The physical dimensions of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 have changed. The changes may not amount to more than a few millimeters and grams, but they make a surprising difference to the way the phone feels – and the hinge redesign played a big part in making that possible. It’s an important step towards making foldable smartphones mainstream, a moment Samsung believes is almost here.
Digital Trends spoke with Nick Porter, Samsung’s vice president of product management and commercial operations, about the new phones, mainstream appeal and the all-important new hinge design.
It all depends on this
“We’re really listening to feedback,” Porter told me, saying that for the Z Fold 4, customers asked Samsung for improved one-handed controls and a different screen ratio. It brought an internal screen with a 21.6:18 aspect ratio, which is 3 mm wider than the 22.5:18 screen on the Z Fold 3, and the cover screen changed from a 24.5:9 ratio to a 23.1:9 ratio.
Folded and unfolded, the Z Fold 4 is a hair thinner and eight grams lighter than the Galaxy Z Fold 3. Although the Fold 4 is the same width when closed, the device is 3mm shorter, and the smaller bezels make the cover’s screen viewing area appear larger. Changing the aspect ratio on the indoor screen means that all the black bars will be smaller when watching a video.
“Increasing the width and shortening the phone by 3mm means that when the phone is closed, operation is more seamless and you can use it effectively with one hand without losing the benefit of opening to a large screen,” explained Porter. “We’ve made it thinner and lighter, changed the aspect ratio and made the phone 6% lighter, and a lot of that is thanks to the work we’ve done on the hinge.”
For the first three foldable phones, Samsung used horizontally placed gears for articulation, but it was redesigned for the Z Fold 4. “By turning the rotary motion [of the gears] into linear motion, we reduced the amount of gear needed, making it slimmer and shorter, so it fits into a smaller space,” Porter said, highlighting how the hinge enabled the rest of the Z Fold 4’s modifications.
All this is not at the expense of durability, and the hinge still has an innovative brush system inside that removes dust and lubrication, plus an IPX8 water resistance rating. It has been tested for 200,000 folds, which is about the same as folding and unfolding your phone 100 times a day for the next five years.
“I think this is the moment when foldable devices become mainstream,” Porter told me confidently. “We started developing the folding device in 2011, we are now in the fourth generation and we have really learned a lot. Now we’re creating foldable devices not just for first-time users, but for everyone.”
While the foldable screens of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4 will be the first to catch your eye, we should also remember that these are the most powerful smartphones Samsung has released to date, each equipped with the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor.
“The Z Fold 4 has the fastest processor we’ve ever put into a phone, an improved battery, a foldable screen with 1,000 nits of brightness, and PC-like performance,” said Porter. “Looking at the Z Flip 4, we focused on ‘portability’ because it’s 10% thinner, has an improved cover display and the best compact camera phone we could have. We have improved the functionality and performance of these products to introduce next-generation technology today.”
Having two phones that appeal to different people is a key step toward mainstream adoption, which is closer than you might think, according to data shared by Porter.
“Last year the total folding device market was 10 million units, which is a 300% increase from 2020. And in the UK we saw a 700% increase in sales in the first half of 2022 compared to the first half of 2020. see that that driving force comes in demand. We’re well on our way to making foldable devices mainstream. With the right products, along with rapid market growth and listening to our customers, we see the pivot now happening towards the mainstream.”
Get into one
It’s all very well to hear about more power and a flashy new hinge, but despite Samsung having four generations, many people have yet to use a foldable smartphone at all.
“We learned that people want to experience new technology,” Porter said. “But how do we create experiences that allow them to touch and feel the product, fold it and see the benefits of the screen?”
One answer is the creation of two giant, immersive and innovative pop-up stores in the heart of two of the world’s busiest cities.
“That’s why we have new experience stores in London and New York where people can come and try out the phones, the Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.” more retail stores. “Last year 20% of mobile phone shops in the UK had a foldable device on display, but this year 80% will have a foldable device for people to try out.”
The secret to understanding the benefits and subsequently wanting a foldable smartphone is to actually use it. Not only are the Samsung Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4 more “normal” than ever, but it’s easier – and if you can get to one of the experience pop-ups, a lot more fun – to actually go out and try it out in front of you. buy too
“It’s so important when technology is evolving so quickly,” Porter said. “Seeing is believing with these products.”
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