Since its entry into the foldable phone market, Samsung has remained the undisputed king in the segment. Year after year, the company has retained its dominance primarily based on the performance of the Galaxy Z Fold series of phones which represent the very best Samsung — and arguably the industry — has to offer when it comes to foldable phone technology.
While the company will happily have you believe all its foldables to date have been technological marvels, the reality is slightly different. Despite being impressive forward-looking pieces of technologies, the Galaxy Z Fold series devices have had some crippling issues every year, making them hard to recommend over similarly priced conventional flagships such as the company’s own, Galaxy S22 Ultra and others from the likes of Apple.
However, with its latest Galaxy Z Fold 4, Samsung is now making it very difficult to not recommend making the switch to a foldable phone. As successors of the Galaxy Z Fold 3, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 does not reinvent the wheel but instead brings meaningful upgrades in areas that last year’s foldable was found lacking in.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Design
Let’s get started with the design department.
For the Galaxy Z Fold 4, Samsung has stuck to a similar form factor as we had seen on the Galaxy Z Fold 3. However, we now have an improved hinge mechanism and use of lighter materials to make the Galaxy Z Fold 4 not only lighter but also a more ergonomic device.
These changes have made the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 shave off about 8g of weight and also spread the weight out more evenly to give the devices a nicer in-hand feel. This is a very important point to note, as the unevenly spread heft of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 was possibly one of its biggest design flaws.
The new hinge mechanism of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 also feels more durable and has been worked on to decrease the bulge you’d get from it when the device is closed. While it still looks like two phones when closed, the phone now looks a lot more premium and a lot less weird in this position.
The premium-ness is also because Samsung has once again used high-end materials to craft the device and this time around, the back has also gotten a nice matte finish, which is not only great for resisting fingerprints but also gives the device a good in-hand feel.
Unfolding the device is still very much a two-handed task. However, snapping the phone shut has now become a more seamless experience, with the magnetic snap right at the end of it feeling more satisfying than on previous versions of the Fold series phones. Apart from this, there is no other change in the Fold 4 in the design department over the Galaxy Z Fold 3, and as a result, there’s still no slot for the S Pen stylus on the device — an accessory that you also don’t get inside the box. However, Samsung does sell a Z Fold 4 case with an S Pen stylus slot in case you’re looking to get one for yourself.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Displays
With the design out of the way, let’s talk about the displays on the device. As a foldable, we have two panels on the Galaxy Z Fold 4. The first one is on the outside and is essentially the cover display of the phone. However, unlike last year’s Fold 3, the cover display of the Fold 4 is a much more usable piece of hardware.
This is a 6.2-inch dynamic AMOLED panel that’s capable of up to 120Hz refresh rate and outputting a billion colours. The panel is also quite crisp with its high pixel density and can accurately reproduce solid blacks and vibrant colours to help improve visual experiences.
However, the biggest improvement in the front display in my department is the fact that it is now slightly less narrow compared to the last foldable front panel. This has been done by decreasing the bezels, thereby not only improving the immersive quality of using this panel but also improving the general experience of using this display. The slight change in width of the display brings the experience of using it closer to what you’d find on a regular smartphone — something that has been a big gripe of mine with the Fold series foldable from Samsung in the past.
Yes, the front display is still not the greatest for typing, but it now is definitely good for it, making tasks like browsing the internet, texting and even replying to emails, all easily possible without opening the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s main display.
But once you do, you’re welcomed to a world of new experiences, with a big 7.6-inch flexible display. This is also a dynamic AMOLED panel which again is capable 120Hz refresh rate and easily reproduces deep blacks and punchy colours. Despite being a foldable panel, it does not pale in comparison to some of the most beautiful displays out there on the market.
Because of this, watching videos playing games or just scrolling through social media apps or browsing the web becomes immensely satisfying tasks on this device. And because Samsung has worked on the crease a little and also clipped the bezels on this panel, the experience of simply taking the phone out of your pocket and unfolding it to turn it into a mini tablet primed for multimedia consumption and productivity tasks, has now also been improved significantly.
Having said this, it’s important to note that the crease is still not completely gone. It’s still visible when you’re viewing it from an angle or the brightness of the panel is set too low. In my opinion, it’s just one of those things that you get used to very quick, and not really distracting enough to take away from the visual experiences that this gorgeous panel can provide.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Performance
Now let’s talk a little about what’s under the hood, and how the Galaxy Z Fold 4 performs in real life and benchmarks.
So first things first, the main story here is the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip under the hood which in our time with the device has helped it perform almost flawlessly. Created using TSMC’s latest 4nm fabrication process, this new chip is a massive upgrade on the Snapdragon 888 that we saw on the Z Fold 3 last year.
Both in terms of performance and power efficiency, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is a significant upgrade. This is because unlike other flagship chips from Qualcomm with the Plus moniker in the past, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 does not come with overclocked cores. Instead, it brings redesigned cores for improved performance.
