At a glance
- Large 7.6in display is great for multitasking
- Hugely improved rear camera setup
- All-day battery life
- New software enhancements via Android 12L
- Still a gap between displays when folded
- Under display camera is bad
- App support is hit-and-miss
- 25W charging is slow in 2022
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a refined foldable with improved durability, great performance and pixel-perfect cameras, but it doesn’t do much differently to its predecessor. Minor changes could attract if you were on the fence, but bigger upgrades from competing foldables leave the Z Fold 4 in the dust. It’s also still very expensive, with no price drop as in previous years.
Best Prices Today: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
Samsung has revealed the fourth generation of its big screen foldable, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. Rather than reinventing the wheel, the company has taken the past year to refine the design of the foldable, with the aim of making it more durable and thus more appealing to the wider smartphone market, while also improving its performance and cameras.
The question is, with competing foldables from the likes of Oppo, Xiaomi and Huawei all revealing huge leaps forward in foldable tech in 2022, has Samsung rested on its laurels for too long?
Design & build
- Near identical design
- Small refinements improve overall look and feel
- Still a gap when folded
If you were hoping that Samsung would throw out the rule book and completely redesign its big-screen foldable in its fourth iteration, you’ll be disappointed. In fact, at a quick glance, it’s hard to spot any significant change in the design of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 compared to its predecessor.
You’re still getting the same wedge-shaped, book-style vertical folding form factor complete with a tall external display and an expansive internal folding display, though it’s 3.1mm shorter and 3mm wider this time around to feel nicer in the hand and improve the aspect ratio of both displays.
It’s not just narrower and shorter either; Samsung has managed to make the foldable lighter than its predecessor at 263g (compared to 271g). It’s a similar story with its thickness too. While the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 measured in at 6.4mm unfolded and 16mm folded, the Z Fold 4 comes in at a slightly thinner 6.3mm and 15.8mm respectively.
That all makes for a smartphone slightly less unwieldy, both unfolded and in the pocket, but it’s not a dramatic change.
Once again, the Z Fold 4’s frame and housing are clad in Samsung’s Armor Aluminium casing – though considering Tech Advisor’s Dom Preston dropped last year’s smaller Z Flip 3 without damaging the internal display, that’s no bad thing.
Overall durability has been improved too, with Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus+ protecting the outer display and rear glass from scratches and other marks and a redesigned hinge system.
The one flaw in Samsung’s otherwise premium foldable design is the fact the two sides of the foldable don’t close flat when folded. The long teardrop silhouette formed in the negative space between the folded displays is ripe for dust and pocket lint, and I found myself often wiping the display after taking it out of my pocket.
That’s an even bigger worry when you consider the smartphone has no official dust resistance – though it still remains one of very few foldables on the market to offer full IPX8 waterproofing.
Still, other companies like Oppo, Huawei and Xiaomi have all proven that it is possible to create a foldable with a truly flat folded form factor, and it’s a shame that Samsung hasn’t attempted to even reduce the gap.
- Slightly adjusted aspect ratios on both displays
- Outer display is hard to type on
- Inner hinge crease is still quite visible
As with previous generations, it’s a tale of two displays with the Galaxy Z Fold 4; an oddly thin and narrow exterior 6.2in display and the larger, boxier 7.6in folding display within.
However, with the slight adjustment to the width and length of the phone, you get a slightly wider, squatter viewing experience on both displays this time around – though it is a minimal difference, with a 23.1:9 aspect ratio on the outer display and 21.6:18 on the internal display. For reference, the Z Fold 3 offered 25:9 and 5:4 displays respectively.
That means that the outer display is still oddly thin and narrow, and the internal display is still fairly boxy.
The outer display does have its benefits though. The 6.2in AMOLED screen looks great with a crisp resolution (904 x 2316), a buttery-smooth 120Hz refresh rate and a maximum brightness of 720cd/m2 in testing that’s easy to use outdoors.
Its narrow nature also means it’s easy to use one-handed – it’s just a little bit too narrow to comfortably type on in my experience, and that defeats the purpose of using the smaller display to conveniently reply to WhatsApp messages.
