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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review: Waiting on the world to change – Engadget

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Samsung wasn’t technically the first company to unveil a foldable phone, but the Galaxy Fold was the first device to demonstrate what foldables could be. And then we reviewers broke them. After that, Samsung seemed to buckle down. It acknowledged its faults, fortified key elements of the Fold’s design, and followed up with the impressive Galaxy Z Flip earlier this year. Now, amid plenty of turmoil, comes the $2,000 Galaxy Z Fold 2 — and it’s at least a little ridiculous.

This is, after all, an extravagantly expensive sequel to a troubled first attempt. Many people can’t buy this phone, and many more almost certainly don’t need to. If nothing else, though, the Fold 2 offers a more polished glimpse of what the future of our phones can be, and what people have to look forward to once these devices become more affordable and mainstream. That’s because it’s the finest foldable I’ve used yet, and Samsung deserves credit for ironing out many of the issues that plagued the original. The thing you need to keep in mind, though, is that while the hardware is miles better than it used to be, the ecosystem around it still has a long way to go.

Engadget Score


Poor


Uninspiring


Good


Excellent

Key

Pros
  • It’s a tablet AND a phone!
  • Both displays are bigger and better
  • Improved design and build quality
  • Solid performance
Cons
  • Extravagantly expensive
  • Multitasking isn’t intuitive
  • Many apps aren’t optimized for tablets/foldables

Summary

With the Galaxy Z Fold 2, Samsung might just have the first great foldable. Its design has been fortified significantly. Both of its screens are bigger and better than before. It uses the fastest smartphone processor you’ll find in an Android phone today. And best of all, the Fold 2 is even more capable than the last one. When it comes to hardware, Samsung did a fantastic job. But the future of devices like isn’t just about hardware. Some of Samsung’s software choices continue to confuse, and getting the most of the Fold 2 requires plenty of time and effort. Beyond that, lingering app compatibility issues mean devices like the Fold 2 still feel inconsistent. Samsung did the hard work of making hardware that’s worth using — now we just need developers to start taking these things seriously.


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Configurations

In the United States, the Z Fold 2 comes in just one configuration, with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. What the Fold 2 lacks in flexible storage options, though, it attempts to make up for with flair. The phone is available from AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon in the standard black and bronze finishes, but if you order one straight from Samsung, you have the option of customizing the color of your phone’s hinge. Red, blue, gold and silver are all up for grabs — just know that if you plan to pre-order a Fold 2 soon, choosing a custom hinge color may delay the phone’s arrival.

What you get, what you don’t

The first Galaxy Fold was marketed as innovation incarnate, a taste of tomorrow’s tech — if one only available to the well-heeled. This time, Samsung is leaning more heavily into the luxe angle, though not always in the ways you’d expect.

As part of the Fold 2’s “VIP” experience, you’ll get access to service reps trained specifically to deal with the foldable and its quirks. While certainly welcome, this is nothing new — Samsung extended the same courtesy to owners of the original model. What is new is the bevy of flashy perks that come with Fold 2 ownership, including Michelin-starred takeout meals through a service called Tock, a complimentary round of golf, a $50 credit toward in-home hair service (which sounds like a terrible idea to me but whatever), and a year-long membership to FoundersCard, which offers travel and lifestyle benefits to entrepreneurs and now phone nerds.

The message here is clear: You’re not just a Fold 2 owner. You’re an Important Person. It’s a clever way for Samsung to justify the phone’s $2,000 price, but most people probably would have preferred getting more goodies in the box in the first place. While the first Fold came with a carbon fiber case and a pair of Samsung’s AKG-tuned Galaxy Buds, this year’s model comes with… a charger. Oh, and one of those SIM removal tools. The paucity of pack-ins here is a little surprising considering Samsung’s earlier largesse. For what it’s worth, you can request a pair of wired AKG earbuds, though it seems clear Samsung hopes you won’t bother.


Chris Velazco/Engadget

An improved design

Despite Samsung’s best intentions, the first Galaxy Fold left us with plenty of questions about the viability of foldable phones. Even if you put aside the whole “don’t-remove-that-screen-protector” thing, the Fold still had issues. The original hinges had gaps large enough to let schmutz inside. Its big, flexible screen didn’t well terribly well protected. And our second review unit developed a cluster of dead pixels. This year, things are different.

The first Galaxy Fold was chunky any way you looked at it, and this year’s version is technically even chunkier. It’s a little wider and a little heavier than the original, and it still feels like a fat remote control when it’s closed, but the plus side is it should be a lot more durable. The gaps on either side of the hinge are razor-thin, which should keep bits of debris from getting inside. And there are tiny brushes on the inside of the phone’s two halves, so when you open the Fold 2, they scrape along the outside of the hinge to push away out of the danger zone. You can even hear them at work sometimes as you start to unfold the phone.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review

Chris Velazco/Engadget

The hinge itself is also much tighter this time around, to the point where you can prop the Fold 2 open like a pseudo-laptop on a table. Samsung calls this Flex Mode, and I know what some of you are wondering: Yes, you can type on it like a laptop, but it’s not very enjoyable, and yes, you can still open the Fold 2 with one hand. It’s just a lot harder this time, which if nothing else means I can’t treat this thing like a fidget toy the way I could with the old one. I wouldn’t recommend trying unless you like the concerning feel of your thumbnail digging into the screen. Once open, you’ll also notice the small gaps at the top and bottom of the display remain capped to prevent stuff from slipping under the thin display layer. 

