Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review in progress: A smarter foldable
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 doesn’t reinvent the foldable, but Samsung has made several major improvements that make having a phone and tablet in one device seem a lot more tempting. In fact, the multitasking power at your fingertips here reminds me of a mini PC.
For one, the software experience is better thanks to the new Android 12L, which is optimized for foldable devices. There’s a new taskbar at the bottom of the screen that makes it easy to jump between open apps. And more apps now support drag and drop for when you’re using two windows side by side.
Other welcome upgrades include a wider 6.2-inch cover display (it was way too skinny before), a brighter 7.6-inch main display and a a 50MP main camera that rivals the Galaxy S22 series. And it’s all wrapped up in a design that’s lighter with a slimmer hinge.
At $1,799, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 remains a very expensive flagship for the most demanding power user, but as you’ll see in my Galaxy Z Fold 4 review in progress, I’m generally impressed with the refinements Samsung has made here. It certainly has the potential to top our best foldable phone list and be among the best Android phones available.
Here are the pros and cons so far.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review: Impressions so far
- The Galaxy Z Fold 4 looks and feels better: As someone who complained about the Z Fold 3’s narrow cover display, I appreciate the wider front panel on the Fold 4. I also like the slimmer bezels on the main screen.
- Dragging and dropping makes life easier: I’ve taken a first round of photos vs the iPhone 13 Pro Max, and it’s awesome that I can use a split screen setup and drag pics from the camera roll directly into Google drive. You can’t do that on an iPhone.
- The crease is still quite visible: You don’t notice the crease on the Z Fold 4 when you have darker content on the screen, but it becomes an eyesore when you’re using an app like Google Maps, especially in direct sunlight.
- The cameras take excellent photos: I’ve done some testing vs the iPhone 13 Pro Max, and the Galaxy Z Fold 4 more than holds its own against the best camera phone. Portraits and flower shots are particularly compelling, though it fell a bit behind Apple on a fruit tart close-up.
- Good performance and benchmark results (with minor hiccups): The Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chip delivered strong benchmark results on Geekbench, 3DMark and our own video editing test. It’s generally faster than the Galaxy S22 Ultra but behing the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 specs
|Inner display||7.6 inches AMOLED (120Hz, 2176 x 1812)|
|Outer display||6.2 inches AMOLED (120Hz, 2316 x 904)|
|CPU||Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1|
|Storage||256GB, 512GB, 1TB|
|Wide camera||50MP (f/1.8, Pixel size: 1.0μm, FOV: 85 ̊)|
|Ultra-wide camera||12MP (f/2.2, Pixel size: 1.12μm, FOV: 123 ̊)|
|Telephoto camera||10MP (f/2.4, Pixel size: 1.0μm, 3x optical zoom, 30x Space Zoom|
|Cover camera||10MP (f/2.2, Pixel size: 1.22μm, FOV: 85 ̊)|
|Under-display camera||4MP (f/1.8, Pixel size: 2.0μm, FOV: 80 ̊)|
|Charging||25W (0 to 50% in 30 mins)|
|Size closed||6.1 x 2.6 x 0.55-0.62 inches|
|Size open||6.1 x 5.1 x 0.21 inches|
|Colors||Graygreen, Phantom Black, Beige, Burgundy (Samsung.com only)|
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Price and release date
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is available for pre-order now and has a release date of August 26. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 price starts at $1,799 for 256GB of storage, but you can also upgrade to 512GB or 1TB. The 512GB model costs $1,919 and 1TB goes for a whopping $2,159.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 should be available through major retailers as well as all three big wireless carriers in the U.S. Be sure to check out our how to pre-order the Galaxy Z Fold 4 page for the best sales and discounts. For example, you can save up to $1,000 with trade-in from Samsung (opens in new tab) and up to $1,000 from AT&T (opens in new tab). You can get up to $800 off from Verizon (opens in new tab) and $1,000 off from T-Mobile (opens in new tab) with a new line.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Design and colors
The first thing I noticed about the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is that the front display doesn’t seem as squished. And that’s because it has a wider aspect ratio than the Galaxy Z Fold 3 (opens in new tab). That makes the 6.2-inch panel easier to use with one hand and frankly will make you feel more comfortable using the cover screen for things like checking notifications and quickly responding to messages.
A bit less noticeable but still welcome is the fact that the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is less bulky and heavy this time around. This is partly because Samsung has made the hinge slimmer.
The Z Fold 4 measures 6.1 x 2.6 x 0.55-0.62 inches open and 6.1 x 5.1 x 0.21 inches closed, compared to 6.2 x 2.6 x 0.56 to 0.62 inches (closed), 6.2 x 5 x 0.25 inches (open) for the Z Flip 3. So the new Fold is a bit shorter and thinner. More important, the new Fold weighs 9.28 ounces versus 9.55 ounces for the Fold 3. Seems like a small change, but it makes a difference.
Another plus is that the bezels on both the cover and main display have been trimmed down, which makes for a more immersive viewing experience.
I definitely still noticed the heft of the Z Fold 4 in my pocket, but it should be easier to hold for longer stretches and take up a bit less room.
In terms of durability, Samsung says that the main screen is 45% stronger now, and I also like that the under-display camera (UDC) is a bit less visible, so it blends in better with surrounding content.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 color options include Graygreen, Beige and Phantom Black. But you’ll be able to get a special Burgundy color through Samsung.com.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Displays
The main display on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 remains a beast at 7.6 inches, but Samsung has boosted the brightness while maintaining the 120Hz adaptive refresh rate. We’ll be backing that up with our lab test results.
What I can say now is that this OLED panel looked vibrant when watching a trailer for Thor: Love and Thunder. Thor’s blue and gold armor popped off the screen, and the picture was nice and crisp.
