It’s clear that the Galaxy Z Fold4 isn’t a smartphone for everyone, and sales of previous models have proven that. Samsung’s top variant accounted for only 30% of all sales of devices with such screens, with Flip models proving to be the most popular in the market. Last year’s model seemed to have done just about everything possible at the moment to bring the experience of a foldable phone as close as possible to that of a “regular” one, and the new Galaxy Z Flip4 confirms this, making minimal improvements.
Galaxy Z Flip4 retains last year’s design
In terms of exterior design, the Galaxy Z Flip4 is almost identical to last year’s model. New colors like Bora Purple (pictured) might make the distinction easier, but for the most part, we’re dealing with the same phone. Same two-tone cover, with black in the camera and outer screen area and colored otherwise, with the same metal bezel and hinge and a narrow, tall screen inside.
In fact, Samsung has changed the phone’s hinge a bit, but the difference is so small that you need to place the phone next to an older one to notice that it’s a few millimeters less. For the most part, the phone feels the same in use, but the new hinge with a simpler construction might last longer over time and be cheaper to produce. Not that it matters to the end user, as the new phone is just as expensive as last year’s.
Another improvement would be a reduced size bezel around the screen, and… that’s about it. The outer screen remains small at 1.9″, the main screen remains with a crease down the center in the fold area, and the phone still doesn’t close completely, so it can be kept safe from lint and dust in a pocket or bag. Samsung claims that folding in this way allows for water resistance.
Given that there’s no real competition in this market, Samsung can afford to beat around the bush a bit with this model. As for bundled accessories, that’s out of the question. Samsung has been dropping them since early 2021 on premium phones and is continuing in that direction. This model only comes with a USB-C cable.
The fact that the hinge is kind of “hard” disappointed me. When you want to open the screen to answer the phone, or do anything, you have to use two hands to separate the two halves. The magnets built into the ends of the phone are very strong, and the hinge can stop in any position between open and closed. Thus, you can only open it with one hand with quite a lot of effort and two risks. The first would be scratching the inner screen with your fingernail, as it’s covered with a plastic film and you’ll push with your thumb between the halves to separate them. The second risk would be having your phone slip out of your hand as you make a sudden flick of your wrist to send the top half of the screen into the open position.
Even if Samsung (and Motorola, and the others who make phones like this) somehow want to bring back the clamshell phone format of the 1990s and 2000s, the reality today is that phones on this format are a little too thick compared to “regular” phones. They reduce the dimensions vertically, but double them in thickness, which doesn’t make the phone any easier to carry in a pocket. And the density of a foldable phone will ensure that you’ll feel it in that pocket all the time. And the downsides associated with this design remain: dust resistance isn’t present, the screen can be easily scratched, and the folding system has an expiration date, which may or may not come before the device is replaced. Plus the higher price than a “regular” phone.
Screens have not been significantly improved
The screen on the Galaxy Z Flip3 was already a very capable one, and it doesn’t look like we’re getting a very different one on the new generation. We’re still dealing with FullHD+ resolution, 120Hz refresh rate and a very tall aspect ratio. Fortunately, unlike the Galaxy Z Fold’s exterior screen, which is still tall but also very narrow, the one on the Flip is better proportioned, with a “normal” width good for accommodating a comfortably sized keyboard. In general, content is well formatted on the Flip4’s screen, making it suitable for widescreen movies, and apps are displayed correctly all the time, with no “software artifacts”. Overall, the Flip also seems to be preferred by users for the fact that its screen behaves like a normal screen once it’s open.
However, the outer screen is very small and is only capable of providing basic information such as the exact time, weather, notifications and the ability to take photos or videos without opening the main screen. For many other activities, however, opening the phone is required. Given that the RAZR in all its forms has had a larger screen since its inception, Samsung doesn’t have much excuse for the tiny screen for the Fold4.
The processor in the Galaxy Z Flip4 seems “wasted” in a phone that doesn’t require that much power
The Galaxy Z Flip4 doesn’t seem like a phone for those who want a top-performing device. The target audience seems more concerned with the design and social perception of such an “accessory” than its processing capabilities. Thus, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor seems to be wasted, especially when it comes to the performance it can offer in such a compact foldable body.
Not only will no one need all the raw performance this chip offers on a phone like this, but they won’t be able to touch it either, as the 3DMark stress test reveals. Basically, in less than half an hour, the phone slows down and can still only deliver 30% of the performance if kept in constant use. So this is not a phone to recommend for those who want to run games, for example.
A mid-range chipset with lower power consumption would most likely have provided a comparable user experience for the general public and could have improved other aspects of the experience, such as temperature under stress or battery life. It could also have brought a price reduction on top of all that.