All of this should help keep the Fold 2 running reliably, but we’ve had our review unit for less than two weeks and can’t make any promises. In fact, you should still handle this thing with kid gloves. Like last time, the Fold 2 doesn’t carry an IP rating for water or dust resistance, so you just can’t be as cavalier with it as you would other phones. And while the internal display has been fortified with a layer of Samsung’s Ultra Thin Glass, I still shudder to think about what it would look like after a faceplant on asphalt. Unfortunately, I can’t offer any lasting reassurances about the Fold 2’s durability, since we’ve had our review unit for less than two weeks. (Don’t worry: we’ll keep you updated as we continue to test this thing.)

Chris Velazco/Engadget

Image credit: Chris Velazco/Engadget

A tale of two screens

The best thing the Z Fold 2 has going for it is its flexibility: It’s a standard, if really tall, smartphone when all you need is to idly flick through Twitter or make a call. When it’s time to put a dent in a novel or scour the next few weeks of your calendar, just open it up and click — you have a small tablet at your disposal. It sounds simple enough, but the reality is a bit different. That old saying about jacks of all trades comes to mind: the Z Fold 2 is good at playing phone and tablet, but it’s not amazing at either role. Sometimes that’s easy to accept; other times, it’s enough to make you wonder about the future of foldables.

To Samsung’s credit, it fixed just about everything I didn’t like about the first Galaxy Fold’s external display — and there was a lot I didn’t like. That original display was a relatively tiny 4.6-inch Super AMOLED panel that sat wedged between some of the biggest bezels I’d ever seen on a phone, and its narrow aspect ratio made using most apps frustrating at best. With the Z Fold 2, Samsung replaced that hokey screen with a 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED display that doesn’t just look great — it’s perfectly usable, too.

Gallery: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review | 27 Photos

The original Fold’s cover screen was best saved for the most momentary of interactions, but that’s just not the case here. More than anything, I’ve been surprised by how often I don’t open the Fold 2. Granted, the screen is still super narrow and can feel a little weird to use at first, but it lends itself well to scrolling through long passages of text and the occasional YouTube video. It’s even pretty helpful for catching up on my glut of group chats, though its limitations became very clear when it was time to respond to those messages.

Even after a week of practice, my stubby thumbs still struggle to hit the right keys while holding the phone in one hand. The fix is pretty simple, though: Just turn the Fold 2 on its side. Then, the keyboard fills the entirety of the screen, which usually leaves just enough room to see what I’m typing. I should also point out the external and internal displays use completely separate home screens, which leads to some interesting use cases. Personally, I’ve filled that outer screen with widgets to control my apartment’s Hue lights — when closed, the Fold 2 already kind of feels like a remote control, so I leaned into it. 

Oh, and in typical Samsung fashion, this screen looks fantastic too. I could gripe more about the screen’s dimensions or about how it only refreshes at 60Hz, but then I’d just be looking for nits to pick. It’s not ideal for every single task, and a wider screen would’ve helped a lot here — that would make the inner screen look like a widescreen tablet! — but the Fold 2 is a pleasantly functional smartphone even when it’s folded. 

Let’s be honest, though: If you’re reading this review, you’re probably more interested in the other screen. 

Chris Velazco/Engadget

Image credit: Chris Velazco/Engadget

Samsung improved on this internal display in just about every way that matters. Rather than use another awkwardly shaped notch to accommodate a front-facing camera, the company went with a much less obtrusive circular cutout. The bezels around the display have been dialed down, too, so Samsung could squeeze a slightly larger 7.6-inch panel into a body that’s basically the same size as the original. Like the Note 20 Ultra, this screen uses a variable refresh rate: When you’re reading an article or examining a photo, the Fold 2 saves battery life by refreshing the screen as little as ten times per second. And when you’re playing supported games, that refresh rate can ramp up to as much as 120Hz for super-smooth motion and animations. 

To top it all off, this thing is mostly beautiful, with all the deep blacks and vivid colors you’d expect from a Samsung screen. Everything appears plenty crisp thanks to the panel’s 2208×1768 resolution, and HDR10+ certification means movies look mostly excellent here too. (That is, as long as you don’t mind living with some serious letterboxing.)

Now, I say “mostly” beautiful because there are some things about this screen that Samsung couldn’t fix. For one, the jelly scrolling issues we first spotted in the original Fold are back, thanks to how Samsung’s engineers laid out the screen components. In case you haven’t heard of this delicious-sounding flaw before, it describes how one side moves of the display moves slightly faster than the other when scrolling vertically. Here’s the thing, though: Now that Samsung is using a new kind of screen, it’s barely noticeable when the display is set to run at a variable refresh rate. In other words, I don’t consider this a dealbreaker.


Chris Velazco/Engadget

Same goes for the screen’s crease, which you can see and feel as well as last time. Some people find it unacceptable; others don’t seem to mind very much. Both camps have their points, but here’s what happened to me: The first day, I couldn’t stop looking at it. Three days in, I only really noticed it when my thumbs grazed it. After a week, I forget it’s there nearly all the time. It’s just like the notch all over again.

Crease or not, this screen should be more durable than what we got the first time around. Like with the Z Flip before it, Samsung added a layer of its Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) to harden the Fold 2’s screen. This is a big deal for two reasons: First, it means this internal display should hold up more capably to everyday wear and tear. After all, you’re meant to be poking at this thing for years — the thought of doing that to the original Galaxy Fold and its soft inner screen was always sort of uncomfortable, but those concerns have mostly evaporated with the Fold 2. 

The second reason this UTG layer is important is because it should make the Fold 2’s big screen feel more like a regular tablet’s would. When you’re typing or multitasking at full tilt, the last thing you want to worry about is whether you’re being too hard on the screen. With this incredibly slim layer of glass in place, I didn’t worry about poking and prodding the way I did with the first Fold. Just note that I said Samsung’s UTG should feel more like a regular tablet — whether or not it actually does is entirely up to you.


