Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Two alpha phones battle it out
While the Galaxy Flip series has become the breakout star of Samsung’s large and diverse portfolio of phones, the two best and most capable devices are still the slab Galaxy S22 Ultra, and the large foldable the Galaxy Z Fold 4.
But which phone is the best? We suppose there is no correct answer, as they’re two devices that can do wildly different things. We will, however, try our best to break down the pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses, of each phone, so you can have a clearer picture of which of these two alpha dogs are for you.
Samsung Z Fold 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Specifications
|Specifications||Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4||Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra|
|Dimensions & Weight||
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1||
|RAM & Storage||
|Battery & Charging||
|Security||Side-mounted fingerprint reader||Ultrasonic in-Display fingerprint scanner|
|Audio||Stereo speakers||Stereo speakers|
|Software||One UI 4.1 over Android 12L||One UI 4.1 over Android 12|
|Other Features||Single physical SIM in Korea and US; dual physical SIM in most other regions||Single physical SIM in Korea and US; dual physical SIM in most other regions|
About this article: This comparison was using review units of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy S22 Ultra provided by Samsung. The company did not have any input in this article.
Galaxy Z Fold 4 vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: Design and Hardware
Neither phone should require much description in terms of design and looks, as these designs are now familiar and proven. Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra is basically a 2022 edition of the Galaxy Note, with the latter line’s boxy, rectangular build that stands out from the sea of curvy phones. I have always found this Note design language to look great but don’t feel too comfortable in the hand (the corners are pointy and jab into my palm), and the same can be said for the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
The lack of a camera module — all the camera lenses just protrude from the phone’s body — is a unique look that I personally quite like. The front and back of the phone are glass panels protected by Gorilla Glass Victus, and the S Pen is here, hidden in a slot in the bottom left side of the device.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4, meanwhile, brings back almost the exact same design as the Fold 3, which itself barely changed from the Fold 2. This is an inner foldable with a narrow candybar shape when folded, and a 7.6-inch tablet when opened.
The Fold 4 did get some subtle but crucial refinements. The hinge of the Fold 4 doesn’t protrude from the side as much as in years past. Better yet, Samsung gave those extra precious few millimeters to the display, so the Fold 4’s screen is actually slightly wider, while the overall device dimensions remained identical to the Fold 3. If you want to protect your Fold 4, you’ll have to buy a Fold 4 specific case, as the Fold 3 case sadly doesn’t fit despite the two phones looking very, very similar.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra brings a 6.7-inch, 1440 x 3088 “Dynamic AMOLED 2X” display with support for HDR 10+. If you don’t quite get what all those words and numbers in the last sentence mean, don’t worry — they’re mostly marketing jargon. All you need to know is this display is about the best in the industry and it’s a nearly flawless panel with punchy vibrant colors, razor-sharp details, and an eye-searing maximum brightness of 1,750 nits.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 has two displays: a 7.6-inch, 1812 x 2176 “Foldable Dynamic AMOLED 2X” display. It doesn’t get as bright nor pack as many pixels per inch as the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s screen, but these shortcomings don’t matter much. The Fold 4’s main screen is still bright and sharp enough. This display, of course, can fold in half, which is technically impressive but also leaves a crease that is quite noticeable at off angles.
The Fold 4’s secondary screen, which Samsung calls the “Cover Display,” is 6.2 inches, 904 x 2316 OLED panel with an odd 23.1:9 ratio that makes it tall and narrow. Again, this screen is perfectly fine in terms of brightness, color reproduction, and sharpness. But if you are a display purist, the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s screen is better.
Both phones also support Samsung’s stylus, named S Pen. While the Fold 4’s larger screen makes for a more comfortable canvas on which to sketch or jot notes, the Galaxy S22 Ultra takes the win in this particular category, because the S Pen is included with the phone, and has a place to rest when not in use. With the Fold 4, the S Pen requires a separate purchase and the Fold 4 doesn’t have a place to hold the stylus.
The Fold 4 has a decisive edge in the chipset, not just because, as a newer phone, it benefitted from having access to Qualcomm’s upgraded Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chip, but also because Samsung for some reason has never imposed its Exynos chip on the Fold series. This means that all Galaxy Z Fold 4 are running on Qualcomm silicon.
This isn’t the case with the Galaxy S22 Ultra, which runs on either Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or Exynos 2200 depending on the region. The Exynos chip is, frankly put, not as good as the Snapdragon chip. This means the performance gap between the Fold 4 and an Exynos S22 Ultra is even greater than usual.
Now, we don’t think the Exynos version of the Galaxy S22 Ultra is terrible — it’s still a flagship phone and a powerhouse, but it tends to overheat a bit quicker than the Snapdragon version of the device. Simply put, if you’re going by pure performance power, the Fold 4 is either a bit better than the S22 Ultra (if it’s the Snapdragon version) or quite a bit better.
Other hardware bits
Both phones use the latest UFS 3.1 RAM, with the Fold using exclusively 12GB while the S22 Ultra either 8GB or 12GB. Haptics are strong for both devices. Where the Fold 4 has a decisive edge is in speakers — the Fold 4’s speakers are a bit louder and fuller.
