Foldable smartphones are becoming increasingly common thanks to Samsung’s Galaxy Z line-up, with the new Fold4 being the latest device to try to make the argument that the future of phones is foldable.
With refined hardware and software to make the device more appealing both in terms of looks and usability, as well as improved cameras, Samsung is hoping to turn more heads away from traditional flat phones.
But does the Fold4 justify the foldable hype and its price tag of more than £1,500 to buy outright? Here is a closer look at the new smartphone.
The bigger of Samsung’s two foldable phones, the Fold4 sticks to its now traditional format of a regular smartphone screen on the front of the device but then opens out to reveal a tablet-sized display.
This year though, things have been refined a little more with a new glossy outer frame and hinge, a bit of weight and thickness shaved off, plus a slightly larger front screen.
The latter is important because the cover screen on previous Folds has always been a little too narrow and, as a result, made using it slightly jarring, because it looked and felt different from a normal smartphone experience.
This is important because if foldables are to go mainstream, as Samsung would like, they need to still be familiar and comfortable for users coming to the category for the first time.
These changes all add up to the overall improved refinement of the Fold4.
However, this is still a thick smartphone when closed – it is substantially thicker than an iPhone 13 for example – and while slipping into a pocket a little easier this year, it is still a relatively bulky device.
Most of the updates and tweaks made to the Fold4 are incremental and designed to refine what is already a premium smartphone experience, but there is one software update that has made a major difference to how the Fold4 can be used as a productivity tool – the new on-screen Taskbar.
This appears when using the large, foldable screen and opening certain apps, with the pinned app icons that sit at the bottom of the home screen jumping into the opened application with you, meaning it is easier to jump between different tasks across apps with a quick tap.
It is a smart update because the Fold screen already lends itself well to productivity tasks because of its existing multi-window support that allows up to three apps to be open on screen at once.
Adding the Taskbar to this is a further productivity boost – one that replicates the experience found on a tablet or PC and brings it to a much smaller and more mobile device and in the process makes the Fold even more appealing to anyone looking for a device to aid their working life.
The other area where there have been notable upgrades is in the rear camera system, which now houses the same set-up as the company’s flagship S22 range, which was released earlier this year.
The result is the best performing camera on a Fold device so far, with enhanced zoom and better quality low-light photos among the highlights.
This generation of Fold has once again moved the software forward, making it simple and helpful for all kinds of users.
The hardware is nearly there too – some more advances in technology to eliminate issues such as the crease in the folding main screen – which is still a little off-putting to some newcomers to the form factor.
The only remaining hurdle after that will be to lower the price – it is true that the Fold4 is clearly meant to be a hyper-premium device and is not aimed at the average consumer just yet – but even its price has risen slightly this year, which is jarring given the generally incremental updates on last year.
Samsung’s foldable line-up is getting better every year, and the roadmap to making devices like the Fold4 mainstream can be clearly seen when you observe the updates being made each year.
For those willing and able to jump straight in at the top of the market, the Fold4 is a brilliant device that looks better than it ever has and comes with one of the best productivity experiences on a mobile device thanks to some really smart software tweaks.
But it is expensive, still bulky for those used to flat smartphones, and is not completely refined everywhere.
Each new generation of Samsung foldable makes the case for a foldable-phone future look stronger, and the Fold4 is another vital part of that journey, but that future has not quite arrived yet.