Review unit on loan from Samsung Singapore
The Samsung Z Fold 4 is a 6.2-inch phone that can unfold into a tablet with a 7.6-inch OLED display. This is the first folding phone I've used and I'm impressed by how fast technology has evolved, especially with Samsung's foldable phones. It's one thing to read reviews, look at pictures and videos that feature this phone, but it's a totally different thing/experience to see and use this phone in person.
The Samsung Z Fold 4 is beautiful, well engineered and powerful phone with a high price tag to match.
Price and accessories
These are the prices in USA and Singapore:
- 256GB - USD 1799, SGD 2398
- 512GB - USD 1919, SGD 2578
- 1TB - USD 2159, SGD 2938
These models come with 12GB RAM and the 4nm Qualcomm SM8475 Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip (1x3.19 GHz Cortex-X2 & 3x2.75 GHz Cortex-A710 & 4x1.80 GHz Cortex-A510).
Full specifications are available here: https://www.samsung.com/global/galaxy/galaxy-z-fold4/specs/
Price of the base model is even higher than many mid-range gaming laptops. With this phone, you're kinda buying a phone and tablet, or the convenience of a 2-in-1 phone & tablet. The good news is Samsung has pretty good pre-order and trade-in deals.
For example, at the time of this review in USA, the price of the 512GB model is the same as the 256GB model at USD 1799.
Here in Singapore, there's a pre-order deal (until 1 Sept 2022) that comes with a $300 e-voucher, an extra $200 bonus for trade-in of an eligible device and the option to get 50% off 2 year Samsung Care+ Screen Care which is SGD 175 (after discount).
Samsung Care+ Screen Care includes 1 time complimentary screen protective film replacement for cover screen and main screen (up to 2 times for 24M), and 1 time screen replacement at $100 for cover screen or main screen (within SC+ coverage duration ). The phone is kinda slippery you may want to consider getting SC+ if you're not using a case with it.
Samsung has several cases made for the Z Fold 4:
- Standing Cover with S Pen - USD 89
- Slim Standing Cover - USD 49
- Silicone Grip Cover - USD 49
- Leather Cover - USD 79
And there are also third party cases from other companies.
The cases of course will add more bulk to the already bulky-when-folded phone. Samsung did not send me any cases to review so I can't say much about them. If I buy the Z Fold 4, I'll definitely get the Standing Cover with S Pen. As for SC+, probably not because I'm quite careful with my phone.
The S Pen is not included. The S Pen Fold Edition is SGD 78. It's probably more worth it to get the case that includes the S Pen.
Note that only the S Pen Fold Edition will work with Samsung Z Fold phones. Other Samsung S Pens or third party ones will not work on this phone.
The box and packaging are surprisingly underwhelming for a phone this pricey.
Items included in the box are:
- Sim card ejection tool
- USB-C to USB-C cable
- Quick start guide
No charger, no case, no S Pen are included.
It would be great if the pre-order could include some of those goodies. But I guess you can use the SGD 300 e-Voucher to buy them.
The Samsung Z Fold 4 is a beautiful phone with solid build quality and a premium feel. The finishing is fantastic with the rounded edges and corners, thin uniform bezels, glossy display and sides.
This is my first time using a folding phone and I'm very impressed with what I see. It's a phone that sure to stand out among all other non-folding phones out there.
The phone's available in colours Gray-Green, Phantom Black, Beige and Burgundy (Samsung.com exclusive).
When folded, it's 14.2mm at the thinnest part and 15.8mm at the hinge. There are side-facing speakers on each side and audio quality is good.
As for how pocketable the phone is will depend on how big or tight your pocket is.
From left (top) to right, the cameras are 12MP ultrawide, 50MP wide, 10MP telephoto. The camera bump is quite big and the cameras still protrude slightly.
On the side there are a tray for 2 nano SIMs, volume buttons and power button with fingerprint sensor.
