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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Review: The Optimus Prime Of Smartphones
Samsung has been at the forefront of the folding smartphone race and the company recently added another chapter to it with the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and the Galaxy Z Fold 4 in India. While they might resemble their predecessors, the company has made several underlying changes that make them some of the best folding smartphones out there.
- Unique formfactor with folding display
- Top-tier performance
- Flagship grade cameras
- Excellent software optimization
- Soft internal display
- Slower charging speed
The Galaxy Z Flip 4 (first impression) is meant for people who want a compact smartphone, while the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is for those who want a device that looks like a smartphone and can also transform into a tablet, just like the popular character Optimus Prime from Transformers.
I have been testing the base model of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 with 12GB RAM and 256GB of internal storage, which retails for Rs. 1,54,999. For the asking price, the phone goes against devices like the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Check out our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 to know more.
Galaxy Z Fold 4 Design: Improved Hinge Mechanism And More
While the Galaxy Z Fold 4 might look almost identical to the Galaxy Z Fold 3, the company has made enough changes to make the Z Fold 4 even more durable. Samsung has finally replaced the gear-based hinge with the all-new hinge that uses a rotational mechanism, making the folding and unfolding mechanism really smooth.
The device also has a metal frame made using Armor Aluminum. On top of that, the back panel and the cover display of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 are protected using the Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+. I have been using the Galaxy Z Fold 4 without any screen protector or a case, and I haven't seen any scratches on either front or back of the phone, so, the Gorilla Glass is indeed doing its job.
I also liked the fact that the frame has been flattened out but not as flat as the one on the iPhone 13 series. The frame does offer plenty of grips to hold on and the accent also matches the color of the back panel. And then, there are two speaker grills located on the top and the bottom along with a USB Type-C port.
The power button and the volume button, which doubles as a fingerprint sensor are on the right side (when unfolded). While I was not a huge fan of a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, it does make a lot of sense on a folding smartphone, allowing users to access the device in various ways.
The side-mounted fingerprint sensor is one of the fastest ones that I have used, and to quickly unlock the phone I have registered over four fingerprints.
The phone has a dual nano SIM card slot on the top left corner (when unfolded) and the device also supports eSIM. However, in my case, I was not able to transfer my Jio eSIM from the iPhone 12 Pro and I had to convert the eSIM to a physical SIM to start using the mobile network on the Galaxy Z Fold 4.
Galaxy Z Fold 4 Is Water Resistant Like Most Other Premium Flagships
Despite being a folding smartphone with a lot of moving parts, Samsung is offering an IPX8 rating for water resistance. Unlike most flagship smartphones, the phone does not have any resistance against dust, given the primary display is really soft, and even tiny dust particles can damage the display.
With an IPX8 rating, you can dunk the Galaxy Z Fold 4 in water and wipe it clean using a dry cloth. Although I haven't extensively tested the water-resistance capability of this device, I did sprinkle some water on the phone and wiped it clean to remove some dirt and debris from the device.
Cover Display Gets The Job Done
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 has a 6.2-inch cover display with 2316 x 904 (HD+) resolution with a variable refresh rate. While this might sound like a regular display, it is actually a lot taller, making it slightly difficult to type on.
I believe Samsung has deliberately used a taller display to encourage users to use the primary display, especially when they want to type something or even for content consumption. The almost full-sized cover display will let you do all the things that you might do on the primary display.
While you can even watch YouTube and Netflix on the cover display, we recommend you unfold the phone to elevate the overall content consumption experience. While I would have definitely liked the slightly wider cover display like the one on the Oppo Find N (review), I did like the fact that the cover display on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 encouraged me to use the primary folding display.
Most Advanced Display On A Phone
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 packs a 7.6-inch folding primary display with 2176 x 1812 (QXGA+) resolution and a variable refresh rate of 1Hz to 120Hz. The display is protected by the foldable glass with a plastic screen protector on top of that.
This display also helps to hide a 4MP selfie camera. While it is easy to spot the actual selfie camera placement on the Galaxy Z Fold 4, it is definitely a lot better and a more advanced solution when compared to the big and ugly notch on the Apple iPhone. The display also has very minimal bezels, hence, it mostly feels like holding a display and nothing else.
The goodness of the primary display on the Z Fold 4 does not end at being flexible, it is also one of the brightest and most colorful displays that I have ever seen on a phone. It might not be as sharp as one of the Galaxy S22 Ultra, but it is still plenty sharp, and watching content feels surreal.
Another nitpicking that I have to do with the Z Fold 4 is the aspect ratio of the display. It is a square-shaped display, so you will either have large black bars on the top and bottom or you might have to crop into the picture or video, which will significantly cut off the image. Maybe a slightly wider display might fix this issue once and for all.
Again, the crease is still visible, especially from certain angles and since my nails could damage the screen, I always try to be as careful as possible while using the folding display. Overall, the large 7.6-inch folding display just transforms the Galaxy Z Fold 4 into a tablet in less than a second.
