Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 review: A gorgeous screen for an ugly price
Samsung's high-end flip device hides a beautiful screen which, when unveiled, will impress most users
Samsung is back with its latest line of foldable devices including the Galaxy Z Fold4. This plays on the functionality of long-gone flip phones but manages to infuse them with modern screens and touch technology to produce a fairly unique device.
Nearly 10 million foldable were shipped last year and the Galaxy Z Fold3 was one of the most in-demand handsets within that category. However, it's a premium handset, with a price tag to match, but does it meet its mark?
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 review: Design
The Galaxy Z Fold4 is essentially made up of two smaller smartphone-esque devices which are linked together through a folding screen. One device holds the cover screen and inner left screen, while the other holds the inner right screen and back panel with a camera.
In its "normal" state, you can use the cover screen as you normally would, with the camera on the rear of the device. However, you're also able to fold open the smartphone, almost like opening a small book, to unveil two beautiful inner screens. The cover screen now makes up one part of the back of the device, with the camera on the other side making up the other half. This unveils the main screen, which is a sight to behold.
In its folded state, the device is a little chunky although it is fairly narrow, measuring 14.2 mm and 155 x 67. For example, it's smaller in height and width than a Google Pixel 7 Pro. This might make transporting it a little easier since it fits better into your pocket, whereas other smartphones, like the iPhone 14 Pro, are attempting to outgrow these storage spaces. It also fits comfortably in your hand and there's easy access to the button on the side.
When it is unfolded, the device is completely different. It almost transforms into a mini tablet, measuring a depth of 6.3mm and 155x130. Thankfully, it's fairly light, weighing just 263g, and fits well into your grasp. Do note, however, that the fold in the device, that separates the screen so it can fold it, is fairly notable when it's not on. The good news is that when you're using it, you don't tend to notice the fold.
Also, when you use the device when it's unfolded, your fingers will grasp its back. This is where your camera and cover screen are located. Although the material which makes up the "back" where the camera is sitting on, doesn't tend to become imbued with fingerprints, your front screen will. It might be worth getting a screen protector because of this, especially since you might have to clean it regularly.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 review: Display
You'll be pleased to know that the main, unfolded, display is absolutely stunning. It's a 2176 x 1812 AMOLED display which runs QXGA+ at up to 120Hz. The colour is beautiful and vivid, looking extremely rich across the screen. The fold isn't usually noticeable either. Bear in mind, that in order to fit the dimensions of the screen, sometimes videos can be slightly zoomed in. However, this doesn't detract from the overall experience, the screen is mesmerising.
As for the front screen, it's a 2316 x 904 AMOLED display, running in HD. It's a great screen but you won't be using it most of the time if you're watching videos or working, but does a good job if you decide to answer messages or use the camera function.
Bear in mind, that after extended use both screens become full of fingerprints. Every time you open or close the device you have to put in a fair bit of effort, with your fingers wiping against the screen each time.
In our display benchmarking, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 confirmed our high expectations. It had a sRGB gamut coverage of 100% with a 100% DCI P3. These scores put it in the top of the class. The iPhone 14 Pro, for example, scored 97% sRGB and 72.2% DCI, while the Google Pixel 7 Pro scored 96.4% sRGB. Ultimately the display goes beyond these two devices, which is why it is so rich and vivid.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 review: Specs and performance
Humming silently under the hood, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 runs an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor. It comes with 12GB of RAM as well as 216GB of available memory. It also comes in a 512GB or 1TB version if you're looking for more space on your handset. The device itself runs smoothly, coping easily with the apps we put it through and seamlessly changing from one to another.
In our Geekbench test, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 scored 1,321 (single-core) and 3,960 (multi-core). Compared to the iPhone 14 Pro (1,874 and 5,497) or the Google Pixel 7 Pro (1,030 and 3,166), it's definitely an impressive result. However, it is an Android device, without Apple's beefy chips, and managed to beat the Samsung S22 Ultra's score of 1,166 and 3,475. Despite this, it maybe could have done a bit better considering the device's price tag.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 review: Battery life
Having more than one screen, and quite a big screen as well, you might be worried about the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4's battery life. Our video playback battery tests produced a good time of 17 hours 36 minutes, just shy of the 20 hours Samsung claims the video playback time lasts for.