Chris Velazco/Engadget

See, the Fold 2 ships with a gummy plastic screen protector already installed on that main display. It feels like the one the original Fold used, and caused a little extra friction as I swiped around the interface. Now, if this were my own phone and not a temporary loaner, I’d peel this screen protector off immediately. The thing is, Samsung really does not want you to do that. Despite spokespeople saying that the top plastic layer is removable, you’re warned multiple times after cracking open the box to leave it in place. 

Subsequent conversations with Samsung’s PR revealed that, yes, sure, you totally can remove the screen protector… as long as you let a Samsung technician or partner do it for you. Um, what? The company’s mixed advice here is confusing at best, but it seems clear that Samsung is trying to avoid a rehash of the last time people tried to peel the plastic off a Fold’s screen. I get the rationale, but honestly Samsung: Just pick a message and stick to it, will you?

Ultimately, I don’t think this is a huge issue. The best thing to do for the Fold 2 long term is probably to just leave it on, but look — you’ve got options. What’s more important here is how this bigger, foldable screen helps you get stuff done, and after a week of testing, it’s clear Samsung still has some work to do. 

Engadget

Image credit: Engadget

The foldable life

Here’s the big question I’ve been pondering since I got the Fold 2: Does a $2,000 foldable smartphone actually help you do more than a regular one? So far, the answer has been a resounding “sort of.” When everything works, you might never want to go back to the old way of doing things. The problem is that you can’t always count on those features working the way you want them to.

There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s start with the basics: How the Fold 2 actually displays things. One of the biggest knocks against the original Fold was that, too often, its big screen acted more like a giant smartphone than a small tablet. This time, the Fold 2 offers two different display size settings: One that, like the original, treats the screen like a big phone, and another that packs information more densely onto the screen like a tablet. I’ve spent most of my time in the latter mode, and the results can be truly helpful — emphasis on “can be.”

When you hold the Fold 2 upright, pretty much everything looks the same no matter what display mode you’re using. It’s a different story when you hold it sideways, though: Samsung’s Messages app shows you a proper inbox and a full message thread. Gmail does the same thing. The New York Times app switches to a richer, multi-column view that’s totally inaccessible from “smartphone” mode. YouTube shows off the full description beneath the video, along with upcoming videos on the right side. In short, the Fold 2 tells those apps to treat it like a tablet, and they respond beautifully. But not all of the apps you use regularly might know how to do that, so even when you’re trying to avoid using the Fold 2 as just a large phone, it occasionally happens anyway. 

In fairness, that’s not a deal-breaker: Most of the apps that aren’t optimized for bigger screens still look and work exactly the way they usually do. The problem is when you run into apps that don’t know what to do with the Fold 2 at all.

On the Fold 2’s main screen, the Play Store (left) looks like it would on a giant phone. Meanwhile, Instagram and Lightroom (center and right) don’t handle the big screen well.

Engadget

Image credit: Engadget

Some apps, like Lightroom, simply refuse to acknowledge that second, bigger screen. When you launch it, it appears in the center of this display, looking just like it does on a smartphone. (Never mind the fact that Lightroom runs admirably on regular Android tablets.) AccuWeather treats the open Fold 2 screen as a tablet in landscape mode, so using the app requires turning the phone sideways. HBO Max, isn’t available for the Z Fold 2 at all right now. And Instagram — well, Instagram has always been notoriously bad adapting to different kinds of displays, so it’s no surprise it’s still pretty terrible here. The point is, unless you stick to a handful of known-good apps, expect a lot of inconsistency.

But what if you want to run multiple apps at the same time? A screen as big as this one just begs for clever multitasking tricks, and Samsung added quite a few of them. Multi-active window mode, which lets you squeeze up to three apps into an on-screen grid at a time, is back. (If you really want to go wild, you open up to five more in their own floating windows, but no human should ever need this.) This grid view can be tremendously helpful once you find the right combination of apps, and it’s relatively easy to save them as a preset in case you want to use them again later. You can also shuffle windows around so that one big app stretches along the bottom of the entire screen, with two smaller windows side-by-side above it. 

That improved flexibility is a welcome addition, but it still has its quirks. What if you wanted that big app window to take up the top half of the screen instead? Too bad. And some apps refuse to appear in those smaller app windows at all, which you’ll only ever discover after trial and error. The quirks don’t end there. One of the biggest software additions to the Fold 2 is the ability to copy and paste by dragging text or an image from one window and dropping it into another. It’s fantastic when it works, but — and tell if this sounds familiar — it just doesn’t work sometimes. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review

Engadget

Dragging and dropping between multiple instances of the Office app works like a dream. So does dragging text from Chrome into Samsung’s Messages app. But trying to move a snippet of text from a browser into, say, Google Docs? Nope. Ditto for dragging and dropping into Notion, which I’ve come to rely on pretty heavily. There’s that pesky inconsistency again!

By now, it probably sounds like the Fold 2’s software is sort of a flop, and in some ways it is. But there are clever features that make use of the foldable gimmick. App continuity is a great example: it ensures that whatever you’re doing on that outer screen persists on the internal one when you open the Fold 2. Apart from the occasional compatibility issue, the transitions work well. This year, Samsung spent a little more time touting reverse app continuity, where the apps you’re using on the inside screen shift to the outer screen when the Fold 2 is closed. 

There’s no universal switch for it, though — you have to pop into the settings and select apps to make the inside-to-outside switch. That’s the right decision. I don’t want my PayPal information visible when I slam the Fold 2 shut, I do want to keep reading my Kindle book when I’m standing in line and suddenly need to use my other hand.

