Why the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is the best computer I’ve ever used

Samsung is good at making the best phones money can buy. Samsung also does a terrible job of selling these great phones. In fact, the company loves it. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is the best example of how Samsung has failed to tell a great story about a compelling product. Now, I’ve never recommended that someone spend $1,799 on a smartphone unless that person is an enthusiast with deep pockets. I know several such people. But almost every time I see them playing around with a foldable Samsung, I want to scream “you’re timing wrong” like the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

But I remember actually telling a few proud Galaxy Z Fold 4 owners that “you’re not pushing it hard enough.” The Z Fold 4’s folding gimmicks and hidden selfie camera are great, but what really stands out for me is the phone’s ability to transform into an amazing secondary display and a full-fledged computing machine capable of controlling its own peripherals. Because of this, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 has become one of my favorite computers.

Goodbye distraction

Running mobile apps on your PC is a very underrated convenience. Nadeem Sarwar/DigitalTrends

I don’t like to put my phone on Do Not Disturb while I’m at work, mostly for fear of missing a hot Twitter leak that might turn into a timely breaking news story, or missing a food delivery call. and starve. The same goes for important calls and SMS verification codes.

The best way forward for me was the Link to Windows system, which connects the Galaxy Fold 4 to my computer using the Phone Link app. Once logged in, I can answer calls directly from my Windows PC, check notifications and app notifications without having to pick up the phone every time the alert tone goes off.

Pairing is done wirelessly, which is quite convenient. Another bonus is the app’s interface. As soon as you open an app from the virtualized Android UI ported from your phone to your computer, the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s screen goes blank.

So if I run the mobile version of Twitter in the Phone Link app on my desktop, I don’t have to check what’s going on in my phone’s notification panel because it’s a blank slate. I can also run Instagram, WhatsApp, or pretty much any other app in a phone-like vertical window on my computer and keep up with my phone.

Plus, there are some sweet bonuses. For example, all phone notifications are neatly arranged in an expandable dock window in Windows 11. Second, if I want to access media stored on my phone, I no longer need to bother with nearby sharing, Bluetooth, or emailing photos. by post

Nadeem Sarwar/DigitalTrends

The Phone Link app allows you to copy images stored in your phone’s gallery to your computer’s clipboard and paste them into the editing program of your choice. All of this happens so that I never have to touch the Galaxy Z Fold 4 lying around at work.

Of course, it’s not perfect. You can’t completely change app windows on your PC because it’s locked to the same portrait aspect ratio as your phone’s cover screen. In retrospect, it’s probably for the best. You don’t want Twitter’s mobile UI on your laptop to be stretched into a square window. It would look terrible. I also remember scrolling through a non-optimized, heavily stretched version of Instagram on the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s internal display not too long ago. This was the worst Instagram experience I have ever had. Scaling that horror on a 16-inch laptop screen or a nice 32-inch curved monitor would be a nightmare.

I just wish Samsung (and Microsoft) would fix the latency issues between the phone and PC pairing interface.

A tiny secondary display for your computer

Windows 11 Galaxy Z Fold 4.
Nadeem Sarwar/DigitalTrends

Why not turn on Do Not Disturb to keep your phone free from distractions? This is a valid question. Basically, using the Link to Windows feature misses the whole point, as you can still use all of your mobile apps, albeit on a much larger screen.

This is where the Smart View feature comes to the rescue. It’s basically designed to stream media to a larger screen like a TV, but it has a few hidden tricks up its sleeve. One of them is the second screen, which is hidden in the Smart View developer settings and must be activated manually by tapping the “about” page 10 times.

Galaxy Z Fold 4 turns into a secondary Windows PC display when activated. The whole system works just like a secondary monitor does when tethered to a computer, but without the hassle of cables. A Ctrl + K command pulls up a transfer menu where you select your phone, and the Windows desktop appears on the Galaxy Fold 4’s screen.

YouTube works on the Galaxy Z Fold 4.
Nadeem Sarwar/DigitalTrends

Now, I wouldn’t advise assigning your computing duties to the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s external display. Not because it can’t handle the processing load of desktop-class applications, but because the 7.6-inch internal foldable display is too small for heavy computing tasks. Try running something like Excel or Asana and you’ll be fine really you have to close your eyes.

I overcame the limitation in two ways. First, I use a stand with an extendable handle that brings the Galaxy Z Fold 4 much closer to my eyeballs. This way, I can keep track of key communication apps like Teams and Slack without using them. Second, when I’m not working, I mostly use it to control music playback on Spotify and monitor Discord Chat while playing games.

The only downsides are that I can’t get rid of the inbox despite experimenting with screen scaling and resolution numbers using the Galaxy Z Fold 4 as a secondary display. Again, there is a noticeable lag, probably due to a mismatch between the wireless pairing and the screen refresh rate.

Using a mobile desktop computer

Samsung DeX mode.
Nadeem Sarwar/DigitalTrends

I’ve been using tablets extensively as my primary computing device over the past few months, and I’ve found the Android experience on the Galaxy Tab S8 to be more user-friendly than iPadOS. So, it was natural for me to push DeX on a curved 144Hz gaming monitor, and the experience did not disappoint.

All I needed was a USB-C cable to connect the Galaxy Z Fold 4 to the monitor, and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip inside took care of the rest without breaking a sweat. I’ve comfortably launched more than half a dozen apps, including Chrome, with three of them always on-screen, split into equal-sized windows.

I spent three days using the Galaxy Z Fold 4 as a computer driving my external monitor and I didn’t lose my mind. When I told my sister, an AI research candidate, that my ultra-crowded screen was powered by a Galaxy Z Fold via a USB-C cable, she was pleasantly surprised by the phone’s prowess.

Now I love my app windows and keep them nicely spaced across the screen. Surprisingly, DeX offers even more window management tricks than Windows 11. For example, you can stack app windows and adjust their transparency, and even create app pairs for quick access to your work/play duo.

Using DeX Mode on a Windows PC.
Nadeem Sarwar/DigitalTrends

All my phone notifications are easily accessible, as well as quick access buttons for the screenshot tool, quick action toggles, and more. Also, most Windows keyboard shortcuts work fine in DeX.

I also really like the fact that I didn’t have to struggle with switching the volume when using Bluetooth headphones. Again, while my DeX-powered monitor was involved in heavy work, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 was used to find new memes on Reddit, all for research purposes. I will discuss this alleged distraction separately with my editor.

This is one serious workhorse

Nadeem Sarwar/DigitalTrends

At the end of the day, if you’re determined to burn $1,700 or more for a Samsung phone/tablet hybrid, go for it. But just make sure you don’t leave it empty on your desk. Push this foldable instead, because it’s so much more than just a phone.

More specifically, it’s a great secondary display with a powerful processor. It’s a device that can run two and a half operating systems: Windows 11, Android, and DeX. I used the Galaxy Z Fold 4 a lot, less as a phone and more as a mini-tablet, which is the most versatile computer I’ve ever used.

But here are some tips. If you plan to push the Galaxy Fold 4 in the same way as described above, try using a dock and wired peripherals. At first I experimented with wireless keyboards and a mouse, but I noticed some lag. However, the transition to wired peripherals made things easier.

And Samsung? I would appreciate a more detailed brightness control for the DeX screen mirroring mode. Thank you!

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