Galaxy Z Fold 4 vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: Cameras
The Galaxy S22 Ultra, despite being over half a year old now, still has Samsung’s ultimate camera system, with the best possible camera hardware that Samsung has to offer. But the Fold 4’s camera system is no slouch, it has Samsung’s second best camera system — the same optics used in the non-Ultra S22 phones.
The two phones, in fact, have the same ultra-wide and 3X zoom lenses. Where the S22 Ultra wins is in the two other lenses: its main camera is a 108MP, f/1.8 shooter compared to the 50MP f/1.8 camera of the Fold 4. While more megapixels doesn’t always mean better photos, Samsung’s Adaptive Pixel technology does imply having double the pixels to play with does help its computational photography. The other major win for S22 Ultra is that it has a 10X Periscope zoom lens, while the Fold 4 doesn’t have one. The latter can still shoot 10X images, they are just digital zoom shots.
Surprisingly, the Fold 4 holds up very well in the main camera category. In most images, I can’t see a difference between the two shots. Ultra-wide shots are, unsurprisingly, virtually identical in everything from field-of-view to dynamic range.
In fact, because the Fold 4 has a newer Qualcomm ISP and perhaps newer Samsung software, its main camera night shots sometimes have more aesthetically pleasing colors, as seen in the samples below. But of course, when we get to 10X zoom, it’s a landslide victory for the S22 Ultra’s Periscope camera.
Below are more samples, generally speaking, as long as you’re not trying to do 10X zoom, the Fold 4 cameras hold up very well against the S22 Ultra. I do notice the S22 Ultra’s main camera has a slightly stronger depth-of-field (bokeh) due to the larger image sensor. The S22 Ultra’s higher resolution (40MP) selfie camera also produces a slightly superior dynamic range than the 10MP shooter in the Fold 4’s outside screen.
Long story short: the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s cameras are still better — but the Fold 4 has really closed the gap this year, and this is great news! If we had done this comparison using Samsung’s 2021 devices, the Galaxy S21 Ultra would have mopped the floor with the Fold 3.
Galaxy Z Fold 4 vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: Software
Both phones run very similar looking software — Samsung’s OneUI over Android, but the Fold 4’s Android version is 12L compared to just the S22 Ultra’s Android 12. This essentially means the Fold 4’s software is more optimized for larger tablet-style screen sizes.
If you use the Fold 4 in folded form, the UI is identical to the S22 Ultra’s UI. But when you unfold the Fold 4, that’s when the Android 12L and extra Samsung software optimization kicks in. The Fold 4 has a more robust multitasking system, taking advantage of that larger display. You can launch an app into a smaller floating window much easier (with just an exaggerated swipe up instead of requiring two taps and a long press like in the S22 Ultra), and the Fold 4 can also run two apps in split-screen while having a third app in a floating window — the S22 Ultra cannot do that.
The Fold 4 also has a new software addition like the taskbar, which is a dock at the bottom of the screen that shows your most recently used and often used apps for quick switching between apps. You can hide the bar if you don’t need it.
Both phones support the S Pen, and functionally, they’re similar. However, the S22 Ultra deserves the win for having the S Pen built in, while the Fold 4 requires a separate purchase.
Galaxy Z Fold 4 vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: Performance and Battery Life
As we covered in the hardware section when it comes to processing power, the Fold 4 is just the clear winner, because it’s running on the newest Qualcomm flagship chip, the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, while the Galaxy S22 Ultra runs on either the older Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or the Exynos 2200.
Don’t get me wrong, the S22 Ultra is still plenty powerful and enough for most people. But if you really want to nitpick and get technical, the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 is more powerful and energy efficient than either chip in the S22 Ultra. If you push the phones heavy enough, the Fold 4 will keep high performance longer, while the S22 Ultra, particularly the Exynos version, has a tendency to throttle performance due to overheating.
The Fold 4 also has louder and fuller speakers, so it’s a better media consumption machine. But the Galaxy S22 Ultra is more durable, without a soft bendy screen, and a superior IP68 water- and dust-resistance.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: Which phone should you buy?
In theory, there are several factors that should matter in your decision-making, considering the fact there’s a $700 price difference between the two, and one phone has a better processor while the other has a significantly better zoom lens. However, we think this ultimately comes down to one simple question: do you want a large screen foldable or not?
If you answered yes — because it makes work easier; because you want a larger canvas for games and movies; because you want to have the coolest tech that will turn heads — then the Fold 4 is likely the only game in town for you; unless you live in China or import phones regularly, in which case, your choices in the foldable space are increased.
In the past, some people have used the high price and supposed fragility as cases against the Fold, but I don’t think these matter as much today. Samsung has insanely good trade-in offers and deals that make buying a foldable very accessible for many working adults living in North America, and to be honest, if you’ve read this far down the article, you clearly are okay with the Fold 4’s price anyway. And with an official water resistance rating and three years of the Fold being used in the real world, we know enough to say that these phones aren’t malfunctioning left and right.
But if you don’t really care for the foldable form factor still, if you don’t see much use for it, or if you really want a good 10X zoom lens, then the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the phone to get.