Samsung announces the Galaxy Z Fold 4, its latest large-format foldable phone.
Why it matters
Samsung sees foldable phones as key to the future of its lineup of mobile devices. As one of the world’s largest smartphone manufacturers, Samsung is influencing the broader market.
Samsung will release the Galaxy Z Fold 4 on August 26 for $1,800.
Samsung is pushing ahead with its foldable phone ambitions with the Galaxy Z Fold 4, which goes on sale August 26 and starts at US$1,800 (£1,649, AU$2,499).
Announced at Wednesday’s Unpacked event, the new book-style foldable phone has a modified design that should be easier to handle in phone mode. It also gets new software that takes advantage of the foldable screen and routine processor and camera upgrades.
Samsung was an early entrant, launching its first Galaxy Fold device in 2019. It leads the foldable phone market by a wide margin in terms of shipments, according to estimates by Display Supply Chain Consultants and Omdia. But foldable phones still make up a portion of the broader cellphone market. The new Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4 are Samsung’s latest attempt to change that by addressing some of the biggest criticisms of previous models, potentially making folding devices more appealing to a larger audience.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4, for example, has a wider cover screen that, when closed, looks more like a regular non-folding phone. The change makes apps look more natural since the Z Fold 4’s screen isn’t as narrow. The difference compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is certainly noticeable, but the display is still not quite as wide as a standard phone like the Galaxy S22 or iPhone 13.
Samsung is also doing more to make the Galaxy Z Fold 4 useful when its display is half-folded. Flex mode, which splits an app between the top and bottom of the screen when the Z-Fold is open, is getting a new feature. You can use the bottom half of the screen as a trackpad to control content on the top half, much like the touchpad on a laptop.
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This should make navigating apps in Flex mode easier since you don’t have to cover the top of the screen with your finger when scrolling. The newly announced Galaxy Z Flip 4 will also get this feature, and Samsung says it will check if it’s available for older Galaxy Z Fold and Flip devices. Samsung also says that the Z Fold 4 is the first device to ship with Android 12L, the tablet-optimized version of Android. One of the most noticeable additions to Android 12 is the Z Fold 4’s new taskbar, which aims to make switching between apps more convenient.
More from Samsung Unpacked
The overall design of the Z Fold 4 is generally the same, but Samsung claims the Z Fold 4 has a more rugged build. The outside is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus Plus, while the internal tablet-sized display is said to be 45% more durable. Samsung also says the Z Fold 4’s inner screen is brighter than its predecessor and the inner under-display camera is less noticeable. Like the previous version, the Z Fold 4 is also compatible with the S Pen.
Otherwise, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 gets the camera and processor upgrades you’d expect from an annual phone update. The camera deserves a special mention; Samsung is upgrading the Z Fold 4’s triple-lens camera system to include a 50-megapixel main sensor, a 12-megapixel ultrawide sensor, and a 10-megapixel telephoto lens. This telephoto lens supports optical zoom up to 3x and digital zoom up to 30x. Samsung is bringing the Galaxy S22’s improved low-light photography to the Z Fold 4 and Flip 4 as well.
The cover of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is wider than that of the Z Fold 3.
Most people interested in the Galaxy Z Fold are probably more interested in the phone’s huge inner screen than the camera. But at such a high price point, the Z Fold 4 should have a camera that at least matches or surpasses that of Samsung’s non-folding phones. The Galaxy Z Fold 4’s cameras are certainly a step in the right direction, and represent a notable upgrade from the Z Fold 3’s 12-megapixel wide-angle, telephoto, and ultrawide lenses. But the Galaxy S22 Ultra is still the best Samsung camera phone.
The Z Fold 4 will also run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, a newer and slightly updated version of the chip found in the Galaxy S22 range. Battery capacity also remains the same at 4,400mAh, which is a shame — CNET’s Patrick Holland was disappointed with the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s battery life.
Overall, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a more refined and polished version of the Galaxy Z Fold 3. Samsung seems to be gaining a better understanding of who these devices are intended for, having been around for about three years. With its large screen and S Pen compatibility, Samsung is positioning the Z Fold 4 as a productivity device, much like the defunct Galaxy Note. Setting this direction means Samsung can focus on adding new features that are unique and specific to the Z Fold, rather than just ensuring apps work smoothly on the Fold’s different screen sizes.
At $1,800, the Z Fold 4 is still a tough sell. And while these new features are a sign of progress, they may not be enough to attract non-foldable phone users. But it’s one step closer to asking what role foldable devices could play in our lives.
For more information, take a look at the Galaxy Z Flip 4, Galaxy Watch 5, Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and everything else Samsung has announced.