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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review: it's up to the multi-task
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is the new multi-tasking and gaming phone champ with subtle, but important changes
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny Fold 4 review
❓Ask me questions in the comments (I’ll add them here)
📱 What: Samsung's tablet-sized phone that closes in half to fit in your pocket
🔢 The math
💰 Final price: Most people on a two-year cycle will get $700 off
📆 Release date: was Friday, August 26, order it now
🌈 4 Fold 4 colors: Phantom Black, Gray-green, Beige and Burgundy
Burgundy is exclusive to Samsung.com in the unlocked model
🤔 Better than the Fold 3? Yes, in subtle, but important ways. It has the same sized screens, but they’ve been reshaped to be wider/less tall. It’s also lighter. The multi-tasking interface and the cameras are remarkably better.
🤹♂️ What makes it better than a normal phone? Having a big screen without having to cumbersomely grip a large phone. I feel like that’s what we all want. It’s a mini-tablet with a big display when you want it, yet a compact phone when you don’t. Multi-tasking is actually viable in tablet mode, too.
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🎮 Good for gaming? The 7.6-inch screen is the best way to play games on a phone, especially now that (as of Android 12) Sony’s PS Remote Play app is compatible with the PS5 DualSense controller
🙋♂️ Why trust my Fold 4 review? I reviewed Samsung’s Fold 1, Fold 2 & Fold 3 for TechRadar and reviewed or tested almost every recent smartphone, including the new OnePlus 10T. I won’t steer you wrong. I called the Fold 1 “the most forward-thinking phone you shouldn't buy” in anticipation that a better version around the corner. Here we are (again).
📐 Size matters: Slimmer hinge than the Fold 3 and weighs 8g less (263g), so a bit more compact and lighter, but still a thick and heavy phone. So not a game changer, but headed in the right direction
📕 When closed: 6.2-inch Cover Display
Subtle: the front screen is 2.8mm wider than Z Fold 3
Big impact: easier to type on this wider front screen
📖 When open: 7.6-inch display is 3mm wider, has smaller bezels
Subtle: Also wider and less tell than the Z Fold 3
Big impact: Great for three-window multitasking and gaming
📸 50MP main camera: 4x resolution of Fold 3
f/1.8 with 1.0-micron pixel size
Fantastic photos and night mode photos look superb as long as the subject and photo taker stay completely still.
🔭📸 10MP telephoto: 3x optical zoom, 30x 'Space Zoom'
f/2.4 with a 1-micron pixel size
I found the 3x optical zoom and 30x Space Zoom punch into far-away subjects in a meaningful way, making 2x zoom feel relatively worthless like you’re just cropping the edges. 10x zoom is really the useable limit, but it can go to 30x zoom as a neat party trick.
👐📸 12MP ultrawide:
f/2.2 1.12 microns
Seems unchanged year-over-year, and that’s fine (last year’s was great)
🤳📸 10MP Cover Display selfie camera
f/2.2 with 1.2 microns
This is the front camera you’ll always want to use
🤳📸 4PM Under Display Camera: The UDC is meant for video conferencing
f/1.8 with 2.0 microns
Neat that the camera hole punch blends into the screen when unused
But passable for video conferencing
🙅♂️ Selfie w/o a tripod: Flex Mode allows for hands-free photo-taking
But it works better on the Flip 4 which has more head-room for previewing those selfies
🤹♂️ Juggle: Multi-tasking one a phone easier with new bottom taskbar
☝️ Please touch: Puts video and camera UI controls on bottom half for unobstructed view (see the camera app photo two above)
🪨 Like a rock: Samsung calls Fold 4 its most durable foldable phone yet
⚙️ Chipset: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 system on a chip
🧰 Storage: 256GB, 512GB and 1TB internal storage options
🐏 RAM: 12GB of RAM in all configurations
🖋️ S Pen: No slot for S Pen and doesn’t come with one, sadly, but compatible with S Pen Fold Edition and S Pen Pro
🔋 Battery: Same 4,400mAh capacity as Fold 3, which offered solid battery life
By the end of a productive day, I was down to 23% of the battery life
That’s an improvement over the Fold 3, and comes down to the more efficient Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset
🔌 Charge It: 50% charge in 30 mins
⚡ Wireless charging it: wireless charging & Wireless PowerShare
Though its 25W charging falls short of other Android phones (including Samsung phones with 45W) with even faster charging speeds.
