It will come as no surprise that the Z4 looks exactly like a run-of-the-mill budget phone. It’s also rather thick like the Z2, which, combined with its plastic (removable) back panel, makes for a clunky feel in hand. It’s not very heavy, thankfully, despite having a display that is 0.5 inches larger than the Z2’s. But where Samsung has taken a noticeable step down from the Z2 is at the back of the phone.The surprisingly good-looking dotted pattern (especially on the red variant) that we saw on the Z2’s back panel has been replaced by a similar pattern with bigger dots. I’m not sure if this is the result of the increased size of the phone, but at least on the gold variant, it looks rather cheap.
Making matters worse is this new pattern for the area surrounding the camera – it has multiple silver lines running outwards from the camera lens, and even if you switch to the black back panel that comes free in the box, this pattern ensures that the cheap look doesn’t go away. Again, for the higher price tag compared to the Z2, it’s disappointing to see.Like all other Samsung smartphones except the Galaxy S8 and S8+, the Z4 gets the company’s traditional hard home button, which is flanked by menu and back keys. The menu key continues to feel outdated and will be a nuisance from folks used to any recent Android phone, and I’m surprised Samsung hasn’t opted to use a multitasking key to keep the experience similar for those switching from its Android devices to its Tizen phones. Maybe it won’t be too much of a problem for most, as Samsung is targeting first-time smartphone users with Tizen, but it does feel like something from the past when you’re using a Tizen phone.
While the screen size on the Z4 has gone up compared to the Z2, it’s still not as big as the Z3’s 5-inch display. But since the Z4 has a display resolution of 480×800 pixels and has an LCD panel, the viewing experience is rather average. There’s a dull look to everything as if Samsung increased the gamma levels, and colors look boring as well. Pixelation in text is evident thanks to the low resolution. Viewing angles, thankfully, are perfectly fine. The screen’s brightness is also sufficient outside here under the Indian sun, but you have manually increase brightness all the way up to full when you step outside, as there is no auto brightness option.But for a $90 phone, you can’t expect much, unless you consider the fact that the Z3 with its 5-inch AMOLED display is now available at a price lower than the Z4. It doesn’t have Tizen 3.0, but it likely will get it as an update, while its other specs are similar to the Z4’s. Then again, if the pricing history of previous Tizen devices is anything to go by, the Z4’s price is likely to drop down well below the Z3’s in a couple of months. In any case, the phone has a basic display that gets the job done, but it would have been nice to see a slightly higher screen resolution.
With 5-megapixel shooters at the front and back, the Z4 isn’t geared at taking great photos. Let’s talk about the rear camera first. To be fair, the Z4 doesn’t do bad for a sub-$100 phone with a 5MP sensor. Photos have considerable detail despite the low-resolution sensor, and it’s only when you start zooming in on photos does the softness creep in. Detail is higher in subjects captured up close, although the photos do have a drab look, both on the phone’s display and on a monitor. Just look at the photo of the lotus to see what I mean.I was impressed by how the HDR mode works on the Z4. You have to enable it manually, and the phone takes around two seconds to save HDR shots, but the end result manages to be quite good. See the sample of the building against the sky down below; the Z4 doesn’t blow out the clouds while maintaining a fair amount of detail on the building. Of course, low-light is where the phone gives up. Focusing on subjects becomes a time-consuming affair, and even when focus does catch on, there is next to no detail. It’s not surprising, though, as shooting in low light is something almost every budget phone fails at, even with higher-resolution sensors.The selfie camera, meanwhile, is just slightly above average. Outside during the day, while there might not be a lot of detail, photos don’t come out too soft, either. Indoors and in artificial lighting at night, however, fine detail all but disappears. Thankfully, the LED flash at the front (it’s not an actual flash, but a standard light that stays on until you turn it off) manages to make things slightly better as far as detail is concerned. Colors manage to look somewhat appealing as well, and overall, the front camera isn’t bad for the Z4’s asking price.Like Samsung’s higher-end phones, the Z4 offers a few ways of capturing selfies without reaching for the shutter button. There’s voice control (which also works for the rear camera), so you can shout out cheese or smile to take a selfie, followed by gesture control, which allows you to hold out your palm in front of the camera to have your picture taken. You can also enable the option to take selfies by tapping anywhere on the screen. Naturally, beauty mode is included; it’s set at 2 by default, so if you aren’t a fan of artificially cleaned up selfies, it is best to set it down to 0.Samsung has even built in the ability to swipe up and down on the screen to switch between the front and rear camera, another feature that can be seen on its Android devices. Of course, double pressing the home button to launch the camera app works, too. Shooting modes on the rear camera include panorama, beauty face, dream shot, night, continuous shot, picture collage, fast motion, and something called video flip. I’m not sure what video flip does. Videos recorded normally and in video flip mode looked the same to me, and I didn’t spend much time trying to find the difference.Dream shot lets you put the scene you want to capture in and around different subjects. For example, one template puts the photo you take in the middle of the moon, while another makes it look like you’re walking out of a tunnel towards the Taj Mahal. It’s funky stuff, and I’m sure some folks will have fun using the various templates available. Other modes do what their names suggest; night mode is useful in really dark conditions, as it does manage to wring out extra light when you need it.For the front camera, the shooting modes include wide selfie, dream shot, interval shot, picture collage, and video flip. Interval shot is an interesting one here. It takes four selfies at intervals of two seconds, and you can save the best ones of the lot and discard the rest. Meanwhile, wide selfie, which is a panorama mode for the front camera, is useful when you have a group of people that won’t fit in the frame at once.
