2019 marked a major milestone in the smartphone world. Samsung launched its first foldable smartphone, and it captured the imagination of enthusiasts and laypersons alike. A candy bar-to-tablet transformation just unfolding the display was jaw-dropping, but it also had accompanying durability issues.
Albeit three years too late, the original promise of the foldable seems to be fulfilled by Samsung, with its hottest foldable to date, the Galaxy Z Fold 4.
From the looks and specifications of it, the Z Fold 4 seems nearly identical to the previous generation, but it boasts some remarkable changes and additions that justify its foldable nature in 2022. Here’s what we felt after using the newest Fold at the Samsung Unpacked event for a brief while in Bengaluru.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: What’s new?
It’s very difficult to distinguish the new Z Fold 4 from its predecessor strictly by its looks. It has the same shiny metallic chassis, frosted glass finish at the rear and an under-display camera within the foldable display.
But there are some changes in the hiding. For instance, the front display is spread further to the edges, increasing its screen-to-body ratio, and is slightly wider than before. The physical dimensions aren’t changed, but it does feel more comfortable to hold and even type. It is also slightly lighter than before.
Both displays now refresh between 1Hz and 120Hz for a smoother scrolling experience. The size of the inner foldable display is unchanged, but it now has a higher peaker brightness of 1300 nits. Corning Gorilla Glass Victus still protects the display. Samsung didn’t make any bold claims of further any technology that makes the display durable.
It is now powered by the latest, and greatest SoC Qualcomm has to offer, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen-1, and is paired in the same storage and RAM configurations that go up to a ludicrous 12GB/512GB. Unfortunately, despite such powerful hardware, Samsung isn’t pushing the envelope for speed and performance.
Instead, it emphasises more the little tweaks in its user interface, and we believe that’s the biggest difference between this and the previous Folds. It runs Samsung’s One UI 4.1 based on Android 12L, which is optimised for devices with larger displays. It now has a very PC taskbar that comes into play when the phone is unfolded. It speeds up the process of going back and forth between apps by organising them in a single space tucked neatly under an active app. We could only try it with a unit having only default apps, and it worked well. Apps running in multi-window are also available in a single icon, making it even more functional and justifying its tablet-like capabilities.
Samsung has also brought some of the Flex functionality from its Z-Flip smartphones to the Z Fold 4. So, when using the device in a semi-folded state, you can watch a YouTube video on the top half of Fold and then on the bottom half, you can check out the comments and recommended videos.
The cameras have also been tweaked around a bit. So now, we have a 50-megapixel primary sensor, 12-megapixel telephoto and 10-megapixel ultrawide. The telephoto camera also gets a dose of steroids, and it can now do 3x optical zoom and 30x Hybrid Space zoom. The Nightography goodness from the S22-series of smartphones has been brought here as well, so we can expect some detail-rich low-light shots. The under-display camera within the foldable screen still has a 4-megapixel sensor, whereas the front-facing camera clicks photos with a 10-megapixel resolution.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: What’s missing?
The exterior design and the form factor of the Fold-series have been the same for the last two generations, and it’s starting to get a little dull. We would have loved to see some more thought go into this.
While the UI enhancements and the hardware refresh are exciting, it isn’t so prominent to make people go crazy, at least while looking at the spec sheet. Likewise, the camera chops, although improved, are only halfway in the Galaxy S22 Ultra league. An in-display camera upgrade was also sorely missed by us while briefly trying out the phone.
While we can’t comment much on the battery performance and charging right away, it’s still disappointing to see 25W charging in a flagship smartphone. Also, there’s no charger in the box, just a Type-C to Type-C cable.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Initial thoughts
The cloud of mishaps and an under-optimised UI held back by the limitations of Android has made the super-rich customers not take the Fold-series seriously in the past. But now, with a neat taskbar, more powerful rear cameras and processor, the Fold-series does seem like a polished smartphone with a unique selling point. It is more practical than ever before, but we are yet to put it to the test in terms of durability and performance, so keep an eye out for our review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.
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