According to numbers shared by Qualcomm, the SD 8+ Gen 1 brings not only a 10% uptick in both CPU 10% and GPU performance but also promises to allow for 30% improved power efficiency over the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. This is a big deal because this uptick in power efficiency translates to decreased heat generation and as a result lower concerns with the chip throttling, which quite honestly are two main issues plaguing the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. All of this also helps improve the battery life of the phone. Something we’ll get to a little later in this section of our review.
In real life, the chip combines with Samsung’s OneUI 4.1.1 to bring to life smooth, lag-free experiences on the Galaxy Z Fold 4. Day-to-day tasks are a breeze, and games work like a charm on the device. The only place we do see some level of stress is when we run benchmarks on the device. And even then, the stress is not too great as the phone generally performs quite well.
This is something that’s also proven by the numbers we’ve achieved on the device, with AnTuTu, GeekBench and 3DMark WildLife showing the phone is capable of hitting some really high scores. The phone interestingly also did well when we tested it for throttling using the CPU Throttling Test.
And we’re very happy to report that because of the new chipset, we also experienced improved battery life on the phone. On paper, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 gets the same 4400 mAh battery pack that we saw on the Z Fold 3 last year. This dual cell arrangement allows Samsung to provide up to 25W fast charging on the cell. With this, you can charge the phone up to 50% in about 30 minutes and a full charge takes around 75 minutes.
Once fully charged, the phone can easily get you through a day on moderate use with some video streaming and Instagram doom scrolling thrown into the mix. Gaming, however, does drain the phone’s battery quite fast, with a full charge likely to get you about 4-5 hours of gaming, which to be honest, is not a bad deal.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Cameras
Arguably the biggest upgrade to the phone in my opinion is seen in the camera department. For the first time on a Fold series device, Samsung has thrown in the very best camera hardware it has to offer. Yes, this is the same impressive hardware that we’ve seen on the Galaxy S22 series phones.
While the selfie lenses are still nothing to write much about, the three main lenses on the back of the device offer large sensors which capture more light and details than we’ve seen on previous generation foldable phones from Samsung.
In fact, they capture enough data to actually be put in the same bracket as the iPhone 13 Pro, Galaxy S22 Ultra and the Vivo X80 Pro, making the Z Fold 4 a terrefic camera phone to carry in your pocket.
At the heart of this improved camera performance is a primary 50-megapixel wide lens that can shoot some detailed images with great dynamic range and vibrant colours in day-time conditions. This is also the case for the 12Mp f/2.2 123-degree ultra-wide lens on the device which can capture very good images without much barrel distortion.
Interestingly, Samsung has also added a telephoto lens to the mix which can capture up to 3x optical and 30x Space Zoom shots. While it’s not the same level as the 100x Space Zoom on the S series Ultras, it’s still nice to see the Space Zoom feature coming in whatever form to the Fold series phones finally.
While all of this is impressive, the most exciting upgrade for me in the camera department is the improved low-light performance from the primary lens. This is down to Samsung using not only employing a larger sensor than before, but also bringing its Nightography features for better shots in low light.
Unlike the Galaxy Z Fold 3 which just couldn’t match other modern-day flagships in low-light scenarios, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 very easily captures shots and reproduces scenes that are on par with what you get from flagships such as the S22 Ultra and the iPhone 13 Pro. Nightography features help it click pictures even in near pitch-black scenes, and these pictures come out with plenty details and accurate colours.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Verdict
Because of the nature of its technology, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 has very few direct competitors, and honestly none when it comes to ones available in the Indian market. It is one of a kind product that has a clear run at the foldable segment of the market in our country.
Because of that it becomes a no-brainer if you are looking to buy a foldable phone in the country. However, things become more interesting if you aren’t looking for a foldable particularly and are just looking to buy a premium smartphone for yourself. The question then becomes: Is the Galaxy Z Fold 4 a better buy than a Galaxy S22 Ultra or an iPhone 13 Pro Max?
For the first time in the history of foldable phones in the country, I see myself answering in the affirmative.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a well-rounded foldable device that finally gives you all you’d expect from a flagship phone — including powerful gaming performance, good battery life and brilliant cameras. But, it goes over and above the call of duty in a way, and because of the unfair advantage it enjoys due to its form factor, the Z Fold 4 also brings to the user a unique set of experiences that you will not get on a standard glass-metal slab phone.
In my humble opinion, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 has helped transition the Fold range of phones from Samsung into a mainstream flagship series, as opposed to a device only for tech enthusiasts. As such, if money isn’t a constraint — which never is when you’ve decided to take a dip in the premium segment of the market — then the Galaxy Z Fold 4 should really be at the top of the tree for you when making a buying decision — especially if it’s an Android alternative you’re looking to buy instead.