Samsung, with the summer announcement of the Galaxy Z Flip4 and Galaxy Z Fold4, has once again confirmed itself as the queen of the folding market. Not only is the company that has managed to bring the largest number of devices of this type to the market over the years but, in the world, it has practically no rival.
We have tested the new Galaxy Z Fold 4 for more than a month, putting it to the test in the most disparate situations and our experience has confirmed the very good impressions of the first hands-on.
Let’s start with the first consideration that must be made when it comes to foldable: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is by no means a fragile smartphone, as many still think.
The new folding is made again with what the company calls Armor Aluminum, an aluminum alloy more resistant to scratches and falls. The structure is solid, the displays are well protected in the event of an impact and generally taking the smartphone in hand you always have the feeling of having a product built like a tank in your hands.
It is not a device that falls into the rugged category, on the contrary (even if Samsung is the only one that certifies its folding according to the (IPX8 standard), and the internal display is easier to scratch than the glass. However, Galaxy Z Fold 4 has nothing to envy in terms of construction, for example, to a Galaxy S22 Ultra. The quality of assembly and materials used by the brand is truly first-class.
The hinge has been revised to protrude less from the body of the terminal and has been made once again more rigid and pleasant to use. The gears have been removed for an engineering solution that requires the use of fewer moving components and can be stopped at any angle between 75 ° and 115 °, allowing virtually exclusive modes of use (Flex Mode).
The only real note that can be made to Samsung is that when closed the Galaxy Z Fold 4 still leaves a small gap between the two halves that allows dust or dirt to enter, effectively putting the internal display at risk. Other players in the sector have already solved this problem but sacrificing factors such as water resistance and the ability to adjust the hinge at different angles.
Better Built Quality
The exterior of Galaxy Z Fold 4 is covered with Gorilla Glass Victus +, the most resistant smartphone glass to date produced by the American company Corning. While the back has a nice matte finish, the front is for obvious reasons smooth and this opens up the side for a further problem.
Since the rear cameras are very protruding and above all they do not allow the device to rest firmly on the surfaces, if you want to take advantage of the Flex Mode it is necessary to place the Fold4 on the external display.
In addition to the risk of scratching this display, the fact that it is a smooth surface leads to unpleasant movements when the surface on which it rests is not perfectly level, potentially causing accidental falls that can become ruinous. As one of the main points of Samsung’s marketing is the use of Flex Mode to take pictures without the need for a tripod, this is something to watch out for. Another problem: the half that includes the main cameras is heavier than the other, so when using the Flex Mode going beyond a certain angle the foldable tends to overturn.
Returning to the protrusion that contains these cameras, I very much hope that in the future Samsung will find a solution similar to that of some of its opponents. Galaxy Z Fold 4 wobbles conspicuously when placed down because this protrusion is in a corner and does not extend the full width of the product, see Xiaomi Mix Fold 2 or Pixel 6 Pro.
That said, although Samsung has further improved the build quality of its flagship smartphone, it has managed to reduce the weight of the terminal to “only” 263g. It is not a featherweight, it is useless to try to say it, but the weight was contained enough to be comparable to that of a classic smartphone with a protective cover, certainly an important result. However, it remains a nice brick to keep in your pocket.
Thinner Than Before
The closed Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is smaller but thicker than a traditional high-end product. When open it is larger but allows you to have more space for your activities and is thinner. It is an “important” product and it is not suitable for those looking for a compact as Zenfone 9 can be, but it is designed with users in mind who put productivity first among their needs.
The capacitive fingerprint reader has been kept on the right side of the smartphone to be easily accessible both with the Fold closed and open, a sensible choice.
Small Improvement in Display
Even about the screens, Samsung has opted for small but sensible improvements.
The external 6.2 ″ AMOLED panel now has a lower and wider format (904 x 2316 pixels), which extends further from the hinge side and is still comfortable enough to use with one hand. We are far from the convenience of using a traditional smartphone, especially for two-handed writing, however, the Fold4 is more useful when closed than the previous model. It is always a 120Hz panel, so there is no disparity in user experience with the internal screen.
Speaking of the internal display, Samsung has opted for a 7.6 ″ solution (1812 x 2176 pixels) capable of reaching 1200 nits of brightness and therefore perfectly usable even outdoors and able to do justice to HDR content (supporting the HDR10 + standard).
It is an Eco2 OLED Plus panel made by Samsung Display that improves efficiency when compared to the past generation, another element that helps the excellent autonomy of the terminal which we will discuss later.
The fold continues to be seen if you look for it, comparisons with last year’s model seem to show a slight reduction of this inevitable flaw of folding panels but we are still far from what some competitors such as Oppo or Vivo have achieved. You can feel it to the touch but it is difficult to pass over it with your finger given the vertical orientation. In the case of reflections on the display, it becomes visible but in the normal use of Galaxy Z Fold 4, there is very little attention.
This has never bothered me and honestly, the benefits of a folding display like this are greater for me than the annoyance caused by the presence of a crease, however not all people who have seen and tried it think this way. If you have the chance, see for yourself how much your experience at a store is impacting you before you go shopping.
The UTG (Ultra-Thin Glass) protection has shown on the Z Fold 3 that it can withstand daily use without too many problems and the cost of repairing in case of damage has dropped enough to be comparable to replacing a traditional display. The pre-applied film by Samsung is of excellent quality and to the touch, it is smooth and uniform as if it were glass, which cannot be said of other plastic films.