Then there are all those Flex mode features, which Samsung originally built for the Galaxy Z Flip.  Long story short, Samsung and partners like Google tweaked their apps to take advantage of that big display when the Fold 2 is propped open like a laptop. When you fold the phone while shooting photos, for instance, the viewfinder remains on the top half of the screen while the bottom half gives you access to camera settings and controls, along with a quick view of the photos you just took. Making video calls with Duo in Flex mode is a joy, too: The person you’re talking to fills half of the screen, leaving just the hangup button and some other options beneath it.


Brian Oh/Engadget

The number of apps that support Flex mode is limited, but honestly, that’s OK. Not every bit of software can really benefit from it. And I’d rather developers spend their time optimizing apps for foldables in other ways. You know, like making sure they display correctly. 

That’s the thing about foldables right now. It’s tempting to lump all of them into a single bucket, but that doesn’t work. The Razr and the Z Flip are, at their core, regular smartphones that fold in half. Because of that, apps don’t really have to change to suit them. Others like the Huawei Mate X and the Fold 2, are small tablets that collapse into barely pocketable phones, and that’s where things start to get tricky. 

It’s going to take time for app developers to adapt their software for devices like the Fold 2, and I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them decided to take their sweet time since foldables are fringe cases right now anyway. As a result, Samsung might have nailed the Fold 2’s hardware, but the people who buy it will still have to wait until the rest of the world catches up.

Ultimately, it feels like we’re looking at a very specific chicken-and-egg problem. App developers have little incentive to update their work until foldables become more mainstream, but the people who have already adopted these phones may be turned off by unoptimized software. For now, the only real answer is to make a fuss and wait to see when and if the industry responds. Until then, the Fold 2 is always going to feel less than polished.

Chris Velazco/Engadget

Image credit: Chris Velazco/Engadget

In use

Like the new Galaxy Note, the Fold 2 uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 Plus, which is the most powerful sliver of silicon you’ll find in an Android smartphone right now. (Like it or not, Apple has a significant lead in mobile processor performance.) It’s a good thing Samsung went with this top of the line chip, too — hardly any other smartphones have to worry about running two separate, high-resolution displays. 

The Fold 2 had more than enough processing power to tackle everything I threw at it, from long stretches of dinosaur-dodging in Ark: Survival Evolved, to 4K video rendering, to long stretches of multi-window app use. It’s even powerful enough to handle console emulation, which tends to throw lesser smartphones for a loop. Consider Citra: It’s a Nintendo 3DS emulator that was ported to Android this year and chokes on anything but the fastest chipsets out there. Not so on the Fold 2. I’m not saying anyone will enjoy playing the 3DS versions of Super Smash Brothers or Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on a phone, but the fact that you can is still plenty impressive. (In case you’re reading this, Nintendo, I own all the games I played on the Fold 2 and I dumped the ROMs myself. Please don’t sue me.)


Brian Oh/Engadget

That’s not to say everything runs perfectly all the time. Sometimes, when you swipe down to access the notification shade on the outer screen, the whole thing just goes blank. Slightly more concerning is that you’ll sometimes see apps hang and animations pause, particularly when they’re running in multi-window mode. That leads me to my only real gripe, which is that 12GB of RAM doesn’t seem like enough for the kinds of multitasking frenzies the Fold 2 feels built for. Still, these stutters have been infrequent enough that they’re forgivable — here’s hoping they get ironed out in a software update.

Going into this, I was concerned about the kind of toll two screens would have on a 4,500mAh battery, but the reality wasn’t as bad as I had feared. With the internal screen to set to its variable refresh mode, I typically got just under twelve hours of fairly consistent use — that includes lots of camera testing, YouTube videos and games on the big screen, and lots of Twitter scrolling and New York Times articles on the smaller one. Honestly, it wouldn’t have taken much work to squeeze better battery life out of the Fold 2, either. Because I was testing it for the purpose of writing this review, I made it a point to flip the Fold 2 open and use that flexible screen whenever possible — even if I didn’t really need to.

Crafting any smartphone is an exercise in compromise, and for the Z Fold 2, those compromises can be seen in its trio of 12-megapixel rear sensors. At best, they produce solid photos, complete with satisfying colors and decent detail. But at worst, they’re responsible for soft, smeary images that would be disappointing even from a phone that cost half as much. 

Gallery: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 camera sample photos | 29 Photos

You don’t need to worry about the standard wide camera too much — Samsung made sure it was the most well-rounded of the bunch. When you’re shooting in ideal conditions (broad daylight, in other words), you’ll wind up with plenty of attractive examples. Low-light performance is mostly just passable, which is disappointing considering how good the Note 20 Ultra could be at night shooting. A bit of friendly advice: Use this camera whenever possible. Yes, even for selfies — the external screen makes it easy to frame yourself and snap a quick one, and the results are much better than what you’d get from either of the 10-megapixel front-facing cameras.

Really, it’s the telephoto and wide cameras you need to worry about. The former has a 2x optical zoom, which wouldn’t seem so bad if Samsung hadn’t just spent most of a year pushing its other phones’ super-long-range cameras. It doesn’t help that even in bright conditions, the tight shots this produces are lacking in detail. It’s especially bad when things get dark. The same goes for the ultra-wide camera: You probably won’t notice its somewhat hazy details most of the time since, well, it’s an ultra-wide camera. Fine details are kind of naturally less important than an expansive field of view. But at night? It’s awful. Even on relatively well-lit streets, like the stretch of Broadway that runs past our New York office, the lack of clarity is just heinous.


Chris Velazco/Engadget

Wrap-up

If you’re asking yourself if you need this phone, just stop — that’s not the right question. Even now, no one needs a Z Fold 2. That’s not just because it’s crazy-expensive or fragile in ways other phones aren’t, though those are certainly true. Living with the Fold 2 for the last week has made clear just how much work Samsung and Google and the app developers of the world have ahead of them to make foldables as reliable as they need to be. 

