A Smarter Foldable Phone
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, which is the company's latest iteration of its foldable big-screen device, was recently unveiled. Instead of starting from scratch, the company has spent the past year honing the foldable's design in the hopes of making it more robust and, as a result, more appealing to a larger segment of the smartphone market. In addition, the company has worked to improve the foldable's overall performance as well as its cameras.
The question that needs to be asked is whether or not Samsung has been resting on its laurels for too long, considering that rival foldables from companies like Oppo, Xiaomi, and Huawei are all showcasing significant technological advances in foldables in 2022.
- Near identical design
- Small refinements improve overall look and feel
- Still a gap when folded
- Thinner and lighter than Z Fold 3
- The hinge does a better job of fading from view
Samsung believes it has a solid base for its flagship folding device at this point, which is why the Z Fold 4 is not significantly different from the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3.
However, there are other minor construction and design variances, some of which are visible while others are concealed beneath the frame.
The device is still 67.1mm wide when folded. However, the product's design has modified so that the hinge is less visible from certain angles.
The length of the device is 155.1mm, which is nearly 3mm shorter than the Z Fold 3. This offers the gadget a more regular phone design as opposed to the elongated appearance of prior Folds.
Importantly, this device is now slimmer and lighter. As opposed to the Galaxy Z Fold 3's unfolded thickness of 6.4mm, the table mode is now only 6.3mm thick. This takes the device's weight down to 263 grams, which is eight grams lighter than the Galaxy Z Fold 3.
The buttons and ports are usual for a smartphone, however their location is not typical due to the folding design. There is a SIM slot along the top edge, speaker and mic holes down one edge, a speaker grille, mic hole, and USB-C port along the bottom, and, along the opposite edge, a volume rocker and power/sleep button that also functions as a fingerprint sensor, which works rather well. I registered multiple fingers. Face ID biometrics are also supported, but you are reminded that they are less secure than other techniques.
When folded, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 can seem thicker and heavier in the hand than the majority of other Android devices. It is not unpleasant, however.
This tablet is tiny and light when unfolded. The primary difference between it and, for example, an iPad mini is that the bezel surrounding the screen has a little raised lip to keep the bendable screen cover in place and safe.
The redesigned hinge is the centerpiece of this product. When folded, it no longer protrudes from the side of the phone. A new hinge design has eliminated the gears in favor of a flatter mechanical design, allowing the hinge to hug the frame. At least throughout the period we've been using it, the phone has performed without issue. As you bend the phone, it seems sturdy yet flexible, as if to say, "Yes, this is what you're meant to do with me."
The frame has an IPX8 rating, which indicates it can withstand 30 minutes in one meter of water, although it is not dust-resistant due to the hinge mechanism.
- Slightly adjusted aspect ratios on both displays
- Outer display is hard to type on
- Inner hinge crease is still quite visible
The outer smaller display has a big 6.2-inch AMOLED screen with a refresh rate of up to 120Hz. What does this all mean? It indicates that Samsung didn't scrimp on the exterior display; it's silky smooth, and its AMOLED technology results in deep blacks, brilliant colors, and an overall pleasant experience when using it.
And what might the cover display be used for? Answering calls, responding to texts, and surfing social media apps are examples of activities that do not require unfolding the phone. Certainly, it is still a relatively tall and narrow display, but I wouldn't call it crowded. The on-screen keyboard is easy to use, and again, it's large enough to complete the majority of chores without unfolding the Z Fold 4.
However, let's do just that and unfold it to expose its magnificent, 7.6-inch flexible display. Again, an AMOLED display that is dynamic, 120Hz-capable, and very gorgeous. On this display, it is a pleasure to watch YouTube videos and movies, play games, scroll through social media apps, and browse the web. I cannot overstate how wonderful it is to remove a phone from one's pocket and transform it into a square-ish tablet with a large screen.
It does not reach the display's edges (it is not even precisely centered), and based on our past experiences, you should not remove it. Thus, this is only a portion of the display.
All of these are little nuances you should be aware of, but they do not hinder the experience in any way, as you become accustomed to them and stop noticing them after a while.
However, I still observe the crease in the center of the folding screen. It is visible when light strikes the display, and it can be felt.
Is this a major issue, or is it a small price to pay (other than the real price) for utilizing a cutting-edge foldable phone? Honestly, I don't mind the crease, but I can't help but notice that some Samsung competitors, most notably Oppo with its Find N foldable, have eliminated it entirely.
- Hugely improved rear camera system
- Great for night shots
- Under-display camera is better hidden
On the Galaxy Z Fold 4, the 4Mp f/1.8 under-display camera (UDC) has returned, presumably in an effort to rehabilitate itself after receiving near-universal ridicule on the Galaxy Z Fold 3. Even if the quality of the display on the top of the camera has risen in the most recent version, it is still exceedingly simple to identify the UDC on the internal display.
There is an improvement in overall image quality, especially with the assistance of image processing tools, but it is not meant for selfies. Rather, it is intended for video calling on the larger internal display, which it accomplishes reasonably well.
For a conventional selfie experience, the 19MP f2.2 camera positioned prominently on the outside display is preferable. It is capable of producing social media-worthy selfies and is comparable to the camera found in the Z Fold 3.
The upgraded back camera system is the most remarkable feature. In fact, it is one of the most significant improvements to the Z Fold 4 overall.
The 12Mp camera trio has been replaced with the same 50Mp primary and 10Mp 3x optical lenses as the flagship Samsung Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22+, as well as the same 12Mp ultra-wide as the Z Fold 3.
