The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 was a solid offering as far as foldables are concerned, but its ergonomics, battery life, cameras, and especially its premium pricing held it back from being a top recommendation. This year, Samsung says it has doubled down on improving these areas with its new Galaxy Z Fold 4. Along with this, we also have other useful upgrades such as a more power-efficient display and SoC. It’s time to see if all these little changes add up to a better usage experience and if it’s finally time to seriously consider this foldable as your primary smartphone.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 pricing and variants in India
Prices across variants for the Samsung Galaxy Fold 4 have risen compared to the previous model. 12GB of RAM is still constant but the base variant with 256GB of storage (which is what I have) now costs Rs. 1,54,999. Next is the variant with 512GB of storage, which costs Rs. 1,64,999, and Samsung is also offering a 1TB storage variant in India for Rs. 1,84,999. The latter makes the Galaxy Z Fold 4 one the most expensive smartphones in India, besting even the 1TB iPhone 13 Pro Max (Review).
For such an expensive phone, you still don’t get a charger in the box, which is disappointing. In India, all variants of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 are available in Graygreen, Phantom Black, and Beige. Samsung also offers a Burgundy shade in some markets, which is the signature colour of the Galaxy S22 Ultra (Review).
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 design
At first glance, it’s tough to find much of a difference between the new Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the older model. The Fold 4 is little shorter in height but ever so slightly wider when unfolded. Its aluminium frame is flatter, with reduced bevelled edges compared to the Fold 3. The new Fold is also slightly slimmer when folded and is lighter at 263g (vs 271g). This might not seem like much but the lower weight does feel a bit more manageable when using this device. There are also other subtle design changes around the USB port and the frame near the outer display.
The ports and buttons, and even the antenna bands and microphones on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 are in exactly the same spots as on the Fold 3. The outer cover screen is the same 6.2 inches in size but the HD+ resolution is a bit higher pushing the pixel density to 402 ppi (vs 387 ppi). It also supports a 120Hz refresh rate (can drop to 48Hz) and uses Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+ for scratch and shatter protection. There’s no pre-applied screen guard on the Fold 4, like there was on the Fold 3.
The internal folding display of Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is also the exact same size as on last year’s model, measuring 7.6 inches. The resolution is a bit different (2176×1812 pixels) due to the slightly wider aspect ratio but the pixel density is identical. Samsung says it has strengthened the ultra-thin glass but I noticed that it picks up superficial dents just as easily, even with slight pressure from a fingernail. It’s still best to err on the side of caution when using the main display.
You get an under-display camera in the folding screen, and it’s the same 4-megapixel unit from the Fold 3, but Samsung says it has tweaked the layout of display pixels over the camera so that the lens is less visible in the UI. While slight pixellation is still visible against bright backgrounds, it is indeed a lot more subtle compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 3. The folding display also now has a wider range for its variable refresh rate, which goes from 1Hz to 120Hz to save power.
The lower weight and slightly smaller profile of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 can be attributed to a new hinge mechanism. This is something that you’ll never notice since the hinge behaves just like it did on the Fold 3, however rather than going with a geared mechanism with interlocking teeth, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 uses a more compact solution that relies on linear motion instead. Despite this new mechanism, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 still has a wedge shape when folded, which means there’s a visible gap between the two halves, and the crease where the display folds is still very evident.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 specifications and software
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 SoC, with support for 16 5G bands in total. This phone supports two physical SIMs, or you can use a single SIM and one eSIM. Wireless protocols include Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC with Samsung Pay, and Ultra-Wideband (UWB). You also get all the expected sensors.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 has the same 4,400mAh battery capacity as the Z Fold 3, and supports up to 25W fast charging. You also get wireless and reverse wireless charging. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is IPX8 rated for water resistance, but we still don’t have a certification for dust protection. The phone has a capacitive fingerprint sensor embedded in the power button, which works reliably. The folding display of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 also supports Samsung’s S Pen Fold Edition, with up to 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and other S Pen features such as Air view, Screen-off memo, etc. The S Pen still needs to be bought and carried separately as there’s no space to stow it in the phone.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is the first phone to ship with Android 12L, which is basically Android 12 but with an interface optimised for foldables and tablets. One of its key features is a taskbar. When you open any app on the large folding display, the first row of icons from the bottom of the homescreen is shrunken and pinned to the bottom. This allows you to quickly open another app in either split-screen mode or as a floating window. Two previously opened apps are also pinned at the bottom.
You can have up to eight apps pinned in the taskbar (not counting the two recent ones) but if you need to get to some other app, you can also hit the dotted grid icon to open the app drawer, all without having to leave the currently open app. The taskbar can be disabled if you want, or you can hide it with a long-press gesture.
OneUI 4.1.1 on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 looks and functions similar to what I experienced on the Galaxy Z Fold 3. ‘Cover screen mirroring’ lets you copy the app layout of the cover screen to the folding screen. You can choose which apps continue to run on the cover screen after folding the phone. The Z Fold 4 has an excellent always-on display feature, a good selection of downloadable themes and wallpapers, and plenty of shortcuts and gestures that truly make good use of the large display.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 performance and battery life
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is everything you’d expect from a premium flagship when it comes to everyday use. It feels a bit lighter than the previous model, and the flatter frame and rear panels make it relatively comfortable. The matte finish of the glass back does not pick up any fingerprints, which is a relief. Both displays on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 get adequately bright when using the phone outdoors during the day, and colour saturation is top-notch.
