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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 3: Is it time for you to upgrade?

Samsung’s 2022 foldable lineup is here. It includes the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, and while they might not look very different from their predecessors, both of these smartphones are more than just an iterative update. The new Fold device features upgraded internals, better optics, and a superior front display alongside an improved hinge mechanism.

Here’s what you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 3 and whether or not the Z Fold 4 is a worthy upgrade over the older version.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
Size Unfolded: 130.1 x 155.1 x 6.3mm
Folded: 67.1 x 155.1 x 15.8mm
Unfolded: 128.1 x 158.2 x 6.4mm
Folded: 67.1 x 158.2 x 16.0mm
Weight 263 grams (9.27 ounces) 271 grams (9.56 ounces)
Screen size Main: 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X
Cover screen: 6.2-inch Super AMOLED 2X
Main: 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X
Cover screen: 6.2-inch Super AMOLED 2X
Screen resolution Main: 2176 x 1812 pixels
Cover screen: 2316 x 904 pixels
Main: 2208 x 1768 pixels
Cover screen: 2268 x 832 pixels
Operating system Android 12L with One UI 4.1.1 Android 12 with One UI 4.1
Storage 256GB, 512GB, 1TB 256GB, 512GB
MicroSD card slot No No
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay, Samsung Pay Google Pay, Samsung Pay
Processor Qualcomm 8+ Gen 1 Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
RAM 12GB 12GB
Rear Camera Rear main: 50-megapixel wide-angle, 12MP ultrawide, and 10MP telephoto Rear main: 12MP wide-angle 12MP ultrawide, and 12MP telephoto
Front Camera Front main screen: 4MP under-display
Cover screen: 10MP
Front main screen: 4MP under-display
Cover screen: 10MP
Bluetooth version 5.2 5.1
Ports USB-C USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes, side-mounted Yes, side-mounted
Water resistance IPX8 IPX8
Battery 4,400mAh
Fast charging (25W, charger not included)
Fast wireless charging (10W)
Reverse wireless charging (4.5W)
4,400mAh
Fast charging (25W, charger not included)
Fast wireless charging (10W)
Reverse wireless charging (4.5W)
App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support All carriers All carriers
Colors Graphite, white, Bora Purple Mirror Purple, Mirror Black
Prices $1,800 $1,800
Buy from Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart
Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart
Review 4.5 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

Design and display

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.
Galaxy Z Fold 4 Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

Both the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 3 are almost the same size, but Samsung has reduced the bezel on the front of the former. While the Galaxy Z Fold 4 only weighs 8 grams lighter at 263 grams, it feels much lighter in the hand than the Z Fold 3. It could be because of better weight distribution. Whatever the reason, the Fold 4 doesn’t feel like a brick in the hand, which makes it a better phone for one-hand usage.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 was the first device to bring some kind of IP rating to Samsung foldables. The latest version is no different as it offers IPX8 water resistance. This means your phone will be fine with water splashes, but don’t take it to the beach or pool.

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 sports a 6.2-inch HD+ AMOLED cover display, which is the same as the Fold 3. Both devices feature a 120Hz refresh rate on the outer screen. But due to the reduction of the right edge, it is more usable on Fold 4. As for the main screen, both devices feature a 7.6-inch foldable AMOLED display.

But Samsung has upped its game this time around and given the Fold 4 a dynamic refresh rate of 1 to 120Hz rather than the 10 to 120Hz present on the Fold 3. Plus, you get better peak brightness at 1,300 nits on the latest Fold.

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is far more usable due to the smaller bezels around the cover screen and alterations to the shape of the phone. We had no problems with the brightness while using the phone outside, but notably, the crease is still there. However, the rippling around it has been reduced, so it’s not quite so visibly obvious anymore.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Performance, battery, and charging

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 on a table, showing wallpaper on the outer screen.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 was powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip. By contrast, the Fold 4 gets two generations of improvement as it runs on the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset. The new SoC helps the Fold 4 with thermals and camera performance as well as puts in the power for day-to-day usage. Both smartphones feature 5G and come with 12GB of RAM. While the Fold 3 maxed out at 512GB, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 gets a 1TB storage variant.

This year’s Fold packs the same size battery as the Fold 3 at 4,400mAh, and Samsung is also keeping the battery charging wattage at 25W, which is the same as last year. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 can be charged from zero to 50% in 30 minutes with a 25W adapter, which is missing from the box — as is the case with most of the flagships these days. During our testing, the Fold 4 lasted from about 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., with a total of just under four hours of screen time. A full day plus a little more is easily achievable when you use the phone lightly, such as for web browsing, social apps, and answering messages.

