Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
Samsung’s first foldable phone, the Galaxy Fold, had a phone-to-tablet design. Its second, the Galaxy Z Flip, takes on the old-school flip phone paradigm. As a gadget freak, I dashed to be an early adopter. Since many were concerned of the phone’s durability over prolonged usage, here’s my take after 100 days with the Galaxy Z Flip.
When the Z Flip is in its folded form, it feels very snug in the palm even if it is thick. In fact, it feels like holding a rather exquisite (and large) powder compact. Its front is mostly empty real estate, save for a tiny 1.1-inch 300 x 112 pixels resolution Super AMOLED Cover Display on the bottom left, and a dual-camera module on the bottom right. The front display is so tiny that it can be mistaken for not being touch responsive, but users can actually interact with it.
Some may argue, why not just utilize a larger, more useful display, like the Motorola Razr, but I think its large reflective real estate makes the Galaxy Z Flip look classier and less of a tech gadget.
One interesting thing about Z Flip is that its fingerprint scanner is located on the power button (like the Galaxy S10e). It may seem like a step back from an in-display fingerprint scanner, but ergonomically, it makes sense as you’ll have to hold the sides of the phone to flip open anyway.
On the top of the folded Z Flip is a new hideaway hinge. According to Samsung, it was redesigned to strengthen durability and allows the Z Flip to be held open at any angle, minimizing dust. I’ve never used the Galaxy Fold, so I am unable to quantify the differences between them. That said, after using the Z Flip for a couple of months, I have little worry about the hinge despite heavy usage.
When unfolded, the Z Flip hosts a rather oblong-shaped 6.7-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED Infinity Flex display. It has an odd display ratio, at 21.9:9. While suitable for anamorphic movie formats, I got amusing results for practically everything else, one being a seemingly long web browsing view (a positive outcome), another being cropped sides when viewing Instagram Stories (which is not so great).
One side effect of having a foldable screen is having a slight crease along the folding line. Whether it bothers you depends on your ability to ignore it.
While the Z Flip’s Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) display is proclaimed to be tougher than the Galaxy Fold, it still has some ways to go. I tried using one hand to flick open the Z Flip and actually managed to leave a slight indentation on the screen; a painful lesson. However, clasping it shut with one hand is possible, and is very satisfying to do.
One major use for the Z Flip’s foldability is the ability for an app to host two contextually different actions within the same screen. Samsung calls this Flex Mode, though there aren’t many apps supporting Flex Mode yet.
What really shines is Flex Mode’s close counterpart: Multi-Active Window. Thanks to the Z Flip’s long-ish screen, it facilitates apps to display substantially more in split view mode compared to other Android phones. For example, using a video call app on the top window while saving the bottom view for email or other productivity tasks. The ability to lay the bottom half of the phone flat further facilitates the split-screen activity with ease.
The Z Flip supports Samsung Pay, and can be setup to pay for public transport with the phone closed. However, for regular purchases, you will still need to flip open the phone. The only way to continuously make regular purchases when the Z Flip is closed is, ironically, to use Google Pay.
At its back is a dual-camera system, both using 12MP sensors, one which is a standard wide-angle lens with OIS and the other has an ultra-wide-angle lens to help you nail a tight shot or landscapes at ease.
The front-facing hole-punch camera on the main display is a rather ordinary 10MP. This underscores why the Z Flip’s selfie mode is so useful, where you can use the rear cameras to easily snap a selfie, though you have to contend with using the tiny front-facing Cover Screen as a viewfinder. One cool feature is the ability of the Z Flip to prop itself up. Just find a flat surface, open the Z Flip partially, and it becomes its own stand without further assistance.
The quality of the dual-rear camera system is not in the same playing field as the new Galaxy S20 series though. That is not to say the photo quality is shabby. Just don’t expect the bells and whistles of newer flagships.
The Galaxy Z Flip is powered by a Snapdragon 855 Plus with 8GB RAM. While it’s not in the same class as Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 865, it was the flagship chip of 2019. The Z Flip packs a 3,300mAh battery, with about 400 minutes of run time. This is well below the 569 minutes clocked by a Galaxy S20 that packs a 4,000mAh battery.
It must be stressed that this phone is not meant for people looking for flagship specs and over-the-top features. While it’s much cheaper than the Galaxy Fold, the Galaxy Z Flip’s $1,998 is still a costly affair. Fundamentally, the Galaxy Z Flip is about embracing the cool factor, being fashionable and having fun.
Before my Samsung Galaxy Z Flip ownership, I didn’t have high expectations handling a foldable-screen phone as the idea of such a device just seemed too fragile. After 100 days, my Galaxy Z Flip seems to be rather sturdy, has kept up well with me, and I expect it to continue for some time to come.
AT A GLANCE
Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus
8GB / 256GB
Rear: Dual 12MP Front: 10MP
Main: 6.7-inch 1080 x 2636 pixels Dynamic AMOLED infinity Flex Sub: 1.1-inch 112 x 300 pixels
The Galaxy Z Flip is about embracing the cool factor, being fashionable and having fun.