Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Review: Polishing a successful recipe
We loved the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 last year. I loved it too and it literally made me question as to why the world hasn't blindly made the move to foldables. The luxury of having a larger tablet-like display in your pockets was simply too good. And with the Galaxy Z Fold 4, Samsung promises to make things only better. The Fold 4 retains the same figures for the display dimensions on paper but the newer aspect ratio makes it feel almost new. Some nifty software additions have only elevated the Galaxy Z Fold 4 to the same pedestal as the Galaxy Note devices of yesteryears (Sorry Galaxy S22 Ultra, you are just not cool anymore).
If you wonder why my description is all rosy, the underlying reason is me living with the Galaxy Z Fold 4 for almost two weeks. Granted it still feels like carrying a mouth organ but the Fold 4 has once again changed the way I use smartphones. Read along as I explain why.
In a world where Apple gets to call its phone “new” with a rearranged camera housing, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 retains the same design as the Fold 3 – at least from the back. It has the same slim camera hump with just three lenses! Such modesty! Look closely and you see the hinge mechanism eating less space around the Cover Display (outer display) and the shorter yet wider aspect ratio liberates more horizontal space. On a daily basis, this makes a lot of difference in living with the Fold 4. Mind you, the Cover Display is still not as wide as a Galaxy S22 and that means lots of typos in your messages!
Being a Samsung, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is built like a tank (I can't imagine I am saying this for a foldable phone). The Armour Aluminum construction feels sturdy and so does the Gorilla Glass Victus+ glass on the Cover Display. The hinge is firmer than before and you need to exert some strength to open it. The Main Display reinforces its protective layers but that central crease is still there and is noticeable. Best bit is that the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is IPX8 certified for water resistance, which means it should be fine under light showers, or in sweaty hands. Watch out for the weight – At 263 grams, the Fold 4 is quite heavy!
The only phone to have two displays! And both of them are irresistibly good! The Main Display measures 7.6-inches like the Fold 3 but is shorter and wider. This allows for a more tablet-like layout, which is frankly more useful to run apps side-by-side. The panel itself is what Samsung calls a Dynamic AMOLED 2X display, which in simple English means the very best from Samsung. Whether you check out social media apps, stream movies on Prime Video, or play games, everything looks bright, vivid and colourful – typical of Samsung phones. The refresh rate varies from 1Hz to 120Hz, thereby keeping all animations smooth and saving power at the same time. Plus, the under display 4MP camera is now better concealed by the overlaying pixels; it is still visible but less prominent to the peripheral vision.
When you aren't in the mood to unfold your larger display, the 6.5-inch Cover Display isn't any compromise either. It looks almost as good as the Main Display and has a similar varying refresh rate of 10Hz to 120Hz. It is obviously slimmer than conventional smartphone displays but it is more serviceable on a daily basis than the Fold 3's outer display. Sadly, the 10MP selfie camera isn't hidden yet, still sticks out like an ugly spot.
A phone like the Galaxy Z Fold 4 needs the most capable processors and Samsung has done exactly that – given it the mighty Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 needs no introduction now; it is a bit faster but noticeably runs cooler and more efficiently. You have 12GB RAM as standard on all the variants but the storage can be had in 256GB, 512GB and 1TB.
A recipe like this is enough to give any phone superpowers but what makes the Fold 4 standout is Samsung's cleverly designed and tuned One UI interface. Now based on Android 12L, it is this OS that makes the most out of the available resources. For example, you get a Windows 11-like app taskbar on the Galaxy Z Fold 4! It is present at the bottom while running all apps and you can quickly switch to the pinned apps, or choose from the floating app drawer. You can also drag an app from here to open in the multitasking view. What other phone lets you do that?
This and several other underlying software tricks (Flex mode tricks), some of which make a comeback from the Fold 3, make the Galaxy Z Fold 4 an ace. However, when you want it to behave just like a regular Android phone, you can do so easily. The Fold 4 lets you make calls, text on WhatsApp, browse Facebook and Instagram, and watch YouTube videos, just like a conventional phone. This versatility is unmatched!