Despite all that, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 has tremendous potential, and it doesn’t hurt that Samsung upped its hardware game dramatically. Like I said at the beginning of this review, this is the finest foldable you can buy right now. But the future of devices like these was never just about hardware. Samsung did the hard work of making a great foldable phone — now it, and everyone else, has to get to work and reshape the ecosystem to help devices like the Fold 2 flourish.

Key specs

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Processor

Octa-core Snapdragon 865 Plus

RAM / storage

12GB/256GB

MicroSD card support

N/A

Main Display

7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O, variable refresh rate

Display resolution

2,208 x 1,768 (5:4)

External Display

6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED

Display resolution

2260 x 816 (25:9)

Rear cameras

12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle camera, 12MP f/1.8 wide-angle camera with Dual Pixel PDAF and OIS, 12MP f/2.4 telephoto camera with 2x optical zoom

Front-facing camera

10MP f/2.2 camera (internal and external)

OS

Android 10 with One UI 2.5

Battery

4,500mAh

Charging

USB-C, supports QuickCharge 2.0 and Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging

Dimensions

159.2 x 68 x 16.8mm (closed), 159.2 x 128.2 x 6.9mm (open)

Weight

282g

Fingerprint sensor

Yes, side-mounted

Waterproofing

N/A

NFC

Yes

Headphone jack

No

5G

Yes, mmWave and sub-6

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iPhone 12 drop test results are in: Ceramic shield is as tough as it sounds – CNET

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Chris Parker/CNET

Apple has covered its new iPhone 12 with a brand-new type of glass called “ceramic shield”, which it says is the toughest glass ever on a smartphone. Every year Apple makes a similar claim about its glass, but this time may be different because this is no ordinary glass. While it may look and feel exactly like glass, the ceramic shield covering the screens is, as the name suggests, a combination of glass and ceramic (which is harder than most metals). It’s a totally new cover material for the iPhone and it’s unlike anything we’ve ever tested before. 

And testing it is exactly what we did. To find out how this new material holds up to the elements, we put two brand-new iPhone 12s through a few scratch and drop tests. And as it turns out, this new glass is incredibly durable. (This rival says its screen is three times harder than Apple’s ceramic shield.)

iPhone 12: Breaking down the glass

The ceramic shield only covers the front — the screen — of the iPhone 12. The back is covered with the same glass as last year’s iPhone 11, which Apple says is the toughest in the industry. Both types of glass are made by Corning

img-0356img-0356

The glass on the iPhone 11 (left) curves up, while the glass on iPhone 12 (right) is flush with the frame. 


Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

Aside from the glass, the other factor that may play a role in how well this phone holds up to drops is the design. The glass on the iPhone 12 lies flush with the metal frame rather than curved up like in previous models which left more of the glass exposed. Apple says that design choice alone will make the back and front twice as durable as older models. 

All four models of the iPhone 12 (iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Max) have the same ceramic shield on the screen and the same type of glass on the back. The only difference in materials is the frame. The two Pros have a stainless steel frame, while the Mini and the 12 are aluminum. The performance of the frame may vary depending on the material, but the glass should offer the same type of protection across the board. For our tests we used the regular iPhone 12 in blue and green. 

Scratch 1: It survived the pocket/purse tumble 

For the first test, I put the iPhone 12 in a small makeup bag with some of the common culprits that scratch up our phones: a set of keys, a half dozen quarters and a metallic pen. I shook the bag vigorously for about 30 seconds to simulate what happens after a few weeks of bouncing around in a purse or pocket before inspecting it.

After wiping the phone down with a cloth, I couldn’t find a single scratch on the glass or the frame of the iPhone 12.  

Click on the video below to see the results from the scratch and drop tests. 


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iPhone 12: How tough is the glass?

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Scratch 2: No scratches on the screen after sliding on tile

Next, I wanted to see how the screen would hold up if it came in contact with a hard surface like a marble table, kitchen counter or bathroom floor. I slid the iPhone 12 back and forth 10 times on a textured ceramic tile, first along the screen, then on the back of the phone. 

The screen had a bid of debris from the tile, but after cleaning it off I struggled to find any visible damage to the glass. Testing the back of the phone was trickier. The raised camera module doesn’t allow the phone to lay flat on its back, so I did a few slides with the phone at an angle. This didn’t damage the glass, but it caused some of the metallic paint on the frame around the bottom camera to rub off. It was barely noticeable and the lenses themselves were still in pristine condition. Then I did it again with the camera module hanging off the edge of the tile. After inspecting the back closely, I finally managed to make out two microscopic scratches, one on the silver Apple logo, and another right below it on the blue glass. Both were thinner than a strand of fine hair and about a quarter of an inch long.

scratch2scratch2

The two tiny scratches on the back of the iPhone 12 that resulted from sliding it on floor tile. The screen came out flawless. 


Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

Scratch 3: Rubbing it on sandpaper made a mark

Having passed the two scratch tests with flying colors, I decided to conduct one more (extreme) test on this iPhone 12: rubbing with 80-grit sandpaper. This is probably the real-world equivalent of sliding your phone across a driveway or sidewalk, which hopefully won’t happen too often. 

I rubbed the phone back and forth across the sandpaper 10 times on either side, applying light pressure. This time, both sides of the phone were scraped up. The screen had the most damage, with lines running horizontally through the middle of the phone. A few of them were deep enough to feel with my fingernail, but it was still in working condition. The back of the phone has significantly less damage, again because of the protection offered by the raised camera module, but it still had visible scrapes in the center and on the lower edges. The metallic finish on the lens frames had continued to peel off, but the lenses themselves were still scratchless. 

