Samsung has been kind enough to send me a Galaxy Fold4 to play with for three months.
Yes, I know I’m incredibly late to the party with this (the Fold4 was launched in August last year) – I’ll get to that in a moment.
Yes, I know I’ve talked about Samsung’s folding smartphones in the past, and no I don’t think we’re going to see a folding iPhone any time soon – I’ll get to that in a moment, too.
But, well… I am absolutely in love with this thing and I’m already dreading having to give it back.
Why I resisted for too long
Up until recently, I was unable to obtain review units from Samsung. However, thanks to some stellar work on behalf of my PR team, we’re making serious headway in that regard.
Previously, I’ve had to buy every Samsung device I want to review. This, as you might guess, isn’t a cheap endeavour. Smartphones are expensive. Folding smartphones are even more expensive.
The Galaxy Z Fold4 starts at £1,649 in the UK for the 256GB model. If you want 1TB of storage, you’ll have to hand over a frankly ludicrous £2,019 for a mobile telephone which, basically, folds in half.
Put simply, last year, it felt like I had far better things in which to invest my business’s cash than on such a device.
I also genuinely couldn’t see the point in it. The screen ratio looked awkward – weird, even. The crease looked more noticeable than it does on the Z Flip4 (a device of which I’m a big fan). It just seemed like an utter waste of time.
How wrong I was on both fronts.
What I love about the Galaxy Z Fold4
Firstly, I should have invested in my own Z Fold4 last year. It’s lovely to be in a position now where Samsung will entrust me with one for a few months, but I missed out on a shedload of engagement and audience-building potential.
Those who featured the Fold4 on their YouTube channels in 2022 enjoyed massive viewing numbers – and that continues to this day.
I can say that confidently because I’ve already experienced it myself. A 24-second, hastily-shot vertical video I published on TikTok earlier this week has achieved over 460,000 views so far and a barrage of comments (mainly consisting of the iOS vs Android debate, and how one should pronounce the letter ‘z’).
People are fascinated by this phone, although I’d wager that most have never held one.
There are several things I love about the Fold4. The first is that big display, which is an utter surprise – in the best possible way. That massive expanse of screen is nothing like a tablet or a smartphone – it’s something entirely unique and surprisingly useable.
The Fold4 is also a lovely device on which to read books via the Kindle app. As someone who desperately wants to up his reading game, this phone could help, massively.
I’m even impressed with the ability to use that screen for multitasking – something I also quickly dismissed when watching the Fold4 from afar last year. For quick referencing between apps, it’s amazing.
It’s fast, the camera is wonderful, the facial recognition is on par with Face ID, and the battery is superb for such a big, multi-screened device. It’s also far more trouser-friendly compared to my iPhone 14 Pro Max.
There’s the intangible stuff, too. For instance, finishing what you’re doing on the Fold4 and snapping the screen shut feels incredibly satisfying. And it’s a handsome thing, too – particularly when folded shut and placed face down on the table.
The Fold4 certainly isn’t perfect, though.
What I dislike about the Galaxy Z Fold4
There are, inevitably, some challenges with a folding phone like the Z Fold4.
There’s no escaping the crease, for instance. It’s there, constantly; you cannot unsee it. My unit also creaks when you unfold that big screen, although it should be noted that this is a review unit and I have no idea what it’s been put through before my time with it.
The front screen (i.e. the ‘normal’ smartphone screen you can use instead of unfolding it) is a bit too narrow – an issue that is most prevalent when attempting to type on the squashed keyboard.
There are one or two apps that don’t make use of the big display, too – most notably, Instagram (obvs). This results in a weird windowed version of the said app which is a little tricky to use two-handed.
There’s also more setup required with the Z Fold4 than most normal smartphones, simply because you have two screens to configure and make your own. That’s not a fault – it’s part and parcel of this form factor – but it might annoy some users.
Lastly, there’s the price. This is a damn expansive device and out of reach for far too many users. That’s a shame because I think a lot of them would fall in love with it as I have.
Will Apple make a folding iPhone?
Not for a long, long time.
There are too many challenges, caveats, and compromises inherent within the Z Fold4 to even tempt Apple into making a competing device. They’ll be testing this stuff deep within their labs, of course, but the prospect of a consumer-ready folding iPhone feels like a long way off.
I’m not convinced they’ll ever do it. The Fold4 is, admittedly, an odd device. Although it is technically a smartphone, it doesn’t behave like one at all. Yet, it doesn’t behave like a tablet, either.
That’s what I love about it, though – the Z Fold4 is unique, fun, and a joy to use for those reasons. It just lacks mass appeal (everyone I’ve passed it to so far has responded with something along the lines of “ooh, I’m not sure about it!”), is too expensive, and demands that the user accepts its compromises.
Also, can you imagine how expensive a folding iPhone would be?
My plan with the Z Fold4
I’m fully aware that I might be experiencing new-gear syndrome with the Z Fold4, which is why I’m delighted I get to use it for an extended period of time.
Once my three months with this device are up, I’ll be publishing my full thoughts both here and on YouTube. I am now firmly in tune with the premise of the Fold series and I am fascinated to see how my opinion of it develops over time.
Stay tuned. This could be very interesting indeed!
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