❤️ What I like about Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
📐 Size matters: It looks the same, but Samsung made important tweaks: it reduced the bezel on the inside tablet-sized screen and widened the front Cover Display to make it easier to use. Importantly, it still feels like a compact handset in phone mode. It's 2.8mm wider and 3.1mm less tall.
⌨️ Easier to type on: That 2.8mm wider Cover Display seems like a small gain, but it makes a huge difference when it comes to typing on the front screen while on the go.
📕 Better Cover Display: I also find myself using the front Cover Display a lot more in general due to that wider aspect ratio. It feels more like a traditional phone than a compromised cramped screen this time around.
📖 Mini-tablet screen: When I do use the 7.6-inch screen in open tablet mode, I can actually get work done, including editing this Substack. Finally, a phone that’s not a read-only device. I can create as well as consume.
⚖️ Fold on a diet: At 263g, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 drops 8g and the hinge is less pronounced, addressing two nagging issues vs the chunky Fold 3. This time, my attention was more on the two screens and less on the ties that bind them. It’s not going to be so much of a change that you notice the weight difference or need to upgrade from the Fold 3 if you just splashed cash on that version a year ago, but I can tell the difference in my side-by-side comparisons.
🪨 Stronger: The 7.6-inch screen is 45% stronger, says Samsung. This is an important step in making foldable phones mainstream. It still has a crease down the middle, but the ultra-thin glass looks and feels solid. We’re a long way from the mushy-feeling plastic screen on the Fold 1.
🤹♂️ Multi-tasking is no longer a tech demo: Samsung has been touting multi-tasking on its devices for a decade, and for almost a decade, it’s felt like a cool tech demo, slightly more usable each year. This time, its smoother animations, intuitive drag-and-drop app windows, and a bottom dock that’s there when you need it and hidden when you don’t means that multi-tasking has graduated to become a feature I use outside of “look what this can do” demonstrations. The three-window multi-tasking (fourth if you count a floating window) rivals Apple’s forthcoming Stage Manager interface for iPad – and yet Samsung is doing it on a phone, which is much more challenging. Smooth operator.
🔗 Quick share works with iPhone now: In the last few months, Samsung’s Quickshare has been enhanced in a big, big way (this is its AirDrop clone for sharing photos and videos to other phones). In addition to instantly sharing with other Galaxy phones or sending a link to download a media file, you can now share via a QR code. Even iPhone users can grab a photo or video you take in seconds. I’d like to see this in reverse, even if it’s Samsung creating an iOS QuickShare app.
📸 50MP main camera takes better night photos: It has four times the pixels as the Fold 3 by borrowing the superb cameras from the S22 and S22 Plus. Yet I found it has improved upon their color accuracy and photo processing (likely a mix of the newer Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset and algorithm changes). The S22 Ultra camera specs are still better, so you’ll have to live with paying more money for Samsung’s second-best camera array.
🔭 Telephoto camera: The 10MP telephoto camera is one of the main reasons I prefer Z Fold 4 over the Flip 4 – Samsung includes a telephoto lens in the Fold 4 with a 3x optical zoom range. Anything from 3x to 10x is useable, with 30x being a neat party trick – “Hey, look how far from my camera can zoom in!” You won’t actually post 30x zoom photos to Instagram.
👐 Ultra-wide camera: Samsung has had one of the best ultrawide cameras in the S22 Ultra, and the Z Fold 4 inherits that f/2.2 camera with a 123-degree field of view and 1.12-micron pixels. I noticed no changes outside of the better AI processing of photos to retain more dynamic range.
🤳 Selfie cameras: I don’t see much of a change here year-over-year, but the 10MP camera inside the Cover Display does a fine job for group selfies with a wide depth of field. The 4MP camera (in tablet mode) is only meant to be used when you need to have the Fold 4 open and need a front camera (like for video conferences). There’s a big quality difference between the front (great) and inside (not flattering) selfie cameras.
🏆 Best camera app: Apple. Copy this. It's faster and easier to take a photo with the Samsung camera app than the iPhone camera app. Double tap that sleep/wake button to launch the app from the pocket (no need to look), swipe anywhere to flip between the front and back cameras (no need to hunt for the tiny flip camera button in the corner), and make an open-hand-to-closed-fist gesture to trigger the selfie timer (where’s the iPhone selfie timer hidden now? Two menus deep?). The iPhone can't do any of these things (and yet I keep going back).