In addition, in case of scratches over time, it is always possible to remove them without causing damage to the display, or at least this has been from the brand. Unfortunately, there are no third-party solutions yet and you will have to go to Samsung itself if you want to replace it with a new one.
In the upper part of the right half of the internal display, a UDC (Under Display Camera) has once again been inserted. Samsung has managed to increase the pixel density in that precise area of the panel but it still shows if you look closely. Here the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra still has the upper hand and the ZTE Red Magic 7S Pro also uses a less visible solution. We will talk about the quality of the sensor in the dedicated section.
However, the pixels in the “hidden” camera area are enough to make the user forget the presence of this hidden hole. When you actively watch content, be it a social application, a book, videos, or photos, you don’t notice it and that’s the important thing. It can certainly be improved, but we are faced with a solution that, at least as regards the removal of distractions, is effective.
When the display area shows black (i.e., the pixels are turned off) the camera looks as if it were normally exposed. The lower pixel density is more noticeable than the rest of the panel mainly when displaying solid colors, especially white, in that area.
The bezels have been reduced slightly for an even more modern look and to be less of a distraction, although the ones surrounding the Z Fold3’s internal display never bothered me that much. A change that, although not essential, is certainly welcome.
The Samsung folding once again supports the use of the S Pen thanks to Wacom technology, even if it is necessary to purchase a specific model separately and there is no slot for inserting the same into the smartphone to always have it with you. We did not have the pleasure of being able to try this accessory firsthand, however, we are sure that in terms of functionality it is extremely capable and useful as it has all the functions already seen on the Note range and the latest Galaxy “Ultra”. Even with the resistance of the display to the constant use of the stylus, we cannot pronounce ourselves.
In general, the quality of the two displays chosen by Samsung is undisputed, but we did not expect otherwise: high resolution and adaptive frequency, vivid and brilliant colors, high contrasts, and even higher brightness than last year. Even if Galaxy Z Fold4 does not break any absolute records it is a fantastic device for viewing multimedia content and I found it very pleasant to edit photos using the large panel that can fold and accompany me in my every move.
Difficult to Find Faults in The Performance
We now know the Galaxy Z Fold4 hardware very well, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 has done what is probably one of the biggest inter-generational leaps since Qualcomm started releasing a “Plus” variant after six months from its flagship chip. It legitimately looks like a completely different chip from its predecessor, not just a slight overclocks, and in a way it is. The American company moved from Samsung’s semiconductor factories to TSMC’s. Compared to the Z Fold 3 Snapdragon 888 it is a big step forward.
Confirming what we have already seen in our chip comparisons, Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 reconfirms itself as an energy efficiency champion without giving up all the power you may need.
As for the performance of this SoC, we can be completely satisfied. Never a slowdown or uncertainty, even using 3 applications on a shared screen with other floating windows. The foldable Samsung is the true king of multitasking and even using the “limited” performance profile to improve autonomy we never noticed any slowdowns.
New Cameras, But the Same Result
Starting from the sensor we have already mentioned, inside the Galaxy Z Fold 4, we find again a UDC solution of only 4MP f / 1.8. Samsung has worked to make the display area covering the camera less visible but the quality of the shots has not made the leaps forward that we would have expected.
It is not a sensor suitable for capturing quality selfies for your social networks or group shots with friends, it is more a present convenience to make video calls more practical using the smartphone in Flex Mode. It is a small step forward for the future but it is not a quality camera that we would expect from a product that costs much more than 1000 euros.
And while the 10MP front camera has remained the same, with a quality that I can call more than enough, the biggest improvements have been made to the photographic compartment at the rear. Now is the 50MP main sensor with f / 1.8 lenses and new is the 10MP f / 2.4 camera with optical zoom that goes to 3x compared to last year’s simple 2x. A 12MP f / 2.2 wide-angle camera with a wide 123 ° field of view completes the triptych.
Google-Samsung: The Best Software Together
What makes the Galaxy Fold 4 a better folding than the competition is mainly the software. There is little to go around it, the close collaboration between Google and the Korean company is bearing fruit, so much so that some recent news has revealed how Android 12L was created by the search giant only under the promise that Samsung continues to put products like this on the market.
Android 12L and One UI 4.1.1 customization take the user experience to a new level, making the Fold4 much more fun and comfortable to use even than the so similar Fold3 before it received the same interface update. One UI at the design level may like it or not, but it is undeniable that Samsung has done an excellent job in implementing an infinite number of useful features dedicated to foldable, and more.
The main software novelty of this generation, which has already been mentioned and has already reached Z Fold3, is the presence of a system dock that contains the same icons of the apps present in the lower part of the home, flanked by 3 other icons for the most popular apps. recent. This dock, which also allows easy access to the app drawer without returning to the main screen and interrupting what you are doing, completely changes the way of multitasking and I think that every foldable of this type and every tablet should adopt it. Fortunately, this is a novelty in Android 12L and is not exclusive to Samsung.
Drag the various icons to split the screen or open the apps in the window or tap the icons to quickly switch between recently opened apps (or groups of apps) making using the Galaxy Z Fold4 as intuitive as it is enjoyable. It is a type of interface that leads the user to make the most of the software and the large display, a real workhorse currently unavailable on competing products.
The new Samsung fold is an evolution of last year’s model with several iterative improvements but that has little to do with revolutionary. “Little expense and a lot of yields,” wrote someone in the course of these weeks, however, there is no blame for the brand. Why run, take new risks, evolve quickly, and get to the point where it is difficult to take further steps when the facts, in the main markets in which it operates, Samsung has no competition? Better to take small steps and build slowly, success after success.