Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 made a big splash when it was launched this month. The top-of-the-line, super expensive foldable flagship is one of a kind, as Samsung's biggest rivals including Apple haven't made a foray into the niche space. Seeing how Samsung has been building its foldable portfolio, year after year, it's no longer a niche, but a mainstream product and others brands are playing catch up.
The price factor is surely something that raises eyebrows and jaws drop, but it's the price you pay to stay ahead of the trend and experience what could well be the future of smartphones. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 has a starting price tag of Rs 1,54,999 for a 12GB+256GB configuration and you can double that storage for Rs 10,000 more. Samsung is also selling a 1TB variant, which costs Rs 1,84,999. Clearly, the new Fold is out of reach for the masses.
For the price, Samsung brings in the novelty factor, which has been refined well enough for its users to experience the best of both compact and tablet-sized screens in one.
- 6.2-inch AMOLED cover display
- 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED display
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen1
- Android 12L OS
- 50MP + 12MP + 10MP triple camera sensors
- 4MP + 10MP front camera sensors
- 4,400mAh battery, 25W fast charging
It's worth noting that Samsung sent us the review unit of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 in Beige, packing 256GB storage and 12GB RAM. The phone was running Android 12L with July 1, 2022, security patch. This review is based on our usage of almost 2 weeks.
Design and displays
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 isn't a design overhaul. But it's got some really sensible tweaks, which enhance the user experience. Undoubtedly, the book-style foldable design is much sought-after and the Beige finish looks royal. In fact, the Fold series itself has become a style statement and a status symbol and the Fold 4 is the best of the lot.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 has dual displays, both equally important in their own ways. The cover screen has a 6.2-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz dynamic refresh rate and is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus Plus, which also protects the back. Having used the phone for two weeks without a screen guard, we can say it has managed to keep even the minor scratches at bay. The rear panel also houses the triple camera setup, arranged in a pill-shaped vertical module. The sensors might be of different sizes, but the camera rings are all the same, which is aesthetically pleasing. That said, the S22 Ultra's floating camera design would have been better.
The cover display is a bit wider than what we've seen on Fold 3, but it also retains the compact form factor. The display has a 10MP punch-hole camera and with dark wallpaper, you can barely identify the camera or the bezels. It gives an edge-to-edge feel, which looks superb in AMOLED. The 2K resolution on the cover screen makes the images really pop out. The colours are vibrant, rich and lively. The abundant pixels are packed together to leave no room to give an excellent picture quality.
The cover display is attached to a hinge, which is made of Armor Aluminium. The frame of the phone also uses the Armor Aluminium construction, which adds durability to the phone. By using less metal, Samsung Galaxy Fold 4 feels lighter, even though it has only shed 8 grams, weighing at 263 grams. Thanks to that tall form factor, it gives a solid grip if you don't have slippery hands. The frame is shinier and flatter, a much-pleasing aesthetic complimenting the frosted glass back. But all that re-engineering hasn't made the gap between the display in folded state disappear. It's only narrower. Maybe someday, this will change.
Like the Fold 3, the new flagship gets IPX8 resistance, which means it is not dust-friendly. Speaking of, a lot of dust settles on the inner display when unused, which can be a visual discomfort.
The folding and unfolding mechanism is still a bit rigid and forgets about handling the task with a single hand. But it doesn't require extra force to fold or unfold the device. Just the right amount of pressure and you'll get used to it and the whole folding and unfolding get effortless.
As you open the phone, you're welcomed by a massive 7.6-inch AMOLED display with 120Hz dynamic refresh rate and 2K resolution. The unexposed display is made up of ultra-thin foldable glass, which seemed quite durable. But that's not even the best part.
The main display is slightly improved from its predecessor, producing sharper picture quality. With 90.9 percent screen-to-body ratio, the screen real-estate has slightly increased. The under-display camera is even harder to spot and doesn't get in the way of viewing content on the big screen. To top it all off, the display gets crazy bright, reaching 1,200 nits of peak brightness. We had no problem viewing content even under harsh lighting conditions. But the boxy aspect ratio is not something we are used to in a phone or even tablet, but it grows on you with use.
