Samsung Galaxy Z FOLD 4 Review: Folding for Productive

Here I reviewing the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, its a folding phone that offers an impressive user experience, particularly for activities like reading, watching videos, playing games, and note-taking. Its foldable design provides a unique combination of a small tablet and a pocket-sized smartphone.

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Design and Durability

Design and Durability

The overall design of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 doesn’t have many changes from the last generation fold 3. It’s still very minimal. The back is matte and doesn’t catch too many fingerprints, the one I have is a new gray-green color, and I think it looks really pretty, and the aluminum frame matches the color as well.

The camera bump on z fold 4 is definitely not small, but it’s still smaller than on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, I would say this is still a pretty portable phone. When it’s folded it’s pretty thick, but it’s actually narrower than many other non-folding phones.

I almost feel like the hinge is a bit too strong when it’s new, It always takes me two hands to try it open, But it does feel pretty satisfying to snap it open and closed. The design makes it pretty much impossible to catch your finger in the hinge. It holds in most positions, and when it’s fully folded there’s a small gap near the hinge just like last year fold 3.

The Z Fold 4 has an IPX8 water resistance rating, but I would still try to avoid getting it wet because the screen protector might come off. There’s no dust resistance rating, probably because smaller dust particles can potentially get into the hinge and become stuck there. It has a fingerprint scanner on the lock button, which I actually find more reliable than the under-screen fingerprint scanner.

Main screen

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Main Display

On the Galaxy Z Fold 4 One thing that I didn’t find problematic is the main display, It’s a 7.6-inch 120Hz OLED with an aspect ratio of about six by five, so it doesn’t just feel like a really large phone. The issue with typical large phones is that, due to the tall aspect ratio, you can’t comfortably read documents that are meant for paper.

For example with this, you have to zoom in and then scroll horizontally to read each entire line. However, on the Z Fold 4, it’s much better since the main screen is wider. You can see the entire lines without having to scroll side to side. It’s been very helpful for me reading textbooks and other documents on the go. But of course, the drawback is that the screen has a crease down the middle.

Reading Documents on Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

I don’t find it super noticeable when looking at it directly, unless there’s reflected light, then it’s pretty noticeable. But you can try tilting the phone a bit to avoid it. I rarely touch the center of the screen, so I also hardly ever feel the crease.

One of the best things is that you can multitask really well on z fold 4 big screen. It runs Android 12L, the tablet Android, and it has taskbar which not only makes switching between apps much faster, but you can also directly drag apps into a split screen or pop-up view. The Z Fold 4 runs the tablet version of apps too, for example Chrome has separate tabs at the top.

S Pen on Galaxy Z Fold 4

My favorite feature of the main screen is that it supports the S-Pen, and the display is actually very stiff, even when pressing down on it with the pen, I cannot really feel it flex at all. The Fold Edition S Pen does have a spring-loaded tip, but it only activates under a ton of pressure. I’ve never activated it when writing normally, so it just feels like a normal S Pen, It’s not really soft at all. You will feel the crease if you draw a line across it, but when just writing text, I actually don’t really feel it. So, a surprisingly normal writing experience from a folding phone.

And because the screen is a 120Hz OLED, I think it actually feels better than a 10th gen iPad for writing, It might not be big enough for writing all your notes on it, but I mostly only write math stuff by hand, so galaxy z fold 4 is a genuinely viable alternative to a tablet for me. The Fold S Pen won’t scratch the main screen since it has a soft tip, but the screen’s not glass, and it’s much more prone to scratches as it still relies on a pre-installed screen protector.

The good thing is the screen protector is actually barely noticeable, you can’t see any obvious outlines of it. The long-term durability of z fold 4 is still a concern, It’s supposedly 45% stronger than last gen, but I guess only time will tell. The super thin bezels and the under-screen front camera on z fold 4 really bring together the all-screen look. The under-screen camera is still pretty visible, but it’s much less distracting than a hole punch.

Overall, screen is really great for watching stuff, playing games, everything looks good and feels super smooth on it. And also for its size the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is really not that heavy. It’s only 10% heavier than the iPhone 14 Pro Max, and it’s much lighter than the iPad Mini, so holding it for a long time isn’t too bad at all, and when Z fold 4 is folded, it feels almost normal.

Cover Screen and Software

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Cover Screen

The cover screen of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 may be narrow, measuring at 6.2 inches but it is sufficient for tasks such as texting and basic functions. It boasts a high-quality 120Hz OLED display, and its narrow form factor makes it easy to navigate with one hand. Both the cover screen and the back are constructed with Gorilla Glass Victus Plus, ensuring durability when the phone is folded.