Even with a familiar battery setup, the newer chip inside the Fold 4 — allowing for faster performance and better efficiency — gives it a tangible edge over the Fold 3. The new Taskbar is like the Windows Taskbar or MacOS’ Dock and adds app icons to the bottom of the screen when the phone is open. It is designed to quickly switch between apps, and it does indeed perform this task very well. It’s helpful when multitasking, as the icons show notification numbers. As for performance, with a multiperson Teams call running and Twitter on the other side of the screen, all while connected to a pair of Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, the phone didn’t heat at all.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Cameras

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 lacked a flagship camera setup, and with the launch of the Galaxy S22 Ultra, it fell far behind in the $1,000-plus segment. However, Samsung is replacing the 12-megapixel primary camera with a 50MP sensor, which is likely to perform better than its predecessor.

Alongside the primary sensor, you get a 12MP ultrawide lens and a 10MP telephoto camera. The megapixel count might be slightly lower, but Samsung is now providing 3x optical zoom instead of 2x on the Fold 3. You get the usual 30x digital zoom as well. Video records at up to 8K at 24 frames per second, with the option of 4K at 30 or 60 fps. You also get a Pro mode for stills and video, a night mode, Single Take, and portrait mode on the main and selfie camera.

On the cover display lies a 10MP selfie shooter on both smartphones. The megapixel count remains the same for the under-screen camera on the main screen at 4MP. However, it is covered by many more pixels, so it’s rarely visible when you are consuming content. It is a much more improved under-display camera but lags behind the 10MP sensor for obvious reasons.

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 takes excellent photos on all three rear cameras. The 3x telephoto pictures contain a lot of detail and no obvious digital enhancements. Plus, the Portrait mode has fantastic edge recognition, and the night mode is good as well. The main camera has a more natural look than the Z Fold 3’s. You get lesser saturation and far better balance. It takes more-detailed, better-exposed, and more-attractive photos.

While the Fold 4’s telephoto lens can’t match the S22 Ultra’s 10x optical zoom, it’s an otherwise strong competitor as a fantastic all-rounder for both casual photographers. However, the main camera isn’t great at taking close-ups and fails to focus properly if the subject is too near the camera. Additionally, the Under Display Camera (UDC) has 4MP and is really no better than the one fitted to the Z Fold 3. It returns a soft image during video calls.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Software and updates

Taskbar on the Galaxy Z Fold 4.
The Taskbar on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 was launched with Android 11 but is currently running Android 12 with One UI 4.1. On the other hand, the Fold 4 is launching with Android 12L running One UI 4.1.1 — and it has some neat features up its sleeve. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 will last you a year longer, though, with one more year of software and security updates than the Galaxy Z Fold 3.

For instance, you now get a taskbar at the bottom of the screen for a better multitasking experience. We asked Samsung if the feature would make its way to the Fold 3 with a future update, but we didn’t receive a concrete answer. We’ll just have to just wait and see. All of the other multi-window features are staying with improvements in day-to-day usage. While app support for the large screen is good, Instagram still doesn’t use the whole screen.

The overall software experience on both phones is very similar, but with the new Taskbar and extra year of updates, the Z Fold 4 takes another win.

Winner: Galaxy Z Fold 4

Special features

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 with S Pen.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Both the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Fold 3 have stylus support. While it was rumored that Samsung will provide an in-built slot for its S Pen with the Fold 4, it didn’t happen. As a result, you will have to buy a case that supports S Pen storage if you don’t want to lose the stylus. There are no meaningful improvements in the S Pen sensitivity with the latest generation.

Winner: Tie

Price and availability

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 was launched at $1,800 for the base variant, but it can now be bought at around $1,500 on Amazon. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 starts at $1,800 as well. It will be available in Graphite, white, and Bora Purple color options through all the major retailers. However, the color variants are likely to vary by market, carrier, and retailer.

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

At first, you might look at the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and dismiss it as an iterative update. But it is much more than that. The Fold 4 comes with an improvement in almost every department. It has a better foldable display, flagship-level cameras, and the latest processor. All of these features should combine to give you a satisfying experience for the price.

Does that make it a worthy upgrade over the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3? That depends on you. If you could legitimately benefit from a snappier processor, better battery efficiency, upgraded cameras, and the tweaked design, the Fold 4 does bring a lot to the table. But at the end of the day, it’s not reinventing the wheel you already have with the Fold 3. There are fewer compromises here than with its predecessors, and the work that has gone into making the phone’s design more compliant and usable is really impressive.

If your Fold 3 is serving you just fine as is, keep using it for another year or two and sit out the Fold 4. But if you have an older foldable device or are eager to pick up your very first one, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is the way to go.

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