Samsung’s cutting-edge Galaxy Z Fold 4 Android phone-tablet hybrid is back and is here to prove that foldable devices are the future.
By putting both a powerful smartphone and a 7.6-inch tablet in your pocket, Samsung has created the device of choice for gadget lovers. But the price means it’s still not ready for most consumers.
Its foldable form, five cameras and two screens should tell you that this isn’t a normal phone, but rather the most advanced peek into the evolution of the humble smartphone.
Cutting-edge technology makes the Fold 4 one of the most expensive devices you can buy at £1,649 ($1,799 / A$2,499) – around the same price if you bought a premium phone and a tablet separately, but more than most would ever pay for a handheld.
The overall look is similar to the first version last year, with small improvements all around. The metal sides are flatter with a premium gloss finish. The device is shorter and the hinge is thinner, which widens the outer screen. It looks more like a regular phone for messaging and calls when closed, though it’s bigger and heavier.
Open like a book for the large, flexible, tablet-sized 7.6-inch OLED display, always a near-magical experience. The screen is big, bright, smooth and feels slightly harder under your finger than the first version. Samsung claims the screen is 45% more durable than last year, but I’d still keep it away from children as it’s just not as sturdy as traditional tempered glass.
There is still a crease along the crease, which you can feel with your finger and see at an angle. It would be better if it wasn’t there, but you won’t notice it for a few minutes after using the device. The under-display camera is also slightly better hidden, so you won’t see it day-to-day unless you specifically seek it out.
The hinge keeps the screen open at any angle, closing with a satisfying snap. The main display is ideal for watching videos, games, reading sites and books, or multitasking with two or more apps open at the same time.
Main screen: 7.6-inch QXGA+ 120Hz AMOLED flexible display (374ppi)
Cover screen: 6.2 inch HD+ 120Hx AMOLED (387ppi)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
RAM: 12 GB RAM
Storage: 256, 512 GB or 1 TB
Operating system: A 4.1 user interface based on Android 12L
Camera: 50MP wide, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP 3x telephoto; 10MP and 4MP selfie cameras
Connectivity: 5G, dual SIM, esim, USB-C, wifi 6E, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2
Water resistance: IPX8 (1.5 meters for 30 minutes)
Dimensions folded: 155.1 x 67.1 x 15.8mm
Dimensions unfolded: 155.1×130.1×6.3mm
Faster, smoother and longer lasting
The Fold 4 is super fast and smooth with Qualcomm’s latest high-end processor, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, which is the most powerful chip available on Android, as used by the Flip 4 and OnePlus 10T.
The phone’s dual screens make its battery life more variable than a regular phone. When using just the large interior screen, the battery lasts a good 35 hours between charges. A more balanced use of both screens for a mix of messaging, multitasking and media consumption translates to around 40 hours, including active screen use for up to seven hours. It’s really, really good and a big step up from its predecessor.
The Fold 4 takes about 80 minutes to fully charge, reaching 50% in 30 minutes using a 25W or higher USB-C power adapter (£11.90 from Samsung), which is not included.
Samsung doesn’t provide an expected lifespan for the battery, but it should last over 500 full charge cycles with at least 80% of its original capacity. The phone is generally repairable, and the battery can be replaced by authorized service centers in the UK. Interior and larger screen repairs cost £539. The screens are backed by a two-year warranty, but Samsung assesses breakage for “evidence of product misuse” and may charge a fee for repairs. Insurance is recommended, costs £8.49 per month from Samsung or available from third parties.
Several internal components are made from 20% nylon or recycled plastic. Samsung offers trade-in and recycling programs for older devices. The company publishes annual sustainability reports but not impact assessments for individual products.
The Fold 4 runs a new version of One UI 4.1 based on Google’s Android 12L software, specifically designed for tablets and folding screen devices.
Most Android 12L upgrades are behind the scenes to make apps work better when multitasking and switching forms. The new taskbar is great, acting like a dock to quickly access your most-used apps and put them in split-screen mode by dragging and dropping them.
Using a pair of apps on a screen about the size of two phones side-by-side is remarkably powerful and enables things I’d usually reach for a laptop, like budgeting, meal planning and comparison shopping. Most apps are stable and work great in various combinations. Rotating the Fold 4 to landscape also gives you dual-pane views in some apps, including Gmail, so you can see your inbox on the left and a reading pane on the right.
The Fold 4 has five cameras in total: a new triple system on the back, a 10MP selfie camera on the front, and an additional 4MP selfie camera hidden under the upper right corner of the internal display.
The rear cameras are essentially the same as those fitted to the S22+ and are a marked upgrade on the Fold 3 over last year. The 50MP main camera is excellent, capturing excellent images in a variety of lighting conditions with very good low-light performance. The 3x optical zoom is useful, and the ultra-wide camera is good for landscapes and group shots.
The video shot by all three is also very good, but the ultrawide is limited to 30 frames per second for some reason.
The under-display selfie camera is new but of poor quality for photos, so just good enough for video calls. The 10MP outdoor selfie camera is one of the best, but you can take much better selfies and group photos with the main cameras using the outdoor screen as a viewfinder. It’s a bit difficult to hold but worth it.
Overall, the Fold 4’s cameras now match all but Samsung’s top S22 Ultra camera, making it one of the best around.
For comparison, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 costs £999the Galaxy S22 Ultra costs £1,149the Galaxy S22+ costs £949the Microsoft Surface Duo 2 costs £860the Google Pixel 6 Pro costs £649and the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max costs £1,049.
Samsung’s cutting-edge foldable phone-tablet hybrid has lost none of its novelty and power for its fourth generation.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is unrivaled outside of China, where some local brands are making similar devices for the local market. Many small refinements are added in this new iteration. The Fold 4 is easier to use as a phone for messaging and calls when closed. Opening it like a book for the beautiful and large internal screen is always magical, as is closing it to put it to sleep in the blink of an eye.
Software upgrades have made multitasking much easier and more robust, while the large screen is excellent for watching TV shows on the go when you need to relax. Longer battery life and a fast chip are welcome, as are significant camera upgrades, bringing the Fold in line with Samsung’s best regular phones.
The downside is simple: the price. One day, a foldable tablet phone might be a realistic prospect for the mass market, but for now, the Fold 4 is still too expensive and too fragile. It’s a gadget lover’s dream and the most exciting device on the market today. But for most people, a regular flat phone or the novel Z Flip 4 is a better buy.
If you must have the most advanced device available, the Z Fold 4 is it. Don’t let your children near it and take out insurance in case the worst happens.
Advantages: phone and tablet in one, water resistance, powerful split-screen apps, phone-like exterior display, fantastic tablet display, top performance, great battery life, great cameras, design that turns heads heads.
The inconvenients: extremely expensive, more fragile than a regular device and the internal screen can be scored more easily than traditional glass, expensive to repair, no dust resistance, heavy, thick, not a massive leap from the previous generation.