Samsung has launched the latest version of its folding smartphones. The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is more of a perfection than a new beginning. Is that enough?
The advances in smartphones have become less revolutionary over the years than they were at the beginning. That is normal. That’s why fans of pocket computers are all the happier when something really new comes onto the market – and that was the folding smartphone a few years ago. Contrary to earlier clamshell phones, the folding display technology promises either larger screens or smaller housing dimensions compared to conventional models – depending on the design.
The Z-Flip series still represents the second genus: the previous Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 (test report) offered a case that, when folded, was only about half the size of a Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus (test report) , but opened it up offered a comparably large display. Samsung has retained this in the new model and, above all, spices up the technical inner workings. You can’t see any real innovations, at least on the data sheet, but there are detail improvements. However, the smartphone has even become a little more expensive in the RRP – does that still fit?
There is nothing to complain about in terms of design – at least not if you liked the predecessor. Because you have to look for the differences with a magnifying glass. The shiny aluminum frame of our test device seems to have gotten wider in comparison, which makes the device feel a bit more grippy. Otherwise, as before, there is matte glass on the optically divided back, which Samsung offers in the colors gold, blue, purple and anthracite. It is always set off in shiny black glass, because this is where the small second display, which is invisible when deactivated, is located together with the two slightly protruding camera lenses.
The new model folds up even more smoothly than its predecessor. There is no counter-pressure from the further improved hinge. This allows it to be pushed open with an almost perfectly uniform force, and it also stays in place in any folding position for use in flex mode. When closed, the two halves of the display are now a little closer together, but there is still a minimum distance so that any dirt that may be trapped does not scratch the expensive panel.
There is nothing wrong with the workmanship, Samsung once again perfectly shows its market leadership. Nothing else is expected from a smartphone that costs just under 1100 euros in the RRP. The fingerprint sensor on the right in the power button is not quite as perfect. That was already the case in the predecessor and there is probably a simple reason: the folding joint is simply in the way for the perfect placement. Samsung only has the choice of placing the control button higher or lower. It’s placed too high above the wrist for us, even with large hands you can’t reach the thumb as a right-handed person without slight contortions. Instead, the IPx8 certification of the Z Flip 4 should be mentioned positively, which offers the model protection against water even when submerged.Top 10 best waterproof smartphones explained in more detail.
All pictures of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 in the test
Little has changed on the display. Both the technical data and the “soft facts” are largely unchanged, only with the software does Samsung seem to have lent a hand. The manufacturer still relies on an OLED screen with 6.7 inches, 2640 x 1080 pixels and a variable refresh rate of up to 120 Hz. This means that the screen looks pretty great again, image sharpness, color reproduction and brightness are very good again. The brightness has even increased slightly, at least in manual mode. We were able to measure around 500 cd/m² here, but the brightness in automatic mode is largely identical at around 1050 candelas. These are not top values, OLEDs without folding function in models like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (test report)become even brighter. But despite everything, these are pretty good rates that the Galaxy Z Flip 4 doesn’t have to hide from.
On the other hand, it is a pity that Samsung has not further improved the visibility and tactility of the crease. Competitors such as a Huawei Mate Xs 2 (test report) are much further ahead here, because the crease is far less visible here. The external second display also seems to have been taken over unchanged from the predecessor. It again offers 1.9 inches and 512 x 260 pixels with OLED technology. That’s enough to be able to quickly read the time or to see that a new message has arrived. Also, there are now slightly more widgets to choose from. However, if you then want to answer, you usually have to open the main display again, so the added value of the front screen is rather limited, as with the Z Flip 3.
Something has changed with the camera compared to its predecessor – but here too it was hidden and not necessarily visible on the data sheet. At first glance, the main camera with 12 megapixels and optical image stabilizer (OIS) seems to come from the predecessor. Instead, the lens from the Samsung Galaxy Fold 3 (test report) from last year is used, which was slightly better there. When it comes to the wide angle, there is no difference on paper either, again Samsung relies on 12 megapixels. The same applies to the front: 10 megapixels are again available for selfies. And how does that work out in everyday life?
All pictures taken with the camera of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 from the test
In fact, the camera in the current Z Flip 4 can assert itself compared to its predecessor. The image quality is not quite at the top level of a Samsung Galaxy S22 (test report), but can set itself apart from the predecessor in terms of color reproduction, dynamics and sharpness. This enables really nice pictures to be taken in good light, but it is only when the ambient light is weak that it becomes apparent that the current camera generation is ahead. However, if night shots with the main camera still work quite well, users should rather forget the wide-angle in poor light or have to live with dark shots with significantly less sharpness – just like in the middle class. The same applies to the front camera, which was also taken over unchanged from the predecessor. However, adapted software ensures better color reproduction here. The main camera of the Galaxy Z Flip 4 trumps again when it comes to videos and convinces with great image stabilization and sharp videos in 4K/60, here, too, there is a small difference to the current top models from our own company. There is still no telephoto lens.