🎮 Great for gaming: Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 4 is one of the best phones for gaming, with an expansive 7.6-inch screen and an under-display camera that blends into whatever is being shown on screen. It’s not just the love of larger graphics, but the fact that your fingers won’t cover up on-screen controls nearly as much. And when I tested Sony’s PS Remote Play app to test out the 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, I noticed no lag or screen tearing. The Fold 4 has become my favorite way to game on a phone.
🤔 What I dislike about Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
💰 The price hasn't changed: It's still $1,799.99 (I can just imagine marketing: “If the price hasn’t gone up during record inflation, has it really stayed the same?” Consumers: “YES!”). That said, you can get it down to a better price – down to $899 – with trade-in bonuses, and the new Flip 4 may be a better gateway device if you want the future of phones on a budget.
🍎 Lack of Mac software: Samsung's software has improved and works great with Windows and Chrome OS computers, but there's more that the company can do to appeal to Mac users (it's not just an iMessages issue; bring Samsung Notes to Mac or, hey just give me a web version with a Chrome extension, please). Make this software lure me to the Samsung side, not so siloed that I quit using it. The QuickShare via QR code is a great start. More of that, please.
😬 Second-best Samsung cameras for $1,799?! Shelling out nearly $1,800 for Samsung’s second-best cameras is a weird notion. You can get the S22 Ultra for about half of the price on sale today and get a slightly better camera. The cameras here are very good, but foldable phone technology still makes you compromise with photo and video quality while paying double the price.
🖋️ No S Pen holster: I'm torn. The S22 Ultra has a small S Pen embedded in the phone, while this Fold 4 has no place to slide in a stylus, but Samsung is making it compatible with the larger S Pen Fold Edition or S Pen Pro. I agree that the larger S Pen makes sense for a 7.6-inch screen, but I'd like a safe holster for it without having to get a specific case.
➗ Still a crease: No advancement year-over-year when it comes to the crease down the middle of the screen. It’s not as noticeable as it was two generations ago, but it’s still present and will annoy some people. Others can ignore it. I will say that it’s better than the Flip 4’s horizontal screen crease, which you feel with every single scroll through Instagram.
🌈 Only 4 Colors: There are only three main Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 colors (with one extra on the Samsung Store) and all of them are rather muted: Phantom Black, Gray-green and Beige. You can say the same about the Samsung-exclusive Burgundy option. No vibrant blue, red or purple option. Once again, the cheaper lower-specced Flip gets fun colors, like Bora Purple.
🔜 Samsung's Galaxy S23 series will likely launch in six months and the S22 Ultra is just six months old and a great value. You have options, even if you're a Samsung diehard.
What about the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4?
❓Ask me questions in the comments (I’ll add them here):
📱 What: Samsung's clam-shell-style foldable phone that feels like an updated all-screen take on the classic foldable phone
🔢 How is it so cheap? The math:
📆 Release date: Friday, August 26, pre-order it now
🌈 Lots of colors:
Normal colors: Bora Purple, Graphite, Pink Gold, Blue
Bespoke font/black colors: Yellow, White, Navy, Khaki, Red
Bespoke frame: Silver, Black, Gold
🤔 Better than the Flip 3? Yes, in subtle ways. Its hinge is more compact, it has slimmer bezels and it has a 45% stronger display than the Flip 3
📐 Size matters: Slimmer hinge; weighs 187g
📖 When open: 6.7-inch Full HD+ display
📕 When closed: 1.9-inch Cover Screen
Enough to see widgets and squint at how your selfie is framed
🆚 Compared to the Fold 4? Samsung is bent (pun) on marketing it as more stylish and affordable than the Fold 4, but doesn’t have the same gaming and productivity strengths. It offers a nice “wow” factor and comes in more colors.
🔜 I’ll break this out into its own page as I continue to test the Flip 4
👨🔬 What I still need to test on the Fold 4
🤹♂️ The redesigned taskbar: Prior Fold phones had three-window multi-tasking, but now apps can live in a traditional taskbar where it's much easier to fetch apps and switch between windows. Does this rival Apple's forthcoming Stage Manager interface for iPad... on a smartphone? Time will tell.
📸 The 50MP camera: Four times more megapixels than the Fold 4, but smaller individual pixels. How much better is it? Does it close the gap with the S22 Ultra? How is it vs the iPhone 13 Pro Max? (and I'll update this review when I test out the inevitable iPhone 14 Pro Max)
🔜 More to come: I got time with the Galaxy Watch 5, Watch 5 Pro and Watch 5 Golf Edition as well as the Buds 2 Pro with Active Noise Cancelation, but I can’t give them a fair shake from a demo room. More soon as I pick them up.
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