Compared to its predecessor, photos captured with the primary sensor are more detailed, with the typical vivid colors and excellent dynamic range of Samsung. Importantly, this performance is consistent whether you're shooting in well-lit or tough conditions, and a variety of camera modes, including an enhanced Portrait mode, let you get the most out of every shot.
In particular, the combination of optical image stabilization and a wider f/1.8 aperture that allows in up to 23% more light improves low-light performance. The result is frequently photographs with more light and detail than can be seen with the naked eye, particularly in low-light circumstances and without a tripod.
The enhanced 10MP 3x optical sensor is an amazing improvement that not only improves upon last year's meager 2x zoom, but also extends the digital zoom from 10x to 30x with Samsung's Space Zoom technology. Expect less-than-detailed images at such a high digital magnification, although it performs admirably when photographing the moon on a clear night. Irrelevant, but cool nonetheless
Even if the 12Mp f/2.2 123-degree ultrawide stays intact, it still delivers a solid wide-angle experience with outstanding resolution, even near the edges where some ultrawide cameras begin to falter. Importantly, the colors and dynamic range of the secondary camera nearly match those of the primary camera for excellent consistency between the two.
There's also the option to display the viewfinder and recently captured photographs side-by-side on the larger internal display.
It's also one of the first foldables to allow video recording at up to 8K, but it's expected that the majority will choose lesser resolutions to take use of the Video Digital Image Stabilisation (VDIS) and the low-light benefits it offers.
Consequently, despite the fact that the under-display camera still requires some TLC, there are numerous methods to take better photos with the Z Fold 4 than its predecessor.
- Flagship-level CPU performance
- Fine for gaming if you can deal with the aspect ratio
- Top-tier connectivity
The performance of the Z Fold 4 is as refined as its flagship specifications would lead one to expect. Once again, we have the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor on the inside, as well as 12 gigabytes of random access memory (RAM), which appear to be plenty for lag-free multitasking.
Because we have a 120Hz AMOLED display and dual stereo speakers, those games will look big and beautiful, and they will sound big too. If you're a gamer, which, by the way, this phone is ideal for, you'll be happy to know that even demanding 3D games run fine at their highest settings. You'll also be happy to know that this phone is perfect for gamers.
Software and Updates
- Android 12L with OneUI 4.1
- Four years of OS upgrades, five years of security updates
- Plenty of foldable-focused features
- Hit-and-miss big-screen support from third-party apps
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 from Samsung is one of the very few foldables that takes advantage of Google's tablet-specific Android 12L operating system and runs Samsung's OneUI 4.1 on top of it. This makes the Galaxy Z Fold 4 unique among foldables.
It should come as no surprise that the Z Fold 4 includes a plethora of functions that take advantage of the foldable aspect of the device; however, it is not apparent which of these capabilities are original to Samsung and which are driven by Android 12L.
One of the most noticeable and immediately beneficial new features introduced by Android 12L for the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a revamped taskbar. When utilizing apps on the bigger internal display, it provides a taskbar much like that of an iMac or iPad. This makes it much simpler and faster to navigate between your preferred and most recently used applications.
It is also the location where you can make advantage of the split-screen feature that is available, and all it takes to do so is to tap and drag the icons that are located in the taskbar. For the ultimate multitasking experience, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 can run up to three apps at the same time, two of which can be viewed in split-screen mode with an additional window floating above them. I didn't find this to be a feature that I would use very frequently, if at all. Strangely, it is also present in addition to the Edge Panel, which is accessible by swiping in from the side of the screen and serves a purpose that is very similar to the one that this one does.
You can use apps even when the display is folded in half like a laptop, which is a feature that is exclusive to Samsung's Flex Mode, which is one of the big screen foldables that will be available in 2022. It already has native support for streaming applications like YouTube and video applications like Google Meet for video conversations, and Samsung is now working with developers to add compatibility into more popular applications in the near future.
There is also a Flex mode for programs that do not have native support. This mode essentially splits the app in half to provide a touchpad and mouse for an experience similar to that of a laptop; however, I did not find this mode to be particularly helpful.
Battery and Charging
- Identical battery capacity to predecessor
- Improved battery efficiency
- 25W charging isn’t fast in 2022
The Z Fold 4's battery system is split between the two parts of the device, allowing for a smaller design while yet providing a respectable 4,400mAh total capacity.
It may be identical to its predecessor, but Qualcomm's most recent chipset has vastly improved battery life, which is shockingly obvious in practise.
Price and Availability
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 has the same beginning price in the United States and most other areas, but costs £50 more in the United Kingdom.
Consequently, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 with 256GB of storage begins at $1,799/£1,649/€1,749/154,999.
It is still head-and-shoulders more expensive than most flagship competitors, but it is surprisingly quality, and those looking for a cheaper foldable can always go for the $999/£999 clamshell model. Galaxy Z Flip 4.
Here is a breakdown of the pricing for the Galaxy Z Fold 4:
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 (256GB): $1,799.99/£1,649/€1,799/₹154,999
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 (512GB): $2,009.98/£1,769/€1,919/₹164,999
- $2,249.98/£2,019/€2,159/184,999 for the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 (1TB).
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is an improvement upon the greatest foldable smartphone. No other phone can multitask like this one. The software experience with features such as the taskbar, improved drag-and-drop support, and programmes that are better designed for Flex mode and larger screens in general. The camera setup of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is particularly impressive this time around.
However, the $1,799 price remains a significant barrier to adoption, and despite the better design, this is still the largest and heaviest phone available. If you want to join the foldable revolution and have PC-like power in your pocket, you must be willing to accept these two trade-offs.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Maina Wilson