Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 3: Time to upgrade?

Samsung’s 2022 foldable lineup is here. It includes the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 4. While they might not look very different from their predecessors, both of these smartphones are more than just an iterative update, more so with the Galaxy Z Fold 4. The 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 Fold 4 is a worthy upgrade.

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:50MP wide-angle, 12MP ultrawide, and 12MP 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 Hands-on 4 out of 5 stars

Design and display

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 eight 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.

samsung galaxy z fold 4.
Galaxy Z Fold 4 Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

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 surely don’t take it to the beach, please.

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.

the galaxy z fold 3 in the open position.
Galaxy Z Fold 3 Thai Nguyen on Unsplash

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.

Winner: Galaxy Z Fold 4

Performance and battery

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. It should help the device with thermals, camera performance as well as in 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.

the galaxy z fold 3 on a table, showing wallpaper on the outer screen.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

This year’s Fold packs the same battery as the Fold 3 at 4,400mAh. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts on a single charge. I have high hopes since the processor is more power efficient this time around. 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 0 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.

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.

Winner: Galaxy Z Fold 4

Cameras

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+ segment. However, Samsung is replacing the 12MP primary camera with a 50MP sensor which is likely to perform better than its predecessor.

samsung galaxy z fold 4.
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

Alongside the primary sensor, you get a 12MP ultrawide lens and a 12MP telephoto camera. The megapixel count might be the same, but Samsung is now providing 3x optical zoom instead of 2x on the Fold 3. You get the usual 30x digital zoom as well.

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 is 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.

Winner: Galaxy Z Fold 4

Software and updates

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 was launched with Android 11 but is currently running with 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.

taskbar on the galaxy z fold 4.
The Taskbar on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

For instance, you now get a taskbar at the bottom of the screen for a better multitasking experience. I asked Samsung if the feature would make its way to the Fold 3 with a future update, but I didn’t receive a concrete answer. I guess 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.

The overall software experience on both phones is very similar, but with the new Taskbar and extra year of updates, the 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. And 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 gen.

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 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 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.

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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