Galaxy Z Fold 4: Samsung’s last try to make the best foldable before Pixel Notepad steals the show
I have a confession to make… I think I want a foldable phone!
Now, will I fall in love with it and keep it? I don’t know. But I’ve finally come to realize that I need a phone that’s easy to use with one hand (when I’m on the go), and a device that comes with a big screen, useful for multitasking, consuming multimedia, and games, or rather a game.How do I know? Well, I have a Pixel 6 Pro, which I use on a daily basis for things like watching videos and taking photos, but also the much smaller iPhone 8, which I take with me to the gym, for example. However, what really played a role in waking up my interest in foldables was something that I least expected… FIFA.
I’m not a gamer, but I’m a football fan (that’s soccer for the folks across the ocean), and I recently downloaded FIFA Mobile on my Pixel 6 Pro. The game runs perfectly fine. The Pixel comes with a rather big 6.7-inch display, so the gaming experience is pretty good but not amazing.
There’s a virtual joystick on the left side of the screen, which you’re supposed to move around all the time, and this one can easily start getting in the way of your content and block the entire view. That’s not good if you’re playing football/soccer online and get somewhat competitive. OK, very competitive…
I tried playing on my iPad Pro, but as EA Sports – the maker of the game doesn’t allow you to use a controller, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Actually, the viewing experience is great thanks to the huge screen, but have you tried gaming on an 11-inch iPad while holding it? It’s not a great idea. I’ve discovered that laying the iPad down on a flat surface actually makes more sense, but then you’re hunched over a table…
So.. What is that perfect form-factor for a game like FIFA Mobile, Call of Duty (which I also used to play), or Asphalt 9? What is that device that will allow for just enough room for my fingers while not blocking my view without being huge and too heavy?
And iPad mini 6! OK, no… I thought of the Galaxy Z Fold 3, but an iPad mini would be a great shout too. Except, you know… it doesn’t fold into a phone that you can pocket.
Galaxy Z Fold 3: So tempting, yet so… imperfect
This is a basically brand new Galaxy Z Fold 3, sold for €800 on eBay Germany. It’s hard to resist.
But of course, being a mobile phone enthusiast, I can’t look at the Galaxy Z Fold 3 as just a gaming device. That’d be a very expensive gaming device, which I can’t afford to keep around for the sake of one game.So, I immediately thought of all the shortcomings that accompany Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3. The awkwardly tall outer screen, the crease in the middle of the big display, the gap when the phone is closed, and of course, the noticeably less capable camera system, compared to my Pixel 6 Pro.
Off the gate, these are too many compromises to make if you’ll be spending $1,800 on a phone. Furthermore, knowing that there are foldable phones in China which eliminate virtually all of the above-mentioned challenges that come with the Fold 3 would make me a bit jealous that I can’t have the best.
- The Galaxy Z Fold 3 retails for “just” €1,199 in Europe right now, and if you’re lucky, you could find a virtually brand new unit for as little as €800-900 on eBay, which is bananas
- Although they might offer better foldable phone hardware than the Galaxy Z Fold 3, sadly both the Oppo Find N and Honor Magic V aren’t available outside of China as of now.
So, really I have three options right now:
- Get rid of my Pixel 6 Pro, and buy a Galaxy Z Fold 3, which comes with not one or two compromises (at least in my book).
- Wait for the 2022 foldable offerings from Samsung and Google.
- Keep my Pixel 6 Pro and keep on dreamin’…
Galaxy Z Fold 4: The word “refinement” was made for Samsung’s Fold series
Samsung’s foldable bar was set pretty low. Render by Ben Geskin.
But why Samsung? Why does it have to be this way?
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 marks Samsung’s third attempt at a foldable, and it’s a good one, especially compared to the previous two. But not exactly because the Fold 3 is so good. It’s rather because the bar wasn’t set all that high to begin with.The Galaxy Fold was pretty much a prototype device that somehow made it to the shelves. Respectively, it wasn’t too hard for the Galaxy Z Fold 2 to shine when compared to its predecessor. The second-generation Fold came with a much better set of screens, cameras, and overall foldable phone experience.
But even back then, we heard reports of units with faulty inner screens, and Huawei’s Mate X2 dominated it in terms of hardware. Huawei’s foldable didn’t have a visible crease, it could be folded completely without leaving a gap, and its outer screen was much more usable than that of the Galaxy Z Fold 2.
Unfortunately for me and everyone who wants the best foldable phone available, today, the story isn’t too different. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is just a refined Fold 2, which adds water protection, S Pen support (if you care to care) and an innovative, but questionable 4MP under-display camera, yet without addressing some of the fundamental hardware issues of its predecessor.
It doesn’t take a genius to conclude that compared to the Fold 3, both of these phones deliver a better, more refined form-factor with attention to hardware detail.
Galaxy Z Fold 4: What we expect versus what we want to see
Dreams are free…
Here’s what I feel like is a much-needed disclaimer before we keep going: I’m not writing this to complain about the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s shortcomings, but rather as a plea to the South Korean company.
Samsung, if you’re reading this, please, step it up! You’re the biggest phone-maker in the world. I know you can make the best (and most available) foldable phone. Why do we need to take baby steps, when the Fold’s shortcomings have been obvious for three generations now, and other companies have shown that they can be addressed?
- Slightly wider and shorter outer/inner screens
- A crease-less inner display
- To fold shut without leaving a gap
- The Galaxy S22 Ultra’s camera system, even if the 10x periscope zoom lens needs to go (although Huawei proved that including such a camera in a foldable is indeed possible)
We’ve already heard rumors about further design refinements with the Galaxy Z Fold 4, but unfortunately not all of them are great.
It’s also believed that the Galaxy Z Fold 4 will come with an improved under-display camera, or even cameras – one “invisible” shooter under each display. But we haven’t heard much about the remaining fundamental features.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 might face competition from an unlikely source
The small big shot?
Finally, if Samsung’s been conservative with the hardware upgrades on the Fold 3, because phones like the Oppo Find N and Honor Magic V are exclusive to China, things are said to change this fall.
Not other but Google is gearing up to reveal its first-ever foldable phone, with a current rumored name Google Pixel Notepad. And as a Google Pixel 6 Pro user, I can’t be impartial to this device. You know – as long as it actually gets released.
Leaks and rumors say the Pixel Notepad will be similar in size to the Oppo Find N, betting on a very compact form factor when closed, which I love. Furthermore, Google’s magical software, powered by the second-gen Tensor chip and powerful camera processing, will give the Pixel a serious chance at challenging the Galaxy Z Fold 4 if Samsung’s foldable doesn’t bring some meaningful improvements over its predecessor.
Google’s foldable is expected to be sold for just about $1,399, which would be $400 less compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 4 ($1,799) if the latter doesn’t see a price drop. So, my mind and pockets are open, Samsung. Sure both will be less busy after I make the move, but it’s up to you to convince me. If not, Google might do it first…
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is expected to debut in early August, while Google’s Pixel Notepad will probably join the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro for Google’s October launch.