Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review

The foldable smartphone Galaxy Z Fold 4 from Samsung Electronics appears in this undated publication provided by Samsung Electronics.

Samsung Electronics | via Reuters

I’ve been testing the new $1,800 Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, which will launch on August 26, for the past two weeks. It’s the first time I’ve used a phone that opens to reveal a screen the size of a small tablet. I am impressed.

I usually use the iPhone 13 mini, and I’ve found that there’s a lot I can do with a phone like this. I can run multiple apps side by side, for example. I can sit outdoors and watch TV with a bigger screen than I can find in my pocket.

Battery life is great, the upgraded camera is sharp, and the new app taskbar at the bottom of the screen makes it easy to launch your favorite apps with a quick tap.

However, I’m not impressed enough to justify the $1800 price tag. The improvements to the Z Fold 4 are marginal compared to last year’s Galaxy Z Fold 3. And while it’s fun to use, I don’t think the Z Fold 4 will take the “mainstream” folds just yet.

Here are the three takeaways after trying the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.

The big screen is changing the rules of the game

The most common complaint I came across prior to my first interaction with the Z Fold was that the crease in the middle was obvious and distracting. I’ve compared the Z Fold 4 to its predecessor, the Z Fold 3, and the crease looks less noticeable. When watching Bravo on the YouTube TV app, I completely forgot I was watching it on a foldable phone. The frizz fades once you get used to it.

The screen is also very bright. I was able to watch TV outside on a bright day and the sun didn’t block the picture. I even read an e-book and some news articles on the beach.

I also like that the external display is a bit wider than last year’s model. There’s more room to write and you feel a lot more using a regular phone, rather than a skinny one.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 multi active window.

Sophia Pet

The most useful feature was the ability to have multiple browser tabs open on the 7.6-inch screen simultaneously. This meant that I could navigate between different websites, as I do on a computer, just by clicking on different tabs.

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is also the first device to run Android 12L, a special version of Android created by Google for devices with large screens. It makes multitasking with three apps open at the same time really easy. In the image above, you can see that the browser, YouTube TV, and my gallery are open. But you can do it using any three apps. I loved that I could save it to a shortcut on the home screen, and with one click, turn it back on right to where it was.

Some apps are not automatically optimized to use the larger internal screen. Take Instagram for example, another app that I frequent often. It has a large border on the side by default. Thankfully, Samsung has an option in Settings to force apps to use the entire screen, even if they aren’t optimized. It works, you just need to know where to look.

Instagram on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.

Sophia Pet

The camera is on par with the iPhone 13 Pro Max

There are three rear cameras on the Galaxy Z Fold 4, including an upgraded 50MP lens and a 30x zoom lens. The larger lens size means the camera captures 23 percent more light than the Fold 3, translating the increased megapixels into clearer photos.

I compared the Z Fold 4 to Apple’s high-end iPhone 13 Pro Max. Both are great for photos. Details seem to be captured better by the Z Fold 4, while colors are more accurately represented on the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Rose photo taken on Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Sophia Pet

Take, for example, a shot of a rose. iPhone 13 Pro Max provides more detail and a more accurate representation of true color. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 takes a photo with a slightly more natural blur around the rose, which is what some people prefer.

Landscape photo taken on Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Sophia Pet

In this landscape photo, you can see that the colors that the Z Fold 4 captures are not very accurate. It looks more saturated. However, you can get more details from the darker parts of the Z Fold 4 photos.

One thing I miss when using the Z Fold 4 is the ability to index the iPhone camera roll. I like being able to search my camera turn for text in photos, which works well on the iPhone but doesn’t work well on the Galaxy Z Fold.

All day battery life

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Sophia Pet

I used the Galaxy Z Fold 4 all day long for streaming, emailing, reading e-books and playing games, and was able to work until bedtime without having to charge. But, keep in mind that battery life will vary depending on how often you use the large internal screen versus the smaller one. You may get longer battery life if you use the external monitor mostly.

The Z Fold 4 comes with a USB-C to USB-C cable, but it doesn’t come with a wall plug despite its $1800 price tag. Most phone makers are doing this now, assuming they can save on waste because most people might already have a charger at home. However, I think it should come with a charging brick because you need at least a 25W charger for fast charging. It is also compatible with wireless charging.

Should you buy it?

The foldable smartphone Galaxy Z Fold 4 from Samsung Electronics appears in this undated publication provided by Samsung Electronics.

Samsung Electronics | via Reuters

Galaxy Z Fold 4 feels flexible. I was at a family gathering of my relatives who are using my iPhone and I gave them a chance to try out the phablet. After some initial “oohs and aahs,” they all said the phone wouldn’t pull them away from their iPhones.

$1800 is a lot of money. I think being able to fold the phone in half is great, but it’s not great enough to justify the price. Save money and buy a great Android phone like Samsung Galaxy S22, S22 Ultra or Google Pixel 6 and still have enough to buy a tablet.

But, if you want a tablet and phone in one, this might be right up your alley. It is especially useful if you are a frequent traveler and want to carry fewer devices.

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