Having started my tech journey with personal digital assistants (PDAs) – forefathers to modern smartphones – it was initially thrilling to get my hands on a swanky new smartphone every so often.
However, the script soon became stale, especially for people like me who would upgrade every year or so – it was just more cameras, more megapixels, more processor cores.
That is, until I held the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, the fourth iteration of the foldable smartphone, in my hands.
Being able to unfold a device and have a larger screen that would otherwise not fit in my pocket (or even be portable) felt futuristic.
There is no doubt that the screens – there are two – are the stars here, and they are spectacular, as they are bright Amoled displays that show blacker blacks and whiter whites compared to standard LCDs on other smartphones.
The outer 6.2in Cover Screen may feel a tad small if you have been using the Galaxy S series, which tops out at 6.8in, but it’s a concession that had to be made to enable comfortable one-handed use.
And it’s more than sufficient for mundane tasks like replying to texts and emails, as well as answering calls.
The inner 7.6in screen is the beast – it’s where the fun begins and here’s why.
Surfing is more enjoyable with a tabbed interface that allows you to easily move between sites, just like on a desktop computer.
Displaying two apps side-by-side allows for nifty stuff like being able to drag photos from the Gallery to Google Drive or Gmail.
Feeling greedy? You can run three apps simultaneously, one taking half the screen, the other two taking up a quarter each.
They say two is better than one, but I am not sure if three is thrice the fun.
Then there is the Flex mode, where you fold the screen halfway, allowing the “top” screen to be propped up.
This allows you to, for instance, use the bottom screen to type and the top screen for displaying the text. Or watch a YouTube video while scrolling through comments.
Also cool is a new hideable taskbar that makes it easier to launch apps without having to keep going back to the home screen.
Movies are a bit of a mixed bag as the screen is more square than it’s rectangular. It’s, however, great for shows and sitcoms, as they are not ultra-wide.
If you don’t mind zooming, streaming services like Netflix allow shows to fill up the screen.
One thing to shout about are the speakers – they sounded loud and clear and the Dolby Atmos support made the bass stand out.
Games looked great on the big screen, with most running smoothly and sometimes even at higher frame rates without any major glitches.
Apps, on the other hand, are a bit of a hit or miss, as some are not optimised for the bigger screen. Samsung is said to be working with developers to ensure more apps take advantage of the larger screen real estate.
Also, a big screen like this makes an excellent canvas for drawing and the Fold 4 supports the S Pen, though one is not bundled with the phone.
It’s not advisable to use S Pens that are not made for the Fold 4 – like the styli from earlier models – as they could scratch the screen.
But with a foldable screen, there is the question of the crease – yes, it’s visible, though it vanishes once you switch on the screen.
You get not one, not two, but five cameras with the Fold 4.
On the back are a main 50-megapixel camera with a sensor that’s 23% brighter, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera and a telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom and 30x Space Zoom.
The brighter sensor makes indoor shots better, while the Nightography feature makes it possible to shoot in very dimly lit areas and still get good shots.
Also, I am not sure about you, but my better half is never satisfied, even after the 100th shot, but now there is a simple solution.
You can turn on the Cover Screen, which will show the other person a preview of the shot you’re taking, allowing them to better frame the shot.
The 30x zoom is cool, but as you approach the max level, the picture starts to get a bit grainy; nonetheless, it’s nice to have the option.
All in all, the picture quality is great, with shots of the outdoors appearing natural and detailed, even for objects in the shadows. Even the Bokeh effect seems better on the Fold 4.
There is also a 10-megapixel selfie camera and a 4-megapixel camera on the bigger screen.
The 10-megapixel camera is great for selfies, but if you want to aim higher and want the absolute best, you can use the main cameras and use the Cover Screen to preview the image.
The 4-megapixel camera, while it can be used for selfies, is best left for Google Meet and Zoom calls. Here, the Flex mode comes in handy, as it’s easy to prop up the display without a stand.
Battery life is good, lasting a bit more than a day on a full charge. However, using the bigger screen extensively will dent the battery life.
Not a big deal if you have a charger handy – it only takes about 30 minutes to get the power back to 50%.
There is also Super Fast Wireless Charging and PowerShare for powering up other gadgets like the Galaxy Buds Pro 2.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is an excellent multi-tasking machine that makes just about any task easier to handle.
If you have always wanted a bigger screen but not the bother of having to carry a big device, then the Fold 4 is for you.
To sum it up, having a Fold 4 is like having a mini-computer in your pocket.
However, stepping into the future comes with a hefty price – even the cheapest model with 256GB costs RM6,799.
GALAXY Z Fold 4
NETWORK: Up to 5G
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 12L
DISPLAY: 7.6in screen QXGA+ (2,176 x 1,812) and 6.2in HD Cover Screen (2,316 x 904)
CAMERA: Triple rear cameras: 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera, 50-megapixel wide camera, 10-megapixel telephoto camera; 10-megapixel selfie camera; 4-megapixel under-display camera.
CONNECTIVITY: USB Type-C, Bluetooth 5.2, WiFi 6E
PROCESSOR: Qualcomm SM8475 Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 octa-core
MEMORY: 12GB RAM
OTHER FEATURES: Face unlock, fingerprint sensor, super fast charge, 120Hz screens, NFC, eSIM
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 130.1 x 155 x 6.3mm (unfolded)
PRICE: RM6,799 (256GB storage), RM7,299 (512GB), RM8,299 (1TB)
RATING: 4.5/5 stars
Review unit courtesy of Samsung Malaysia Electronics, 1-800-88-9999
PROS: Slimmer, sturdier hinge; big, beautiful screen; mean multi- tasking machine; great for games; cameras for all occasions; good battery life; water resistant.
CONS: Pricey; not dust resistant.