Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 hands-on: Faster & smarter than ever

Unsurprisingly, the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s big selling point is (still) the glorious folding screen. While the rest of the ingredients that make up the latest entry in the range could be considered basic, with incremental upgrades over the Galaxy Z Fold 3, it’s still backed by the most powerful processor you can get, as well. than all-new multitasking tools to do more at faster speeds.

We spent an hour with Samsung’s largest foldable smartphone, and that’s it.

A new chip, screen and more

Before we get into some design changes, we should first talk about the big specification change. Galaxy Z Fold 4 has Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor inside, and it is applicable in US and UK. That’s actually a key difference, as it skips 8 Gen 1 entirely to deliver more power and efficiency – and therefore more longevity. This is important in a phone that costs so much! So far we’ve been impressed with the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 in phones like the Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro and the OnePlus 10T.

The open screen of the galaxy z fold 4.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Z Fold 4’s unfolded screen measures 7.6 inches, just like the Z Fold 3, but the aspect ratio is slightly different, which allowed Samsung to reduce the size of the surrounding bezels. The 6.2-inch cover screen got a similar treatment, and the whole phone isn’t as tall and thin when folded as before. In the short time I’ve had with the phone I can’t say it’s made a noticeable difference – it’s only a few millimeters – but if it’s more natural to use it will become apparent with time.

What I did notice that the handling of the closed phone felt more “normal” due to the subtle difference in overall size. It’s a bit lighter at 263 grams instead of 271 grams, it seemed to be better weighted and the flatter sides reduced the weight. However, these aren’t just quick initial impressions, but these are very small differences – noticeable only if you’ve spent a lot of time with the Z Fold 3. If you’ve handled the old phone and found it Awkwardly, the difference in shape, size, and weight here won’t suddenly turn it into your foldable dream.

There is some good news on the durability front, however. Samsung says the Z Fold 4 is both stronger and lighter than before, with Gorilla Glass Victus and a new ultra-thin glass panel on the bent display for a 12% increase in overall strength. Samsung’s rugged Armor Aluminum material used for the frame returns with a few updates, and the phone retains its IPX8 water resistance rating. The less chance there is of damaging the Z Fold 4, the more people will consider it an everyday phone.

Samsung galaxy z fold 4.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

What about the fold? Samsung didn’t specifically mention any changes that would minimize the crease of the unfolded screen, and of course it’s still visible from the correct angle, but that depends on what’s on the screen. In my eyes, during the short time I spent with the Z Fold 4, I didn’t notice the crease more or less than before, including when I swiped it with my finger. Samsung calls for a slimmer hinge compared to the Fold 3, but in my testing it felt the same in use as its predecessor – nicely weighted and sturdy.

The Z Fold 4 has a new multitasking trick

The Z Fold’s big screen has always lent itself to multitasking, business, and art. S Pen stylus support returns here, but there’s still no place to store it in the device. Android 12L with One UI 4.4.1 will be installed on the Z Fold 4, and with it comes the taskbar – the main new software feature highlighted on the phone at the moment. It’s aptly named, as it works like the taskbar on a Windows PC, letting you quickly switch between apps from a tray of icons at the bottom of the screen.

Multitasking on the galaxy z fold 4.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The layout is dictated by the apps attached to the bottom of your home screen, and all others visible are recently used apps. It can be permanently shown with Android buttons or hidden until you need it when using full screen gesture controls. There are definite speed benefits if you want to access an app that’s already open or pinned to the home screen using the taskbar. I also appreciate Samsung’s efforts to make it versatile and usable in all situations. It disappears when watching a YouTube video in full screen, for example.

The new taskbar is just part of the phone’s supercharged multitasking capability. Three applications can be displayed and used on the unfolded screen at the same time, plus a fourth application can be displayed on top of all, provided it can be used as a floating window. The size and shape of each application window can be changed to suit its task, and it all happens at lightning speed. Plus, it’s really easy to enable multitasking. If you regularly use several applications, the Z Fold 4 will meet your needs very well. That said, it’s hard to say the taskbar will speed things up significantly, especially if your muscle memory is already trained to quickly switch between apps using Android’s helicopter view.

Using the Z Fold 4 to browse with Chrome, adjust settings, configure multitasking, and a few simpler tasks certainly showed that the Z Fold 4 has some very impressive speed. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 can make the Z Fold 4 a really nice upgrade over the Z Fold 3, as there seemed to be a smoothness and snap that the Z Fold 3 lacked during normal tasks. But, I will wait to use it more frequently and play games before judging.

Better performing cameras

Having spent time with the Z Fold 4 indoors, I haven’t tested the camera enough to say if it’s better than the Z Fold 3, but the specs suggest it will come with some improvements. The main camera has 50 megapixels, is new to the phone, boasts improved optical image stabilization (OIS) and has a 23% increase in brightness. The wide-angle camera is the same 12MP camera found in the Z Fold 3, while the telephoto camera has 10MP and 3x optical zoom, as well as a 30x digital space zoom mode.

Galaxy z fold 4 camera modules.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Under Display Camera (UDC) has 4MP, and Samsung says it’s worked hard to make it less noticeable than the Z Fold 3’s. Like the Fold, how much you notice the UDC will depend on how hard you look, the angle at which you do it and what is displayed on the screen at that moment. I found it fairly easy to spot, but more importantly, I never found it distracting. Photo quality wasn’t drastically different from the Z Fold 3’s UDC, but the lighting wasn’t particularly pleasing at the time of testing.

Quickly taking photos with the rear camera showed how fast the interface was, but didn’t reveal any new features in the short time I tried it, although there may be some that are hidden or not in the software version I was using. There’s still something special about using the unfolded phone as a viewfinder, as it’s easier to compose shots compared to using the cover screen.

Is the Z Fold 4 a worthy upgrade?

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 will almost certainly be the best full-size foldable smartphone available, taking up the baton from the still undisputed Z Fold 3. of your foldable, as the former will take you to this phone and the latter to Samsung’s Z Flip 4. In the brief time I’ve had to use the phone, I’ve found that the design improvements won’t have a massive impact on anyone’s life, but do seem to help make the Z Fold 4 more usable.

Samsung galaxy z fold 4.
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

The rest of the specification only adds to the familiarity of the Z Fold 4. It comes with 12GB of RAM and a choice of 256GB, 512GB or 1TB of internal storage, it’s powered by a 4,400mAh battery with 25W charging, both screens have a 120Hz refresh rate, there’s a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, just like the Z Fold 3. Samsung has obviously refined and improved the Z Fold 4 , and making it smaller and lighter is a serious achievement, but much of the core technology of the previous model remains.

If you own a Galaxy Z Fold 3, should you consider an upgrade? We won’t know for sure until we use it more, but the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1’s performance and efficiency are up from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, and therefore it should provide enough of an improvement over to the Snapdragon 888 to be a temptation. It’ll be whether the camera has received a similar boost, and whether the new taskbar can really speed up multitasking enough to justify the pricey change.

Yes, it is expensive. Depending on where you live, the price of the Z Fold 4 has increased slightly over the Z Fold 3. It starts at the same price of $1,800 in the US, but in the UK it goes up to £1,649. (an increase of 50 pounds). ). There are three colors: gray green, beige and phantom black. Pre-orders are live between August 10 and August 25.

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