- AnTuTu – 733.559
- GeekBench – Single-Core: 951 / Multi-Core: 3,809
- 3DMark Wild Life Extreme – 2.829
- 3DMark Wild Life Extreme Stress Test – Best Loop Score: 2.833 / Lowest Loop Score: 932 / Stability: 32.9%
- PCMark – 13.488
Increased autonomy is the biggest upgrade
While no big improvements over the Galaxy Z Flip3 can be seen on the outside, on the inside there are at least signs that Samsung has put some effort into developing this new device. The Galaxy Z Flip4 benefits from a significantly larger battery, with a 3,700 mAh capacity. If the Flip3 was one of those phones you sometimes couldn’t even rely on until the end of the day, the Flip4 can at least ensure you’re not constantly glued to an outlet. And even if you were, charging is pretty slow. Samsung doesn’t offer a charger in the package, but you don’t need a very powerful one either, as power is maxed out at 25W. Thus, charging the battery takes over an hour.
Galaxy Z Flip4’s software is more “normal” than the one on the Fold
One of the advantages of the Galaxy Z Flip4 is that it works, for the most part, like a regular phone and is much easier for the general public to understand. The Flip’s software isn’t fundamentally different from that on the Galaxy S22 or a Galaxy A, for example. However, there are a few special features dedicated to this model.
First, we have that cover screen, which has very limited functionality and can only be populated with widgets that Samsung develops. Most apps cannot interact in any way with this outer screen, and its functions are limited. Moreover, the speed of switching between screens is quite slow and makes its use inefficient. In most cases, you’ll read the caller’s name or the first few lines of a text message on it. The rest of the activities will be done on the main screen.
Like the Fold, the Flip also works in “Flex Mode” in certain apps, but we run into the same problem we encountered with the Fold, only more pronounced. A video clip played on the top half of the screen on such a small device is not at all comfortable, even if the phone can stand with the screen upright without a stand. Perhaps for the camera, in the absence of a tripod, you could use Flex Mod. However, how many times do you need your phone to sit away from you on a surface to take a photo or video, that you choose a more expensive phone with many compromises? Also, there are cases with support for just about every phone if you need this feature constantly.
One issue you notice more often in use on the Flip than the Fold is the crease on the screen, which is still very noticeable and feels like your finger is touching it every time you swipe through that area. That’s because it’s right in the center of the screen, in the area most often touched for use.
At least we’re talking about a Samsung phone, so once you pick it up, you know for sure you’ll have long-lasting software support, with four major OS updates and five years of security updates.
While the stereo speakers didn’t particularly catch my eye, they’re better than what you’ll find on mid-range phones on the market, closer to those on the “standard” S22 and Plus models. I was glad to see, however, that I didn’t experience the same issues with the fingerprint sensor on the Flip4 as I did with the Fold4. It too still gives “misses”, but not as frequent and consistent as its bigger “brother”. On the surface it appears to be the same hardware.
Galaxy Z Flip4 has a camera comparable to other Samsung flagships of recent years
The battery is a major upgrade, but the camera could be an even bigger upgrade between the Flip3 and Flip4 generations. The phone doesn’t “inherit” the camera from the S22, but it does come with high-performance 12-megapixel sensors. We get a main camera with optical stabilization, along with an ultrawide camera with above-average performance. However, it doesn’t come with focus, so it can’t act as a macro camera. Also, shooting is limited to 4K 60 on both cameras, as neither sensor reaches 8K resolution.
Daytime photos are comparable to many taken with Samsung phones over the last 3-4 years, no matter which camera you choose. One advantage of the Flip, like the Fold, is that you can take selfies with any of the main cameras and more easily film yourself for a vlog or Story, Reel, TikTok, etc. There’s also a 10-megapixel front-facing camera cut into the foldable screen, decent but not exceptional. At least it’s much better than the one under the Fold4’s screen.
At night, the main camera gives decent results and relatively low exposure times, but the ultrawide camera comes with dark results, despite the 5-7 seconds for exposure for each frame.
Overall, the camera isn’t a flagship one, despite the phone’s price being in that area. It’s clear that Samsung expects foldable customers to accept both compromises in the ruggedness department and in other areas, such as cameras.
It’s easier to see why someone would want a Galaxy Z Flip4 than a Fold4. It’s a mostly “normal” phone, but it can be folded in half. The advantages of this design are small, however, and the disadvantages compared to a regular phone are many. It’s clearly a “lifestyle” phone, for those concerned with image and design more than what a phone has to offer. That’s probably why the cost remains high, as this type of customer is willing to pay extra to differentiate themselves from others.
Still, I find it odd that after almost four years of foldable phones, I can’t find any real advantage in choosing one of the two popular formats on the market. The Fold4 promises multitasking, but can’t actually be used comfortably for that, because half the screen is always covered by the keyboard, while the Flip4 promises the experience of a normal phone, but folds into one twice as thick and offers about average camera and battery life, nowhere near the top. And performance isn’t where it should be with a next-gen processor, either.
I’m starting to sound like a broken mill, but it still seems to me that there’s no real use for these foldables other than being “weirder” than traditional phones. For some this may be enough to give up the “everyday”. For others, it might offer a certain niche use case that folds perfectly into their specific needs, and non-folding models may not offer that. For the general public though, who are mainly interested in flagships, I fear that these devices are still not yet ready, despite their “maturity”, to be widely adopted.