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Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 falls flat as a gaming phone — here’s why

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Aizaz khan
Aizaz khan
Aizaz was the first person to get a byline on his blog on technology from his home in Bannu in 2017. Then, he went on to a career in breaking things professionally at my electric sparks which is where he eventually took over the kit as a hardware editor. Today, as the senior editor of hardware for my electric sparks, he spends time reporting about the most recent developments in the hardware industry and technology. If he's not reporting on hardware or electronics, you'll see him trying to be as remote from the world of technology as possible through camping in the wild.

Upon picking up the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, one of the things I was really looking forward to was trying out mobile Gaming. I had dreams of playing my favorite games across the 7.6-inch main display, with 120Hz smoothness and excellent performance from the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset. Unfortunately, what I instead encountered was disappointment.

That’s why I’m here to warn you if you were considering buying yourself a Galaxy Z Fold 4 because of its perceived Gaming abilities. While the ingredients are there in theory, Samsung’s larger foldable isn’t ready to be one of the best Gaming phones.

An image of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 being used to play Grid Autosport
(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

The problem stems from the fact that the inner display has a 21.6:18 aspect ratio, which is almost a square. That’s visibly quite different from average smartphone displays, which tend to offer a widescreen-style 19:9 ratio, and which games are primarily designed for.

You can see how this affects things in these screenshots of Genshin Impact, taken on the inner display of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Honor 70. The zoomed-in look of the Z Fold 4 results in a more limited field of view, which can be changed on the fly but no matter how wide you have your camera set up, you’re less likely to see danger coming from the sides of the screen than on a traditional smartphone display.

Two screenshots of Genshin Impact showing the difference between the Galaxy Z Fold 4's inner display and a regular smartphone screen
Screenshots of Genshin Impact, taken on the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s inner display (left) and the Honor 70 (Image credit: Tom’s Guide

The unusual shape of the Z Fold 4 can also make animations look weird. Take for instance in Apex Legends, when you activate Octane’s Stim ability. Because of the taller aspect ratio of the Z Fold 4, the stim (power up) floats in mid-air rather than appearing to latch onto Octane’s mask. That’s hardly a big deal but one that undermines the otherwise well-polished battle royale.

Two screenshots of Apex Legends showing the difference between the Galaxy Z Fold 4's inner display and a regular smartphone screen
Screenshots of Apex Legends, taken on the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s inner display (left) and the Honor 70 (Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

On the other hand, the increased height could inadvertently prove an unfair advantage for players. You can see more above and below you on the Z Fold 4 than a regular display, which will certainly lead to some lively discussion if you use that to your advantage against other nearby players.

There’s always the option to close the phone and play on the Z Fold 4’s outer display. But that’s not a foolproof option either. You end up with a windowed view that doesn’t take up the full screen and doesn’t offer the same vertical resolution as a normal display. It means that the already narrow cover display makes games like Grid: Autosport look even narrower, like you’re trying to play it through a rear-view mirror.

Two screenshots of Grid Autosport showing the difference between the Galaxy Z Fold 4's outer display and a regular smartphone screen
Screenshots of Grid Autosport, taken on the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s outer display (left) and the Honor 70 (Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

None of the games I tried games are unplayable on the Z Fold 4, and some other titles I don’t play, such as League of Legends: Wild Rift, seem to look fine. But the inconsistency means I won’t be turning back to the Z Fold next time I fancy a mobile Gaming session.

Unfortunately, I doubt there’s going to be a quick fix for this. Getting developers to support foldable devices is going to take time, even when it’s for a company as big as Samsung, since they’re better off focusing their resources on regular phones.

Until foldables make up a larger chunk of active smartphones, mobile gamers are better off looking at traditional smartphones like those on our best Gaming phones list. While the Z Fold 4 remains the best of the best foldable phones, and a brilliant device for more practical and productive work, it may not be worth the splurge if you’re a big gamer.

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