This year, we have a total of two flip phones with a bendable display in the market. We have the Motorola RAZR and now the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip. It has only been six months since the Samsung Galaxy Fold (review) was released into the market.
The question is – what improvements did Samsung bring to the new Galaxy Z Flip, and who is this flip phone for?
Today’s review will not be following our usual style because this is a special device that is out of its league.
The whole design of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
In terms of the whole design language, it’s not that different from the Galaxy Fold. However, one main selling point of the Galaxy Z Flip is the new color. The one we have here is the Mirror Black color, It is also available in its iconic Mirror Purple and the Mirror Gold color options too.
Ergonomically speaking, the Galaxy Z Flip does need a bit of improvement – particularly on the button placement. For this device in particular, both the power and volume rockers are placed at the top-half, right side of the device. This creates two issues.
Firstly, the buttons are way too high to reach with just one hand. Secondly, taking a screenshot is quite difficult to be done with just one hand.
To remedy these two issues, move the buttons to the bottom half of the phone and either move the volume or the power button to the left side. Then, it’ll be a much more ergonomic device.
It was originally said that the Galaxy Z Flip is aimed towards fashionistas while combining both technology and style into one magnificent flipping smartphone. The question is – how does the flip feel like?
The new hinge
When I first started using the Galaxy Z Flip, the hinge does feel very similar to the Galaxy Fold in terms of the smoothness and tension. Then I remembered – the Galaxy Z Flip has a new hinge that locks itself when it’s within a certain range of angles.
This new hinge means that the phone will not flop around when it’s half-opened. This is a fantastic hinge design, too.
The ability for the hinge to lock in certain angles makes it practical for voice calls and also to take pictures in Pro mode as it can become a “tripod” on its own.
However, clamping the phone shut requires a lot more effort as the phone does not shut itself due to its resistance.
I think many other reviews are complaining that the tiny little display at the front of the Galaxy Z Flip is too tiny and unusable. Yes – I agree. Taking selfies using that tiny display is pretty much a guessing game since display couldn’t display the viewfinder completely due to size constraints. Notifications and messages couldn’t be viewed at a glance too, as we need to wait for the texts to scroll.
But, this might sound a little weird. While using phones with the typical glass slab design, I always mindlessly fidget about and scroll Facebook or Twitter while holding it. However, when I was using the Galaxy Z Flip, I did not mindlessly scroll through social media apps at all.
I only flipped open the phone if I want to check notifications or messages. And when I flipped it close, I never flipped it out again if I do not have a purpose to do so.
The Galaxy Z Flip has a tiny little screen at the front. This is a 1.1-inch Super AMOLED display is useful for looking at what notifications you have – and maybe as a guide for taking selfies. I do think that the Motorola RAZR’s cover display is more practical.
Once unfolded – or unflipped – Galaxy Z Flip’s 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED screen looks magnificent as always – but that 21.9:9 aspect ratio makes this the longest phone I’ve used thus far. It’s even wider than my ultra-wide monitor!
Playing games on this display is a little weird. Games like Honkai Impact 3, PUBG Mobile, and COD Mobile scales and fills up the screen entirely and beautifully.
However, Mario Kart Tour, a game that scales excellently with different displays thus far, does not fully populate the screen.
Yeah. As proven by Jerry Rig Everything, the glass does fold. There is a layer of polymer above the bendable glass layer. The polymer layer is made to further provide strength to the ultra-thin layer of bendable glass so that we users don’t break it.
When I touched the screen for the first time, I immediately realized that the screen is much flatter and smoother than the Galaxy Fold. One easy way to depict this is by looking at the reflections on the screen. Because the Galaxy Fold does not have the ultra-thin glass and only has the polymer layer, the reflections look wavy.
The Galaxy Z Flip does have the wavy reflections as well – but it is way less compared to the Fold. This is because of the ultra-thin layer of glass does provide a “platform” of flatness for the polymer to sit on.
What about that crease?
Even with an ultra-thin layer of glass, the crease is still there. Just like the Galaxy Fold, the user will look directly at the screen, and the hinge is invisible. For everyone else who is looking at the Galaxy Z Flip at an angle will definitely see the crease.
Both the hinge and crease have changed direction – from vertical to horizontal. Throughout my time with the Galaxy Z Flip, I can feel the crease more often since we usually swipe from top to bottom and back to the top. I usually only touch the bottom half of the phone anyway – so I rarely swipe across the crease anyway.
Samsung removed the Edge Panel feature in favor of this new multitasking shortcut bar. Since the phone is split in half in the middle, you can open one app at the top and another at the bottom. However, not all apps can support this split-screen view – like Facebook Messenger.
The whole split-screen view is something that I’ll rarely use anyway, but it is truly handy whenever I need to use two apps at once.
Of course – the cameras! The Galaxy Z Flip has a total of two cameras at “rear-facing” cameras and a selfie camera:
- Dual rear-facing cameras
- Main: 12MP f/1.8 with DPAF; OIS
- Ultra-wide angle: 12MP f/2.2
- 10MP f/2.4 selfie camera
It can take some pretty pictures for sure – and especially beautiful selfies since we can use the rear-facing camera to take selfies – although it’s a bit finicky since the viewfinder doesn’t show the entire frame of the shot.
To have a look at all the pictures, please watch our video at the top of this review.
Nothing much to talk about here. The Galax Z Flip comes with this list of specs:
- 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED screen
- 2636×1080 pixels in resolution
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ chipset
- 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM
- 256GB of UFS 3.0 storage
- Android 10 with Samsung One UI 2.1
- 3,300mAh battery
- 15W fast charging
Obviously, it’s going to perform very well – so here are some benchmarks just for the sake of being a completionist.
With that tiny 3,300mAh battery, the overall battery life of the Galaxy Z Flip feels like… the Xiaomi Mi 9. Both of these phones have very similar specs and similar battery life too. The Galaxy Z Flip’s battery does last for a day under my typical use case, but anything more intensive will drain the battery quickly.
It’s quite unfortunate that the Galaxy Z Flip only supports up to 15W fast charging. It’s still faster than the usual 10W charger, but it takes a really long time to charge up that 3,300mAh battery.
Wrapping up the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip review
This is an unusual yet familiar device. It’s unusual because it’s a modern smartphone that can fold in half so that it occupies a smaller footprint. It’s familiar because it’s essentially a flip phone.
I do like the hinge that Samsung made for the Galaxy Z Flip as it adds very practical features into the device – which is something I wish they’ll implement into the next Galaxy Fold as well. And that ultra-thin glass for its foldable screen certainly improves on the user experience.
However, there are a few things Samsung can improve for the next generation of the Galaxy Z Flip – particularly on the cover display and also the button placement. Other than that, the Galaxy Z Flip is an eye-catching device. Everyone who saw me use the Galaxy Z Flip instantly said that they like the form factor – which is surprising to me.
I don’t think the price matters for the Galaxy Z Flip. It’s a one-of-a-kind device that you can buy now and use it every day as your daily driver. If you like flip phones, then that RM5,888 price tag is justifiable.