Performance And Audio Quality
If there’s one highly positive thing about Samsung’s Tizen phones, it’s the performance they offer for the asking price. As with previous devices, there is a slight delay between you tapping on something and the phone responding to it, but Tizen manages to run very smoothly across the user interface and inside apps. Basic games also perform well, and Samsung’s browser does a great job at loading even heavy websites.Audio and call quality is where the Z4 falters. The loudspeaker’s volume doesn’t go very high, which is in stark contrast to the speaker on last year’s Z2. Any slightly noisy environment will have you straining to hear what’s playing on the phone, and getting the earphones (which are also rather basic) out whenever possible is the best way to get around it. The speaker is also tuned towards the higher frequencies (treble); the low and mid frequencies lose punch as a result, and overall, the audio quality over the speakers isn’t great.Worse than the audio performance is the Z4’s call quality. I’m not sure if it was an issue with my unit, but I suffered network issues numerous times. While the phone would show full network strength, it would be impossible to hear what the other person was saying at times. This extended to both ends of the call, and it was plain irritating every time a call would come in. Thankfully, LTE performance was great, and I had no issues with browsing or using other apps over the internet with Wi-Fi turned off. But the poor call quality is a big concern, especially since quite a few folks would tend to buy a Tizen phone as a secondary device for calls.
The Z4’s 2,050 mAh battery is bigger than the Z2’s but smaller than the Z3’s, and in regular usage, it manages to offer nearly two days of battery life with two active SIM cards. Battery life was so stable that I never went in to the battery settings to see battery stats. Using the phone as a mobile hotspot for my second device was the only time that I would need to worry about the battery running out, but at other times, the Z4 keeps at it for at least a day before you need to connect it to the charger. Naturally, Tizen’s lightweight nature and the phone’s meager hardware help with battery endurance, and like the phone’s software performance, battery life is another highlight for Samsung’s newest Tizen device.
|In The Box||Handset, Headset, Travel Adapter, Data Cable, Back Cover, Product User Guide, Battery|
|SIM Type||Dual Sim|
|Hybrid Sim Slot||No|
|Display Size||4.5 inch|
|Resolution||480 x 800 Pixels|
|OS & Processor Features|
|Operating System||Tizen 3.0|
|Processor Type||Spreadtrum Quad Core 1.5GHz|
|Processor Core||Quad Core|
|Primary Clock Speed||1.5 GHz|
|Operating Frequency||GSM - 900, 1800 MHz; WCDMA - B1 (2100), B8 (900) MHz; 4G LTE - B1 (2100), B3 (1800), B5 (850), B8 (900), B40 (2300) MHz|
|Memory & Storage Features|
|Internal Storage||8 GB|
|Expandable Storage||128 GB|
|Supported Memory Card Type||microSD|
|Memory Card Slot Type||Dedicated Slot|
|Call Log Memory||Yes|
|Primary Camera Available||Yes|
|Primary Camera Features||Aperture: f2.2, Auto, Beauty Face, Fast Motion, Interval Shot, Night, Pro|
|Secondary Camera Available||Yes|
|Secondary Camera Features||Aperture: f2.2, Selfie, Wide Selfie|
|Flash||Rear Flash and Front Flash|
|Video Recording Resolution||1280 x 720|
|Frame Rate||30 fps|
|Network Type||4G VOLTE, 3G, 2G|
|Supported Networks||4G VoLTE, 4G LTE|
|Internet Connectivity||4G, 3G, Wi-Fi|
|Wi-Fi Version||802.11 b/g/n (2.4 GHz)|
|Map Support||Google Maps|
|SIM Size||Micro SIM|
|Other Features||Wi-Fi Direct, PC Sync: Smart Switch (PC Version)|
|Audio Formats||MP3, M4A, 3GA, AAC, OGG, OGA, WAV, WMA, AMR, AWB, FLAC|
|Video Formats||MP4, M4V, 3GP, 3G2, ASF, AVI, FLV, MKV|
|Battery & Power Features|
|Battery Capacity||2050 mAh|
|Warranty Summary||Brand Warranty of 1 Year|