Vivo X Fold 2 Foldable Phone Review: Beautiful, Big, and Bewildering

PROS:

  • Stylish design with a thin profile
  • In-display fingerprint sensor on both screens
  • Largest screens among foldables
  • High-performance hardware with fast-charging battery
  • Rare mute switch

CONS:

  • Limited market availability
  • Downgrade in camera and USB technology
  • No dust and water resistance rating

RATINGS:

SUSTAINABILITY / REPAIRABILITY

EDITOR’S QUOTE:

The Vivo X Fold 2 takes the foldable game up a notch but strangely takes two steps back as well.

As foldable phones start to become a little bit more common, it will also become harder for brands to stand out from the growing crowd. There’s definitely still a lot of room for improvement, of course, but many of the features have started to become more standard these days, especially those surrounding the all-important foldable screen. The challenge is even higher when trying to put out a successor to a successful first attempt, with the stakes now higher and the competition even tighter. That’s the difficult task that Vivo had to face in coming up with a successor to its notable first foldable phone, and so we take the Vivo X Fold 2 for a good run to see if it manages to overcome the odds or if it is a victim of the brand’s own success.

Designer: Vivo

Aesthetics

At first glance, the Vivo X Fold 2 immediately sets itself apart with its distinctive and elegant looks. Circular camera bumps seem to be the new trend, but not all styles are as pleasant to look at. Normally, one that isn’t centered would look a bit awkward and unbalanced, but Vivo manages to pull this one off thanks to a neat visual trick.

The non-screen backside of the phone is made from two materials. There’s a vertical strip on the side of the hinge that’s made of glossy glass, serving as an accent to the rest of the surface, which uses that oh-so-familiar faux leather material. Beyond giving the phone a unique visual, it also gives the illusion that the camera enclosure is sitting in the middle rather than off-center. That said, that camera design is a bit of a mixed bag. Its stepped design and textured ring make it stand out a bit less despite its height, but that small LED flash ring sticks out like a sore thumb and breaks the visual flow of the design, not to mention the necessary ZEISS branding that sits like a blue wart below the camera.

The Vivo X Fold 2 is definitely quite a looker, especially in the eye-catching red unit we were given for this review. Compared to its predecessor, it’s supposed to be thinner and lighter, though you won’t be able to easily tell even if you have both devices at hand. It’s definitely on the thin and light side compared to other foldables, but it’s certainly not the top of the pack in that aspect. What it is, however, is large, and it is possibly one of the largest in the foldable market, especially when it comes to screen size.

Like many other foldable phones outside of Samsung, Vivo uses a well-known water drop hinge to help make the crease less visible while also allowing the phone to fold shut completely. In both cases, the Vivo X Fold 2 doesn’t disappoint, but it’s not exactly a groundbreaking feat either. It would be more shocking if it actually did worse since it’s a more or less established technology at this point. Fortunately, you really don’t notice the crease that much unless you intentionally look for it, and the bright and large 8.03-inch inner display will be enough to distract you with the way it shows your content in vibrant and crisp colors, even outdoors under the sun.

Ergonomics

Now that the once ridiculed “phablet” has become the standard smartphone size, even for Apple, it is nearly impossible to use smartphones these days with a single hand. That is especially true for foldable phones, which transform into small tablets that you really need two hands for. When folded closed, however, the phone’s doubled thickness makes it even less comfortable to use with a single hand, no matter how large your hands might be.

This is probably truer for the Vivo X Fold 2 simply because it is larger than any other foldable phone. When folded, the 6.53-inch external display makes the surface area even less unwieldy. Fortunately, the phone’s textured back gives it a better grip than others of its kind. If you’re the type to still worry, though, Vivo includes a protective back case in the same color and, amusingly, the same vegan leather material as the phone itself.

The one thing that’s a bit easy to do with one hand is to unlock the phone. Thanks to housing an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor in the middle of the screen, you don’t have to fiddle with power buttons located on just one side of the phone. This is already a rare sight on foldable phones, but even more impressive is the fact that the Vivo X Fold 2 also has a similar in-display sensor on the inner display.

Performance

The Vivo X Fold 2 is equipped with top-of-the-line hardware you’d expect from a premium flagship this time of the year. That means a beefy Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, 12GB of RAM, and 256GB or 512GB of storage. What all these figures mean in practice is that it won’t be lacking in power, handling anything you throw at it with aplomb. There is, however, one caveat where the phone gets quite warm when playing graphics-intensive titles. It’s not hot enough to burn your skin, but it might make you want to pause the game a bit, especially since it would eventually affect frame rates.

The phone is equipped with a dual battery that totals 4,800mAh, quite a generous capacity as far as foldables go. Given the power and the two displays, however, you are going to see a shorter uptime compared to normal slabs with the same battery size. Vivo makes up for it with a 120W ultra-fast charging capability that’s one of the fastest in the industry, foldable or otherwise. Unfortunately, that may have come at the price of Vivo downgrading the USB-C port from version 3.2 of its predecessor to an older 2.0 technology. Not only does this mean it has a slower data transfer rate, it also loses the ability to output video through that part. The latter is probably less important to most people compared to faster charging times, but it’s still an unfortunate downgrade nonetheless.