Galaxy Z Flip 3 Has Flagship Grade Cameras
Samsung boasted a lot about the camera capabilities of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and I have to say, it does have a well-balanced triple camera setup. The phone has a 50MP wide-angle lens, a 12MP ultra-wide angle lens (0.6x), and a 10MP telephoto lens (3x) with support for x30 space zoom.
The phone also has a 10MP cover display and a 4MP in-display selfie camera. Overall, there are five fully working cameras on the Galaxy Z Fold 4, and here is my experience with all these cameras.
Excellent Primary Camera
The 50MP optically stabilized primary camera on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 just takes some of the best pictures in almost every lighting condition. Be it a portrait shot or a wide shot, the images from this sensor are sharp, vibrant, and offers a lot of details.
I was also impressed by the performance of the 12MP ultra-wide angle lens and how similar the color science was to the primary camera. Due to the higher resolution and F2.2 aperture, the ultra-wide angle camera also takes good shots and helps you capture a lot of things in a single frame.
I have always loved the telephoto lens on the iPhone 12 Pro and it's the same case with the 3x telephoto lens on the Galaxy Z Fold 4. It takes great photos and lets users capture far away pictures from a distance.
Use Primary Display As Selfie Camera
Thanks to the cover display, you can get high-quality selfie pictures from the 50MP camera, and I just loved this feature. The majority of the selfies that I took on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 came from the primary camera. However, one issue I have with this mode is the fact that it only keeps one person in focus and mildly blurs everything else.
Excellent Video Recorder Too
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is also an excellent video recording device with pro video mode. If you are a blogger, then you will also love the Director's Mode, which will let you seamlessly switch between the wide-angle, ultra-wide angle, and telephoto lens.
Versatile Camera Setup
The camera setup on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is clearly on par with the other flagship smartphones of 2022. However, I would have definitely liked to see a periscope zoom lens with 100x space zoom like the one on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Is the Best Performing Flagship Smartphone
The brand new Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 SoC makes the Galaxy Z Fold 4 a truly flagship-grade smartphone that even outperforms the Galaxy S22 Ultra. Not just that, the newer chip also makes the Galaxy Z Fold 4 a more power-efficient smartphone, and it does not get as hot as some of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC-powered phones.
The processor is paired with 12GB LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 storage (256GB, 512GB, and 1TB), offering plenty of storage options to the users. From multi-tasking to gaming, there is nothing that the Galaxy Z Fold 4 cannot handle.
No Thermal Throttling On Galaxy Z Fold 4
We ran the CPU thermal throttling test on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 (for 15 minutes) the device was able to sustain 78 percent of its peak performance. Interestingly, the performance drop was very gradual, which makes it a great device even for playing the most demanding games like COD: Mobile, BGMI, and Genshin Impact.
Galaxy Z Fold 4 Gaming Performance
While I also tested compute-heavy games like COD: Mobile, I also wasted hours on simple puzzle video games like Candy Crush Saga. If you play games on smartphones for at least an hour, then you will appreciate the large 7.6-inch screen on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.
Software That Jells With Hardware
While the hinge and the folding display play a predominant role on a folding smartphone, it is also important to have a great software experience. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 ships with Android 12L-based OneUI 4.1.1 which works seamlessly with this dual-display smartphone.
At first, I did feel that the icons on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 are a bit cartoony. However, they grew on me and these things also help Samsung devices distinguish itself from the competition. I liked the fact that an app will automatically adapt to the cover display and the main display when folded and unfolded, and the ability to resize almost every app to make use of the primary display.
Even if we talk about future software updates, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 will get four major Android updates and five years of security updates. Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 offers an excellent software experience that makes the smartphone even more practical.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a 5G-capable smartphone and the device also supports Bluetooth 5.2 and 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax Wi-Fi support. I tested the Galaxy Z Fold 4 with Airtel and Jio networks, and the cellular reception was also excellent. Again, if you are making a call, you either have to use the cover display or you might have to enable loudspeakers to make calls from the primary display.
Decent Battery Life
The Samsung Galaxy has a 4,400 mAh battery. Considering the phone has two displays, that too with a massive 7.6-inch primary display, I was worried about the battery life. However, I was surprised when the phone easily lasted for the entire day with moderate to heavy usage with over five hours of screen-on-time.
The smartphone also supports fast wired and wireless charging. However, the charging speeds are not as fast as the latest flagship smartphones from OnePlus or Xiaomi. Like most flagship smartphones, you won't get a charger with the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the company only includes a USB Type-C cable in the retail package.
Verdict: A Phone And A Full-Fledged Flagship Tablet
As per the headline, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is the Optimus Prime of the smartphone world and I stand by that word. It is a phone and also a tablet and it does excel at both roles. Just like Optimus Prime, it is also a sensible smartphone with flagship-grade performance and camera capabilities.
At Rs. 1,54,999, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is not a cheap smartphone. However, it is also not that expensive when compared to the devices like the iPhone 13 Pro Max. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 excels both being a high-end flagship smartphone and a folding smartphone at the same time.