Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 5G review: A multi-tasker’s dream machine
Overview, Hardware and software handling, What's different on Fold4
Note: This review was first published on 4 September 2022.
By now, you would know that the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 5G kept plenty of what made the Z Fold3 good. It’s a return to the book-style form factor with S Pen support that made its predecessor a true multi-tasking companion.
Upgrades to the handset come in many little ways, most of which are invisible to the eye. You’re getting an upgraded processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1), an improved main camera (now at 50MP) and an improved telephoto camera with higher 3x optical zoom and 30x Space Zoom. The device is also oh-so-slightly slimmer (about 0.2 to 3mm) and lighter (8g).
Then, there’s also the switch to One UI based on Android 12L (instead of Android 12), which means that the operating system now plays even nicer with its unique form factor.
Just about everything else stayed nearly the same – from its battery capacity (4,400mAh) to its display sizes (7.6-inch Main Screen, 6.2-inch Cover Screen, both AMOLED 2X), and the choice of materials for its hinge. So, is it really worth the upgrade if all the changes are under the hood? Let’s find out.
|Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 5G|
Hardware and software handling, right down to Android 12L
The core design of the Galaxy Z Fold4 5G book-styled fold isn’t new to us, which means its main benefits are also clear to users who need its big 7.6-inch Main Screen. The benefits of extra real estate shine through if you do most of your digital reading on well-designed websites, documents and ebooks. In addition, certain productivity tasks, like managing your calendar and cross-checking product listings on different shopping apps, would be a less painful experience compared to normal phones.
If you’re more of a show watcher, the Main Screen in landscape orientation helps reduce the black bars around your Netflix and YouTube content. Of course, portrait-oriented content like TikTok clips, FB Reels, and IG Stories works just fine too.
Pro-tip: If your apps aren’t rotating correctly, try going into the Settings app and looking for Advanced Features > Labs > Auto Rotate Apps. Play around the three rotate options to get the app orientation you want.
If anything, the switch to Android 12L doesn’t really change how we consume reading and watching material on the Fold4, so the device is good to go, just like its predecessor. After all, Android 12L is just a variant of Android 12 that’s more suited for mobile devices with larger screens.
What Android 12L does provide for Galaxy Z Fold4 5G is the “PC-like” taskbar that runs across the bottom of your Main Screen. You’d likely catch on fast if you tried Mac OS’s Dock feature before. For the Fold4, tapping on an app in the taskbar immediately brings you to your next app choice, and dragging the app out onto your screen initiates split-screen mode. Best of all, it automatically hides away when you’re watching shows in full-screen mode (swipe up gently from the bottom to bring it back).
If you have a specific split-screen or multi-view orientation needs for specific apps, there’s also the old Edge Panel feature (tucked away at the display’s right side) that lets you orientate a group of apps in your preferred split-screen positions, and have them fire all at once. Does the taskbar and Edge Panel combo make the Galaxy Z Fold4 5G more competent at multi-tasking than before? We think so.
Samsung did not provide an S Pen for our review period, but our many brushes with the demo Galaxy Z Fold4 5G units in the wild (at events, conventions, and demo units we came across) tell us that the S Pen works as intended. So if you’re one of the few remaining folks still pining for a Galaxy Note, the Z Fold4 might be able to help you to move on from your ex – with the same S Pen support you’re so used to.
S Pen still doesn’t work on the 6.2-inch Cover screen, but you probably won’t need the stylus for the narrow display. Like before, the phone’s heft doesn’t get in the way of one-handed Cover Screen texting and scrolling, but you might still struggle to reach both top and bottom corners unless you put in some palm-work.
Are you concerned about the display crease and its durability? In our view, it’s not very different from what we expected from the Galaxy Z Flip4 5G, which you can read about in our Galaxy Z Flip4 review here. However, the Fold4’s crease is more prominent, and a little harder to ignore than the Flip4 since it’s longer.
What else is different about the Galaxy Z Fold4 5G?
Everything else about both displays is nearly the same as the older Fold3. The Main Screen’s 4MP under-display camera doesn’t get in the way, they keep to similar display resolutions (QXGA+ on Main Screen and HD+ on Cover Screen), and panel quality is still as good as before (at least AMOLED 2X for both screens). It still uses the same trademarked Armor Aluminum material for its hinge and keeps the same IPX8 water resistance rating.
Perhaps you’ll like the minimum 1Hz refresh rate on the Main Screen, which likely saves tons of battery when idling. But, you’re more likely to keep it folded away when it’s not in use. You may also like the upgraded Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+ protection on the device, but you’ll not notice it unless you deface the handset.
Its under-display camera would still be the last Fold4 camera we’d use since it still suffers from the traditional disadvantages of under-display lenses (hazy, weird white balance, and lack of detail).
Fold4 also inherits both its strengths and weaknesses from its older variant. For example, it still supports two physical SIM cards, but no MicroSD card slot just like before. The lack of external physical storage feels like a missed opportunity for Samsung.
However, the brand did give its triple rear camera some upgrades. Z Fold4’s main camera now sits at 50MP (up from 12MP) with a bright f/1.8 aperture and 1.0μm pixels paired with Dual Pixel AF and OIS. It’s quite an upgrade from the Fold3 in terms of imaging quality.
You may also like its new 10MP telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom and 30x Space Zoom. These lenses are nice to have, which slightly improve upon its predecessor’s capable rear shooters. That said, Space Zoom isn’t something we’d use on a daily, unless forced to.