New smartphone generation, new chipset: The new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 is based on the very latest chips, namely the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1. In contrast to its predecessor, it is no longer produced by Samsung, which is said to have had production problems , but again from TSMC. This step alone is said to have increased performance by 10 percent and reduced consumption by around 15 percent without further changes. The additional performance should come from the increased chip clock, which affects all three chip types and the GPU. The prime core (Cortex-X2) now performs at 3.2 GHz instead of almost 3 GHz, the three Cortex-A710 cores are now clocked at 2.75 GHz instead of 2.5 GHz and the four small Cortex-A510 CPUs are now at 2 GHz instead of 1.8 before. Developer Qualcomm does not provide any precise information about the Adreno 730 GPU, here we are only talking about a 10 percent higher clock rate. Accordingly, after 818 MHz, it should now be around 0.9 GHz. That sounds like it fits in with the promised 10 percent more power.
In fact, this is not particularly noticeable in PCmark Work 3.0, where the Z Flip 4 scores a solid 14,100 points, while 3Dmark’s Wild Life Extreme scores 2200 points. In the case of PCmark, this is roughly at the level of smartphones with Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, but a small increase in performance can be seen in 3Dmark.
You don’t notice the latter in games or in everyday life, because it just doesn’t get any smoother than smooth. The only thing worth emphasizing here is that there are no initial performance problems such as occasional snagging with the folding smartphone. The S22 models initially had more problems here. In the test, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 always ran extremely fast, and this impression is of course supported by the great 120 Hz display. However, you seem to be able to notice something in games: the folding model gets warm, but not uncomfortably hot. We cannot fully answer at this point whether this can really be attributed to the reduced power consumption or is simply a deception because of the knowledge of better efficiency.
While one could certainly assume more performance and reduced power consumption, Samsung unexpectedly surprised negatively elsewhere. Because it seems as if the manufacturer simply forgot something with all the positive adjustments: the USB port. Of course, it uses USB-C as the connection type again, but remains with the USB 2.0 standard, which is too slow for this price range. The successor definitely needs to be faster here! The rest, on the other hand, comes as no surprise. The folding smartphone again offers 8 GB of RAM, 128, 256 or 512 GB of internal memory (not expandable) and the well-known standards such as Wifi-6, Bluetooth 5.2 and 5G. Our table shows further technical specifications.
Samsung uses Android 12 and OneUI 4 as the user interface for the software. Compared to earlier Samsung interfaces, this is now quite clear, but it still offers some additional functions compared to vanilla Android. With the Z Flip 4, this is again the well-known Flex mode, in which some apps, such as the browser, are split in two if the smartphone is only “folded”. Then you can watch a video, for example, while the smartphone is angled on the table in front of you. However, the Z Flip 4 lacks one feature that is found in the S22 series: support for the Dex desktop system. But there is good news for buyers elsewhere: Samsung is sticking to its update promise, Accordingly, there will be version upgrades for Android for the next 4 years and security updates for the next 5 years. This is the gold standard for Android, which Google itself offers for its Pixel models.
An important criticism of the predecessor Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 (test report) was the battery life, which in many cases was not even enough for a whole day. The successor has therefore received 400 mAh more power, a total of 3700 mAh. Compared to “normal” smartphones without a folding display, this is still not much, so it is not surprising that the battery test from PCmark only certifies a runtime of just under 8.5 hours for the new Galaxy Z Flip 4, provided the display is in the Automatic mode reproduces 120 Hz. That is at least a good hour more than the predecessor and together with the findings from the test, we can at least certify that the new folding model has a running time of around one day. But it’s still not really strong.
This also applies to another peculiarity that Samsung has gotten used to in its top models: A power supply is once again missing, only a USB cable is found in the flat (but not too flat for a power supply!) sales box. We like to repeat ourselves here: That’s not possible at the prices called for the Z Flip 4 (from 1100 euros RRP!)! After all, the model also charges wirelessly.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 is available in four colors: gold (“Pink Gold”), blue (“Blue”), purple (“Bora Purple”) and anthracite (“Graphite”). Interested parties can also choose between the memory versions 128, 256 and 512 GB. The RRP starts at 1100 euros.
Anyone who wants to buy the smartphone with a tariff currently pays a one-time fee of 30 euros for the cell phone in the contract. Associated tariffs start at 1 GB and 30 euros per month. Among the cheapest offers you will find almost exclusively contracts in the O2 network.
Samsung is not reinventing the wheel with the Galaxy Z Flip 4, but has given the new folding smartphone a good deal of fine-tuning. Everything looks even smoother, chicer and simply better than its predecessor, even if the difference is not big. The biggest improvement concerns the battery, which should now – at least for most users – finally pass as a 1-day battery. On the other hand, the increase in speed is much less important for us in everyday life than the improved energy efficiency, which we believe to have identified not only in the runtime but also in the temperature development. Otherwise, the Z Flip 4 is currently probably the best “entry-level model” in the cosmos of folding display smartphones, because the device does not allow itself any mistakes – apart from the USB 2.0 number,
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