There is absolutely no denying foldable phones are growing in popularity closing in on becoming the mainstream. Though I’ve still yet to see one in the wild, it’s clear there’s a market here – 10 million foldables were sold in 2021-2022, with forecasts of major growth. So should you buy a foldable phone? Before you decide, there are a few important factors to take into consideration.
Foldable devices are still new, even though Samsung is on its fourth iteration of the Fold and Flip. Even with that being the case, there are still many different things that need to be worked out and can only improve from here. But what you might want to ask yourself is if enough has been improved over the last four generations for you to drop almost $2000 on a pocketable tablet.
Myth: Folding phones are not as durable
Samsung has worked on its display material for years now, finally coming to what it calls “Ultra-Thin Glass.” The UTG surface enables the display to bend 180 degrees from open to close, without breaking or cracking – at least for most people.
While it isn’t supposed to, the UTG screen does in some instances crack, usually right at the bend. Glass is glass, and glass breaks. These reports are more than enough to keep anyone from buying a foldable phone.
Our own Ben Schoon has experienced this issue before on a Galaxy Z Flip 3, with seemingly no clear reasons behind the sudden breakage. All it took was one unfortunate flip and boom – a series of tears right through the display.
That being said, this isn’t necessarily the norm. Look around, and you’ll find plenty of reports of damage, but most users still go without these issues. Over two generations of daily driving the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Fold 3, Ben didn’t have any issues with those devices breaking or seeing any damage at all.
There have been rumors of Samsung upgrading the UTG displays, though the company hasn’t made any mention of this new design, so we can only assume the Fold 4 and Flip 4 are equipped with the same glass as the previous generation.
There are no guarantees on whether or not the glass on your foldable will break, unfortunately. That’s why we recommend getting Samsung Care+, to cut down on potential repair costs.
But at the same time, you’d be surprised just how durable a folding phone can be.
If you were to set aside for a moment the random instances of screen cracking, general data point to an overall durable device. Yes, you can easily scratch the display since, after all, it’s more similar to plastic than it is glass, but besides that, the Galaxy Flip 4 and Fold 4 both hold up well. The hinge is much stronger this year than it’s ever been – thanks to some heavy engineering modifications – and it’s almost impossible to bend the Fold 4 the wrong way. Samsung’s foldables are also water resistant, and despite no actual dust resistance rating, they do hold up to dust and dirt relatively well overall.
Truth: The crease is unavoidable for now
One unfortunate byproduct of Samsung’s foldable devices is the crease. While it only makes sense that bending something creates a crease at the apex, we don’t like it – really, no one does. This is one of the deficits that could cause users to shy away from buying a foldable phone.
Right out of the box, the Fold 4 and Flip 4 have a minimal crease, totally excusable in the center of the inner displays. It almost makes you want to never bend the device. However, as soon as you close the Fold or Flip for the first time, you create a small abnormality in the UTG display that runs from edge to edge.
Over time you get used to the uneven display section, based on our experience with Samsung’s devices. The only time it ever really becomes an issue is when you’re looking at it from the side or there is a light right above you. Other than that, it really isn’t much of a big deal.
In previous Fold and Flip generations, the crease was worse by a small degree. This year, it seems like the dip in the glass has become less apparent, though it’s still impossible to miss. Coming close to the release of the Fold 4 and Flip 4, it was rumored that the creasing issue had been addressed and it was no longer an issue, though those whispers didn’t quite pan out.
While you’ll definitely get used to the crease with a Fold 4 or Flip 4, you will notice that the crease gets a little deeper over time. There is a point where it stops getting worse, but there is a break-in period where it slowly gets a bit bigger. As mentioned, this is just something that you have to live with in Samsung’s foldable for now. Competitors in China, like the Oppo Find N, have somewhat figured this out, but they aren’t available in the United States or other global regions yet.
Truth: Samsung’s customer care is hit or miss
If ever your device does crack or the hinge stops working as designed, you’re going to need to contact support. Unfortunately, Samsung doesn’t have the best track record in terms of helpful customer care.
There are plenty of instances in recent months of users attempting to get replacement devices, only to be stuck in an endless cycle of trying to get the problem resolved. In one recent example, a user on Reddit pre-ordered and received the Fold 4, only to get the device and notice a fault in the hinge. After contacting support, the user found themself in an uphill battle trying to get the phone replaced, eventually opting to settle for a full refund.
Cases like this are all too common, and that isn’t even taking into consideration international customer care, which can often be even more complicated. Odds are good that you’ll not find yourself in a situation where you need a replacement device, but if you do, don’t be surprised if you find Samsung’s customer care is lacking unless you live in a major city with a physical location to fix your phone.
If worse comes to worst, Ubreakifix is authorized by Samsung to take on repairs for the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Flip 4. While this may not be the cheapest option, it’s incredibly convenient and lets you skirt around Samsung’s customer care flaws.
Myth: Battery life on the Fold or Flip is a flop
Another aspect to consider when thinking about buying a foldable phone is the battery. While it may seem like a bigger phone like the Fold 4 means a bigger battery, that isn’t entirely the case.
The Fold 4 sports a 4,400 mAh battery, which falls in line with an average battery size for 2022. However, more screen real estate means bigger battery needs, leaving you with a faster battery drain compared to most devices. Fortunately, the Fold 4 handles it very well, touting about 3.5 to 4.5 hours of screen time with around 40/60 split between the inner and outer display. Compare that to the Fold 3, and you’re looking at around 4 or 5 more hours of battery life in the day.
The Flip 4 doesn’t shy away from that pattern, either. This year, the Flip 4 gets a 400 mAh battery increase, which went a long way to increasing the daily lifespans of the foldable. In total, you’re looking at landing around 20% by 11 pm, if you don’t play heavy games or watch hours upon hours of videos.
Comparatively, that’s quite the upgrade and completely useable by today’s standards. Is it absolutely phenomenal? No, but it gets the job done. Turning on features like always-on display doesn’t mean a huge battery drain like it would for some phones due to the simple fact that the outer display is tiny and needs much less power. When not in use, the Flip 4 sits closed and idle, which helps keep as much juice in there as possible.
In my Flip 4 usage over the past couple of weeks, I’ve found that I never once hit under 15% in a day. As long as you keep it closed when not in use and put that cover screen to work, you’ll find the Flip 4 battery is completely acceptable.
That same thought goes for the Fold 4. With the improvements made this year, it’s hard to hold the battery against these foldables. You’re not really making a compromise unless you expect your phone to last more than a day.
Should you buy one of Samsung’s foldables?
With the pain points taken into consideration – durability, display issues, customer service, and battery – there’s a lot that hasn’t quite been ironed out in Samsung’s clamshell and tablet-like folding phones. However, aside from the issues highlighted, there are many benefits to the Galaxy Fold 4 and Flip 4.
The two devices have a lot to offer for many different users. I myself thought I would find no use for the Flip 4, and now it’s become my go-to daily driver for the time being. In our reviews, we break down some of the best parts of the two devices, even though there are some issues that come with the product.
Foldables have come far enough that we may be at the point where buying one actually makes a little bit of sense and doesn’t feel like it’s just a fad. If you are willing to put down the $999 or $1799 for a Flip or Fold, respectively, it might be a solid purchase for you. Samsung has been on a hot streak recently with phenomenal trade-in deals, so buying a Fold 4 or Flip 4 may not be a bad investment with the plan to upgrade next year.
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