Likeable and capable, yet at times frustrating.
That’s what it’s like to carry and use Samsung’s top of the line foldable phone, the Galaxy Z Fold 4.
The device sells for $1800 and is available now.
I’ve been using it for about two weeks now and I’ve fallen in love with the idea of it but not necessarily the execution.
For starters, there’s no doubt this is an engineering marvel. The problem is it feels just a year or two away from perfection.
You get a bigger screen on the outside than last year, but it’s still really narrow compared to most modern smartphones.
This means typing on the outside screen keyboard can feel cramped and apps don’t show as much information as you would typically see.
For example, an email from PBS Kids on the Fold 4 says “New Daniel Tiger episodes s.” versus “New Daniel Tiger episodes start today!” on the iPhone.
That narrow outside screen is the biggest downside to this otherwise amazing phone.
When you’re tired of the tiny outside screen, you can unfold to reveal a big screen inside. You’re also carrying a tablet with you at all times.
And it’s amazing to have that flexibility. I grew to love opening that big screen to read books, watch movies on the plane, surf the web and more. Looking at the pictures you just took is also excellent on the big screen. You can see them in much more detail.
However, because the inside screen is so big, not every app is optimized for it. Some apps seem oversized, and others don’t know what to do with all the extra screen real estate.
Also, going from typing on the tiny outside screen to the giant inside screen is a challenge for muscle memory.
The software on the Fold 4 is smooth and fast, but there are some quirks, especially when jumping between the various screens. I love the app switcher at the bottom of the inside screen, which lets you quickly move between recent apps.
Multitasking is great, especially since you can pair apps for easy opening later. You can even float an app on the screen. I’m not sure of all the use case scenarios here but this is a new form factor so people are bound to find them.
The camera offers lots of options for taking pictures and the quality is getting better.
I like how you can use the main cameras for selfies, but you need to hold and position the phone exactly right to accomplish this.
Propping up the phone to capture videos and pictures is handy. For instance, I was watching my kid take a karate test and I just put the phone on the floor folded 90 degrees and it captured him perfectly, hands free and no tripod necessary.
The Galaxy Fold 4 is heavy and bulky but because of its narrow size, it’s surprisingly easy to hold and manage.
Overall, the Fold 4 offers lots of little advantages over a standard phone but adopting this emerging form factor takes determination. It forces you to rethink how you do about everything on a phone – sometimes for the better, other times for the worse.