Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2: which is the better buy?

We compare the excellent Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
(Image credit: Samsung)

Begone iPhone! For some of us, having an Android smartphone is essential and who better than Samsung to make the hardware. To help you choose, we've found the best Samsung phones and today we're comparing the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G. 

These two smartphones represent both the best smartphones in general, but also the best Samsung handsets on the market: big, powerful, and incredibly capable. Both of them are almost tablet sized, but not quite, with everything that brings. 

Before we go any further, it's worth noting that these are two extremely expensive and high-end handsets. If your budget is a little more modest, we recommend checking out the regular Samsung Galaxy S21, Galaxy S20 FE, or Galaxy A52, all of which have 5G.  

After a few missteps, foldable phones are maturing and becoming something that you might actually... want. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is without a doubt the best foldable on the market, but is it better than the Galaxy S21 Ultra? 

Without further ado, let's jump into our comparison between the two. 

Samsung Galaxy S21

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2: features

As we said, these are two of the most high-end smartphones you're likely to lay your hands on. Both feature enormous displays – 6.8-inch on the S21 Ultra, 7.6-inch on the Fold 2 – and high-powered camera systems, ideal for all types of shot. 

In terms of software, the experience will be pretty similar: both utilise Samsung's OneUI skin for Android (with guaranteed updates, ensuring you get Android 12). Of course, the folding nature of the Fold 2 means the experience is slightly different, spreading across two screens, but overall it's Android on a Samsung smartphone. 

We were slightly apprehensive during our Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review that the second display would either not work or act as a barrier to doing phone-y things, as has happened in the past. In reality, the second display is a nice addition, adding more real estate for surfing, texting, watching, and so on. 

One big issue with foldable phones is the hinge. The first generation of the Galaxy Fold suffered greatly from reliability issues with its hinge, often breaking after only days of use. Samsung has taken this onboard and improved the situation of the Fold 2 and it shows: we never felt like the hinge was flimsy or could break. 

Elsewhere, these two smartphones give what you'd expect from high-end, flagship devices. We won't bore you with loads of specs, but pretty much everything you want – multiple cameras, huge batteries, loads of storage, 5G, and so on – is present.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2: design and use

The foldable Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is something to behold in person. Folded, the handset still qualifies as a big smartphone; unfolded, it qualifies as a tablet. For a certain type of person, one with big hands and pockets, this is ideal: so much space for watching, apps, calls, and everything else. 

In testing, we found that the folding nature of the Fold 2 worked well, especially compared to the first generation model, and many apps, like Samsung's camera, were updated to take advantage of the extra space. The hinge is sturdy, the processor is really powerful, and the screens are impressive. It does feel like the future. 

The Galaxy S21 Ultra, in comparison, still feels futuristic. At its core, it's a huge Android flagship with everything that entails: a massive 120Hz display, quad camera system, 5,000mAh battery, and so on. It's premium in every sense of the word. If you're sceptical of the folding smartphone, the S21 Ultra is absolutely ideal. 

While there were some minor niggles, we can't really fault either of these smartphones. The Fold 2 could have better battery life, for example, but the gigantic display is bound to munch through even the biggest. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2: verdict

Both of these handsets are amazing flagship Android devices. 

Overall, we think that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is a better device for most people. Having a folding display feels like a luxury, rather than necessity, at this point and you can find some semi-cheap contracts with decent data allowances. 

But if you want it all, don't discount the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2. It's a slice of the future, a glimpse into where smartphones are headed, and expanding the display into its 7.6-inch behemoth didn't really get old. Just make sure you have the budget. 

Max Slater-Robins

Max Slater-Robins has written for T3 now on and off for over half a decade, with him fitting in serious study at university in between. Max is a tech expert and as such you'll find his words throughout, appearing in everything from reviews and features, to news and deals. Max is specifically a veteran when it comes round to deal hunting, with him seeing out multiple Black Friday campaigns to date.