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Here’s how Samsung could improve the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Fold 4

Samsung's August 10 'Unpacked' event can have an outsized influence on the foldable smartphone market.

Samsung Galaxy fold, galaxy Z Fold 4, Galaxy Z fLIP 4, Galaxy Flip, samsung Unpacked 2022, galaxy z flip 3, samsung foldable phonesSamsung is the single-largest and perhaps the most influential company in the foldable phone space. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Samsung’s latest Unpacked event, scheduled for August 10, has piqued industry-wide interest because the Korean tech giant is expected to announce updates to its segment-leading foldable phones. An estimated 7.1 million foldable phones were shipped in 2021, according to International Data Corporation (IDC). Considering that over 1.39 billion smartphones were shipped last year, that 7.1 million figure may look minuscule. But from a value perspective these phones, all of which command a much higher price point, have a bigger share in the market with Samsung being the biggest stakeholder.

Last year’s Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Z Fold 3 were both well received owing to the improvements made to the hardware and software. With the Z Flip 4 and Fold 4 up for release soon, trade pundits and insiders are anticipating a much bigger launch as well as wide distribution of the upcoming foldable phones beyond urban areas.

Ahead of the release of the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Fold 4, I list five changes I hope to see in the new versions.

Lower prices

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 was launched at Rs 1,49,999 in India, whereas the Galaxy Z Flip 3 started at Rs 84,999. Sure, the Flip 3 is one of the most affordable foldable smartphones on the market and a starting price of Rs 1,49,999  for the Fold 3 is actually lower than what Samsung was charging for the Fold 2. But the sticker price of foldable phones continues to be higher than smartphones with traditional form factors — in some cases by a large margin. For example, I can buy a Galaxy S22+ and Apple iPad mini 6 and still have the cash to buy a pair of AirPods 3 or Galaxy Buds 2. To drive up the demand for foldable phones, the entry point has to be low enough to excite more buyers.

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No one is expecting foldable phones to cost the same as regular smartphones- after all, this phone form factor is still in an experimental stage. Also, you can’t simply shake up the market with a product just because it is more expensive and has a different form factor. What Samsung can do is create multiple pricing tiers within its foldable lineup or at least keep selling older versions at a reduced cost. Once the Z Flip 4 is officially announced, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 could potentially drop to Rs 49,990 and be a conversation starter. At some point, foldables will have to shift towards entry-level models.

I hope to see a bigger cover display on the next-generation Galaxy Z Flip smartphone. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Make them slimmer and lighter

I recently used the Galaxy Z Fold 3 for over a week, although my experience with the device was fantastic, I wished it to be slimmer, lighter and as portable as other smartphones in the market. It’s completely pocketable – no second thoughts about it – but it was a bit of a squeeze to fit it in the jeans pocket. I expect the Fold 4 to shave off the thickness and get off a few grams, so that I do not feel awkward using the device.

Another thing I’d like to see improved on the Fold 4 is the phone’s front screen. The outer 6.2-inch screen is quite narrow and hard to use in many cases. When I am on the go and need to respond to a text, I would be using the phone’s front-screen, right? During my time with Fold 3, I struggled to type a text message on the front screen. On multiple occasions, I had to stop midway and unfold the phone to do something. With a wider front screen, the Fold 4 would be much more useful.

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I find the S-Pen really useful. The other day I got a call to sign an embargoed document. I quickly e-signed the document and sent it in seconds. But the S-Pen has to be handier on the next Fold, maybe even attach to it magnetically which I know would be a design nightmare. Samsung could at least rework the Flip Cover and make it better at storing the stylus.

And for the Galaxy Z Flip 4, one improvement that will enhance the experience of the flip-style smartphone is the larger cover screen. The existing Flip 3 has a Super AMOLED screen that measures 1.9-inches and while it’s useful for music, weather and alarms, I’d want a slightly larger cover screen to read messages in full detail.

I firmly believe that foldable phones would make great portable gaming devices. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Software improvements

The Fold 3, as well as the Flip 3, are unique devices, with top-notch hardware and I give credit to Samsung for trying out something new. But the software leaves a lot to be desired. Sure, the Flex mode is enticing and so is the ability to run multiple apps at once on the Fold 3. But I expect more from a phone that costs this much.

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I think Samsung should learn from Microsoft how it gets the multitasking almost right on the Surface Duo 2. For example, on Duo 2, Outlook spans both windows, with the main message on the right and a menu on the right. This opens up a new way to use apps. I wish Samsung would add a feature on the Fold 4 that extends one app across both screens.

Another great example is reading an eBook across two screens as it feels more natural. I think gaming is another domain that can shine on foldable devices, but Samsung hasn’t been able to push this yet on the Fold 3. On the Surface Duo 2, certain titles in Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass can be played in a similar way as Nintendo 3DS XL. As I have said a few times now, having a foldable display massively changes the ways in which you can multitask on your device.

It would be great to see Samsung taking a page out of Microsoft’s book and improve multitasking on the Galaxy Z Fold 4. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Better battery life

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 used a smaller battery and this combined with its 4G LTE connectivity resulted in the phone barely making it to the end of the day. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 too suffered from underwhelming battery life. I love using the Fold 3 on its own in my hands as a pure tablet but the battery life is nowhere close to the iPad mini 6. I am hoping to see vastly improved battery backup on both Fold 4 and Flip 4. Although this is a big component, I highly doubt Samsung would pack in bigger batteries in the upcoming foldable devices. The improvement in battery life is most likely to come from Qualcomm’s flagship, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor.

I am expecting a beefed-up camera system on both Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Fold 4. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Improved cameras

The Samsung Galaxy Fold 3 camera system is impressive, but it is no Galaxy S when it comes to clicks. Things are not much different with Flip 3 either. There is nothing wrong with the camera systems on both devices, it’s just that they lack the pro-grade cameras I expect from top-tier devices. Thankfully, rumours suggest a drastic improvement being made to the camera system on the Fold 4, at least. I am also hoping Samsung would improve the selfie camera on the Fold 4. The 4MP sensor it uses now is hidden under the OLED display and comes with its own disadvantages.

First published on: 07-08-2022 at 10:14:08 am
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