When Samsung first introduced the Galaxy Fold, its durability was reminiscent of the delicate nature of a Fabergé egg. However, with each passing iteration, Samsung has tirelessly worked to fortify its premier foldable device. The Z Fold 2 saw enhancements in its hinge design, effectively keeping debris out. Progressing, the Z Fold 3 was equipped with IPX8 water resistance and a robust Armor Aluminum Chassis. The most recent evolution, the Z Fold 4, was integrated with a sturdier main display and a new adhesive, ensuring the screen protector remained intact.
This recent addition was critical. As a proud owner of both the Z Fold 2 and Z Fold 3, I observed that the screen protectors began to show wear, bubbling specifically, after just half a year. Given the hefty price tag of $1,800 on the Z Fold 4, coupled with Samsung’s insistence on specialized repair services, this was disconcerting. But my affinity for foldable devices couldn’t resist the allure of the Z Fold 4, and I took the plunge. A year later, here’s my durability verdict.
For context, I’ve always opted for a minimalist approach with my phone, shunning protective cases, skins, or sleeves. Despite this vulnerable state, the Z Fold 4 held its ground against daily wear and tear impressively. Inevitably, some scratches and signs of paint wear appeared, along with minor dents from inadvertent drops or pocket mishaps. However, these were anticipated for a phone without protective gear. Impressively, the integrity of the front and back glass remains largely unscathed.
A Closer Look at the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s Display Durability The flexible main screen of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 remains one of its standout features, and after a year of usage, I’m delighted to report that it has retained its pristine condition. The screen protector, often a point of contention in previous models, remains flush against the screen without any telltale signs of wear, such as dead pixels or other imperfections. Moreover, the hinge, an integral component of the device, continues to operate with robust efficiency. This is commendable, given the challenges I faced with its predecessors.
However, it’s worth noting a slight deviation from perfection. On close inspection, a minute area near the crease at the top of the display seems to be beginning its separation from the screen. While this hasn’t posed any immediate problems, based on previous experiences, this could be a precursor to the notorious screen protector bubbling issue.
Samsung’s claim of integrating a stronger adhesive for the Z Fold 4’s screen protector appears to have made a difference, albeit not a comprehensive solution. One must keep in perspective that this is a singular experience and might not be universally applicable. External factors, like the relatively milder winter this year, can influence the device’s performance, especially when colder temperatures have previously caused disruptions for Z Fold and Z Flip users.
Galaxy Z Fold 4: A Year-Long Durability Analysis in 6 Images
While my Galaxy Z Fold 4 has stood the test of time quite gracefully, the same can’t be said for every device in the Samsung foldable lineup. Take for instance the experience of Engadget’s executive editor, Aaron Souppouris. His Z Flip 4 seemed impeccable for the first nine months of use. However, troubling signs emerged soon after. The screen protector began showing bubble formations, which only grew over time. The situation became so dire that Aaron opted to remove the protector altogether, exposing the device’s delicate flexible display.
Samsung has always been explicit in its directive for Z Flip and Z Fold users: keep the screen protector on. If you happen to remove it, getting it replaced immediately is of paramount importance. The process is relatively straightforward for those in urban areas – a quick visit to a local Best Buy or uBreakiFix can resolve the issue in about 30 minutes. To sweeten the deal, Samsung provides a complimentary screen protector replacement for both the Z Flip and Z Fold series. But for those in more remote locations, this seemingly simple procedure becomes an ordeal. Sending the phone via mail for repair becomes the only option, meaning users could be without their device for weeks. This inconvenience can be a significant deterrent for many potential users.
To Use or Not Use a Screen Protector: The Foldable Phone Dilemma
Conversations with several Galaxy Z Flip and Z Fold users who’ve bravely opted for a ‘naked’ screen suggest that Samsung’s screen protector advisory might just be that – a precaution. Using a foldable sans a screen protector, akin to a traditional smartphone, is certainly possible. But there’s an important distinction: the inherent delicacy of the foldable screens. Crafted mostly from plastic rather than sturdier glass, the vulnerability is palpable. When you factor in the hefty replacement costs, which can surge up to $599 based on the model, Samsung’s protective stance becomes comprehensible. The silver lining? When closed, a foldable’s screen remains guarded, only truly exposed during active usage.
Samsung’s updated adhesive formula, as evidenced by Aaron’s Z Flip experience, seems to offer an extended screen protector life compared to its predecessors. Yet, compared to conventional phones, Samsung’s foldables undeniably require a tad more tender loving care. This inherent fragility might deter potential adopters, which is an understandable sentiment. Fortunately, I have the luxury of proximity to various repair centers, making me more audacious in using my foldable without its protective layer, albeit against recommendations.
In essence, the allure of a foldable phone for me is its duality: a compact device that seamlessly morphs into a tablet-sized screen for an immersive experience, akin to the thrill of driving a convertible. It’s exhilarating, but not without its set of considerations.
For those contemplating a foray into the foldable world, weigh the pros and cons. If you take the plunge, here’s a sage piece of advice: Shield your precious investment with a sturdy case.