What’s interesting is that you can personalize each screen with different setups, including unique wallpapers, allowing for a customized experience based on the apps you frequently use on each screen.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Software
Image: Created by Ella

The software on Galaxy Z Fold 4 is also pretty special because it’s running Android 12L, most apps have a custom layout that takes advantage of the larger screen. For example, when browsing in YouTube, you can see more videos, and the mini player is also much larger, the camera app has a feature where you can see your shots immediately.

There may be some apps that are simply enlarged to fit larger screen, like Instagram, which can look kind of ugly. However you can switch the app’s aspect ratio, and I think it’s a pretty decent fix. You can also set it so that when you close or open Z Fold 4, the opened app will automatically switch between the two screens, which I found pretty useful.

The only thing is sometimes when you’re switching from the smaller to the bigger screen, the app layout on the big screen might be stuck in the enlarged view, but beyond this bug, all the other features actually work pretty reliably, and it’s overall a great experience.

When the Z Fold 4 is bent to 90 degrees, some apps have a custom layout. For example, the camera app moves the preview to the top half. However, most apps don’t take advantage of this, so you’re just left with touchpad and some other controls, and the Flex mode is really useful.

Multi-tasking

Multi-Task
Image: Created By Ella

The best part about the software experience is multitasking, unlike a typical Android phone, the Galaaxy Z Fold 4 has the same taskbar as Android tablets, and it always stays there even when you’re in an app. I found the taskbar especially useful for quickly entering split-screen view, especially since I can pull up all my apps from it. Other Android phones can split screen too, but I never used it much because the screen simply isn’t big enough to comfortably look at two apps at the same time. However, the Fold’s main screen fits two apps really well, and I can see a good amount of content on both apps simultaneously. I think this split-screen configuration is great for doing work on z fold 4.

Additionally, through Good Lock’s Multi-Star, you can make everything on the screen smaller while it’s in split-screen or pop-up view. This is really nice because it helps you see a lot more content when multitasking. This feature really makes it feel like a much larger tablet. And since the screen has a high resolution, I don’t find things difficult to see even at the smaller size.

S Pen

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 S Pen

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 doesn’t come with an S Pen, but I think it’s worth it to pick one up, not only is it good for annotating screenshots and documents, but note-taking on the Fold is surprisingly good. I don’t really feel the crease even when writing text across it. And of course, you can also turn it sideways and just write on the top or bottom portion.

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 only supports either the S Pen Pro or Fold Edition with a retracting tip to protect the screen, I’m actually kind of glad that this isn’t a tiny pen that fits in the phone because I can see myself writing lots of notes on the Fold, This Fold S Pen is really good. The round shape with a flat edge feels very comfortable. It’s also very light and doesn’t have to be charged. The button is nice too for quick erasing, I just wish it could magnetize to the side of the phone. I mean, it fits, but for now, to bring it around with the phone, you’ll probably need a case with a built-in S Pen holder.

Overall, the writing experience is pretty good on the Z Fold 4, The main screen is wide and tall enough to be comfortable. It’s a lot better than on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, which I mostly used for quick reminder notes because the screen is just not wide enough. However, the Fold screen might still be a bit too small if you want to handwrite all of your notes on it. In that case, a tablet will be much more comfortable. But for me I typically type most of my notes and then just handwrite things like math equations and annotations, and I’d say the Fold screen size is very adequate for that.

Honestly, for use cases similar to mine, the Z Fold 4 could be a better writing tablet than a budget tablet since the screen is OLED and 120 hertz, which could potentially justify its price. But do note that the S Pen doesn’t work on the cover screen. And you need the more expensive S Pen Pro to get air actions, which is when you can control certain things on the phone with pen gestures.

Camera Test

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 actually has pretty good cameras, Most likely, the main lens is the same one as on the S22, so it’s not as good as the S22 Ultra. But if you like taking selfies and videos, this is probably the best phone for it. You can see a full preview of what you’re filming, and the main camera is just a lot better than any front cameras I’ve tried. The background has some natural blur, and it performs well in lower light situations too, much better than any front cameras ever could.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Camera Test Image
Image: Created By Ella YT

The back main lens is also 50 megapixels, and you can toggle it on for some high-resolution photos. Those do look a bit sharper than the regular 12-megapixel mode. As you can see, these leaves here are quite a bit sharper. But I feel like the processing is a bit different in this mode. Look at the sky in all these photos. They’re just less blue, and I don’t think they look as nice. In general, I think the processing is a bit better with the new SOC. Look at this low-light shot compared to the Galaxy S22 Ultra with the older chip. The new processing on the Z Fold 4 is just a lot crisper, and overall, I think the Fold also hits the correct white balance more consistently.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 vs S22 Ultra Main Lens
Image: Created By Ella

