When you think about foldable phones, there is the sense that they have been around for quite some time, but they were only really introduced in 2019; just three years ago. So this just goes to show the leaps and bounds in improvements we’ve perceived, with Samsung mainly being at the forefront of that. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 is the company’s latest effort to showcase foldable phones’ viability.
Admittedly, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 only is an incremental upgrade from its predecessor, but the overall package presented here gives even more reason for people to adopt foldable phones as part of their lifestyle.
If you have been keeping track of Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold line, the Fold4 looks similar to the Fold3, but some changes have been made to the phone.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 is a little smaller and lighter than the Fold3, now weighing 263g. However, it only shaves off a few grams from the previous edition, so it isn’t likely you’ll notice the difference. The phone still feels weighty in hand, which might give a sense of sturdiness, but ultimately still feels uncomfortable to use one-handed for long periods.
To accommodate the smaller size, Samsung has also made the hinge and the bezels on the screen smaller, which is the second change. The hinge also sports a new Armour Aluminium hinge cover and typically stays robust when alternating between folding and unfolding the Fold4. Of course, its durability remains to be seen in the coming years, but it currently doesn’t show any signs of weakness. Meanwhile, the bezels keep the aesthetically pleasing edge-to-edge look on the phone.
The last notable change is the upgraded Under-Display Camera (UDC). Using a new scatter-type sub-pixel arrangement, the UDC is now less visible on the screen. It generally works, only standing out in starker backgrounds (like white) and only if you look out for it.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4’s build and design look and feel premium. Its sturdy quality gives the sense that it will last the distance, and the materials used for its build also feel great when using it. The only caveat against it is that it is still quite bulky, so it doesn’t feel comfortable even if you can fit it in your pocket. Samsung still needs to slim it down to a pleasant level.
In terms of colours, the phone comes with Phantom Black, Beige, or Graygreen, the last of which is the one our unit had. Unfortunately, they aren’t overly exciting colours, so you should get a case for it if none of these is your fancy.
The biggest attraction about the Fold series is that the phone can unfold into a larger screen. And through its various iterations, Samsung has almost perfected it here.
Unfolded, the phone opens up to a generous 7.6-inch AMOLED display. There’s a minor tweak in its aspect ratio, now coming in at 21.6:18 to showcase a 2176 x 1812 resolution. It’s only a slightly taller aspect ratio from its predecessor, but you’re still getting a giant screen that can fit within a pocket.
This is a gorgeous display that Samsung has here. I’m a sucker for big screens, and the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 delivers a beautifully vivid one. It shows off colours very well, particularly ones that are bright and contrast-y, all in crisp detail. Anime is a great medium that takes advantage of this screen. With how distinct it can get, everything looks superb to the eye, and the huge screen’s increased size elevates the enjoyability of seeing the animation in motion.
However, some apps aren’t able to take full advantage of the large screen on offer. Instagram, for instance, still opens up with black bars at the side, though you can have it open across the whole screen via settings. Just be warned that app support for the big display will vary.
The larger screen, unfortunately, still has a crease right where it folds, but when in regular use, you almost always never notice it anyway. So it certainly is something that you’ll get used to very quickly.
While the large screen is a joy, it can be cumbersome to use if you are moving about. So that’s where the cover screen comes in — the 6.2-inch screen that sits at the front when folded. Functionally, it operates just like a regular smartphone, just being thinner in width, but uses the same screen type as the larger display, so you are still getting sharp and vibrant images from it.
Moreover, both screens also have a fast 120Hz refresh rate. With the refresh rate, navigation with the phone feels exceptionally fluid, especially on the full display, where much more of the UI appears on the screen.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 has been equipped with the latest Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, with a hefty 12GBs of RAM to go along with it.
The bigger size of the phone does not faze it at all. The Fold4 runs silky smooth whether I am web-surfing, watching videos on YouTube, gaming, or chalking up a sizable tab of apps lying idle in the background.
