For many of us, myself included, the folding show expertise on the coronary heart of Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold4 is the stuff of wonders. Although that is the fourth Galaxy Fold, and there are a number of different units with foldable screens that you could contact and use, it’s really wild to crack open your cellphone and see the tablet-esque 7.6-inch internal display open. It’s essential to take into account that folding screens are, conceptually, nonetheless new and a bit magical. The Fold4, launched Aug. 26, is essentially outlined by design tweaks and improved parts that enhance its flagship-tier efficiency, although not all the time in ways in which the common particular person will care about. And but, until you might be one of many few upgrading from an older Fold, utilizing one will probably really feel completely new and thrilling.

However, just like the earlier fashions, that have comes with just a few tradeoffs versus a traditional cellphone. Having a really massive display that’s genuinely pocketable feels nice while you’re scrolling at residence or sitting on a prepare, however it’s thicker, extra delicate, and a bit of bit awkward in comparison with the usual smartphone design. Samsung has taken measures to mitigate these points within the Fold4, particularly round sturdiness. The result’s highly effective and interesting, however not essentially a large enough change to make the folding handset a viable selection for the common cellphone fan.

What’s the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4?

The Galaxy Z Fold4 retains the book-style folding kind issue that its predecessors popularized. While you pull it out of your pocket, it’s a thick, tall, and thin riff on the standard smartphone, measuring 2.64 x 6.11 x 0.62 inches (WHD) with a 6.2-inch 2316 x 904p Dynamic AMOLED 2X display. You may open the cellphone from the fitting aspect, like a ebook, revealing the bigger 7.6-inch 2176 x 1812p Dynamic AMOLED 2X show. At 5.12 x 6.11 x 0.25 inches unfolded, the Fold4 calls for two arms to deal with the bigger “pill” mode comfortably, so it’s actually reserved for while you may give it your full consideration.

Utilizing the Fold when closed feels roughly like your normal smartphone, although the shape issue is unquestionably lower than best. The exterior display makes most apps look scrunched collectively. Textual content in apps like Twitter and Fb is small, so it may be more durable to casually have a look at apps at a look. It’s effective when you could bang out a fast textual content or take a name, however you wouldn’t need to spend time utilizing it this manner.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 Review
Spotify is among the better-looking apps when the Fold4 is closed. Mike Epstein

After all, when you will have time, you’ll open up the cellphone and use the bigger display, which tremendously enhances watching, enjoying, and doing something the place you give the cellphone your full consideration. I’ve by no means been one to look at a film or TV on my cellphone, however the display fills your visual view to the purpose the place you’ll be able to watch movies comfortably with out bringing the display in shut. Video games, particularly these with small textual content like League of Legends: Wild Rift or Teamfight Techniques, look higher and are simpler to navigate. (If nothing else, the Fold4 feels extra like a “gaming cellphone” than the rest I’ve tried.)

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It additionally affords the very best model of app multitasking on a cellphone. You may open and concurrently run as much as three apps throughout the 21.6:18 internal display. I discover it really works greatest protecting it to 2 so nothing will get too small, however it feels a lot better to maneuver data between two apps you’ll be able to see than to repeat one thing, shut an app, then open one other and paste, as you’ll on most telephones. Generally you’re transferring data from a Google doc to a spreadsheet. Different occasions you’re including one thing to your calendar primarily based on a observe or a textual content that Android doesn’t acknowledge as a possible calendar occasion. As streamlined as our telephones are, all of us nonetheless do these little guide information transfers every now and then and it feels higher on the Fold, when you get the grasp of split-screening apps utilizing the “Multi-Window” tab on the fitting aspect of the display.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 Review
two apps on the Fold4, side-by-side. Mike Epstein

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4’s design and options

To optimize its strengths, and overcome just a few of its weaknesses, the Fold4 options just a few structural design tweaks. The cellphone is slightly below 3mm shorter than the Galaxy Z Fold3, and 2mm wider when unfolded, which matches a surprisingly lengthy approach to make holding the cellphone extra comfy, particularly in “pill” kind. Its smaller bezels get out of the display’s manner, permitting it to loom massive within the shorter, wider cellphone.