It is just that the core experience is similar to that of a tablet when the Main Display is used primarily. On the Cover Display, it feels more familiar but still slimmer than most other phones. The fun, however, is with the 7.6-inch Main Display and stuff like gaming feels awesome on it. For example, Call of Duty: Mobile literally feels immersive on this display; it runs at its best too. The chipset itself runs cool and I couldn't stress it enough to panic.
Helping with the Main Display experience is the stereo speaker setup, which is loud and sounds decent. However, the audio depth is not as good as the iPhone 13 Pro Max, or the Xiaomi 12 Pro. The Fold 4 also holds on to Airtel 4G network well and call clarity wasn't an issue – an obvious thing with such a premium smartphone.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 did not have the best cameras and the Fold 4 has no intention of changing that. Samsung, however, has updated it with a new 50MP main sensor from the Galaxy S22 to enhance the still photo output. The result is the Galaxy Z Fold 4 leaving me impressed with what it can do under daylight and night. The photos have ample details and the colour science is appealing; it is not natural though and colours are enhanced by default. For most Fold 4 users though, these photos by themselves are good enough to be uploaded on social media without touch-ups. There is some loss in details in low and indoor lighting but it is never disappointing.
The 12MP ultra-wide camera takes equally good photos but the details are slightly lacking in comparison to the main sensor. The 10MP telephoto camera now optically zooms 3X and the results are visible – 3X zoomed photos have greater details and clarity, plus the dynamic range is eye catching. When it comes to videos, all three rear cameras can do an equally good job. They don't quite match the iPhone 13 Pro's video camera quality but it is good enough for vloggers.
Then you have the selfie cameras. The 4MP camera on the Main Display is still decent and suffers in low light – faces are blurred out a bit. The 10MP camera on the Cover Display is great though, offering good enough colours and ample facial details. However, you can use the main rear cameras for selfies too (in the selfie mode by unfolding the display) and that beats all other smartphone selfie cameras; leave aside the iPhone 13 Pro Max's front cameras.
The Fold 3 has a decent battery life to offer and the Fold 4 makes it slightly better on paper, at least for now. The 4400mAh battery doesn't sound enough but Samsung's One UI paired with the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset makes the Fold 4 easily last an entire day. Yes, you need to refill the battery at all costs the next day but for a phone with two massive 120Hz displays, the Fold 4 returns immense battery life figures.
Sadly, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 gets the same 25W wired fast charging from its predecessor. It does the 0-50% charge in almost half an hour but it slows down as it climbs towards the 100% mark. There's support for 15W wireless charging, which is great if you have a charging pad lying around. You can also reverse wireless charge your other accessories and smartphones.
I won't beat around the bush – the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is unlike any other phone today. The sole reason to consider it is still its magically cinematic 7.6-inch foldable Main Display – it makes using those same boring apps and everything mundane look an event of a galactic level! Plus, it has a hidden camera! Beat that Apple. Add to it the flawless performance, a set of great cameras, and the tastefully designed One UI experience, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 becomes an easy recommendation for anyone with deep pockets.
Yes, it is not all good here. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is cumbersome in the pockets and the palms. Practicality is not at its best, especially if you are switching from a conventional smartphone. Plus durability is a concern when you consider its biggest moving part – the hinge; it can go wrong when exposed to the dusty Indian conditions. And Samsung is yet to prove the durability of the flexible OLED panels, since complaints of peeling layers from Fold 3 have surfaced a lot.
But then the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is all about elevating the smartphone experience and I found it fun to use – this is what matters when you spend a fortune on a phone. Plus a foldable phone is still a novelty factor while showing off. If you can afford to spend ₹1.6 lakhs on a phone and the iPhone 13 Pro Max isn't tantalizing enough, I am elated to recommend the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. You will love it.
- King of versatility
- Great Main Display experience
- Fast performance
- It is a folding phone!
- Cumbersome form factor
- Delicate Main Display
- Cover Display too narrow
- Exorbitant price
Main Display7.6-inch 120Hz AMOLED Foldable
Cover Display6.2-inches 120Hz AMOLED
ChipsetSnapdragon 8+ Gen 1
OSOne UI 4.1.1 on Android 12L
Rear Cameras50MP + 12MP + 10MP
Selfie Cameras10MP + 4MP
Charging25W wired, 15W wireless