It’s been a couple of weeks since I started using Samsung’s latest flagship foldable phone, now in its fourth iteration, the Galaxy Z Fold 4. The overall experience has been overwhelmingly positive so far. When I first made the decision to purchase the phone with a specific usage in mind, which is a device to read all my favourite magazines, news articles and ebooks, it exceeded all expectations. While it took me a while to get used to navigating around the Android ecosystem, at no point in time has it become a very frustrating experience. Sure there is a learning curve, but I have not met a lingering roadblock in how I intend to use the device.
This is my app arrangment on the cover display. It has two pages.
I very much prefer to use the main display for most of my reading as opposed to the cover display. It has so much more screen real estate to browse and read stuff. However, the cover display is no slouch either. The display is gorgeous. In a pinch, when I am out and about and have a couple of idle minutes to spare, the cover display is perfect for a quick browse, read or look up at information or facts while on the move. The aspect ratio of the cover display is a bit narrow to use comfortable for extended periods, but it serves its purpose well as a backup display without having to fiddle with the phone with two hands so as to unfold the device. This is great when your hands are occupied.
Having said that, apps like YouTube and social media apps like Facebook and Twitter are perfectly usable on such a long and narrow aspect ratio. Reading emails and browsing the web are no terrible either. Fonts are large enough, legible and formatted correctly on such a long and narrow screen. So using these apps frequently and on the cover display poses no problems for me.
The main display is where the fun stuff begins. You can see the various reading apps like Flipboard, Comixology, Kindle and Libby on the front page. I even have various news apps like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker just to name a few proudly on the front page. I frequently access these apps throughout the day, catching up on the news and reading magazines and comics while on my daily morning and evening commute. It is on this main display where reading on this device is such a joy. The experience is magical! The extra screen space allows texts to spread more freely, allowing you to read seamlessly and without interruption. With the addition of pictures, everything is more immersive on a larger display. All the apps that are on my phone right now are formatted beautifully on the foldable device. I did not encounter any major problems with the user interface of any kind on any of the apps that I have been using so far. I was initially worried that some apps will not look very good on such devices, (due to UI problems or formatting issues) but I was proven wrong. Everything looks polished. The foldable phone ecosystem has now reached a certain level of maturity to the point where most apps behave well on such devices.
There are a couple of downsides to using a foldable phone. First, the crease that runs vertically down the display is very prominent. While Samsung has touted that they have made great strides in reducing the level of the crease on the main display, I personally feel that it is still substantial enough that from time to time, you will notice. It just doesn’t go away for me, and I don’t think I will get used to it. This is why sometimes, I enjoy using the cover display more than the main display for certain tasks because of the crease. The cover display is crisp and sharp. And while the main display is similar in that regard, the crease just takes the level of ‘crispness’ to the display down a notch just a little. Nevertheless, despite the prominent crease, the extra screen real estate far makes up for its shortcomings.
Second, the main display is highly reflective. I first noticed it while using it on my morning train commute to work. The morning sun that shines through the windows of the train that ultimately hits the main display can be a pretty jarring experience when you are trying to read the text from the screen. Reading this under bright sunlight or under bright conditions is really not recommended. Everything is reflected and it partially acts like a mirror.
On the bright side, the under-display camera is a lot less prominent now. The pixels that are overlaid on top of the camera are much denser, allowing the camera to be hidden away much better than the Galaxy Fold 3. I barely notice it anymore while watching movies, or reading comics full screen. It has gotten to a point where if you are not actively looking for it, you will definitely not notice it.
Other than that, the device has been performing admirably. It’s such a stellar piece of technology. To be able to use a device with a foldable screen, what a great time to be alive!