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

When I picked up the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, one of the things I was really looking forward to was trying out mobile gaming. I dreamed of playing my favorite games on the 7.6-inch main screen, with smooth 120Hz and excellent performance from the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset. Unfortunately, what I encountered instead, it is disappointment.

That’s why I’m here to warn you if you’re thinking of buying yourself a Galaxy Z Fold 4 because of its perceived gaming capabilities. While the ingredients are there in theory, Samsung’s biggest 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 is that the internal screen has an aspect ratio of 21.6:18, which is almost a square. That’s obviously quite different from average smartphone screens, which tend to offer a widescreen-style 19:9 ratio, and which games are primarily designed for.

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

Two screenshots from Genshin Impact showing the difference between the Galaxy Z Fold 4's internal screen and a regular smartphone screen

Screenshots from Genshin Impact, taken on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 internal display (left) and the Honor 70 (Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

The Z Fold 4’s unusual shape can also make animations look weird. Take for example in Apex Legends, when you activate Octane’s Stim ability. Due to the larger aspect ratio of the Z Fold 4, the stim (power-up) floats in the air rather than seeming to cling to Octane’s mask. It’s not a big deal, but one that undermines the otherwise well-polished battle royale.

Two screenshots from Apex Legends showing the difference between the Galaxy Z Fold 4's internal screen and a regular smartphone screen

Apex Legends screenshots, taken on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 internal display (left) and the Honor 70 (Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

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

There’s always the option to close the phone and play on the Z Fold 4’s exterior screen. But that’s not a foolproof option either. You end up with a windowed view that does not occupy the full screen and does not offer the same vertical resolution as a normal display. That means the already cramped cover screen makes games like Grid: Autosport feel even tighter, as if you were trying to play it through a rear-view mirror.

Two screenshots from Grid Autosport showing the difference between the Galaxy Z Fold 4's exterior screen and a regular smartphone screen

Screenshots from Grid Autosport, taken on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 exterior display (left) and the Honor 70 (Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

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

Unfortunately, I doubt there is a quick fix to this problem. Getting developers to support foldable devices will take time, even for a company as big as Samsung, as they would be better off focusing their resources on regular phones.

Until foldables make up a bigger chunk of active smartphones, mobile gamers are better off looking at mainstream smartphones like the ones on our list of best gaming phones. Although the Z Fold 4 is still the best of the best foldable phones and a brilliant device for more convenient and productive work, it might not be worth it if you’re a heavy gamer.

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