Gripped by the smaller twists and turns in the Samsung-Apple rivalry, we often forget that these are intrinsically very different companies. If Apple is almost status-quoist in how cautious it is before rolling out something new to users, Samsung is equally pushy when it comes to adopting new features and rolling them out to consumers, even if still a bit half-baked. Both approaches have their merits and both companies reap the fortunes of taking different paths.
This year, Samsung seems all set to cash in on its four-year effort to make the foldable form factor more palatable for regular users with the new Fold 4 and Flip 4. After having used the Fold 4 for well over a week, here is what I think of the most visible foldable phone in the market.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 price in India: Rs 154,999
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review
At first sight, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 has not changed much. But hold it for a few minutes and you realise Samsung has successfully shaved off a few millimetres from the design as well as made this phone a tad bit lighter. That’s primarily been achieved by making the all-important hinge — the one aspect of a foldable phone that had tech companies scratching their heads for years — more compact. It doesn’t jut out of the frame anymore and is blended well into the design. This also means the phone offers a better grip. Other than that Samsung has not really touched the design this time.
But then the design is not always limited to the physical and that is where Samsung has put in some solid good work. Now there is a tray of apps on every screen that lets you easily navigate to other apps or just drag up an app you want to multitask with. This is the sort of thing that is possible only on a screen this large, but the kind of thinking that takes the product to a whole new level. After using the phone for a few days, I got the feeling this is a whole new UI made just for the unfolded Fold 4 screen, one that has not been seen even in Android tablets before. Samsung could be on to something really big here.
In fact, the ease of multi-tasking takes this phone to a whole new level. If for the Note series the S-Pen was its superpower, then for the Fold split screens are what gives it the punch. Within seconds I had gone from reading a mail to opening a Google Sheet on the side to verify some numbers, all as I was seeing the live feed of the Supertech tower demolitions live on The Indian Express YouTube channel. The use cases are infinite when you have this much real estate and versatility going hand in hand.
And all this is possible because the phone has the top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor which keeps this phone cool even with really stressful use cases. The only time you really can’t multitask is when you are gaming and that is not really a processor limitation in this case.
One aspect where Samsung has really pushed the envelope is with the camera. Maybe the early adopters would have lived with an under-par camera for the pleasure of using an innovative device. But as you go mass, consumers will question why a phone that costs almost as much as a high-end motorbike has a camera that you really don’t want to showcase. That changes now with the 50MP primary camera on the Fold 4, which I think is at par with other Samsung flagship clickers.
As some of the test photos show this can offer the kind of clicks you expect from a Samsung camera. With the preview option, creators can think of being a tad bit more innovative than their single-screen phone rivals.
In fact, I have a feeling the Fold 4 could attract the creator segment also because its 4K recording capabilities now get the ease of better multi-tasking which could actually be very effective while editing videos.
But if there is one thing that will not impress the creators, it is the in-display selfie camera which is still a bit too grainy in low light for my liking. It is a good thing that you can still use the back camera in different ways to get over this delicate situation.
While Samsung hasn’t really upgraded the display quality this time, it is however giving more screen to the user with a better screen-to-body ratio in the same frame. And, though I could not test it, this phone again works with the S-Pen stylus.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review: Things to keep in mind
While the Fold 4 becomes more of a mass product and as the phone percolates down to more users despite its higher price point, there are some things that set this apart from other phones, primarily in how you use and care for it.
* For one, this is not a phone you would hand over to your kids to keep them entertained on a long flight. In fact, this is a phone you keep away from your children.
* Then, this is a phone that makes you feel like you should have worn that dinner jacket again because it feels so awkward in both your jeans and shirt pockets.
* Plus, you think twice before keeping the phone on a hard surface, when not used with a cover, because you feel it’s going to hurt the phone.
So let’s be clear, this is still a phone that needs your care and attention.
The front screen hasn’t seen any UI change and that could be something to work on for the next version. This is critical because users have a thinner screen than regular phones and making life easier for those who have accepted this compromise is critical.
The crease is still there to almost remind you that this is a foldable screen. But every year it disappears a little more into the fold.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review: Should you buy it?
Yes, if you are an Android user who can afford it. Because this is the best phone money can buy at the moment, one that lets you tell the world you have arrived and lets you finish the work before you arrive. This is the business phone, this is the swagger phone, this is the head turner phone. And this is a phone you can use like any other phone. It is just that it is precious and needs you to show it that love and care.