This is just under the Google Pixel 7 Pro's score of 18hrs 53mins and a bit further off the iPhone 14 Pro's 19hrs 56mins. Although it will get through a working day confidently, with its 4400 mAh battery cell barely needing us to worry about thinking of charging the device, this could have been a bit longer, especially with the price taken into account.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 review: Features
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 runs Android 12 which adapts easily to its folding screen. To navigate when it's open, it uses digital buttons at the bottom of the screen, not physical ones. When you enter an app, a taskbar also appears at the bottom of the screen displaying the apps stuck to the bottom of your home screen to allow you to access them faster. In addition, an icon with nine dots also appears which, when selected, opens your app directory where you can easily access all of your apps, the same action you usually do when swiping up on the home screen.
Android 12 also packs everything you would normally expect, including screen recorder, link to Windows, and eye comfort shield, filling the device with handy tools from day one of use. Samsung also lets you jump into apps you've just opened by hitting a button located on the bottom of the screen.
For security, it also has a fingerprint scanner. However, this is located in the button on the side of the device that you use to wake the phone, different to many smartphones. This makes sense, as otherwise you would have to always enter the phone using the cover screen, when in reality you might find that you immediately unfold the device most times you use it, bypassing the cover screen altogether.
As for the folding screen, you can also fold it 90 degrees so it sits up on your desk. This can make it slightly easier to work from since you don't have to be holding it or directly over the device if it is lying down. Additionally, you can also use Android's split-screen mode to have different apps open at the same time. This makes it easy to search for information, for example, if you're working on a document. However, although you probably won't make this your full-time work device, it can be useful if you're on the move and need to make quick fixes to things.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 review: Camera
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 has a number of cameras. On the back of the device, it has three rear cameras. They have 50MP, 12MP and 10MP lenses, as well as 3x optical zoom, and a massive 30x digital zoom. This should give you enough firepower to take good photos as well as zoom in to spy on subjects from far away.
There's also an "under display" camera on the third panel of the device, on the left-hand side of the inner screen. It's a 4MP camera that you will probably use for making video calls, so it doesn't have to be super high in quality. The under-display camera is fairly camouflaged and you won't really notice it during use. When we first spotted it, we thought the screen had some dead pixels but thankfully this wasn't the case. Lastly, there's a cover camera on the front screen with a 10MP lens which you might use for taking selfies or unlocking the device.
Samsung has got creative when it comes to how you can use the Galaxy Z Fold4 to take images. It's introduced a feature called dual preview, where the people you're taking a photo of when the device is unfolded can see the image you take using the front screen, which Samsung says allows them to adjust to look their best.
There's also a 'capture view', where if you have the device folded 90 degrees, you can take photos using the 50MP camera on one side of the screen and immediately see what they look like on the other side. It shows you a preview, allowing you to reshoot if needs be.
Lastly, if you're looking to take a photo of yourself from far away, you can always fold the device and put it on the ground or a surface like a table without needing something to lean on. Simply set the self-timer on the camera, run in front of the lens, and pose.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 review: Verdict
With its beautiful screen and extreme portability, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 is almost like a tablet and smartphone combined into one. That might be the reason for its excruciating price tag of £1,374 (exc. VAT) for the 256GB version and £1,474 for the 512GB version (the 1TB version isn't currently for sale).
For the same money, you could get smartphones such as a £916 iPhone 14 Pro, a £849 Google Pixel 7 Pro, or even a £1,149 Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. Looking at tablets, you could buy the £1,316 Microsoft Surface Pro 8, the £916 Apple iPad Pro 12.9in (2021), or the £500 Lenovo Tab P11 Pro. Just to highlight Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4's price tag: You could buy a Google Pixel 7 Pro and a Lenovo Tab P11 Pro and have £25 left over.
That being said, the device has great benefits like amazing photo functionality, extreme portability compared to modern smartphones, and a rich, crisp, screen. Though, realistically, you're not going to be able to spend a whole day working off this device either.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 specifications
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