The crowning glory of the Vivo X Fold 2 is, of course, its foldable screen, which is currently the biggest in its category. It has quite an impressive performance, especially when it comes to brightness, but its size does come with a price. It has an overall lower pixel density, and while you won’t be able to make out individual pixels, more discerning eyes might notice the step down in quality compared to other foldables. Fortunately, that doesn’t take away from the enjoyable viewing experience, whether you’re watching videos or reading documents.

Foldable phones haven’t exactly been at the height of mobile photography, mostly because of the sacrifices that have to be made in terms of design and price. Vivo, however, is quite known for its smartphone cameras, especially with its flagship X family, so you’d expect that the X Fold 2 would rise above the rest in this regard as well. Just like the rest of the phone so far, however, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. It definitely takes impressive photos and videos, but they won’t sweep you off your feet, especially when it comes to close-up shots.

The main 50MP camera might not sound like the greatest, but it gets the job done without breaking a sweat. Images have plenty of details, and colors are bright, perhaps even too vibrant for some tastes. Vivo has again partnered with ZEISS for the optics as well as some special camera modes, and those turn out to be more color accurate. The main camera delivers plenty of detail, even in low light, to the point that the dedicated Night Mode might look redundant as long as there is enough illumination from the surroundings.

Left: Regular Shot; Right: ZEISS

Regular (1x)

Night Mode

ZEISS

Unfortunately, the other cameras are less impressive. The 12MP ultra-wide is so-so, and it’s no better nor worse compared to other 12MP ultra-wide cameras you’d find on most smartphones these days. Things take a rather sad turn with the telephoto camera, though. Where there were once two, there is now only one, and Vivo removed the one that was actually more interesting. There is no longer a periscope telephoto camera, leaving only a 12MP shooter in its stead that is capable of doing a measly 2x optical zoom. Many “main” cameras are capable of that much, which makes this camera feel redundant. As for output, it’s decent enough to be usable, but it’s a few steps short of what fans have come to expect from Vivo.

Ultra-Wide

1x

2x (Telephoto)

As for software, the Vivo X Fold 2 comes with Origin OS based on Android 13, which is the China-exclusive flavor that Vivo ships on its phones. This means that there is no Google Play Store pre-installed, though you can definitely install it through other means and get access to your favorite apps. Alas, Origin OS is also filled to the brim with other pre-installed apps, but that, too, is the norm for phones coming from that market. The even bigger concern, however, is how the custom Android experience feels a little rough around the edges as far as support for foldable features is concerned. Given it’s just the company’s second stab at the form factor, it’s a bit understandable, and it will hopefully push out improvements quickly while the phone is still actively supported.

Sustainability

While the Vivo X Fold 2 is able to set itself apart from the others in terms of design, it isn’t that different when it comes to its effects on the environment. The choice of vegan or eco-leather is definitely a good one, but its positive effects are quite minimal compared to the other materials that make up the phone and its packaging. Vivo’s super-fast charging requires a proprietary charger, so it’s unavoidable to ship one in the box.

Sustainability wouldn’t be so bad if the product is made to last, but even then, this foldable might raise some concerns. There is no formal IP dust and water resistance rating, not even a formal assurance of its durability under the most common accidents. Granted, there are few foldable phones aside from Samsung and Huawei that can make such promises, but it is also an opportunity for brands like Vivo to step up their game and prove that they’re no small fry when it comes to providing their customers with peace of mind.

Value

The Vivo X Fold 2 is a bit of a mixed bag. It has a striking design that makes it memorable and attractive, and it also has the power to support all your mobile needs, from browsing to photography to gaming. The larger screens leave plenty of room for your content, or even two of them for the inner foldable screen. There are special features you won’t find in other foldable phones, like an in-display ultrasonic fingerprint scanner and a physical switch to silence notifications, ala the iPhone. We have a few complaints, of course, but nothing so glaring as to make the phone something to avoid.

That said, the biggest deal breaker for this stylish foldable is the fact that only a select number of people will be able to buy one in the first place. Never mind the roughly $1,300 price tag, the Vivo X Fold 2 isn’t even available in markets outside of China. Whether that situation will change, Vivo isn’t saying, but it will definitely need a more polished Funtouch OS experience to improve its reception in international markets.

Verdict

At this point, almost all the major smartphone players except Apple have entered the foldable smartphone market. The competition will soon be just as fierce as it is in the “normal” smartphone arena. With many of them having nearly the same hinges and almost crease-free displays, manufacturers will have to find ways to differentiate their products in other ways that create better value for their customers. That doesn’t always have to be new hardware or gimmicky features. Sometimes, just having a powerful and beautiful device is enough to get people to buy. Just ask Apple!

The Vivo X Fold 2 clearly tries to reach those goalposts. Its elegant design actually makes the off-center circular camera bump work in a simple yet memorable way. In addition to its powerful hardware, the foldable phone offers unique features as well, like larger screens and in-display fingerprint sensors that even industry leaders failed to offer. Unfortunately, Vivo seems to also have cut a few corners in the process, and while they’re not deal-breakers on their own, they make the experience less than ideal altogether. As a successor, the Vivo X Fold 2 definitely rises to the challenge, but Vivo will need to step up its game to really leave a lasting mark in this growing market.

Aki Ukita and JC Torres contributed to this review.


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