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Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

Scratching the phone compromises the glass and makes it a lot more likely to break during a fall, so my colleague, CNET Managing Producer Chris Parker, used another brand-new iPhone 12 for our drop tests onto the sidewalk. 

Drop 1: 3 feet, screen side down

One of the more common times you might drop your phone is when you’re putting it in and out of your pocket. While dropping a phone from hip height can be harmless, if it lands on the street or sidewalk, you’re likely to end up with a broken screen.

When dropped from hip height, the top of the iPhone 12 hit the ground first, then the bottom. Then it bounced in the air once more before landing flat on the sidewalk, screen side down as intended.  

The aluminum frame had a few dents around the edges of the phone, but nothing serious. 

Drop test 2: 3 feet, back side down 

Next, Chris did the same drop, but this time with the back of the phone facing the ground. 

The iPhone 12 seems to be top heavy: It landed almost in the exact same way as it did before, with the top (where the camera module is) hitting first, then the bottom. Finally it landed back side down on the sidewalk. 

The main difference on this drop was the sound when it landed, a louder thud than before. Sure enough, once we turned it over, we noticed the bottom half of the phone was broken. The edge felt a bit rough to the touch, mainly from the dents on the frame, but there weren’t any shards falling off the back of the phone, and it still felt smooth despite the cracks. 

With the back cracked, we narrowed our drops to the screen only. 

srop2backsrop2back

The second drop from hip height broke the back glass of our iPhone 12. 


Chris Parker/CNET

Drop 3: 6 feet, 6 inches, screen side down

This is about as high as Chris could drop the phone without needing a ladder.

The top left hand corner of the screen, opposite the camera module, hit first, then the right side, then the left until it flipped on its back, landing screen side up. The most noticeable dent was on the top where it hit first and it almost looked like it had caused  a crack in the screen right where it met the metal frame. But after rubbing it off we realized it was just metallic residue from the frame and the glass was still in perfect shape. 

drop3drop3

The aluminum frame on the iPhone 12 absorbed the brunt of the fall from six feet. 


Chris Parker/CNET

Drop 4, 5 and 6: 9 feet drop, screen side down

With the screen still holding strong, we decided to go even higher, using a step ladder to reach nine feet. Again this is not a realistic drop unless you happen to slide your phone off a second floor balcony, but we wanted to see how far we could take it.

At nine feet it became even harder to control the landing. While Chris was aiming to drop it flat on the screen, the iPhone 12 had a mind of its own and landed in almost the exact same way as the previous six-foot drop. With the top right-hand corner of the screen hitting the ground first, then bouncing off the left side and landing screen side up. 

The dent on the top right-hand side of the frame got deeper, but the screen survived yet again. 

We repeated this drop two more times hoping it would at some point land flat on its face, but the weight of the camera made it hard for it to land at that angle, especially at that height. The iPhone 12 finally landed with the screen down on the last drop, but only because it bounced off the side of the porch step. The frame had a few more bumps and bruises, but the screen still looked like new after three back-to-back drops from nine feet. The only way up from there would’ve been to climb up on the roof or rent a scissor lift, which we weren’t exactly prepared to do. 

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The screen of our iPhone 12 survived without a crack after we dropped it on the sidewalk six times.


Chris Parker/CNET

Let’s break it down

Because our tests aren’t scientific, we can’t say for a fact that the screen is stronger than any other phone in the market, but we can definitely say that our iPhone 12 was incredibly tough to crack (and scratch) even on tile and sidewalk.

The back of the iPhone 12, however, doesn’t seem to have the same drop resistance superpower as the screen. And while you may feel comfortable using this phone without a screen protector, we — and Apple — recommend using the iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro with a case, as getting the screen or back replaced without AppleCare Plus coverage costs anywhere from $279 to $549 depending on the repair. 

In a statement to CNET, Apple said, “iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro represent the biggest jump in durability ever on iPhone … iPhone 12 models have gone through rigorous real-world testing and are designed to be durable, but not indestructible. If anyone is concerned about dropping their iPhone and damaging it, we suggest using one of the many beautiful cases available to protect iPhone.” 

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5 video games for kids to while away the fall hours – that parents might like, too – CTV News

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With winter weather approaching and our social options limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, kids and teenagers might be tempted to fill their free time playing video games.

Here are five games released in 2020 that parents might be comfortable letting their kids play as they while away the hours this fall.

MARIO KART LIVE: HOME CIRCUIT

Platforms: Nintendo Switch

ESRB Rating: E (everyone)

Suggested Retail Price: $129.99

The anticipated latest entry into Nintendo’s “Mario Kart” series literally takes the action into your house.

The “Mario Kart Live” kit comes with a real toy kart (Mario and Luigi are the characters currently available) mounted with a camera.

Players use the Switch to drive the cart around the house to create a racetrack. Once finished, players can race on the track in the game.

The “augmented reality” mix of real-world and virtual environments gives creative players a wealth of tools at their disposal to make challenging tracks. Standard Mario Kart elements such as items to boost speed or obstacles to impede karts can be mixed with everyday household items used as ramps or obstacles.

What’s more, the game is free of some of the limitations of similar toys like slot-car racetracks. Setup and takedown is a breeze, as the only items that needed to be placed on the floor is four gates for the kart to drive through.

There are, however, a couple of potential drawbacks.

To get the most out of “Mario Kart: Home Circuit,” you will need a large, well-lit space. It’s possible to make smaller tracks for more compact areas, but the scope of what you can do will be limited.

Also, multiplayer presents some problems. The game supports up to four players on a track, but each must have their own kart and Switch console. There is no online multiplayer option.

