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I used the Galaxy Z Fold 4 to relive my old PC gaming memories

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a spectacular 2-in-1 device. It’s easily billed as a capable smartphone, but the foldable also doubles as an Android tablet. It serves as a superior productivity device and packs the newest and most powerful hardware any Android device can sport. Despite its internal specifications, however, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 has been excluded from the purview of mobile gamers.

The biggest challenge to gaming on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is the display size. The aspect of ratios of both displays is — to say the least — unusual, which can cause numerous compatibility or cropping issues. The solution to this problem, however, also lies with the Galaxy Z Fold 4. Instead of playing these games on a smaller display, we cast them onto a bigger display to be able to enjoy them.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 gaming with keyboard and mouse.
Tushar Mehta/Digital Trends

The setup can be as simple or complex as you would like it to be. Since I like to keep all bases covered, I am instinctually led to rely upon some fancy equipment. Here’s what my setup includes:

My Galaxy Z Fold 4 gaming setup

At the heart of this miniature gaming setup is a powerful USB Type-C dock. For this we are using the . The Ugreen docking station is ideal for this setup as it features two HDMI outputs, including one at 8K resolution, a DisplayLink-certified DisplayPort connector, a Gigabit Ethernet port, multiple USB Gen 3.2 Type-A and Type-C ports, and a 3.5mm audio jack. All of these ports combine to give us the connectivity options of a primitive desktop setup.

Ugreen USB Type-C Dock with DisplayLink, gigabit Ethernet, USB port.
Tushar Mehta/Digital Trends

For the utility, I utilize the following:

  • DisplayPort instead of the HDMI port because the former offers a smoother, lag-free experience — especially while casting the display at 4K (3840×2160) resolution.
  • Ethernet port for faster ping while playing online games.
  • USB Type-C port to plug in the charger to eliminate power drain.
  • USB Type-A ports to plug-in keyboard and mouse. I am using a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to ease switching between different devices, which may increase latency to some extent.
  • The 3.5mm headphone jack to reduce delay in audio as compared to a Bluetooth headset.

You may also use a less meticulous USB Type-C dock — or even skip one entirely by opting for a and connecting other peripherals over Bluetooth. This may be a simpler setup but can lead to some latency, which can be disadvantageous while playing high-tempo games.

Alongside the Ugreen dock, I use a 27-inch LG 4K HDR monitor. You can use any large display, including a TV, a projector, or a PC monitor. I suggest using something preferably with DisplayPort support, but that is not a necessary requirement for the setup to work.

A mechanical keyboard in front of the Galaxy Z Fold 4.
Tushar Mehta/Digital Trends

In addition to the hardware, I use the Panda Mouse Pro app that allows me to map keyboard and mouse controls so I can play a game without touching the display. You will need to authorize the app to display over other apps and activate the app using a PC or Mac with ADB. The app is paid, but you can also find some free alternatives, such as the Mantis Gamepad Pro. The complexity of setup may differ per app, but you will easily find tutorials online.

Although the app can run in DeX mode, it may not be able to manipulate keyboard and mouse controls very effectively. As a result, the app can crash multiple times, so I cast the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s screen onto the monitor.

The games I played

Although the setup allows me to play any game using a keyboard and mouse, I chose to play three classics that were popularized by their PC versions and were eventually ported to Android. The choice of games includes:

  • Minecraft
  • GTA: San Andreas
  • Call of Duty: Mobile

I mapped the keyboard and mouse controls using Panda Mouse Pro in GTA and CoD: Mobile. Meanwhile, Minecraft inherently supports keyboard and mouse input, and no additional steps were required. All the other interface features can be manipulated using the mouse to replace the touch controls.

It must be noted that Samsung’s DeX and screen mirroring options are inherently limited to the highest resolution supported by the smartphone (1440p in the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s case). The higher display resolution (4K here) can be unlocked by installing the MultiStar module in Samsung’s Good Lock app.

So, what’s the gaming experience like?

Because I rely on casting the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s screen onto a larger display, the narrow 5:4 aspect ratio can feel jarring, especially if you use a widescreen monitor. I use a standard 16:9 monitor, which is the one you see in the photo below. The limitation is forced upon us because of the keymapping software, which doesn’t work as intended in DeX mode. Other than that, however, nothing is preventing you from using a keyboard and mouse to run games just like you would on a traditional PC. The games run fluidly without any limitations.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 gaming with keyboard, mouse, and USB Type C docking station.
Tushar Mehta/Digital Trends

Ethernet is a really handy addition to the setup as it reduces the online ping from 30ms over a 5GHz Wi-Fi network down to 3-5ms over LAN. Lower ping allows responses to be registered faster and is extremely useful in online multiplayer games.

If you have a USB or Bluetooth gamepad, you can play games with built-in controller support with this setup. The list of games includes popular titles like Asphalt 9, Real Racing 3, Brawlhalla, etc., which can be enjoyed in a gaming console-like arrangement wirelessly. If you are willing to spend some more time optimizing this setup, you can also load archaic controller games meant for the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation Portable (PSP), GameBoy, GameBoy Color, and GameBoy Advanced using an emulator like the All In One Emulator.

Your gaming PC better watch out

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 gaming with keyboard and mouse.
Tushar Mehta/Digital Trends

While it’s inappropriate to compare this experience with that of a full-fledged gaming PC, the capable Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 surely makes the Galaxy Z Fold 4 a worthy contender to ARM-based Windows machines when considering cross-platform games. What makes this experience uniquely enjoyable is the ability to play Windows games that have been ported to Android, thanks to the efforts of diligent game publishers.

This setup is even well-suited for cloud gaming platforms like Nvidia GeForce, which can let you enjoy the same high-intensity gaming without an actual rig. The Gigabit Ethernet on the Ugreen docking station I use is suitable for superfast loading and an easily dismissable lag.

There’s one more advantage to this arrangement, even if you do not wish to use a monitor along with it. The game progress is saved on the Galaxy Z Fold 4, and you can continue without the fear of losing any of it. Add that all together, and the Z Fold 4 ends up being a shockingly good gaming rig.

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