Samsung knows displays at the back of its hand. It has delivered the best in the Fold 4, akin to its reputation. Addressing the elephant in the room, the crease is still there. But it doesn't get in the way of viewing content on the big screen. Even if you can't see it, you'll feel it while sliding the finger from across the screen.
The Fold 4 isn't perfect, but its overall design has been vastly improved, so much so that we can say with confidence that it's as close as it gets to perfection. The display is the best in the biz, and the S-Pen support in the main display is the icing on the cake. You still cannot holster the S-Pen anywhere on the phone, which is disappointing if you really wish to use the S-Pen.
One of the biggest upgrades in the Fold 4 as compared to its predecessor is seen in the camera.
The main sensor in the Fold 4 is the very capable 50MP lens, which is accompanied by a 10MP telephoto with 3x optical zoom and 30x digital zoom and 12MP ultra-wide lenses. These cameras are complimented by some notable features like Nightography, Teleportraits, 8K video recording, Flex mode and more.
We have tried the different camera modes and used the three lenses in different lighting conditions to see how it performs. And, we are impressed by how good the cameras have gotten since Fold 3. Finally, you won't have to compromise on a key feature such as the camera in the name of innovation.
Firstly, the 50MP is a flagship-grade sensor, producing excellent results consistently. Even the image processing is so balanced and natural, you don't get the artificial retouching effect. This is evident in the skies and greenery. The shots produced are well detailed, have rich colours, a balanced dynamic range and the lost shadows are recovered. The darker areas of the image retain true blacks, giving low-light images a natural effect. Even when the night mode is used, the images are not unnaturally brightened in the darker areas. The 50MP shooter is a solid choice and gives satisfactory results in every situation.
Switching to the ultra-wide mode by tapping the 0.6x on the viewfinder lets you capture a 123-degree field-of-view. The results are not bad at all. The images shot using ultra-wide are given a nice dramatic effect. But we noticed a slight change in the colour profile in ultra-wide as compared to the main sensor, which was sort of expected. There's also slight warping around the edges, but the photos are kept sharp.
The portrait mode worked quite effortlessly. The edges are accurately outlined and a soft bokeh is applied for a nice depth effect. The portrait mode worked better in cases of humans and animals, not so much in the case of objects. The picture of filter coffee was taken using portrait mode, but you cannot see the bokeh in full action. Whereas the dog's pic and my friend's photo have the perfect bokeh. We preferred using the 3x zoom portrait most of the time as it allowed us to get close to the subject without actually getting disturbingly close physically. But focusing is not a painful task, so we're relieved at that. The colours appear punchy in portraits, which adds a nice effect.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 has up to 30x digital zoom, but the results are not quite usable. But you can go as far as 20x zoom to get better results, but we'd suggest using 10x zoom shots as they consistently produced clear shots. The zoomed-in shots undergo processing to give a clearer result, which works to the advantage.
Turning to the front camera, the 10MP selfie shooter is a solid one. It's the same as the one you get on the S22 Ultra. The colours are rich and a good amount of details are captured. Once again, there's post-processing, which recreates some colours to add more vibrancy. Since there's another selfie camera under the main display, we'd advise against it. The cover screen camera is much better in comparison. That's beside the fact that it is easier to hold the phone in its folded state.
Finally, the video recording capability is incredible. You can shoot up to 8K in 24fps, but 4K at 60fps or Full HD at up to 240fps is a more sound choice. There are OIS and digital stabilisations, which work effectively when you're moving about while recording.
Check out the camera samples below:
Performance & Software
Samsung hasn't cut any corners in terms of delivering optimum performance in its Fold 4. Powered by the latest Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, the Fold 4 can be made use of to its full potential. All the variants of the phone have 12GB RAM as standard, but you can use RAM Plus feature to add up to 8GB of virtual memory. In the last week or so, we didn't feel the need but it if someone continues to use it for a year, this feature will come in handy.
Now, Samsung has advertised the Fold 4 as the most powerful PC in the pocket. It's not wrong, you know. The Fold 4 is quite powerful, and the Android 12L, which is tailor-made for larger screens, is the icing on the cake.
Let's start with daily usage. Our day revolves around a lot of IMs, emails, calls, social media browsing, internet searches, music in the background and cameras for testing purposes. All this either on 4G or Wi-Fi, while GPS stays turned on. Under these conditions, the phone performed extremely well. No lags, no app crashes or frozen screens.
