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Review Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

A Galaxy Z Fold 4 foldable smartphone from Samsung Electronics is featured in an undated handout provided by Samsung Electronics.

Samsung Electronics | via Reuters

I’m experimenting Samsung’s new $ 1,800 Galaxy Z Fold 4 phone, launched on August 26, for the past two weeks. This is the first time I’ve used a phone that unfolds to reveal a small tablet-sized screen. And I am very impressed.

I usually use the iPhone 13 mini and I find there’s a lot I can do with a phone like this. For example, I can run multiple applications side-by-side. I can sit outside and watch TV with a bigger screen than I usually have in my pocket.

Great battery life, a sharp upgraded camera, and a new app taskbar at the bottom of the screen make it easy to launch your favorite apps with a quick tap.

However, I’m not impressed enough to justify the $1,800 price tag. The improvements to the Z Fold 4 are negligible compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 3. Last year and while it was fun to use, I don’t think the Z Fold 4 will become “mainstream”.

Here are my three lessons after trying out the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.

Big screen is a game changer

The most common complaint I had before my first interaction with the Z Fold was that the crease in the middle was obvious and distracting. I compared the Z Fold 4 to its predecessor, the Z Fold 3, and the crease seemed less noticeable. While watching Bravo on the YouTube TV app, I forgot I was watching on a foldable phone. Wrinkles only disappear after you get used to it.

The screen is also super bright. I can watch TV outside on a bright day and the picture isn’t dazzled by sunlight. I even read an e-book and some articles on the beach.

I also like that the external display is slightly wider than last year’s model. There’s more space to type on and it feels more like using a regular phone, instead of a slim phone.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 multi-window active.

Sofia Pitt

The most useful feature is being able to open multiple browser tabs on the 7.6-inch screen at the same time. That means I can exit between different web pages, as I do on a computer, just by tapping on different tabs.

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is also the first device to run Android 12L, a special version of Android created by Google for large-screen devices. It makes multitasking with three apps open at once really easy. In the image above, you can see I have my browser, YouTube TV, and photo library open. But you can do it with any three apps. I love that I can save them to a shortcut on the home screen and with one tap relaunch them right back to where they were.

Some apps are not automatically optimized to use the larger internal screen. Take Instagram, for example, another app that I use often. It has large borders on the side by default. Thankfully, Samsung has an option in the settings to force apps to use the entire screen, even if they’re not optimized. It works, you just need to know where to look.

Instagram on Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.

Sofia Pitt

Camera on par with iPhone 13 Pro Max

There are three rear cameras on the Galaxy Z Fold 4, including an upgraded 50-megapixel wide lens and a 30x zoom lens. The larger lens size means the camera captures 23% more light than the Fold 3, and the increased megapixel count translates to sharper images.

I compared the Z Fold 4 with Apple’s high-end iPhone 13 Pro Max. Both are great for pictures. Details seem to be better captured by the Z Fold 4, while colors are more accurately represented on the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Rose photo taken on Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Sofia Pitt

Take for example this photo of a rose. The iPhone 13 Pro Max offers more detail and more accurate representation of real colors. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 takes a photo with a bit more natural blur around the rose, which some people like.

Landscape photo taken on Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Sofia Pitt

In this landscape photo, you can see that the colors captured by the Z Fold 4 are not super accurate. They look more saturated. However, you will get more detail from the darker parts of the Z Fold 4 image.

One thing I missed using the Z Fold 4 was the indexability of the iPhone camera roll. I love being able to search for text in photos in my camera role, which works really well on the iPhone but doesn’t work so well on the Galaxy Z Fold.

Battery life lasts all day

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Sofia Pitt

I used the Galaxy Z Fold 4 all day for streaming, emailing, reading e-books and playing games, which I was able to use until bedtime without charging. However, keep in mind that your battery life will vary depending on how often you use the large internal display versus the smaller one. You may get longer battery life if you mainly use the external display.

The Z Fold 4 comes with a USB-C to USB-C cable, but it doesn’t come with a wall plug despite its $1,800 price tag. Most phone manufacturers are doing this now, on the assumption that they can save on waste as most people probably already have chargers at home. However, I think it should come with a charger because you need at least a 25 watt charger for fast charging. It is also compatible with wireless charging.

Should you buy it?

A Galaxy Z Fold 4 foldable smartphone from Samsung Electronics is featured in an undated handout provided by Samsung Electronics.

Samsung Electronics | via Reuters

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 feels like a flexible machine. I attended a family gathering with my iPhone-using wives and I gave them a chance to try the phablet. After some initial “oohs and aahs”, they all said the phone wouldn’t pull them off their iPhone.

$1,800 is a lot of money. I think being able to fold the phone in half is great, but not great enough to justify the price. You can save money and buy a great Android phone like Samsung’s Galaxy S22, S22 Ultra or Google’s Pixel 6 and still have enough money to buy a tablet.

However, if you want tablet and phone to go together, this might be right in your lane. It is especially useful if you are a frequent traveler and want to carry less equipment.

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