The Samsung Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4 are the most normal foldables yet

The Flip and Fold reached a milestone last year. Previous versions of Samsung’s foldable phones were more tech demos than anything else – clunky, very expensive and too flimsy for anyone to consider against a slab-style phone. That started to change in August 2021 when Samsung figured out how to waterproof foldable phones.

This year, Samsung has made key improvements that bring even more parity to the foldable lineup against the S-series flagships. Picking a Z Fold 4 over the S22 Plus doesn’t require you to make as many sacrifices as the spent (except, you know, about another $800). But there’s still a lot to prove if foldables will really go mainstream.

For starters, screen repairs for the Flip and Fold are a bit cheaper this year, that is, if you subscribe to Samsung’s Care Plus service. Previously, Samsung charged a $249 deductible to repair a screen on an out-of-warranty Flip or Fold. This is with the Care Plus subscription for $11 per month. Samsung cut the cost of the deductible this year to match standard phone screen repair costs, so a cracked folding screen could cost you as little as $29. It’s a small thing, but it’s one less consideration if you’re deciding between a foldable phone and a slab-style phone.

The camera hardware is also closer to what you’re getting on major flagships this year. The Fold 3 had a 2x telephoto lens, while the main S21 Plus series offered 3x zoom. (It was a 1.1x hybrid optical/digital combo, but that was fine.) This time around things are simpler: the Z Fold 4 has more or less the same rear camera specs as the S22 Plus, including a 3x telephoto lens (what’s even 2x good for?) and a 50-megapixel main rear camera.

The Fold 4’s rear camera array matches what the S22 Plus offers.
Photo by Allison Johnson/The Edge

There’s another camera feature on this year’s Fold that wasn’t available last year: Space Zoom, aka digital zoom. The Fold 4 offers up to 30x digital zoom; the Fold 3 only allowed up to 10x. Sure, it’s no substitute for good old-fashioned optics, but Samsung’s digital zoom technology isn’t bad in a pinch.

So those are some pain points addressed, but Samsung hasn’t quite reached parity yet. At the very top is the cost. Yes, the $999 Flip 4 costs about the same as the main S22 phones, but it also lacks the telephoto lens. If you want the fanciest, flagship foldable, you’ll have to shell out $1,799, which is out of reach for a lot of people. That makes the $1199 S22 Ultra look like a bargain.

It’s also unclear how the phones will hold up in the long run. There’s the issue of peeling screen protectors, which Samsung tried to address in the Flip and Fold 4. And while they’re waterproof, neither phone is dustproof. It’s impossible to say how a Fold 3 or 4 will hold up in a few years – is dust intrusion an inevitable reality after four years of use? And what kind of problems will it cause? We don’t know because it’s a whole new product category.

Samsung needs to convince us that the unique form factor is worth the extra cost and long-term durability unknowns. So far, that is not the case. Its foldable devices are the best-selling devices in the game, but the 10 million (or so) units it sold last year is still only a small fraction of the more than 270 million phones it has. ships in 2021. , I’m willing to bet Samsung will keep trying for the foreseeable future.


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