The main screen was the ultimate saviour when it comes to productivity use. We tried live reporting some news stories from Fold 4 and the experience couldn't be better. On one side, we would keep the Twitter news sources running and on the other would be the CMS to log all the updates. There was no need to go back and forth between apps, it was simply seamless.
On some slow-paced tasks, we would have more apps simultaneously and the phone could handle it all. You can run up to 9 apps in floating windows and we did it just to get the kick of it. The phone did get warm, but never to a point where it got too hot to handle. The only problem was we just couldn't use the phone with a single hand while multitasking on the big screen.
But the performance aspect is not the star as software steals the cake here. The little things in the Android 12L make the biggest difference. For instance, the taskbar makes multitasking such a delight. It truly gives a sense of a PC on a smartphone. Besides switching apps, the taskbar works best to do split-window multitasking. Just drag and drop gestures to use apps side by side. The silver lining is that you don't notice the crease anymore.
There are things like using Flex Mode for various apps. And it's just too convenient. Like snapping photos in flex mode and instantly viewing it on the lower part of the display like a PC is just great. Then viewing photos in Album, you can actually mimic a PC by keeping the phone in a 90-degree folded state and using the lower part of the display as a trackpad and the upper part as a monitor. We found a great use for split-view multitasking in the 90-degree folded state. The feature still requires refinement and more apps need to get on board with support for Flex Mode, but until then it's fun to try it once in a while.
The cover screen, as great as it is for many tasks, it is not for everything. We could watch shows and browse social media, watch Reels, make calls and do tasks that do not require typing with ease. But the cover screen is not ideal for messaging, we often got typos.
The power button also doubles as the fingerprint sensor, which works efficiently and we didn't notice any issues with it. There are two stereo speakers, which offer an immersive experience depending on how you hold the phone.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is powerful enough to handle your most demanding tasks, and the software is refined to deliver an unmatched experience but has its low moments.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4, surprisingly, hasn't seen any upgrade in terms of battery. The phone is powered by the same 4,400mAh battery supported by 25W wired and 10W wireless charging. Even though there's no upgrade, the new Snapdragon chipset will add a few extra minutes on the usage. With our use, we managed to get around 5 hours of screen-on time, which is not sufficient to get through the day if you're a heavy user. But we managed to get a hack to extend the battery life, which is relying more on the cover screen for most tasks.
Since the phone doesn't come with an adapter, you'll need to get one. With the compatible 25W brick, you still need to be patient with the charging speed. It takes over one hour to charge the phone with the "protect battery" feature enabled, which stops the phone's charging at 85 per cent. To reach 100 percent, you'll need to spare an hour and a half. We didn't bother with the wireless charging.
The Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 is truly efficient, but not everything can be controlled by the chip. The Fold 4 is not an all-day kind of device. But if you can moderately manage your usage, you can push it through the day.
Should you buy it?
The best of Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is all under the hood. This is with respect to Fold 3, which carries the same design language. But the upgrades seen in the Fold 4 are noteworthy, making first-time buyers truly appreciate the goodness of the foldable flagship.
The displays are terrific in Fold 4 and the performance is unparalleled. The software optimisation on the main screen is catered to working professionals, who will find more use for their productivity apps. The camera is truly flagship-grade and not just filling the spec sheet. Samsung has really gone the extra mile on the camera front.
But the phone isn't without its downsides. The battery is surely one of the more concerning factors, but having dual displays and more use-case does that.
A few things we wish the Fold 4 offered:
— S-Pen holder
— S-Pen support on cover screen
— Better software optimisation on the cover screen
— Faster charging
— In-display fingerprint sensor
— Dust-resistant certification
The biggest question is if the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is worth buying. Well, it's not at all affordable. But it's worth noting that no other foldable phone holds a candle to Galaxy Z Fold 4. That's the reason why it's dominating the foldable smartphone market share. And going by the predecessors, the Fold 4 is the best one yet and its worth goes up. The Fold 4 is simply for those who want a flagship, stand out in the crowd and put all that extra screen real-estate to use. Above all, don't consider this if you don't have a small fortune to spare without the need for such innovations.