The outer display is responsive, and is handy when you need to get some work done in a hurry. Typing on it still feels cramped, unless you use swipe gestures on the keyboard. The folding display takes smartphone multitasking to the next level. The software lets you easily switch between multiple layouts for your opened apps, making it easy to customise your workflow.
The latest Qualcomm SoC has really bumped up the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s performance compared to its predecessor. The phone posted strong scores of 949,295 points in AnTuTu and 60+ FPS in GFXBench’s graphics tests. I also noticed that the Fold 4 doesn’t get quite as hot as the Fold 3 when playing games or using the camera app. Its stereo speakers sound great and really help enhance the whole large-screen gaming experience. Speaking of which, all the usual heavy-hitters such as Call of Duty Mobile and Asphalt 9: Legends ran just fine, with steady frame rates and very good touch response.
The under-display selfie camera is not great for selfies or even when it comes to face recognition, but image quality is good enough for video calls.
Thanks to the more efficient SoC, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4’s battery life has improved noticeably over the previous model. Our HD video loop test ran for just over 15 hours on the folding display (compared to around 12.5 hours on the Fold 3). Even with regular use, I was easily able to get an entire day’s worth of use and then some, before having to charge this device. Samsung didn’t send me its official charger, but using a standard 45W USB-PD charger, I managed to charge the Galaxy Z Fold 4 up to 48 percent in half an hour and up to 88 percent in an hour.
Samsung Galaxy Fold 4 cameras
Two of the rear cameras on the Samsung Galaxy Z fold 4 have gotten big upgrades. The main camera now uses a 50-megapixel sensor which pixel bins photos and saves 12-megapixel stills by default. It has optical stabilisation (OIS) and a wide f/1.8 aperture. It now supports 8K video recording which was missing from the Fold 3. The telephoto camera now has a 10-megapixel sensor (vs 12-megapixel) but higher 3X optical and 30X digital zoom ranges. The ultra-wide camera still has a 12-megapixel sensor but with no autofocus, so macro photography is not possible. The selfie cameras on the cover (10-megapixels) and folding screen (4-megapixels) are similar to those of the Fold 3.
In daylight, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 captured slightly more realistic colours than the Fold 3. Details of distant objects in landscape shots were also sharper and more legible thanks to the higher resolution of the new sensor. Close-ups taken with the Galaxy Z Fold 4 looked very good, although it’s worth keeping in mind that the depth effect can be a bit too aggressive, so you’ll need enough of a distance from your subject to get all of it in focus. Night mode automatically kicks in when shooting at night, and here, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 captures stunning photos, with good exposure and slightly better details compared to the Fold 3.
Ultra-wide shots taken with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 had good exposure, although at times the dynamic range was a bit inadequate. In certain shots, I found that the Fold 3 captured better details in the day. Low-light shots taken with the Fold 4 also looked very good, with good dynamic range and exposure thanks to Night mode.
The telephoto camera managed excellent details in daylight at the native optical zoom level. Details stayed strong till 10X magnification but then began to fade a bit as I went higher. Shots were still usable even at 20X magnification, but anything beyond that made textures start to look pixellated and blurry. In low light, the phone uses 3X digital zoom with the primary camera so images are still sharp and Night mode is engaged automatically. However, photos beyond 10X magnification are taken with the telephoto camera and you don’t get Night mode.
The selfie camera on the cover screen captures decent-looking stills during the day and in low light. Night mode is present too which helps in such situations. The under-display camera is best not used for selfies since its quality is the weakest of all the Z Fold 4’s cameras, plus it’s a little awkward to take a selfie with this device unfolded. As before, you can use the rear cameras for selfies and the cover screen as a viewfinder if you need better quality or ultra-wide-angle selfies.
Videos recorded with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 are very good. 8K 24fps videos shot during the day looked looked good and were also stabilised well. At night, there’s a bit of jitter when walking which is a little distracting. If you want more flexibility when shooting, 4K 30fps should be your go-to resolution. Video quality at this setting is superb, and the jitter isn’t too prevalent in low light. The best part is that you can switch between the main, ultra-wide, and telephoto cameras (up to 12X zoom) at this resolution. The selfie camera on the cover screen also supports 4K 30fps video recording.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a very good iterative update over the Galaxy Z Fold 3. This new phone has a more power-efficient SoC, improved primary and telephoto cameras, and better battery life. It’s also a tad easier to handle – but make no mistake, it’s still a chunky smartphone and the folding display still needs to be used with a lot more care than a regular phone display. Prices have increased, but if you have the budget for it, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is definitely a more practical large-screen smartphone than the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
If you’re not too concerned about the improvements that the new model offers, then it’s a great time to consider the Galaxy Z Fold 3. Prices now start at Rs. 1,39,999 and you can get the 512GB variant for Rs. 1,47,999, which is less than what the Galaxy Z Fold 4 costs.