The hinge is strong and stiff. The phone is rated for IPX8 which is tested against submersion for 1.5m of freshwater up to 30 minutes, but not dust resistant. Gaps in the phone are more noticeable with the phone in mid-fold (shown above).
The phone is quite slippery as 3/4 of its surface is glass and the last portion, the back with the camera, is smooth matte surface. Having a case on should help a lot with the grip. Even Samsung also has a case with a strap for fingers. For those are not getting the S Pen case, that case with strap would be a good option to consider especially for those who plan on using the phone while commuting.
Display on the front (or exterior) is a 6.2-inch 120Hz AMOLED with 23.1:9 aspect ratio. Resolution is 2316 x 904 (402 PPI).
Home screen layout for the exterior display can be set to match the interior tablet display. I find it better to have different home screens and only have apps that work better on a narrow display on the exterior display.
One downside to the narrow display is it takes time to get used to typing accurately on a small and squashed keyboard.
The punch-hole camera is a 10MP f/2.2 wide lens.
The bigger display is a 7.6-inch 120Hz AMOLED with 21.6:18 aspect ratio. Resolution is 2176 x 1812 (374 PPI).
The crease is visible from certain angles and when there's reflected light. I don't find the crease distracting compared to a notch or punch-hole camera on a phone. Actually the reflections are more distracting than the crease itself. I don't think the crease is worth worrying about.
There's a 4MP under display punch-hole camera on the tablet display. Image quality for that camera isn't good.
The phone's really thin when in tablet mode.
Weight is 263g which is certainly heavier than most phones but for a phone with a normal sized and a huge display it's considered light.
The AMOLED display has fantastic colours and contrast. Visual quality is amazing. The display is vibrant and sharp with no noticeable pixelation. It's extremely enjoyable and satisfying to use the big display.
When watching videos, there will be noticeable thick black bars at the top and bottom due to the squarish aspect ratio. Some apps may allow you to zoom in to fill the screen at the expense of cropping out wide aspect videos and movies.
For Youtube, there's also this flex (?) mode where you can fold the phone to prop up the display and the Youtube video will size to the top half.
Most of the phone apps scale up quite well on the tablet display.
Gaming can be really enjoyable and immersive if the game and UI can take advantage of the whole display. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor in the phone is top of the line in 2022 and has no issues with playing demanding games.
The tablet display has many multi-tasking features. When an app is active, a small dock will appear that mirrors the home-screen dock. You can tap and hold the bottom edge of the display to hide the small dock.
There's a slide-out dock with customisable shortcuts.
There's of course split screen mode. You can have vertical and horizontal split. There's also pop-up window option.
There are so many multi-tasking features for the tablet display that it will take some time to figure them out.
S Pen Fold Edition
I find it disappointing that the S Pen is not included with a phone this expensive.
This is the Samsung S Pen Fold Edition (EJ-PF926BBEGWW) which is priced at USD 49 or SGD 78. There's another pen called the S Pen Pro (EJ-P5450SBEGWW) priced at USD 79 or SGD 168. S Pen Pro is battery powered (16hr) for Bluetooth and can be used for Air Command shortcuts or gestures but otherwise the pen performance is similar to the S Pen Fold Edition. S Pen Fold Edition is not powered by battery. S Pens don't need battery for writing or drawing.
Z Fold 4 only works with S Pens that mention support for Fold devices.
S Pen from other Samsung tablets and Staedtler Noris digital pens are not compatible with the Z Fold 4.
When a non-compatible S Pen is used, a pop up will appear to tell you that your non-compatible pen may damage the display.
The pen tip of the normal S Pen seems to be thinner than the 1.5mm rubberised tip of the S Pen Fold Edition.
Original pen nibs from Samsung have a rubberised tip and in theory should work with the Z Fold 4. However, many replacement tips found online are made with full plastic with hard plastic tips. My guess is Samsung doesn't want the thinner pen tip, rubberised or not, to poke the tablet display.
