Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4: Folding Is Mainstream Now, and That Is Good

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4: Folding Is Mainstream Now, and That Is Good

Coming up with a whole new phone formfactor is hard. First, you have to invent the damn thing, then you have to make it not suck, to make it not die when people are people, convince people they actually need it when no one really asked for this new formfactor because it’s not solving a real problem for anyone, and then refine it enough that it’s ready to go mainstream. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 and Z Flip4 are at the stage where they’re ready to go mainstream and I’m really interested to see how people take to these new phones.

I went to New York for the launch of the new Samsung folding phones, and have spent a little over a week with them, and I’m really impressed. These are my thoughts on the Z Fold4.


The front screen of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4
The front screen is like the inner screen, but more solid and much smaller and doesn’t fold. Image: Alice Clarke

I’ve been using the Z Fold3 as my second phone for about a year, and despite all I loved about it, there were lots of things that annoyed me, holding it back from promotion to main phone. The biggest pain point was the front screen, which was just too narrow to type on without a dialling wand.

2.7mm doesn’t sound like much, because it isn’t, but that extra width really does make a genuine difference when you’re typing. I would still like an extra 2.7mm on top of that, but I’m not making anywhere near the number of typos I used to. That’s good because the front screen is really what you’re going to be using for texts and social media. The full screen is good for emails, but I find the narrower front screen better for reading books, social media, messages and other stuff you need to type in, or just focus on.

The inner screen is much the same. I know it has a couple of extra millimetres on it too, but I don’t really notice. That’s fine. I’m giving up on my dreams of a more tablet-like aspect ratio. It would be better for games and apps, but it would make the front screen an awkward shape and I get it. Both screens look great, and the new screen materials feel better.


The camera is better now, but still nowhere near the level of the S22 Ultra, and that’s bad given how gosh darn expensive this phone is. At $2,999, the 1TB model is on par with the original Fold as the most expensive smartphone to ever be sold in Australia.

However, this is the best camera that’s been in a Fold. Yes, yes, every new model of phone is supposed to get better, but that’s not always the case, and the camera is really the biggest upgrade in this Fold. The new three-camera array, which now includes 50MP rear wide camera alongside 10MP telephoto and 12MP ultrawide, puts it on par with the S22+, which is good, but it could be better. Though, if you’re the kind of person that likes to take selfies, being able to use the back camera for selfies is ace. Way better than the front camera on any other phone I can remember using.

The Bethesda Fountain in Central Park (part 1). Left: Phone 13 Pro Max. Centre: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3. Right: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. Image: Alice Clarke
The Bethesda Fountain in Central Park (part 2). Left: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4. Centre: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4. Right: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3. Image: Alice Clarke
Some nature in Central Park. Left: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4. Centre: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3. Right: Samsung Galaxy S22. Image: Alice Clarke
Using the rear camera as a selfie camera on the Z Fold4 is neat. Image: Alice Clarke
The colours, children, The colours. (Taken on the Z Fold4). Image: Alice Clarke
The proper selfie camera failed to make me look fresh in the morning. But I guess it can’t work miracles. Image: Alice Clarke

The actual 4MP in-display selfie camera on the folded screen could best be described as “fine”, but you’re probably not going to use it for anything other than BeReals, and even then the 10MP front screen selfie camera more than makes up for it.

As you can see from the above gallery, the colours are a bit saturated, and the selfie camera is using some smoothing techniques I don’t enjoy. But that’s fairly typical across Samsung devices and is just a personal preference thing rather than a technological failing.

Durability: How killable is the Z Fold4?

The backside of the Z Fold4
Image: Alice Clarke

I’ve conducted several unscheduled drop tests, and it’s survived each one with flying colours, so that’s good. The front screen is still so slippery that it slides off everything. The matte textured back screen doesn’t slide as easily, but golly gee do you need a case with this.

It’s still IPX8 rated for water resistance. Don’t go swimming with it in anything but fresh water (and, even then, maybe don’t), but you don’t need to freak out if it starts raining. However, don’t take it to the beach because it will not survive sand.

Fold4 productivity

I love the new task bar. I love the task bar so much. It really elevates the experience and makes it feel more tablet-like. The task bar gives you easy access to your recently used and most-used apps, like you would on a laptop or tablet.

This is a phone designed for productivity, to be fully used, and I am so pleased. It feels like something that should have always been there, and I have no idea how I went without it for so long. It wouldn’t make sense on a more traditionally-shaped smartphone, but it works so well on the Fold4. The task bar alone would be enough of an upgrade to make it worth finally switching to a Fold if you’ve been considering it.

Hinge and crease on the Z Fold4

My other big pain point with the Z Fold3 was that opening the bastard to do anything was a huge effort. At times it was like it was welded shut. Who wants to put that much effort into playing a game?

This has been largely solved on the Z Fold4. There is a brand-new hinge mechanism that doesn’t actively hate you, so opening it still requires a little effort (it has to if it’s going to survive long term), but it’s no longer so heavy it discourages you from opening it too frequently. I’ve found with the Fold4 that I’m opening it up for more things than I used to, and opening it more frequently. This is likely what the designers were trying to avoid on the 3, but makes it a much more pleasant experience on the 4.

As for the crease, I really didn’t find it a problem on the 3, and it’s not that different on the 4. Maybe slightly less pronounced? It can still be a little irritating on some games that I play, but it’s also handy to use as a tactical advantage if you have a game that needs you to tap near the centre of the screen a lot.

But is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 actually good?

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 in front of a plant (perhaps a monstera? idk)
Image: Alice Clarke

Yes. This isn’t a full evolution, but it fixes enough of the gripes I had about the Fold3 that I feel I can wholeheartedly recommend it if this is the kind of productivity tool you need. It is a very specific phone, I don’t think it will suit all users. You have to be someone who wants to multitask or run larger apps that can adequately take advantage of a square-ish screen (not all do, some just zoom or squish). But if you’re a particularly cashed up student who wants to be able to take notes on videos on your phone without needing a second device, or you’re a businessperson who does business things, the Z Fold4 is ready for you now.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 is in stores from 2/9/2022. Check out the preorder deals here.

Alice Clarke travelled to New York as a guest of Samsung.

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