The 6.2-inch cover display also features a smooth 120Hz refresh rate (scaling down to 48Hz) but it’s now 3mm wider, which means you don’t have to feel as claustrophobic using this device with the screen closed. I had no problem typing on the front panel, which when you think about it could save you battery life if you don’t use the larger screen as much.
If you’re wondering about the crease in the display, it’s very much still visible, though you nearly forget about it when viewing content at full screen.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Software and Android 12L
One of the biggest improvements with the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is the software, and that’s thanks to the new Android 12L operating system on board. This special version of Android is designed for large-screen devices, including foldable phones.
To make multitasking easier, there’s a new Taskbar that appears at the bottom of the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s display that automatically shows your recent apps. (The Galaxy Z Fold 3 had a taskbar but you had to manually enable it.) Also, a new swipe gesture also let you split the screen in half.
Just like before, you can run up to three apps on the large 7.6-inch display at once, and you can now use App Pair to automatically launch three favorites with a tap.
Flex mode has also improved with the Galaxy Z Fold 4, which puts the content of apps up top and controls down bottom when you fold the screen in half. Samsung is working with several developers to take better advantage of the foldable display, including Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
In addition, Chrome and Gmail now support drag and drop functionality for things like photos and links.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Cameras
The Galaxy Z Fold series is no longer a step behind the Galaxy S series when it comes to cameras. In fact, the Fold 4 basically uses the same camera system as the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus.
It starts with a 50MP main camera with a 23% brighter sensor, which should result in better looking images indoors. You also get a 12MP ultra-wide camera and a 10MP telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom and 30x Space Zoom. The front of the phone houses a 10MP selfie camera, and the right side of the 7.6-inch display has a lowly 4MP sensor.
Just like the Galaxy S22, you’ll be able to enjoy Nightography features for better shots in low light. And with Flex mode engaged, you can take photos hands-free, or use the Rear Cam selfie mode to use the superior back cameras for taking selfies while using the cover display to preview.
In this photo of a colorful fruit tart, the strawberries and and blackberries on top look juicy and delicious. But some of the details get lost in the sheen over the tart. Still, it’s a pretty tasty shot.
In this portrait of me taken near Bryant Park, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 did a fine job capturing the detail in my hair and blue shirt while artfully blurring the carousel in the background. And while my skin tone looks warm instead of washed out, which is a pleasant change of pace from other Samsung phones I’ve tested.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 does a generally solid job capturing this statue of William Cullen Bryant. While the statue itself could be a bit more crisp, the surrounding stone has a remarkable amount of detail. And the Z Fold 4 really impresses when you look in the shadow areas. Almost nothing gets lost.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Performance
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is powered by the new Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chip along with 12GB of RAM. The default storage is 256GB, but you can upgrade to 512GB or now 1TB.
During my testing so far, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 has proved snappy and responsive, but I’ve experienced a couple of instances where an app stopped responding when running two apps side by side. This happened when dragging and dropping photos from the Gallery app to Google Drive.
Gaming performance has been strong. I enjoyed turbo boosting and performing 360-degree turns in the Asphalt 7 racing game, and having a large display helped me appreciate finer details like splashes of water hit my car.
On Geekbench, which measures overall performance, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 scored 1,328 on the single-core test and 3,831 on multi-core. That’s higher than the Galaxy S22 Ultra (1,240/3,392) but behind the iPhone 13 Pro Max (1,720/4,549).
Turning to graphics, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 notched 52.83 frames per second on the 3DMark Wild Life Unlimited benchmark. That’s actually a bit less than the S22 Ultra (56.87 fps) and once again the iPhone 13 Pro Max came out on top (68.37 fps).
Last but not least, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 transcoding a 4K video to 1080p just a hair faster than the Galaxy S22 Ultra using the Adobe Premiere Rush app (45 seconds vs 47 seconds). The iPhone 13 Pro Max needed just 25.1 seconds.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Battery life and charging
This is one of the things that makes me nervous about the Galaxy Z Fold 4. It has the same battery capacity of 4,400 mAh as the Galaxy Z Fold 4. I worry because the Galaxy Z Fold 3 lasted just 7 hours and 52 seconds in 60Hz display mode and 6:34 on adaptive mode.
Granted, powering a 7.6-inch display takes a lot of juice, but I’m hoping Samsung can squeeze more endurance out of the Fold 4 via the new Snapdragon chip and other efficiencies.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 supports fast charging that should get you to 50% in 30 minutes, and this foldable also offers fast wireless charging and Wireless PowerShare for juicing up your Galaxy Buds Pro 2 or Galaxy Watch 5 using the back of the phone.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: S Pen support
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 supports S Pen input, but there’s no built-in holster for the pen. Instead, you’ll have to spring for a separate case if you want to secure the stylus while you’re on the go. With the S Pen you can take notes and draw on the go, but we’re not sure how many people will want to pay extra for this perk.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Outlook
You could make an argument that Samsung isn’t taking enough risks with the Galaxy Z Fold 4. It’s really about refinement more than reinvention. But that’s not a bad stance to take when there’s so many people who have yet to try a foldable phone, nevermind buy one.
Samsung is attempting to bring more people into the fold by focusing more on the software and multitasking experience while also delivering the necessary hardware upgrades (including the cameras and latest Snapdragon chip) to keep power users happy.
Still, I’m nervous about the battery life, and $1,799 is still a lot to spend on a phone at a time where inflation is still a major problem. But the Galaxy Z Fold 4 could be worth the splurge for those who demand the ultimate in productivity on the go — with some fun on the side. Stay tuned for our test results and final rating.
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