Not only can multiplayer be costly, but the pandemic makes it difficult to meet in the same space to race against someone not in your social bubble.

Still, as both a collectible and a game, there’s little doubt that this will be high on the wish list for any Mario Kart fan. Those with the space and the desire to create increasingly devious tracks should find enough replay value in the title for months to come.

ANIMAL CROSSING: NEW HORIZONS

Platforms: Nintendo Switch

ESRB Rating: E (everyone)

Suggested Retail Price: $79.99

The latest instalment of the popular “Animal Crossing” game was released in March, just as households across the country were preparing for the lockdown in response to the spreading pandemic.

The lighthearted nature of the game, which tasks you with developing an island paradise for your anthropomorphic animal buddies, was a welcome contrast to the uncertainty of the time.

The charming title has grown since then, with Nintendo releasing a number of free updates to keep the game fresh.

The recently released fall update includes Halloween-themed costumes to wear and decorations to place around the island, giving players several creative options to make their habitat suitably spooky.

With a Thanksgiving/Christmas themed update announced for sometime next month, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” gives gamers of all ages a lot of bang for their buck.

ORI AND THE WILL OF THE WISPS

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

ESRB Rating: E (everyone)

Suggested Retail Price: $39.99

An action/adventure game in the style of the Nintendo classic “Metroid”, “Ori and the Will of the Wisps” game sees the light spirit Ori navigate a forest full of wondrous sights and treacherous traps in a mission to rescue a friend, and heal the land in the process.

The latest Ori adventure boasts beautiful art direction, clever level design and an empathetic tone that should resonate with younger players.

Some of the combat and puzzles could be challenging for inexperienced gamers, though that could be remedied by playing on an easier difficulty setting.

The sequel to the indie hit “Ori and the Blind Forest” received strong reviews for its gameplay and story when it was originally released for the Xbox One and Windows earlier this year. A version for the Switch was released last month.

NHL 21

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One,

ESRB Rating: E 10+ (Recommended for gamers 10 and over)

Suggested Retail Price: $79.99

With the 2020 Stanley Cup already awarded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL’s Edmonton bubble, and the next season delayed until at least the beginning of January, “NHL 21” might help fill the hockey void.

“NHL 21” lets you lead your favourite hockey team to glory, or you can create your own player and take the journey from promising prospect to all-star.

Players can compete online against others, so friends can match skills while staying in a safe environment. Parents may want to monitor if their kids play online against strangers.

EA Sports releases a new game in its NHL franchise every year, and there is often not a lot to differentiate the titles on a year-to-year basis. If you have a recent NHL title, you may want to direct your entertainment budget elsewhere.

If you haven’t bought an NHL title in a while, or are looking to pick up your first game in the series, then “NHL 21” is a way to scratch the hockey itch while the pro leagues are on hiatus and minor programs are suspended.

MARVEL’S AVENGERS

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, PS4, Google Stadia

ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

Suggested Retail Price: $79.99

It’s fair to say “Marvel’s Avengers” didn’t quite live up to its heroic hype when it was released last month.

Reviews were mixed, with praise for its short but excellent single-player campaign and a lukewarm reception for its directionless online component.

Still, superheroes are pop culture dynamos, and there is enough here for fans of Captain America, Iron Man and Black Widow to enjoy.

Combat is fast and furious, and each of the six currently available Avengers have their own play style. Rampaging into a horde of the enemies with the Hulk or lighting them up with Thor’s hammer feels right.

While the Avengers are a force for good, the violence might be intense for very young gamers. Teen players who are into superheroes, however, will find a relatable protagonist in the delightful Kamala Khan, otherwise known as Ms. Marvel.

“Marvel’s Avengers” might currently be a bit thin on content for those who aren’t big fans of the genre, but that might change. The game’s developers have beefed up the multiplayer since launch, and new characters are on the way, with the Kate Bishop version of Hawkeye expected in the coming weeks.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2020.

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Why the iPhone 12 Pro is worth the upgrade cost – AppleInsider

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Putting the iPhone 12 Pro through its paces in the real world really shows why it’s worth the extra cost over an iPhone 12.

It’s more than surface deep

The new iPhone 12 Pro of course offers more features than its predecessors, but before you even notice any of those, you immediately see — and feel — how it has all been physically redesigned. As with all the iPhone 12 range, it has the iPad Pro-style flat edges, and they make it remarkably appealing to hold.

Then with the iPhone 12 Pro, Apple retained the stainless steel frame but has four new colors. What’s been less well reported, though, is that even the colors that we thought we’d seen before, such as silver and gold, have a subtly different — and better — look.

For instance, the silver version, which has the white glass back, is now lighter than before. The gold has a new finish to make the color more substantial around the edge, and this also makes it more resistant to fingerprints. Unfortunately, the darker colors remain fingerprint magnets.

Graphite iPhone 12 Pro and space gray iPhone 11 Pro

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Whereas Pacific Blue is entirely new. It replaces last year’s green and, at least anecdotally, appears to be a particularly popular option. There’s a slight slate-color tint to the blue on the iPhone 12 Pro, and it’s gorgeous enough that you will keep staring at it until you put the phone in a case.

To go with these brand new colors, and improved existing ones, are new exclusive wallpapers. Apple has created four new live wallpapers for the iPhone 12 Pro line that match the phone colors, and move. Hold your finger on the lock screen and these images animate as if they have lens flares.

Massive camera updates

You can point to the finer color and, actually, to the brighter screen, to say there are variations between the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro, but the real differences are in the new photo and video capabilities on the new iPhone 12 Pro.

Most of the best new features are relegated to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, though. That has yet to be released, but in the meantime, iPhone 12 Pro has some key new features of note.