Of course, it’s all about that folding 7.6in display, and it’s just as magical as ever watching a narrow phone expand into an almost tablet-size device.
Samsung has redesigned the hinge of the phone to make it thinner and more durable, addressing one of the biggest issues with foldable displays at the moment.
Samsung claims that the thinner hinge system, combined with tougher foldable glass, should withstand up to 200,000 folds over its lifetime. That’s around 560 per day for a year, or around 280 per day for two years – so you might expect some issues a few years in if you’re opening and closing it all the livelong day, but it’s obviously not something we can test in a standard review.
Sadly, the new hinge system does little to hide the fact that there’s a dip in the display – both visually and physically – as it’s still noticeable to some degree most of the time. It’s something I’ve largely gotten used to during my time with the phone, but it’s always the first thing that others comment on when they see me using it.
Crease aside, the internal 7.6in 120Hz AMOLED display dazzles with its impressive resolution, clarity, HDR10+ support and impressive 754cd/m2 brightness that makes it easy to use in any environment.
- Hugely improved rear camera system
- Great for night shots
- Under-display camera is better hidden
The 4Mp f/1.8 under-display camera (UDC) has made a return on the Galaxy Z Fold 4, likely in a bid to redeem itself after near-universal mockery with the Galaxy Z Fold 3. While the resolution of the display on top of the camera has increased with the latest generation, it’s still incredibly easy to spot where the UDC is on the internal display. A ZTE Axon 40 Ultra, this is not.
Still, there is an improvement to overall image quality – especially when helped by image processing tools – but it’s not really designed for selfie-taking. Rather, it’s there so you can video call on the larger internal display, and it does that fairly well.
For a traditional selfie experience, the centrally-placed 19Mp f2.2 snapper on the outer display is a better shout. It’s capable of delivering selfies decent enough for the likes of social media, and it’s identical to the one on the Z Fold 3.
It’s the updated rear camera system that is most impressive. In fact, it’s one of the biggest upgrades on the Z Fold 4 overall.
The 12Mp trio of cameras has been swapped out, instead sporting the same flagship 50Mp main and 10Mp 3x optical lenses as the flagship Samsung Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22+ alongside the same 12Mp ultra-wide as the Z Fold 3.
Compared to its predecessor, images shot with the main sensor are more detailed, with Samsung’s signature vibrant colours and impressive dynamic range. Importantly, that performance is consistent whether you’re shooting in well-lit environments or something more challenging, with a range of photo modes – like an improved Portrait mode – helping you to get the most out of the shot.
Specifically, there’s an uptick in low-light performance thanks to the combination of optical image stabilisation and a larger f/1.8 aperture that lets in up to 23% more light. The result is often images with more light and detail than what you can see with the naked eye, especially in dark conditions, and without the use of a tripod.
The upgraded 10Mp 3x optical sensor is an impressive addition that not only improves upon the paltry 2x zoom of last year, but it stretches the digital zoom from 10x to 30x using Samsung’s Space Zoom tech. Don’t expect detailed shots at such a high digital magnification, but it does pretty well at taking shots of the moon on a clear night. Niche, but cool nonetheless.
Though the 12Mp f/2.2 123-degree ultrawide remains unchanged, it still manages to deliver a decent wide-angle experience with great detail, even close to the edges where some ultra-wide cameras start to fail. Most importantly, the colours and dynamic range closely match that of the main camera for a nice consistency between the two.
Software features like Cover Screen Preview also enhance the experience, allowing you to snap selfies using the rear camera setup while unfolded using the outer display as a viewfinder, and there’s also the option to display the viewfinder and recently snapped images side-by-side on the larger internal display too.
It’s also among the first foldables to offer video recording at up to 8K, though it’s likely that most will utilise lower resolutions to make the most of the Video Digital Image Stabilisation (VDIS) and the low-light benefits it brings.
So, while the under-display camera still needs some TLC, there are plenty of ways to get better shots on the Z Fold 4 than its predecessor.
Software & updates
- Android 12L with OneUI 4.1
- Four years of OS upgrades, five years of security updates
- Plenty of foldable-focused features
- Hit-and-miss big-screen support from third-party apps
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 is one of very few foldables to take advantage of Google’s tablet-specific Android 12L operating system with Samsung’s OneUI 4.1 running on top.
