The two screens
The experience on a leaflet passes, more than ever, from the two displays. The problem with these devices is that the apps and mobile versions of the sites are not designed for the formats of a foldable phone: the external display is too long, the internal one too square. With the Galaxy Z Fold4, however, things are a little better. For hardware reasons but also software. In one year, the Korean leaflet became slightly larger (2 mm) e Shorter (3 mm): The external display is in 23: 9, still too squashed for practical use compared to the 18, 19 or 20: 9 of traditional smartphones, but still usable without much pain. Only the keyboard is a bit of a problem, especially if you have large fingers.
Conversely, the internal display remains from 7.6 in (in 6: 5 format and no longer 5: 4). All time too square for a world of apps designed for vertical screens. This is where the software comes in.
Fold4 is great for multi-window multitasking, with two apps side by side (or 1 + 2, but it’s less practical). Google and Microsoft apps have been redesigned to take advantage of the big screen. Word and especially Excel they are perfectly usable, even better with the S Pen, which unfortunately is an optional and is not integrated into the body like on the S22 Ultra. Outlook And Gmail they work great with double column layout. In short, for the productivity Fold4 is a small, large device, which in many situations offers an edge. But also to consume content is not bad at all. Video streaming apps like Netflix, YouTube or Prime Video are certainly not ideal on a square display (unless you see old series or anime shot in 4: 3) but the screen is still abundant: you can do a crop or get used to two bulky black bands.
For other apps, from Instagram to Facebook to TikTok, Samsung makes available in the settings the useful option to set each individual app to full screen, in 4: 3 format or in 16: 9 format. So even the social boards become readable when you take advantage of the full screen. Well done, Samsung.
Fold4 is one of the first devices to exploit Android 12L, a version of Android with some optimizations for devices other than smartphones (from tablets to foldables). It doesn’t change much but the Mac-style “dock” is very practical for calling up the most used apps on the fly, from any screen.
There are a few things left that, due to the way Android is made, still don’t work as they should. Let’s take the browser (Chrome and Samsung Internet are pre-installed). Logically, it would be convenient to have the mobile version of the sites on the external screen and the desktop version when opening the Fold4. Or at least optionally. Instead it is not possible and you end up with illegible sites when you open the device or with lowercase characters when you close it. They are advanced implementations that, without Google’s collaboration, it will be difficult to have.
More than decent autonomy
Galaxy Z Fold4 is not an autonomy champion, but it is Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Plus it behaves better than the “non Plus” version of the Qualcomm processor seen on many other top of the range. Not so much in power (there is plenty of it) but above all in temperatures and in consumption. Fold4 almost always stays cool and this helps the battery: i 4,400 mAh there are not many and a day of demanding use brings the percentage of remaining battery in the risk zone already around 19, but we have still exceeded the 5 and a half hours of active screen. Not bad.
One limit is in charging: Samsung wanted to be conservative and the wired one stops at 25W. With a compatible power supply (not included in the package) it takes about 75 minutes for a full charge but in just over half an hour half the battery is recovered. There is also 10W wireless charging and the reverse charge to use the Fold4 as a base for headphones and other accessories.
A little to contain costs and due to the technical difficulties of a folding, a little to not overshadow the Galaxy S, but Samsung has never put the best camera set on its folds. This is also the case this year, but we can say that the cameras of the Fold4 are aligned with those of the S22 / S22 Plus: the Ultra remains the top but here we are still on more than satisfactory levels.
There are well five cameras: 4 on the back (one for selfies) and one, the Under Display Camera, “hidden” in the internal display. It is not exactly invisible but it improves on the Fold3 (Samsung has changed the pixel arrangement of its Oled panel to better hide the hole), the quality is not great (4 Megapixels) but it is decent for video calls. For selfies, thanks to the double screen, you can use the main camera using the external screen as a preview screen thanks to the camera options.
The main bedroom is one 50 Megapixels with the same sensor as S22 / S22 Plus: excellent shots, even at night. The telephoto with 3X optical zoom and the 10 MP ultrawide also did well. Here are some samples:
Price and conclusions
Folding smartphones remain a strange beast, still immature and with technical / aesthetic limits that cannot be completely solved with current technology: from the fragility of a device with a complex mobile part to the fold of the internal screen, which is there and can be seen (and you touch).
Yet this Galaxy Z Fold4 is by far the most convincing in the category. It can be profitably inserted into a work routine and at the same time be enjoyable in moments of leisure. It remains a device for the few, because i 1,879 euros from which it starts (it goes up to 2,249 for the 1 Terabyte version) making it unattainable for those who are not more than determined to choose a folding and have a well-bodied wallet. But the road traced is the right one, albeit still bumpy.
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