Unlike the iPhone, the main lens on the Fold can focus pretty close, so you can get some kind of macro shots with a high-quality main lens. The videos from the main sensor are now pretty good too. I actually find the Z Fold 4 video looks less sharpened and more natural compared to the iPhone. And then, comparing to the S22 Ultra, there’s basically no difference. I’m actually beginning to like the Samsung video slightly more than the iPhone’s now. There’s definitely been a good change in their video processing algorithm.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 50MP Lens vs 12 MP Camera Test

Now, the biggest downside compared to the Galaxy S22 Ultra is that the Fold doesn’t have a 10x telephoto lens. But its 3x telephoto lens isn’t bad at all. It has very nice sharpness and colors throughout these shots. The ultrawide has a pretty basic sensor and lens with no focus, but with the newer processing, I actually think it’s better than the galaxy S22 Ultra, particularly in the corners. There’s a bit more sharpness, and there’s also a bit more color and contrast.

Besides the back cameras, the Fold has an additional selfie camera on the cover screen and also an under-screen camera. The under-screen one looks so bad that it’s kind of funny. I would maybe only use it for Zoom calls. But the selfie camera on the cover screen is actually pretty decent in good lighting. I think it keeps up with the front cameras on the Galaxy S22 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro. But still, it’s far worse than the Fold’s main lens, especially in this lower light shot. Since it’s so easy to use the main lens for selfies, these other two cameras will probably barely get used.

I’ve been really enjoying using the Fold to film vlogs. It’s nice to be able to use a back camera and see a full preview of the shot on the cover screen. Also, I can easily frame up ultra-wide selfie photos and videos, which is pretty cool.

Battery Life

Galaxy S22 Ultra14%
Galaxy Z Fold 415%
iPhone 14 Pro17%
2 hour Social Media Battery % Drop Comparison

look now I was concerned about this phone’s battery life at first because it has a much larger screen than the Galaxy GS22 ultra but a smaller battery but it was honestly better than I expected. the 8 plus gen 1 turns out to be a pretty significant SOC upgrade after two hours of scrolling through social media the Z Fold 4 almost kept up with the S22 ultra only dropping one extra percent and it did beat out the iPhone 14 Pro. although the iPhone does have a much smaller battery for lighter tasks even when using the big screen all day I’ve never felt like the battery wasn’t enough.

Galaxy S22 Ultra 25%
Galaxy Z Fold 433%
iPhone 14 Pro32%
Battery % Drop After 1 Hour 3D Mark Wildlife Extreme Stress Test

when it comes to gaming the bigger screen does consume more battery after three rounds of wild life extreme stress test the fold dropped a whopping 33 percent over the 25 drop by the S22 Ultra however this isn’t an extremely big drop considering the iPhone 14 Pro dropped 32 overall the battery life of the fold isn’t bad at all I think it’s enough for all day of basic use on the big screen and if you use the cover screen occasionally you can definitely save a bit more battery

Performance

Galaxy S22 Ultra3252
Z Fold 43947
iPhone 14 Pro5508
Geekbench 5 (Multi-Core) Score
Galaxy S22 Ultra2539
Z Fold 42805
iPhone 14 Pro3380
3DMARK Wild Life Extreme Score

Now, gaming on the big screen is definitely pretty fun, and the performance is really good too. It’s actually quite a significant step up from the S22 Ultra, with around 10 to 20 percent better performance depending on the task. I think the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 just generates less heat in general. After running a sustained gaming benchmark for 10 minutes, the Fold is nearly 50 percent faster than the S22 Ultra. So if you game on a phone for a long time, then the Fold is much better than the S22 Ultra. However, it’s still quite a bit behind the iPhone in terms of performance.

Since Z fold 4 is a folding phone, only half of it gets hot. The area near the cameras reached around 37 degrees Celsius, which is about the typical temperature of a phone when gaming, while the other half is basically at idle temperature, around 32 degrees Celsius. It doesn’t feel hot at all. So even during long gaming sessions, you have at least half of the phone that won’t make your hands sweaty. Because heat is only dissipated on the side with the cameras, there’s nothing especially good or bad about the Fold’s heat dissipation. It still experiences thermal throttling after just a few minutes.

Overall, I think the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 is a really good SOC upgrade, and since the Galaxy ZFold 4 only comes with the Snapdragon SOC, it can be a pretty huge upgrade for the Exynos regions.

Final Thought

I’m really impressed by Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, It provides a much more comfortable experience for reading, watching videos, and playing games. It’s also pretty good for note-taking. The software is surprisingly well-refined with excellent multitasking support. I really enjoyed having essentially a small tablet that folds into a phone, making it convenient to fit in my pocket. However, there are still long-term durability concerns with the main screen.

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