2019 was a weird time for smartphones. In a haze of nostalgia for flip phones and a desire for innovation, Android brands entered a brief phase of competition to create smartphones with screens that could bend, bend or extend in some way. or another.
While most of these brands have quickly abandoned this new technology, Samsung refuses to move on, officially moving to the fourth edition of its folding technology with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.
But Samsung has come a long way since 2019’s folding technology. The new Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is tougher, more premium, and overall a more viable everyday smartphone. But with a price that could net you a handful of premium handsets, is this latest folding tech worth your money? I spent some time using the device to see.
A folding screen
It’s in the name, and frankly, that’s the big selling point here: the phone bends. This, at present, is nothing new or particularly exciting in the world of smartphones, but what the Z Fold 4 does is take this technology and make it the most refined version nowadays.
The folding mechanism feels solid and built to last. In fact, Samsung promises that the device will survive a minimum of 200,000 bends. Although it’s a two-handed activity to open the phone, it’s easy to do and closes with a satisfying click thanks to the built-in magnets.
There are two ways to use the device. When closed, you’re presented with a thin screen, similar to a regular smartphone. Open the device and it becomes a mini-tablet with a 7.6-inch screen (about the size of two phones smashed together).
In its tablet form factor, you can stream apps like Netflix, play games, browse the internet in a larger form factor, or perform just about any task designed for a tablet.
Many applications have been optimized for this. On TikTok and YouTube, you can watch videos with the comments section on the side, scroll through your gallery while taking photos with the camera, and view an individual’s contact information while scrolling through recent calls.
However, while the device’s whole unique selling point is its folding ability, I found myself using it mostly in the standard smartphone form factor. For replying to messages, checking the time, taking photos or even a quick scroll on Twitter, activating the tablet’s full screen seemed pointless.
Both screens on this device look great. Starting with the inner main display, it’s a 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED display, boasting a 2176 x 1812 resolution. All this means you get picture quality and representation of superior colors, making your photos, streaming, and general phone content look great.
Close the phone and the cover screen is of a similar quality. It’s a 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED display, with a similar resolution to the interior screen. Both screens can achieve a level of brightness that makes the screen clear even on sunny days.
Like most smartphones in this price range, the phone is capable of a screen refresh rate of 120Hz. This affects the refresh rate of screen pixels. This means that your movements around the phone like scrolling, swiping and opening new apps will be smoother.
Move your sights inside the smartphone and you’ll find the same high-end keys. The device has a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, supported by 12 GB of RAM.
That just means it’s packed with plenty of power, capable of handling intensive games and tasks that require high processing capacity, like rendering large video files.
A slightly less impressive feature on this smartphone is the battery. With a capacity of 4400mAh it’s by no means small, but it can often struggle to get you through the day line, requiring overnight charging.
Unsurprisingly, there’s no expandable storage with the Fold. However, with storage sizes starting at 256GB, you’ll have to be a bit of a digital hoarder to need the extra storage.
Like everything else on this phone, the camera setup is somewhat unique. There are five cameras: three on the back of the phone, plus two selfie cameras – one when the phone is closed and one in its fully open form.
As you’d expect from a £1649 smartphone, the camera quality is excellent, rivaling other flagship devices from Samsung, Apple and other top competitors.
Both selfie cameras work as expected. There’s one on the cover screen and a second on the main screen, hidden under a pixel array to make it blend into the screen. The camera on the cover screen worked much better, but both work well for calls and a quick photo to text people.
As for the main cameras on the back, they can be used both in the cover screens and unfolded. There is a wide, ultra wide and telephoto lens. You can zoom up to 30x via telephoto or 3x via optical.
On all the main cameras, the shots looked great, especially in bright conditions. Night shots were also good, but could be overwhelmed by bright stage lights.
Like all Samsung products, there’s a tendency to over-edit photos, which can make it look like filters have been applied. However, it’s never something extreme and it’s often for the benefit of the image.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 isn’t for everyone, in fact, it’s really aimed at a very niche group. It’s expensive, flashy and sometimes impractical. But for anyone interested in the latest and most impressive phone innovation, it’s hard to get much better than this.
Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s clear to see where that money is going. Not only are the body, frame and screens made to the same high standards as Samsung’s other flagship smartphones, but… well, the screen folds in half, you can’t expect that for cheap.
If you want Samsung’s highest specs, a powerful smartphone, and a great camera, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra might suit your needs much better. But for something a little more interesting, the Fold certainly won us over.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
The closest alternative to Samsung’s Fold device, the Z Flip 4 cuts cost and size. Instead of folding into a tablet, this device goes from a full-size smartphone to a clam shape. This allows the phone to fit in small pockets or spaces, and can be folded in half for taking photos or watching videos.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
If you like the specs offered by the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, but want them to come at a slightly lower price, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra might be for you. It doesn’t have the same folding feature, but it offers a more impressive camera setup and matches the Fold in just about every other area.
Not to mention that it is more affordable and can often be found on sale.
iPhone 14 Pro Max
The iPhone 14 Pro Max is another device that, although it lacks the folding capability, is a great alternative in terms of specs and features.
Apple’s latest flagship smartphone, the iPhone 14 Pro Max boasts one of the best phone processors available today, a fantastic camera array, a sleek design and great battery life. battery. However, try to fold it in half and you’ll end up with a very expensive repair bill.