As you might expect, there are plenty of features that make use of the foldable nature of the Z Fold 4, but it’s unclear which are Samsung innovations, and which are powered by Android 12L.
The new taskbar is one of the most immediate and useful additions to the Galaxy Z Fold 4 via Android 12L. It offers an iMac- or iPad-like taskbar when using apps on the larger internal display, making it easier to quickly switch between your favourite and recently used apps.
It’s also where you can make use of the split-screen functionality on offer, with a simple tap-and-drag of the icons in the taskbar. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 can run up to three apps at once – two in split-screen view with an additional floating window – for the ultimate multitasking experience, but it’s not something I found I’d use often, if ever. It’s also there in addition to the Edge Panel that you can swipe in from the side of the screen that performs largely the same function, which is odd.
Samsung’s Flex Mode is a unique offering among big screen foldables in 2022, essentially allowing you to use apps with the display half-folded like a laptop. It natively supports streaming apps like YouTube and video apps like Google Meet for video chats, and Samsung is working with developers to integrate support into more popular apps in future.
There’s also a Flex mode for apps without native support, essentially splitting the app in two to provide a touchpad and mouse for a laptop experience, but I found it largely unhelpful overall.
In fact, it’s app support where the Galaxy Z Fold 4 still struggles – and that’s surprising given the amount of effort Samsung has put in to get apps updated.
Sure, some of the most popular apps – Facebook, Messenger, Netflix, Display+, MS office, WhatsApp – do make the most of the large internal display, but, for every app that does, there are two that don’t.
Most apps are in the awkward middle ground of supporting the boxy aspect ratio with minimal UI issues. That’s fine for everyday use, but it also means they don’t have features or functionality designed for the large-screen experience.
However, there are a few notable omissions that simply don’t work at all in the big-screen format.
That includes the likes of Instagram, which cuts off the majority of photos and videos, and the Eufy Security smart doorbell app only displays half the video feed in full-screen mode. These are remedied by forcing a standard 16:9 aspect ratio, but it wastes the extra space on offer from the internal display.
That’s largely out of Samsung’s hands – it’s up to developers to implement support for the boxy aspect ratios of big-screen foldables – and it’s certainly not alone in the struggle, but it’s still worth pointing out that not all your apps will work flawlessly on that large internal display.
Samsung has upgraded its update promise with the Z Fold 4, offering four years of OS upgrades – taking you to Android 16 – and five years of security patches compared to three years and four years of its predecessor.
Matching the promise of the Galaxy S22 range, the Z Fold 4 offers one of the best update roadmaps of any Android smartphone in 2022, allowing you to make use of future Android OS features as they’re announced.
Features & performance
- Flagship-level CPU performance
- Fine for gaming if you can deal with the aspect ratio
- Top-tier connectivity
Being a flagship smartphone focused on work and productivity, it should come as no surprise that the Galaxy Z Fold 4 sports Qualcomm’s latest and greatest Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor alongside 12GB of RAM and either 256GB, 512GB or 1TB of storage depending on the variant you opt for.
As you’d expect from a flagship processor, performance is rapid on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 with nary a stutter, even when running three apps on-screen at once. It feels fast in use, thanks in part to the 120Hz refresh rate making everything feel smooth and more responsive, and you can expect much the same when gaming.
Admittedly, it’s not the best gaming experience with one particularly narrow display and one boxy display, especially when it comes to FPS shooters where your competition can see more of the environment than you, but it is possible if you really want to.
That syncs up nicely with our benchmark results, which show that the Galaxy Z Fold 4 can compete against the best and brightest not only from Samsung but most of the flagship competition.
Though the graphics performance isn’t quite gaming phone standard, it’s still a massive jump compared to the Z Fold 3 and more than sufficient for most AAA mobile games. Besides, that likely won’t be a huge concern for the business-focused consumer the Z Fold 4 is aimed at.
You can see a complete breakdown of our performance benchmarks here:
It’s not just about top-level performance though; the chipset also boasts improved power efficiency that has a noticeable change on battery life – but more on that later.
