powerful flagship specs
  • Big internal display that folds flush
  • Fast charging
Cons

  • No wireless charging
  • Slight crease on the internal display
  • It’s a big phone

Honor’s flagship foldable takes a similar approach to its former parent company, Huawei’s. It’s a really big device with a large flexible display on the inside and a full-sized screen on the outside. You get lots of screen real estate then, and both displays offer a great visual experience. It folds flush, which is a big draw, and has some impressive specifications. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 runs the show, and Honor’s Android skin comes with all the proper Play Store compatibility. It’s a great option for those who want a big screened foldable.

huawei mate x3

Huawei Mate X3

7. The curve ball option

Sublime hardware and cameras

Huawei’s flagship folding phone has incredible cameras and stunning hardware design. If it was based on hardware alone, it’d be our top recommendation.

Pros

  • Stunning design – it’s unbelievably slim
  • Really good displays
  • Probably the best cameras on any foldable
Cons

  • No Google Play services
  • It’s really expensive

Let’s get the two major elephants out of the room first: yes, it’s expensive and no, it doesn’t have Google Play Services. But there’s many a reason we think the Mate X3 deserves a mention, even if it’s just an honourable mention at the end of a list. The hardware design is – without doubt – the nicest we’ve laid our hands on. The slimness seems almost impossible and – combined with the fake leather back – make it really comfortable to hold. It’s also got a wonderful pair of screens and – probably – the best camera of any foldable phone.

Lacking Google Play isn’t the hurdle it used to be. Apps that aren’t on the Huawei’s App Gallery are available to download as APKs through Petal Search which now also informs you when there are updates available to download, so that process feels more user-friendly than it was. What’s more, there’s a suite of Microsoft apps, including Outlook and Edge, available in place of Gmail and Chrome. There are still some hurdles, and some apps you’ll struggle to get hold of, so you still need to look into that to see if you’re missing anything crucial.

Unlike standard smartphones, however, missing apps isn’t the major inconvenience it could be. Plenty of services are available as web services, and accessible through the browser, and that method can be beneficial on the almost tablet-sized display on the inside.

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