The unconventional kind components of each screens nonetheless current their very own points, although. Since neither show suits the standard dimensions of a smartphone or a pill, you’ll discover many apps characteristic crunched show textual content, plus massive black bars round widescreen movies and different apps not optimized particularly for the Fold. That doesn’t take away from the truth that Netflix and video games look sharp and delightful on the big unfolded display (or the quilt display, in case you select), however it typically minimizes the advantages of getting a maximal display.

In equity, although, Samsung is steadily getting increasingly more builders to create Fold-native variations of their apps, together with the Google suite, the Microsoft Workplace suite, Spotify, Fb, and extra. Most just lately, they’ve added Twitch, YouTube, and Microsoft Groups.

So sturdy, however not sturdy sufficient

To fight the overall notion that the Fold is fragile, Samsung has taken steps to make it extra sturdy. It incorporates a bolstered body and a canopy show made out of Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+. It additionally incorporates a redesigned hinge, which permits for a smoother opening. Samsung additionally claims that the brand new hinge makes the “crease” in the course of the show disruptive, however it’s nonetheless very noticeable in most apps.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 Review
Even with a brand new hinge design, the mid-display crease returns on the Fold4. Mike Epstein

Whereas these modifications might have bolstered the cellphone in opposition to drops, the cellphone nonetheless feels extra delicate than a Galaxy S22 or an iPhone 13. The hinge opens easily, however slowly—you can’t whip it open the way in which you’ll be able to with a laptop computer or an old-school flip cellphone. Consequently, I used to be nonetheless afraid of opening it forcefully and snapping the cellphone in half, even when that wasn’t an actual chance. Additionally, the cellphone stays prone to mud—it options an IPX8 water resistance score, however no dry particle resistance—so there you do should be considerably aware of the place and the way you deal with it. (Additionally, at 9.6 ounces, it drops like a rock. So … don’t drop it.)

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Processor beneficial properties

One of many Galaxy Z Fold4’s largest enhancements is its new and improved Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor. Whereas it’s solely half-step over the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 within the Galaxy S22 line, it has seemingly delivered a larger-than-average efficiency increase, not less than on paper. In benchmarks like Geekbench 5 for CPU and basic processor efficiency, the Fold4 outperformed the Galaxy S22 and S21 Extremely by a small however notable margin. It beat out Samsung’s different foldable, the Galaxy Z Flip4, which has the identical chipset. It additionally outdid the usual Galaxy telephones in 3DMark’s Wild Life checks for GPU efficiency and was neck and neck with the Flip4. 

All issues being equal, the Fold4 affords best-in-class velocity for an Android cellphone. Chances are you’ll discover it in video games, which ought to really feel snappy and look sharp, or when taking and modifying both high-resolution photographs and video. It additionally ensures clean scrolling in 120Hz with out flickering, and seamless transitions when utilizing two apps in break up display mode apps, or bending the internal display into the half-folded “flex” mode.

Digicam bump

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 Review
The rear digital camera stack stands out as the greatest single improve on the Fold4. Mike Epstein

The digital camera is the centerpiece of most smartphones, and the Fold4 is the primary folding mannequin the place the {hardware} feels prefer it’s in lock-step with the usual Galaxy telephones. Its main again cameras match the S22 and S22 Plus—a 50MP wide-angle digital camera, a 12MP Extremely-wide digital camera, and 10MP tele-photo digital camera. That’s a notable step up over the 12/12/12MP lenses on the Fold3 5G. It additionally affords as much as 30x digital zoom and 3x optical zoom, the latter of which is an improve over the S22.

For video, the Fold4 can report in 8K at as much as 24 frames per second (fps), or in 4K at as much as 60fps. The Fold3 couldn’t report in 8K, so you might be getting a constancy bump, albeit a largely pointless one. (I don’t personal any 8K units, do you?)