Performance aside, expect flagship connectivity including support for 5G, Wi-Fi 6e, Bluetooth 5.2 and NFC, along with a side-mounted fingerprint reader for security and use with mobile payment apps.
Battery & charging
- Identical battery capacity to predecessor
- Improved battery efficiency
- 25W charging isn’t fast in 2022
What’s better than one battery? Two batteries, of course. The Z Fold 4’s battery system is split between the two halves of the smartphone, allowing for a thinner design while still offering a decent 4,400mAh combined capacity.
That may be the exact same as its predecessor, but there are big improvements to battery efficiency in Qualcomm’s latest chipset and, rather surprisingly, it’s noticeable in use.
I found that I could comfortably get through the day browsing, texting and scrolling through TikTok using a combination of both displays. Admittedly I wasn’t gaming much – neither aspect ratio is ideal for gaming – so gamers and split-screen multitaskers may see worse battery performance, but it should suffice for most.
In testing, the phone managed 7 hours 40 minutes when exclusively using its larger foldable display – though you should expect better performance if you use the smaller outer display more often. That’s still behind most flagship ‘candybar’ smartphones with much smaller displays to power, but it does manage to beat the likes of the Nothing Phone (1).
You’ll still need to charge it most days, of course, which makes the fact the Z Fold 4 comes with the same 25W charging as its predecessor a bit of a disappointment. Samsung claims it can get around 50% of battery in 30 minutes – we found it’d actually reach 59% in testing – but it’s far from impressive.
In fact, given the extremely premium price tag of the phone, and the fact that some smartphones offer 150W+ fast charging that can fully charge a phone in less than 15 minutes, it’s lacklustre to say the least, a feeling amplified by the Fold’s price.
And, as with other Samsung flagships, you won’t get a charging brick in the box; you’ll have to buy one of those separately.
While we’ve seen the price of the Galaxy Z Fold range drop with every iteration of the foldable, the same can’t be said of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 in some regions – in fact, it’s £50 more expensive in the UK this time around.
Thankfully, it’ll match the pricing of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 range in most regions with a starting price of $1,799/£1,649/€1,799/₹154,999 with 256GB of storage.
It still makes it head-and-shoulders more expensive than most flagship competition, but it is impressively premium – and those that want a cheaper foldable can always opt for the clamshell-style $999/£999 Galaxy Z Flip 4.
Here’s a breakdown of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 pricing:
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 (256GB): $1,799.99/£1,649/€1,799/₹154,999
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 (512GB): $2,009.98/£1,769/€1,919/₹164,999
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 (1TB): $2,249.98/£2,019/€2,159/₹184,999
If you’re tempted by the premium foldable, you can pre-order the Galaxy Z Fold 4 from Samsung directly ahead of release on 26 August. It’s also available via retailers like Amazon in the US, and Amazon, Currys and John Lewis in the UK.
Taking the ‘refine, not redesign’ mantra to heart, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 looks to fix many of the complaints about its predecessor – and in some cases, it does exactly that.
The displays are shorter and wider to accommodate more user-friendly aspect ratios (though there’s still a long way to go) and the camera array closely matches that of the Galaxy S22 range, offering a huge improvement over the trio of 12Mp snappers of last year’s foldable. It’s also faster, more battery efficient and more durable than ever.
However, it still has fundamental flaws that need fixing, with one of the biggest being the visible gap when the phone is folded. Considering there’s no official dust resistance on offer, the internal display is a dust magnet when put in a pocket for more than a few minutes.
There are also issues with app support, with developers dragging their feet when it comes to updating apps to make the most of big-screen foldable designs. That isn’t really Samsung’s fault – it has worked with the likes of Meta and Microsoft to roll out improved support – but it’s something that prospective buyers should be aware of nonetheless.
Still, building foldable smartphones is hard – there’s a reason why Samsung is one of very few manufacturers doing so – and it’s great to see the company improving on its formula year-on-year. If you were on the fence about the Z Fold 3, the improvements from the 4 may be enough to push you into a foldable future – if you can stomach the asking price.