But the performance from these use cases is everything you can expect from any of the latest smartphones right now. Its biggest differentiator is its multitasking capabilities.
As a mini tablet, the Fold4 can run multiple apps simultaneously on its large screen — so you could be reading an article from the web browser on one side while the other has a video playing. It docks up to three apps, but you can have a fourth as an open window that floats around.
Going into multitasking mode is intuitive. If you already have an app open, all you have to do is drag another app onto the screen to have it enter split-screen mode and show both apps running. The taskbar greatly helps in that regard. Samsung has placed it on the bottom of your screen, and various apps are ready on the dock for you to drag and drop onto the screen. If you have a particular app setup you like, you can also save it for use later on the taskbar. Or if you want to reorientate the app positions, there’s also a button option to do so quickly.
Samsung has also mentioned that they’ve partnered with companies like Google to elevate the multitasking experience, with unique support to allow users to have more power in control when they use multiple apps. These include quickly copying things like links or photos from one app to another.
It is a refreshing feeling to multitask on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4. I could be writing an article on Google docs on one side and referencing and copying information from my Gmail on the other. Because of how troublesome it was on my regular phone, I rarely attempted this; the Fold4 made it convenient and easy to do.
My only nitpick is that watching videos through a split screen could look better. Perhaps it is the smaller window size or the other apps being distracting, but it wasn’t enjoyable to do, nor was it additive to the experience when I was testing it out. You’ve got a big screen to play with; it would be a waste to relegate it to a smaller window. Unless it is necessary for your multitasking needs, I wouldn’t recommend using it that way.
The multitasking experience can be improved with the use of the S pen, which the Fold4 supports. Unfortunately, we weren’t given one alongside it, so I couldn’t test it out. But you can expect things like taking notes and copying text to be much easier. If you do opt for the Pro version, you get access to Air Gestures as well.
The cameras on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 are a major upgrade from last year. It is now a triple camera system equipped with a 50MP primary camera, with a 10MP telephoto and 12MP ultrawide camera joining alongside it. These specs are very much on the level of those found in flagship phones.
Photos appear crisp and sharp when taken on the Fold4, with an emphasis on vivid colouring. The improved telephoto camera also produces decent shots from 3x zooms, which gives you much more flexibility in getting a good photo from a distance.
Don’t expect much from the Under-Display Camera, though. They are perfectly serviceable, but the quality definitely shows when you compare the output against the main rear cameras.
The photo-taking experience also takes advantage of the unique functionality of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4. As the phone half-folded can be left half-folded, it can prop and balance on its own, making it possible for you to easily position it for a photo without needing an additional tripod.
It also makes special use of the displays. For the larger screen, you can immediately preview a shot you’ve just taken on one side without switching to your photo library. The cover screen also functions as a big viewfinder that you can see when taking selfie shots. These are rather convenient features to have, and only the Fold4 is capable of doing it.
Considering that the Fold4 has a larger screen to contend with, there’s the expectation that it needs a bigger battery capacity to keep up with the battery life of regular smartphones. So I’d admit, it was slightly concerning to see that it only had a 4,400mAh battery. For comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has a larger 5,000mAh battery.
Thankfully, it seems that the phone does well enough to keep battery life efficient. I garnered a day’s use from the Fold4, alternating between web browsing and video streaming — averaging about five and a half hours of screen time. That’s pretty good, even for regular phones.
For getting the phone back up to speed, it supports 25W fast wired charging while wireless charging goes up to 15W now.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 makes mini-tablet foldable phones as viable as ever been, with the larger screen and multitasking experience proving to be its big highlights.
Those who already have the previous edition might not feel its incremental upgrades warrant a purchase. If you have yet to adopt foldable phones, the Fold4 makes a compelling case for itself in terms of its features. However, it remains expensive compared to other phones on the market, making buying one a luxury choice.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 can be purchased from Samsung’s Online Store or over at Samsung’s official store page on Shopee.
Photos by Russell Loh of the DANAMIC Team.