After all, the precise efficiency of those cameras more and more comes all the way down to the AI that magically blends a number of footage collectively behind the scenes. Once more, the Fold4 receives an improve that allows parity with the S22, together with Samsung’s new “nightography” for low-light photographs. As somebody who’s very essential of photographs, however solely an okay photographer, I discovered the Fold4 makes it very simple to take the absolute best photograph in any given scenario, although I’d say that some colours seem a bit oversaturated in very vibrant settings. That shouldn’t come as a shock for anybody accustomed to Samsung’s digital camera methods.

It’s additionally value mentioning that the folding display is very helpful when taking pictures photographs and video. In “flex” mode, with the display half-folded, the viewfinder seems on the higher, vertical half of the display and the buttons seem on the decrease half. This makes it a lot simpler to take a transparent photograph whereas elevating your cellphone excessive or reducing it with out bending down, since you’ll be able to nonetheless see what you’re taking pictures.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 Review
Flex mode and the digital camera app are an ideal pair while you need to seize the groovy hue(s) of a lava lamp. Mike Epstein

Along with the first rear cameras, the Fold4 has two selfie cameras, a 10MP digital camera on the quilt display and a 4MP underneath the unfolded show. These cameras are largely unchanged from the Fold3: Each are effective, however a far cry from the wonderful rear cameras. That stated, Samsung has made it so the under-display digital camera efficiently fades into the show when video games and apps don’t use it. It’s a pleasant quality-of-life enchancment, although a small digital camera dot doesn’t really feel like an enormous obstacle in a tech world stuffed with digital camera notches.

Battery life and different options

For all of its many enhancements, some elements of the Fold4 are similar to the Fold3. It incorporates a 4400mAh battery that can get you thru a day of intermittent use, although you’ll burn by way of it a lot sooner enjoying a sport on the massive display for an prolonged time, possibly 4-5 hours. It nonetheless can deal with as much as 25W fast-charging, which might juice up your cellphone from lifeless to 50 p.c in half-hour. It additionally helps the most recent networking requirements—5G out of your provider and Wi-Fi 6E on a house community.

Apart from battery life, which might all the time enhance, these are top-of-the-line specs. We might count on nothing much less from the one cellphone that prices greater than a Galaxy S22 Extremely.

So, who should purchase the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4?

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 Review
Should you watch a whole lot of Netflix in your cellphone, the Fold4 is an effective selection. Mike Epstein

Although it’s the very best model of the Galaxy Fold but, the Galaxy Z Fold4 nonetheless seems like a tool reserved for tinkerers, early adopters, and those that are prepared to pay extra for an thrilling, if typically flawed expertise. Its streamlined design appears to be like extra svelte and feels higher in your hand. In some ways, it’s extra sturdy. It affords smoother efficiency and much-improved cameras. These are all nice issues, and so they enable the Fold4 to retain its place because the premiere folding cellphone (even when the Z Flip collection is extra fashionable).

Regardless of the positives, two issues maintain the Fold4 again: First, even with its enhancements, many elements of the Fold4 really feel extra delicate than one other cellphone. In some circumstances, these fears could also be imagined, like snapping the hinge. Others, like considerations about getting mud within the cellphone or breaking the internal display, usually are not, although. Actual or not, anxiousness over breaking the cellphone provides some actual baggage to the expertise.

That perceived fragility is barely enhanced by the Fold4’s sky-high value. With a beginning launch value of $1,799.99 for an unlocked cellphone, it’s significantly costlier than a Galaxy S22 Extremely, a Pixel 6 professional, or an iPhone 13 Professional Max. At that value, I count on a particular cellphone that excels in methods others don’t and delivers superior efficiency with none compromises. The Fold4 nails the primary half, however falters on the second. Considered one of as of late, the Fold will both repair these points or drop to a low sufficient value that it may well develop into a sensible suggestion. It isn’t prepared in the present day, however Samsung is one step nearer.