When you buy replacement nibs, you have to differentiate the two types of nibs too.
My drawing experience is mostly positive and affected only by the inconsistent performance of pressure and tilt sensitivity near the crease.
These line tests were from Medibang Paint Pro.
Initial activation force is low so the pen is quite sensitive. When drawing diagonal lines slowly, there's slight jitter which is a non-issue when drawing at normal speed.
Pressure sensitivity isn't as good near the crease. When you lift the pen near the crease, the strokes will taper abrupt. When you draw elsewhere away from the crease, you can create tapered strokes easily.
You can draw across and on the crease without any broken lines. The crease isn't deep so drawing direction isn't affected although if you want to draw a perfectly straight line with the help of the crease you can.
When you use tilt brushes across the crease, the tilt effect is distorted. Even if you can't see the crease in the photo above, you can tell where the crease is looking at where the tilt brush effect was distorted.
I also found out tilt sensitivity is random and inconsistent with Concepts app, which for me is a huge bummer because that's my favourite app for sketching.
Even with the pen tilted really low, sometimes the broad strokes don't come out. In other words, tilt sensitivity is not useable.
This was drawn with Medibang Paint Pro. I did not experience any issues while drawing this. The crease did not get in my way. Drawing experience is significantly more positive compared to drawing on a phone with a display that's half the size.
FYI, the S Pen Fold Edition doesn't work quite right with Samsung tablets that support the S Pen. The S Pen Fold Edition can be recognised but whether the pen will write, erase or do nothing will depend on the app you use. Don't buy the S Pen Fold Edition to use with Samsung tablets.
The S Pen Fold Edition nibs are not interchangeable with the normal and original Samsung S Pen nibs.
S Pen has good note taking and handwriting performance.
This phone has Samsung Dex, the desktop UI for Android. I use Samsung Dex occasionally with an external display to get work done faster so I find Samsung Dex to be useful.
Samsung Dex on the Z Fold 4 can connect to wireless displays and computers (Windows). You can also connect external displays with cable connection.
Battery life is decent. I was able to get around 8 hours of use with typical usage which does not include gaming.
I'm fine with the charging speed. The phone supports 25W charging which will get you 50% in half hour.
The Samsung Z Fold 4 is an impressive piece of tech. The convenience of having a phone and tablet will be appreciated by power users and those who multi-task a lot. Everything you do just seems more satisfying on a much larger display.
I don't think this is a phone to get for the sole purpose of watching 16:9 videos because the video size is quite similar to what you can get with a max-sized phone. The selling point here is more for gaming, web browsing, multi-tasking, working.
Battery life of 8 hours is pretty good considering the size of the display.
Drawing experience with the S Pen Fold Edition is good except for the tilt sensitivity performance not working as well near the crease. I don't like drawing on phones because of the vertical user interface. The Z Fold 4's almost squarish aspect ratio and large display is great for drawing. You just have to find some place to store the S Pen Fold Edition and make sure you don't lose it.
If you have the budget for this phone, I'm very sure you'll be very satisfied with what you get.
Location of the power button is not ideal at the right side in the middle. When I grip the tablet display, my middle finger is right on top of the power button and there can be accidental presses. But thankfully the power button is actually recessed so accidental presses are rare.
The S Pen is not included and only compatible S Pens can be used with the phone. To spend USD 49 or SGD 78 to buy the S Pen when one is even included with the Tab S6 Lite (SGD 598) doesn't feel right.
The pricing of USD 1799 or SGD 2398 is really quite high even with pre-order goodies thrown in to sweeten the deal. Whether it's worth the money will depend on what you value. The Z Fold 4 does represent, in my opinion, the forefront of phone technology right now. And you have to pay to stand in front.
There's no microSD card slot which isn't a significant downside considering the upgrades to storage capacity isn't too crazy but having a microSD card slot would be extremely welcome.