Just two weeks ago, Samsung launched their first clamshell style folding phone the Galaxy Z Flip. I got my hands on it that day and instantly fell in love. The very simple concept of having the full functionality of a regular smartphone, which becomes half its size for portability is just brilliant! That being said, now having spent over a week with the device, I have a few thoughts I’d like to share.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip – Flip away
So let’s start from what is obviously the Galaxy Z Flip’s most distinct feature; the hideaway hinge. Samsung claims to have ‘reengineered’ the hinge (from everything it learnt from the Samsung Galaxy Fold). The phone feels extremely solid while open as well as folded down. I can’t speak of wear and tear, thanks to the short time I’ve had with the phone, but there are no visible traps at the hinge where dust could get through and Samsung has added bristles of sort at the ends of the hinge (on the inside) to protect the internals from fine dust that might get inside over a period of time.
One issue I had with the Samsung Galaxy Fold was that while in the hand, you could feel one side slide over the other thanks to the way the previous hinge was. I had no such issue with the Z Flip. While there is still a tiny gap between the layers, it’s barely visible and the Z Flip stays tightly shut when closed.
If you would like a more in-depth idea of the breakdown of the phone’s hinge mechanics, click here.
Design and Display
With the phone closed, there’s really nothing much to say about the design. Its got a plain glass front and back. The front houses a tiny little 1.1″ Super AMOLED display and the main cameras with a slight camera bump. The glass is Gorilla 6 but if I actually owned one of these I would skin it or case it (Samsung does provide a clear case in the box) for sure.
When opened out, the phone unveils its 6.7″ foldable dynamic AMOLED display. The screen comes with a tall 21.9:9 display ratio and 1080 x 2636 pixels resolution. Surrounding the display are large bezels which are large purely because they also act as bumpers so the screen doesn’t touch when folded down.
Samsung claims this to be the world’s first phone with folding glass or UTG (ultra thin glass). Now while Samsung has repeatedly asserted that the phone has glass, the glass has a soft plastic layer over it for protection. Like the Fold, the Z Flip’s display needs a soft touch and a lot of care. So jamming it in a pocket with keys, cards or coins would be a definite no no.
The tall display form-factor has some perks but also has some downfalls. On one hand, the real estate proves great for reading, chatting, browsing the web and such. On the other hand, even though Samsung claims the screen’s height helps in enjoying 21:9 content, most video content is still 16:9 which make huge black bars on the side while watching a video.
For you crease-hunters, yes there is a crease on the display, but I stand by the same thing I said during my Samsung Fold review, I didn’t even notice it a day into using the device. Should it not be there? Yes it shouldn’t but its not as big a hinderance as most reviewers claim.
On the overall while open the phone feels great in the hand. The curves on the back make for an easy hold and I’m not joking when I say, folded the phone is the greatest fidget spinner ever (try it out at your own risk).
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip – All about smartphone
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip comes powered by the Snapdragon 855+ supported by 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Running Android 10 with Samsung One UI 2.0, the phone is smooth, handles multi-tasking and showed no stutter whatsoever.
Like the Samsung Fold, the Z Flip doesn’t use its folding form as an excuse to not be a highly functional device. At the launch Samsung claimed easy multi-tasking as well as optimizations to the app like the camera to use the long form factor of the display. For example, thanks the the unique hinge of the Z Flip and software optimizations, the phone is its own tripod.
Lay the phone on a surface, angle it the way you want (like you would for a laptop display) and click away!
Now I only used the device for a week, but the phone did surprise me a little with its 3300mAh battery. On mild to heavy use the phone lasted me a whole day. From the time I pulled it off its wireless charger at around 9AM to about 8PM, the phone was used for mails, social media, music as well as a bit of video.
On the camera front, the main camera comes with a dual 12MP (wide,27mm,f/1.8 + ultra-wide,12mm,f/2.2) setup while the inner front camera is a 10MP (f/2.4) snapper. While the front camera is nothing to write home about, the main cameras were a bit of a surprise.
The easiest way I can explain this phone’s camera capabilities is by saying this, it does the job. Photos have that ‘samsung-esque’ saturation but are clear and crisp. Night mode images are clear but lose accuracy to reality as far as colour tones are concerened. Below are a few samples from the rear camera.
One cool little feature that comes with the front 1.1″ display is that it can be used as a viewfinder for selfies. Now initially I presumed this to be a massive gimmick but one you learn to center yourself in the image, its actually quite useful.
Now one very important thing to note with the Z Flip is the 21.9:9 display. A taller than usual display means that most probably most apps have no been optimized for it. For example, Instagram. I had mentioned in my review of the Samsung Fold that there wasn’t (and still isn’t) any optimization for Instagram stories while the phone is opened in its square-ish format.
Similarly in this tall form factor you have to keep in mind that your friends have regular smartphones like iPhones or Samsungs or Huaweis which have displays with a 19.5:9 ratio. So you have to adjust text and images in stories in such a way that they don’t get cut off on their displays. Now this might seem like one small little thing but for such a highly used app, Samsung and Instagram must work together to sort out the same considering various display sizes are about to enter the market thanks to foldable displays.
Samsung Z Flip – Final thoughts
Samsung’s first attempt at clamshell styled folding phones is a great one but does come with the same caveat that the Fold did. It costs a whole lot of money. At Dh5499, the Galaxy Z Flip isn’t pocket change. It comes with a processor that’s a year old and doesn’t pack a punch when specs are seen on paper. So should you be spending so much on this first generation device?
Well, breaking my own rule of never buying first generation devices, I can say yes! The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip is a great phone with a very unique user experience. Its small enough to fit into a small bag or pocket, comes in great colours, definitely makes a statement and most importantly can easily keep up with the requirements on the your daily life. A capable camera, a proven processor and a decent battery all sum up everything you need from a decent smartphone.
If someone has the money, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip is definitely the first folding phone I confidently can tell people to get their hands on.