Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 is official and, if you’ve been following the endless rumors and leaks, there are no real surprises, but many warmly welcome upgrades for foldable fans.
With updates to the camera system, processor, display, software and improved durability, Samsung has addressed many of the issues with the already excellent Galaxy Z Fold 3. Here is what’s new.
Let’s start by taking a look at what’s new when we pop the hood. The three big talking points here: the cameras, the display and the processor.
Instead of the triple 12MP camera array of the Fold 3, you’re getting an upgraded 50MP main snapper with an f/1.8 aperture, alongside a 12MP ultra wide at f/2.2 and a 10MP telephoto.
Both the main and telephoto are packed with optical image stabilization, which allows the zoom lens to deliver a 30X Space Zoom (a combo of 3x optical zoom and 30x digital zoom with AI super-resolution technology). This matches the cameras of the Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus, a significant step up from the Galaxy S21 FE level cameras in the Fold 3.
Up front, you have a 10MP hole-punch selfie camera at the top of the cover display and a smaller 4MP sensor under the display on the inside, which has been better concealed with an improved subpixel arrangement.
That should help hide that sensor a little more on its 7.6-inch AMOLED panel. That main display has the same 2176 x 1812–pixel resolution and 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, but Samsung claims it is brighter thanks to Samsung’s AMOLED 2X technology. The cover display stays the same with a 6.2-inch HD+ 120Hz display.
As for what is keeping all your apps on that screen moving fluidly, the Fold 4 is making the jump to Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, which should give a healthy jolt to performance across many of the more intense apps you can pick up from the Play Store.
Enticing as the upgrades under the hood may be, what’s most interesting about the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is how the software has been tweaked to make the most of it. The Z Fold 4 is running Android 12L: a special version that has been purpose-built for the larger display of foldables or tablets.
What does that mean? Small, but welcome tweaks such as a permanent taskbar with additional buttons that give you an almost PC-esque interface, dramatically better multitasking with new swipe interactions and the smart use of drag and drop for copy and paste.
Baking these into the core Android OS rather than the Samsung skin helps to fundamentally improve the UI across both the outer and inner displays.
Samsung has made considerable strides when it comes to the durability of its foldables, but that factor remains a primary concern for potential foldable phone buyers. There's no denying that with a far greater amount of mechanical engineering in the hinges and the material science of the flexible display, there is a great risk of failure.
The Fold 4 retains the same IPX8 water resistance as its predecessor, but Samsung has upgraded the rigidity of the device with a patented Armor Aluminum frame and Gorilla Glass Victus+ on the front and rear (also used on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4).
Plus, the glass covering the foldable display has been improved with what the company’s calling an “optimized layer structure,” which should reduce the chance of any sort of external impact damage. With the introduction of S Pen support last year (something that also returns) we thought there might be increased reports of screen damage last year, but that never came to pass.
On paper, Samsung seems to be checking all the right boxes with the Galaxy Z Fold 4 — an improved camera system, the latest Snapdragon chipset and a more durable design.
But whether fair or not, the lingering concerns over durability (still no dust resistance?) and the same sky-high price mean the Fold 4 is likely to remain a niche phone for power users.
Given our love for the Galaxy Z Fold 3, I think it’s fair to say that the Fold 4 will likely be a worthwhile purchase for those that didn't jump on last year's model, but time will tell whether it can win over a more mainstream crowd without a dramatic price drop.