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MWC 2023: the foldables fight Samsung for supremacy

The MWC 2023 foldable fight is on, with launches from Honor, Oppo, and Tecno coming to take Samsung’s crown, and we’ve had hands-on with all of them

Picture of the Oppo foldable phone for MWC foldable phones roundup

When we think of foldable phones, Samsung is normally considered the leader. The company has pushed the technology for consumers to a point where it’s more affordable and usable. However, the competition is heating up.

On the ground at MWC 2023, we got our hands on all the latest foldables from Oppo, Tecno, and Honor, as well as Xiaomi’s ultra-thin Mix Fold 2 and Samsung’s tried and true offerings. And it looks like the competition is fierce.

So, we’re here to round up all of them – and try and work out if there is any tangible difference. If you need a catch-up, check out our Honor Magic 5 + Magic Vs launch coverage, our Tecno Phantom V Fold coverage, or the latest wacky Motorola rollable screens that may only be a concept, but sure look like fun.

Anyway, time for the MWC 2023 foldable fight.

Picture of the Honor Magic Vs for MWC 2023 foldable phones roundup

Honor Magic Vs

Guaranteed to withstand up to 400,000 folds – that’s 100 folds a day for more than ten years – and coming packed with some impressive specs, the Honor Magic Vs looks like the biggest competitor to Samsung’s dominance.

On the outside, the Vs is a sturdy piece of kit, nice and slim – almost as slim as my iPhone 13 – with a hinge that folds completely flat. It has buckets of RAM paired with a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 to help with gaming (though, given the price, it would’ve been nice to get the latest chip), and a three-camera system on the rear.

The screen is a big 90Hz OLED, offering smooth enough animations, and the overall design feels sturdy and useable. The crease in the middle of the fold is still noticeable – my personal reason for not adopting the tech yet – but no more than Samsung’s or Tecno’s. Overall the phone feels like a premium piece of kit – as it should for the price.

Picture of the Oppo foldable phone for MWC 2023 foldable phones roundup

Oppo Find N2 + Find N2 Flip

One competitor that has managed to reduce the crease indentation is Oppo, with its latest folds trying different ideas with some success. The N2 Flip feels and looks very similar to Samsung’s Z Flip4 except it’s bigger, with a longer screen on the outside, while the standard N2 is a stubbier proposition than the other tablet-style foldables on the market, and I quite like it.

Starting with the Find N2 Flip, then, Oppo claims the hinge is near-invisible, and while it’s still there to the touch, it feels thinner and shallower than others. Meanwhile, the 120Hz AMOLED on the inside is very pretty. Still, I wonder if it’s a little too big for the average user.

The Oppo Find N2 feels more pocketable by comparison, a little shorter than the competitors. It’s got a nice big screen on the front, isn’t so thick that it’s cumbersome while closed, and gives a lot more screen space when opened. Sure sounds like a foldable phone, I know, but if I was gonna drop the money on one now, this would tempt me.

Picture of the Tecno Shadow V back panel for MWC 2023 foldable phones roundup

Tecno Phantom V Fold

The Tecno Phantom V Fold is a first for the company. As General Manager Jack Quo said during the launch event, “in launching Phantom V Fold, our first foldable smartphone, during our very first appearance at MWC, we re-affirm our commitment to innovation; to the continuous pursuit of the next great technologies; and to empowering people, all around global frontier markets, to live beyond the extraordinary.” And, for a first go, it’s pretty impressive.

Its hinge is nice and slim, feels sturdy enough, and folds completely flat by the looks of it. It has a textured back cover which may be odd for some, with a vaguely leathery feel. The width is still a bit bigger than we like, but it’s a little smaller than the average pack of playing cards.

The screen on the outside is impressive, though using it is still a bit of a struggle if you’re used to a non-foldable phone. On the inside is where the party starts, with a big 120Hz AMOLED screen. You can feel and see the crease, but no more than on Samsung’s Fold4. Using the Tecno folded out still feels exciting — the gimmick hasn’t worn off.

The camera is just fine from our quick test — it did some quite strange smoothing to facial features — but we have to get more time to conclude. The main thing is, it’s still just another folding phone, not offering some innovative leap forward on the surface. It looks like the others, feels like the others, and is a solid offering from such a fresh brand.

Press image of the Xiaomi Mix Fold 2 for MWC 2023 foldable phones roundup

Xiaomi Mix Fold 2

Now, it’s been around for a few months, but it’s worth mentioning again – the Xiaomi Mix Fold 2 is seriously skinny. This means it feels like a normal phone even when folded up, and reaching that point is key for this sort of thing.

Outside of that, it’s got similar innards to the Honor, a 120Hz OLED, and a premium feel. Still, its thinness does make me wonder how durable it is, even if Xiaomi promises it’ll last a while.

Press art of the Samsung Z Fold for MWC 2023 foldable phones roundup

Samsung Z Flip + Fold

When it comes to Samsung, it’s a pretty obvious story. As the leader in the foldable market, the company has refined its products over the years. Now after a few months on the market, the Z Flip and Z Fold 4 are seeing some stern competition. Still, they’re premium products from a flagship brand, and that may be the reason to stick with Samsung for now.

There you have it, the MWC 2023 foldable roundup. It seems like folding tech is here to stay. For more, check out some tidbits from our interview with Wonjoon Choi, EVP, Head of R&D at Samsung, where he talks about the Samsung S23 Ultra’s ray-tracing ability and his penchant for Samsung Roblox games.