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Light and Long Lasting: Hands On With Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 4, Z Fold 4

An array of Galaxy Z Fold 4 phones. (Credit: Molly Flores/PCMag)

The Galaxy Z Flip 4’s biggest advantage is invisible. The Fold 4 feels noticeably refined.

By Sascha Segan

Get ready to flip out. Samsung just announced its Galaxy Flip 4 and Fold 4 folding phones. They’re not a radical move for Samsung; the phones are an update to the successful Flip 3 and Fold 3, with longer battery life, more durable screens, and better cameras.

Samsung also today announced two new Galaxy Watch 5 models as well as new Buds 2 Pro earbuds. For more on the new smartwatches, see our hands on.

The Samsung Galaxy Flip and Fold are the only successful foldables in the US right now. Motorola keeps making stabs at the market with its Razr phones, but it hasn’t updated the US model of the Razr since 2020. According to Samsung, about 70% of foldable buyers choose the $999 Flip, while the other 30% choose the $1,799 Fold.

The Galaxy Z Flip is Samsung’s more successful foldable line, thanks to its lower price. (Credit: Molly Flores/PCMag)

Our reviews of last year’s Flip 3 and Fold 3 were generally positive. Our major concerns were the Flip’s battery life and cameras, and the Fold’s cameras and weight. Samsung says it gave this year’s Flip better cameras and longer battery life, and I can tell you from my hands on that the new Fold feels lighter. (It’s 9.27 ounces to the Z Fold 3’s 9.6.)

The new phones have faster, more power-efficient Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processors, like the OnePlus 10T does. Both phones have what Samsung says is a “45% tougher” main screen panel.

The two phones will go on sale on Aug. 26 with preorders starting today, Samsung says. The Z Flip 4 starts at $999.99, and the Z Fold 4 starts at $1,799.99. The Buds 2 Pro cost $229.99. Samsung has trade-in deals for all of its products that considerably lower the effective prices.

Hands On With the Z Flip 4 and Z Fold 4

Opened, it’s hard to tell the difference between the Flip 3 and the Flip 4. (Credit: Molly Flores/PCMag)

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 feels a lot like the Z Flip 3. Side by side, you see the slimmer hinge and how that lets it fit a little more easily into a pocket, but the difference is subtle and you have to have the other phone right there to see it.

It has advantages, but the biggest one is invisible. Most notably, the Flip 4 has a bigger battery—3,700mAh to the Flip 3’s 3,300mAh—which means you may not have to suffer the “beauty or battery?” question that faced previous Flip owners. Samsung says the phone has 3 hours more of screen time on a charge than the Flip 3 did.

The Flip 4 front display is more functional than the Flip 3’s. (Credit: Sascha Segan)

The front screen is still 1.9 inches, but you can now do a wider range of things with it, including answering texts and unlocking your car.

A flatter hinge saves space. (Credit: Molly Flores/PCMag)

While the phone still has two 12-megapixel cameras (standard and ultrawide) and a 10-megapixel selfie camera, Samsung says the Flip 4’s main sensor is “65% brighter” than last year’s, and there are more options to take photos with the flip closed or to switch between flip closed and flip open while shooting.

The Z Fold 4’s front screen is noticeably larger than the one on the Z Fold 3. (Credit: Molly Flores/PCMag)

The Fold 4, on the other hand, feels noticeably refined. The first thing you notice is that the front screen is visibly bigger. The phone itself isn’t bigger, and it’s considerably lighter than the Fold 3. But with each generation of Fold, Samsung has been reducing the front bezel, and now it’s gotten small enough that the phone feels really usable when closed.

Big-screen gaming is a big plus for the 7.6-inch screen on the Z Fold 4. (Credit: Sascha Segan)

The phone’s front screen is a slightly shorter, wider 6.2-inch diagonal than on the Fold 3, and it feels much more natural. It opens up to a 7.6-inch, 120Hz screen.

When it’s open, yes, the crease is still visible. But the 4MP under-display camera is at least less visible when you’re watching a video; it still has a bit of a crosshatching over it, but it’s subtler than on the Fold 3.

Its harder to see the under display camera than it used to be. (Credit: Sascha Segan)

The Fold 4 is the first phone to run Google’s Android 12L, a version of Android with new features for large-screen and foldable devices. The biggest plus is much easier multitasking, thanks to a persistent task bar that much more easily lets you drag a new application up onto the screen to act as a second or third window.

It’s much easier to multitask using the dock at the bottom of the screen. (Credit: Sascha Segan)

It’s subtle, but within a few minutes I was already compelled. When I was using the Fold 3, I didn’t do multitasking that much, because I’m an idiot when it comes to remembering gestures that aren’t signposted. With the Fold 4, you can see the icons easily, and you can drag them up to turn them into windows easily. Big difference.

I also don’t know if this is just my excitement talking, but I found the Fold 4 easier to type on in open mode, using its split keyboard. That’s odd, because it’s wider, but maybe there have been changes in the keyboard software.

An optional case both protects the phone and holds an S Pen. (Credit: Molly Flores/PCMag)

The Fold 4 also has a new, optional case with an S Pen slot in it. The whole assemblage, together, does get bulky-it has now moved from pocket to purse, for sure—but it’s better than just having the S Pen kicking around in your bag.

The Fold 4 has a 50-megapixel wide main camera, 10-megapixel 3x optical zoom, 12-megapixel ultrawide, and there’s a 10MP camera on the front. Samsung says the main sensor is “23% brighter” than last year’s.

In my reviews last year, I tagged the cameras as “just OK” but not quite up to the standards of other Samsung and Apple flagships. With any luck, that will have been improved this year; I couldn’t tell during my hands-on experience.

One slight, but expected disappointment is that the Fold 4 still only has 25W charging, when other manufacturers (such as OnePlus ) are much faster. But Samsung says it can still fill half the 4,400mAh battery in around 30 minutes.

I know you turn to me for specs like 5G support and SIM card status. At this moment, Samsung is being a little coy on all of that. Saying the Fold has “up to two nanoSIMs and one eSIM” doesn’t really tell you anything, as it will have different setups in different countries.

I just got my Flip 4 and Fold 4 Review units. I’ll have a review soon.

It’s a Flipping Wonderland

Samsung’s pop-up experience in New York gives you plenty of room to play with the Flips and Folds. (Credit: Sascha Segan)

Samsung’s Fold and Flip event is virtual, but the company has set up the biggest demo space I’ve ever seen for it. It’s a pop-up on 10th Avenue in Manhattan, a block away from the Google Store, with more than a dozen rooms of different Samsung experiences. It’ll be open to the public from Aug. 11–31, but we got an early look.

You wander through a maze of rooms and neon-lit corridors. First there’s a gallery of dozens of Galaxy Fold phones, opening and closing rhythmically. A “Bespoke” machine lets you choose the colors of a Galaxy Flip and then watch a robot attach the panels you chose to a phone.

Flips and Folds adorn the walls in an array of colors and cases, forming some astoundingly expensive decor.

The walls of the pop-up are adorned with phones in various colors and states of disassembly. (Credit: Sascha Segan)

The accessories aren’t left out. There’s a room where you sit in an armchair and listen to the new Galaxy Buds (sanitized after each use), a mountain-biking mannequin showing off the new watch, and an absolutely gorgeous combination microwave/oven/air fryer that is absolutely not available in the US.

And, of course, there’s plenty of room to handle dozens of phones and phablets. Take a look at our video below for a quick peek.

Originally published at https://www.pcmag.com.

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