Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review after 2 weeks

I’ve always enjoyed using iPhones since the first gen. I keep using 2 phones (iOS + Android) for a couple of years since I work in the mobile app industry and would prefer to stay up-to-date with features and experience on both platforms. Until recent years when I found the two platforms are too similar, and since I think the iOS UX and the app ecosystem are just so much better, I kept only the iPhone 12 mini as my daily driver (but I still use Pixel 5/6 for a few months occasionally)

I tried the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 for a couple of weeks last year, mainly because I think having a folding phone as the “phone + tablet” is such a great idea for productivity apps. Still, the front screen was too narrow and made the “Phone” experience on Fold 3 so unpleasant, so I gave up.

Recently I read some online reviews saying Fold 4 improved the aspect ratio of the front screen (yes, it is!); Plus, I got ~USD 1,500 coupons for mobile devices purchase, so I decided to try to get my hands on the Fold 4.

Been using it for 2 weeks, and here are my experiences.

The Good

  1. Frankly, mobile phones have been “boring” for years, so nice to see new Innovations in hardware. Folding device makes tablets portable. The portability is miles ahead of the iPad mini.
  2. Having a tablet on the go is helpful for work – checking pdf/excel while replying to email is almost impossible on the phone; I have used my Fold 4 from approving payroll to responding to a long email with various reference materials on the go last 2 weeks.
  3. Somehow, I multitask more on Fold 4 than on iPad Pro. No idea why yet…
  4. The front screen (phone mode) is finally usable compared with Fold 3. On Fold 3, the front screen is not wide enough, making it impossible to type smoothly; Fold 4 has a much better aspect ratio, and I found myself using Fold 4 in phone mode 40% of the time.
  5. I love using it as a mini laptop; they call it Flex Mode; BTW, my Astro still haven’t shipped after 2 years of delay; It’s not good for typing, but I could put the Fold 4 on a table as a “stand” in Flex Mode.
  6. I didn’t know I loved the always-on display (it’s finally coming to iPhone 14 pro). Great for checking upcoming schedules without touching the phone.

The Bad

  1. Okay, Android fanboy would hate me for this – not particularly the problem of Fold 4, but on Android, it doesn’t just work out of the box like iOS. For example, on Fold 4 (actually, I have the same issue with Blackberry Key2), if you have the back gesture on the right edge, why does anyone think having the edge panel on the right edge too is a good idea? Two gestures keep mixing up until I disable the edge panel in the setting.

    My experience with Android after all these years is like… every time I get a new android phone, it looks like at first, but in the next few days, I would be annoyed by these kinds of details, I would try to customize it until it can’t, or I gave up and used the phone “good enough as is.”

  2. Fold 4 aspect ratio is more like a square. Kinda weird to watch videos with it. It is fantastic for reading books or work, but not videos.

  3. I tried a few Samsung official cases for Fold 4; it somehow affects the detection of gestures on edge and makes it fail ~10% of the time. So annoying.

  4. Like most flagship phones, this phone is super fast! But I still feel lag after switching apps or some random moment like twice a day? Pixel 6 is better.

  5. Many apps look werid in fold aspect ratio, e.g. super long text on Twitter, IG, FB, an Email swipe gesture is weird when you have to swipe all the way from left to right to delete… the Android app ecosystem is not as ready for Tablet as iPad.

My verdicts

After 4 generations, I think Fold 4 is finally a usable and productive phone + tablet folding phone! In my opinions tablets in small form factor like iPad mini just can’t compare with it. I think I would sell my iPad mini and keep the Fold 4 for work on the go.

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