Such as the addition of Dolby Vision recording at 60 frames per second, as opposed to the 30fps of the iPhone 12. The inclusion of Dolby Vision at all is a feat, and it means that these two smartphones are the first in the world on which you can shoot, edit, and share 4K Dolby Vision HDR.

However, if you are going to benefit from Dolby Vision, it feels wrong to hamper yourself with the 30fps version. The iPhone 12 Pro’s 60fps is certainly better, and makes greater use of the potential of Dolby Vision recording.

What’s more, in real-world use, it is as easy as you’d want and expect it to be.

Dolby Vision HDR Video

Dolby Vision HDR Video

When you come to play or edit it, you can immediately tell that footage was shot in Dolby Vision because it is marked with an HDR watermark in the top-left corner of the video app. Similarly, if you edit in the Photos app, you’ll see the display get brighter as it starts to display this footage.

It all looks very good when played on an HDR-capable display, but can be toggled off if you don’t wish to capture it and take up all the storage space it requires.

Night shoots

Another frankly amazing feature we explored was night mode portraits on the iPhone 12 Pro. This night mode feature came with the iPhone 11 line, and it already allowed you take long-exposure shots in very low light situations. With iPhone 12 Pro, though, that same functionality comes to portrait shots.

When you switch to portrait mode in the Camera app and go to take a pic in a very low-light environment, you will see the night mode icon in the lower-left corner where the 1X and 2X indicators are.

You can’t zoom in and keep this portrait effect, you have to take the shot at 1X. Explain to your subject that you have to step closer. That’s because for this type of shot it needs the new faster aperture of the wide-angle camera rather than that on the 2X tele lens.

For the iPhone 12 Pro, Apple increased the aperture from f/1.8 to f/1.6 which allows more light in and allows the shutter to fire faster. The new LiDAR scanner is also used because it allows the camera to focus in near pitch-black environments.

iPhone 11 Pro low-light portrait shot versus night mode portrait on iPhone 12 Pro

iPhone 11 Pro low-light portrait shot versus night mode portrait on iPhone 12 Pro

We will have a more comprehensive comparison soon, but we did take a quick set of example shots using portrait mode on our iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro. The iPhone 11 Pro wasn’t able to enable portrait mode at all so it just captured a normal image.

Naturally, that image came out very, very dark and completely unusable. On the other hand, iPhone 12 Pro captured a very impressive image in almost no light.

Ultra-wide lens correction on iPhone 12 Pro

Ultra-wide lens correction on iPhone 12 Pro

Aside from night mode coming to all cameras — notably including the front-facing True Depth or selfie one — Apple has improved the ultra-wide lens. There’s also a new lens correction that’s applied in order to deal with the quite excessive distortion that could be present before. Once more, see our sample shot took on iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro to see how much of a difference this has made.

As important and visibly improved as the new lens and camera systems are, it’s this combination of corrections and software control that make the iPhone 12 Pro such a good buy for photographers. That’s only going to become even truer, too, when the promised Apple ProRAW format comes out.

We’ll know for sure when it’s released and we can test it in the real world. However, Apple ProRAW is claimed to take all of the advantages of shooting RAW, of using uncompressed images, and applying Apple’s computational photography algorithms to get the very finest results possible.

Internal upgrades

Powering all of these new features is Apple’s latest A14 Bionic processor. Last year, the A13 Bionic processor on the iPhone 11 Pro scored 1334 and 3543 on the single-core and multi-core tests. This year, the iPhone 12 Pro pulled a 1598 and a 4180.

That represents about a 20 percent improvement on the single-core score and about 15 percent gain on the multi-core. These are the kinds of improvements that don’t just sound good on paper, you can actually appreciate them in real use.

Geekbench scores for iPhone 12 Pro

Geekbench scores for iPhone 12 Pro

That’s going to apply to everything you do on the phone as most tasks are single-core, so this iPhone 12 Pro feels more snappy in daily use. But it’s particularly noticeable in video and photo editing, which is faster even when you’re dealing with 4K 60FPS content.

Most of these internal differences are also in the iPhone 12, but Apple has given the iPhone 12 Pro an extra 2GB of RAM, bringing it to 6GB. This directly aids with specific tasks like loading apps from the background, many Safari tabs, and more. Storage was doubled too, going from 64Gb on the base model to 128GB at the same price point.

Of course, 5G is also an internal upgrade, supporting both sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G here in the US, and sub-6GHz elsewhere.

MagSafe

MagSafe charger on iPhone 12 Pro

MagSafe charger on iPhone 12 Pro

In terms of what it means for the iPhone 12 Pro, though, MagSafe is poised to be a massive new feature. You’re going to see a huge increase in the iPhone ecosystem between cases, chargers, mounts, wallets, cases, folios, PopSockets, and more, which are all on their way.

Right now, our real world tests with the iPhone 12 Pro have been using Apple’s own cases, and its own MagSafe charger.

Even based on these, though, MagSafe is a hit. The convenience of the longer lead that means you can pick up the phone without disconnecting it from the charge is a boon.

And the magnets really do instantly center the iPhone 12 Pro on the right spot to make sure it gets charged properly.

Look to the future

That’s the thing about an Apple device. You can review it as it’s launched, and you can properly test it out in the real world, but then it changes.

We’re going to see the addition of more MagSafe devices — such as Apple’s own forthcoming device that charges both the iPhone 12 Pro and the Apple Watch — and we’re going to see Apple ProRAW soon.

Right now, the iPhone 12 Pro is an exceptional phone. It’s going to be interesting to see just how significant the extra camera improvements are in the iPhone 12 Pro Max. But regardless of that, this iPhone 12 Pro is a good buy that is going to keep on getting better.

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