We finally review Samsung's new and ambitious foldable phone.
Samsung's last Unpacked event brought an incredibly varied and versatile reveal lineup that almost displayed two completely different worlds of technology. The contrast between the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and the Galaxy Z Flip, for example, was intense, showing two distinct visions for the future of tech - two ways to offer consumers value, two ways to push the limits of what is technologically possible. Advertising the aforementioned products side by side was strategically genius and the continuation of the already-existing form factor paired with the idea of a foldable device ends up making so much sense.
Let's back it up a bit though before we throw ourselves into the impending declaration of love towards this device. First and foremost, you'll find expressions, phrases and conclusions based on our first impressions preview of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, that we had then had in our hands for a rather short period of time, in this review.
Now, however, we have had the opportunity to try the phone out for a bit longer, and the conclusion on our side is relatively clear in some ways and quite ambiguous in others. Let us explain.
It's hardly surprising that some are more satisfied with the smartphone's form size increase than others. For example, we have people in both camps at the Gamereactor office; one which thinks that it's nice to be able to keep one's phone in one's pocket while the other would rather see phones increase in size. Samsung's strategy going into its new generation was initially clear. It wanted to give consumers a phone with a familiar form factor but have it be able to expand into a mini-tablet. This was attempted with the Fold. Now, however, the second stage of this technological experimentation is here.
Like the Fold, the Z Flip is a "regular" Galaxy phone if one was to ignore the central extra functionality. It has a 6.7-inch display in 2636x1080p resolution, the standard S10 series' camera setup consisting of a 12-megapixel main lens, and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens, as well as 8GB RAM, a Snapdragon 855 processor, a 3300mAh battery, and it all runs on Android 10 (i.e. UI 2). It's all there and the big sacrifices you make by buying a Motorola Razr, for example, don't seem to apply to the Z Flip. Like the Fold, you get the same specifications as you would with a regular Galaxy phone, this time with some extra functionality added.
Of course, this phone won't compel those who don't like foldable technology. Samsung states that the screen is made of ultra-thin glass and although you can feel it as you slide your fingers across the display, it's still as fragile as before and it doesn't have IP water or dust certification yet. In addition, the price tag is on the higher side, although it actually costs less to buy than an iPhone 11 Pro Max with 512GB of memory.
The build quality is the first thing that one notices when picking up the Z Flip. The metal chassis is sturdy and feels great to hold and the edge around the display means handling the phone make sense. Furthermore, the hinge is more rigid than one would expect and while it requires some force to open and close, the feeling of quality is elevated as a result. However, it should be said that the "fold" in the middle of the screen is more prominent, but one's fingers slide over it just fine which was not the case with the Fold. Just like with a small notch, however, you forget about the fold pretty quickly, especially when you look directly at the screen.
Samsung has, over the last few years especially, really upped its game regarding the production of amazing displays. Z Flip's 6.7-inch AMOLED panel hits a pixel density of 425ppi and we measured over 400 NITS in our own tests. In addition, Samsung still lets users adjust the warmth of the colours. Unfortunately, it's a pity that the option to choose 120Hz is missing here and although it may have been demanding battery-wise, the option would have been nice.
It is not the internal display that has caused controversy among consumers, however, but the external one. Whereas the Fold has a smaller but still functional exterior display, the Z Flip has a very small 1.1-inch, 300x112p Super AMOLED display on the front. The idea here is to let users check the time and get an overview of their notifications, but using it requires you to unlock the phone. The functionality is limited, but at least it's nice to be able to access central information such as the clock without having to open the phone.
We did enjoy the return of this particular form factor. There was a reason why the foldable phone took the world by storm for a number of years before the original iPhone changed the industry completely. Flipping your handset open when taking a call and closing it shut when hanging up is and will always be one of the most satisfying things one can do with a phone, and now that the software is tailor-made for the device functionality is booming. Being able to hold a huge 6.7-inch smartphone in a small pocket is great and while there are still sacrifices associated with owning a foldable device, it's very user-friendly. It can even be charged wirelessly.
If you think that foldable devices are absurd, then the Galaxy Z Flip won't convince you to change your mind, but if you've been waiting for an experimental and user-friendly phone then Samsung has once again delivered a solid piece of consumer electronics and we're once again impressed.