Over the years, foldable phones have gained popularity during different periods in time. First came the Motorola StarTAC which launched in 1996. But the first peak of this technology came in 2003 when the same company debuted its Motorola Razr, and it became a sensation. However, even the Razr’s popularity was not enough for companies to consider the foldable phone segment as viable and the technology never took off as brands like Nokia stuck to their tried and tested designs which soared in popularity. Thus, any major developments in the foldable smartphone industry almost came to a standstill.
However, that all changed when Samsung entered the market in 2019 with its Galaxy Fold. While it wasn’t the first foldable smartphone to launch with a touchscreen display, it was a turning point in the smartphone industry as Samsung showed there really was potential for these devices. About 6 months later, the Galaxy Flip arrived, combining Moto Razr’s clamshell design with modern features. Since then, Samsung has never looked back.
There have been many iterations of the Galaxy Z Fold and Z Flip over the years, and all of them have improved the foldable technology, building upon the success of their predecessors. Now, as we gear up for the launch of Samsung’s next generation of foldables at the Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2023, it is the perfect time to look back at the fourth generation – the Galaxy Z Fold 4, and Z Flip 4.
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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: A look back at the good, the bad and the ugly
With the Galaxy Z Fold 3, Samsung finally brought durability to a smartphone segment that was still considered fragile by most. It got the IPX8 water resistance rating, refining the design and making it lighter. However, there was still a lot left to be desired. People complained about poor battery life and a sub-par camera on the Z Fold 3. So, when Samsung announced the Galaxy Z Fold 4 a year later, tech enthusiasts were left disappointed as it was nearly identical to its predecessor on paper. But, it was far from the case.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 debuted in 2022, featuring new display panels, a refined design, a better hinge, improved cameras, and much more. The new phone featured new displays with better aspect ratios and increased resolution, negating the need for a tablet for most as it was nearly perfect for binge-watching content. Although it had the candy-bar form factor, holding the phone during long periods felt more comfortable.
Allison Johnson of The Verge said in her review, “It wasn’t until I used the Fold 4 to compile and submit an expense report that I understood the power of this device. It’s the power of not having to get up off the couch to go get my laptop. It’s glorious.”
Moreover, the Z Fold 4 featured a new camera headlined by the primary 50MP sensor and the 10MP 3X zoom lens borrowed from the Galaxy S22+. And while it wasn’t the best camera phone in the market, the Z Fold 4 was much better than its predecessor. Samsung also improved the hinge, making it highly durable, and now the battery life was much better. While it had the same 4400mAh battery, the shift to Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 worked wonders as it got rid of all the heating issues which critically affected the battery life of the device.
While the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 was a major improvement over its predecessor, some problems persisted. The display’s crease was still very noticeable which was a prominent issue on its predecessors too. The under-display front camera was still average, and its pixels could be seen on some occasions. At 263 grams, it was a chunky device. There was no SD card slot for memory expansion and while the phone came with S-Pen support, it was sold separately. Moreover, it still featured 25W charging speed at a time when 60W was normal on Android phones. Oh, and no power adapter was coupled with the Z Fold 4 either.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4: Did it do any better?
While the Galaxy Z Fold 4 became a hit (despite its shortcomings) thanks to better display panels, improved battery life, and adjusted aspect ratio, the Z Flip 4 was strikingly similar to its predecessor. However, it featured several internal improvements that made it a much better option to choose from.
While the design was nearly identical to the Galaxy Z Flip 3, the Flip 4 featured flatter edges, larger camera lenses, a solid hinge, and much-improved battery life. It was a bit heavier too, but that was because the battery got a boost in terms of numbers, and the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 also contributed to getting better battery life. It featured the same 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED display although it now offered an adaptive refresh rate from 1Hz to 120Hz. While the outer display remained the same, more customization options were now available.
Everything else on Z Flip 4 was the same as Z Flip 3. Same cameras, sensors, design, and even the fingerprint reader placement. So, while on paper it appeared to be the same as Z Flip 3 barring a few subtle changes, it was a snappier and faster device than its predecessor.
However, the same issues persisted on the Z Flip 4 too. The display’s crease was still significantly noticeable, and the phone could not close fully, as a gap remained between them. And while the phone was IPX8 rated, this gap allowed elements such as dust to get collected even though the phone was kept away on a table, untouched.
As we approach the launch of Samsung’s next generation of foldables, we hope the company builds upon the success of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Flip 4 to introduce devices that once again dominate the foldable smartphone market. After all, at a price tag of $999 for the Z Flip 4 and an even heftier $1799 for the Fold 4, these devices are expected to represent the best of what the foldable smartphone industry has to offer.