A few weeks ago, during a work trip I logged into the cab service Lyft several times. On three occasions, I saw the driver use the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4, which is now a couple of months old. Their primary use-case scenario — using the unfolded screen to use Google Maps, watching films when there’s no passenger around, and making video calls.
It’s been a very ordinary year for most smartphone manufacturers. As usual, there have been more launches than one can remember but only a few standout. Apple turned up the volume with a clever hardware feature called Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro, Google rose above the din with the Pixel 7 Pro while Samsung went for a multi-pronged approach with the Galaxy S22 Ultra and the Galaxy Z Fold4.
Best phone for multitasking
The folding phone has been of particular interest this year because it’s the only device that broke the design mould to become popular beyond the early adopter community. Until last year, it was only early adopters who had been using the Fold. No longer. Yes, this year we have seen a few other folding phones emerge in the Chinese market but Z Fold remains the only foldable device series that’s popular and available in almost all countries.
Having used the phone over a period of time, here are a few thoughts. Since I have also used the previous generation of Samsung folding phones, I can see a future where Samsung may launch variants to its folding phone. Why restrict to one model when you can have, say, an Ultra version, which does a few things extra than the “regular” fold. Samsung has reached that level of maturity.
Also, I understand why the company didn’t go for a big design change this year. Samsung has used 2022 to make the Fold popular among the general audience before offering a bigger push next year.
There are a few obvious drawbacks, like the phone is heavier than a “normal” phone and there are apps that don’t use the screen estate efficiently, like Amazon Kindle gets into a two column mode only when the phone is held horizontally.
The good news is that many pain points have been resolved on the Fold4. This is actually the best phone for multitasking; it, in fact, encourages you to multitask. The swipe gesture comes to good use. To enable it, visit the Labs menu under advanced settings and toggle it on. Also, enable multi-window for all the apps. After that whenever you want to run two apps, you just drag two fingers in from the bezel.
So how have I been using the Fold4? Recently, I had an important work trip with several places to visit. The Fold4 came to good use while planning the schedule, booking tickets and checking out the itinerary, all at the same time.
Earlier, most of the day I was stuck to using one app at a time and to do something more, I had to switch to a laptop or tablet. The big screen on the Fold4 has its advantages and these have become more pronounced over time and they’re far-ranging.
The recent trip also involved e-signing a number of documents for which I used the S Pen, though I admit there is still no place to store it on the device. Apart from that, apps like Evernote work well and given time more apps will have the feature.
The other feature I found useful is the taskbar, which can be used for easy access to important apps. For a moment I had the feeling that it would get in the way of Android’s gesture controls but it never did. You can also hide the taskbar by long pressing it.
There were also moments of light rain but that didn’t come in the way of using the phone with an IPX8 rating. At the same time, there were moments when the sun was at its dazzling best. No matter how brilliant the sun is, the 1000 nits of brightness can take care of the situation.
The Galaxy Z Fold4 verges on the tablet
In Flex mode
The other feature I have become used to is Flex mode. If you activate it when your phone is folded and in an upright position, the app you are using will appear at the top of the screen. I spent enough time watching videos or having video chats while keeping the phone in flex mode. Though I am not much into selfies, I had my moments when the Flex mode was called on for a selfie. And don’t worry about the phone taking a tumble in the garden or the sidewalk because there is Gorilla Glass Victus+ protection.
The only tripod you will need
Let’s head over to the camera set-up. Even though Fold was not meant to be a full-on camera phone, yet Samsung has not cringed on what you get here. The pixel matrix over the inner under-screen selfie camera has become denser to camouflage it better. While playing games, you won’t notice there is a camera; it’s that good.
Around the back, there is a high resolution 50MP main sensor, 12MP ultra-wide and 10MP telephoto with 3X digital zoom. These are meaningful specs. I used the phone’s camera in all kinds of situations and have come away impressed. Further, I have become addicted to editing shots on the big screen. If any improvement is required then would be taking pictures in extreme low-light conditions. Otherwise, the phone can double as sort of a tripod and take shots that outshine all other Android phones.
Both Galaxy Z Fold4 and Z Flip4 have been a success
What I would like to see in the future is a bigger battery. Being a productivity device, I tend to use it more than usual. Further, it is slowly taking on the roles that were meant for tablets. So, one will use the Fold longer. Second, when the phone is folded, there is a slight gap; it can be reduced which will protect it better from lint when the phone is inside the pocket. Third, give the phone a slot to store the S Pen.
The Galaxy Note became success for a reason — there was a need for a device to tackle productivity–oriented apps on the phone. The Galaxy Z Fold is on the path to do the same. The company has already shown how to make better use of the bendable screen with unique software features. Next year I expect almost all Google apps to take advantage of the Fold’s big screen.
If 2022 was the year when the Fold became popular among the general public, 2023 should be a turning point for the foldable. The line dividing phone, productivity apps and gaming will hopefully blur with the next Fold.