The Foldable to Buy – Review Geek

Date:


Rating:

8/10

?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price:
Starting At $1,000

A Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 open and laying on a pile of rocks
Josh Hendrickson / Review Geek

I always liked the idea of foldable phones but questioned their usefulness. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 changed my mind and convinced me the concept is sound. It’s the foldable that makes sense for most people, and it actually solves a very real problem. If you don’t mind a compromise or two.

Here’s What We Like

  • Fits in the pocket perfectly
  • Great fingerprint sensor
  • Runs like a champ
  • Affordable for a foldable

And What We Don’t

  • Battery life is good but could be better
  • Durability is still a question
  • Cameras could be better

It’s a strange thing the first time you handle a foldable. Naturally, your eyes go to the crease, then the rest of the screen, and you can’t help but fold and unfold the thing over and over just because it’s so strange. But after a while, you get used to the novelty and move on with life through a phone that folds. The real moment the Galaxy Z Flip 4 reveals its superpower beyond novelty is the first time you slide it into your pocket. It’s the phone that finally fits nearly everyone’s pockets.

This isn’t the first Samsung Z Flip, of course. The “4” in the name says as much. But with this latest generation, Samsung has delivered the first foldable that’s good enough to recommend to most people. Though I still have some long-term questions that only time can answer.

Hardware and Design

A Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 open in tent position on a firepit
Josh Hendrickson / Review Geek
  • Unfolded: 167.3 x 73.6 x 7.2 mm
  • Folded: 87.4 x 73.6 x 17.3 mm
  • USB-C, no headphone jack
  • Fingerprint Sensor: Capacitive (side of phone)
  • Networking: 5G, LTE, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
  • Protection: IPX8 water resistance
  • “Ultra Thin Glass” front, glass back, aluminum frame

Have you seen a Samsung phone before? Unfolded from the front, you almost can’t tell the difference between the Z Flip 4 and most Samsung phones. Find another “not curved” model, put them side by side, and they’ll look incredibly similar. That’s not a bad thing, mind you, and of course, the dead giveaway is the crease (we’ll talk about that more later), but Samsung has definitely hit a design language it prefers. If you like the look of Samsung phones, you’ll like the look of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 from the front.

And if you’ve seen the previous Galxy Z Flip 3 in person, you really will be hard-pressed to find a difference. The new model is slightly thinner feeling, thanks to a flatter hinge, and slightly shorter. The aluminum rails moved from matte to glossy, while the glass back moved from glossy to matte. But these are all tweaks; the overall look and feel of the phone remains the same. Again, that’s not bad. Samsung hit on a good design with the Z Flip 3, and refinement for the latest version feels like the right move.

Samsung sent me the phone in Graphite, and while that sounds boring, I like it. It’s understated and professional looking. Fingerprints do tend to show up, though, especially on the more glossy cover screen near the camera. Unfolded, you can tell the back has “two halves,” but they come together to make a nice whole. You’ll, of course, find the two cameras, the flash, and the cover screen.

A Galaxy Z Flip 4 on top of a Galaxy S22 Ultra
Josh Hendrickson / Review Geek

Samsung stuck with USB-C (take some notes, Apple), and that’s smartly placed at the bottom of the phone. If you have fast-charging QI wireless charging pads, the Gaalxy Z Flip 4 will work with them as well, but you have to fold the phone. You can’t just lay it down in the unfolded position. That’s fine, although the phone looks comically small on my long wireless charging pad.

And on the right side of the phone, you’ll find the volume buttons and combination power button/fingerprint sensor. Look, I know that rear fingerprint sensors are the best, but I do love what Samsung did here. Your mileage might vary, but the way I hold my phone, my middle finger rests exactly where the power button is, so unlocking the phone is a cinch. Half the time, I manage to unlock the phone without even thinking about it.

And, of course, the phone folds up. If the Z Fold is a phone that becomes a tablet, the Z Flip is somewhat the opposite. It’s the smartphone that becomes a “flip phone.” Unfolded, it looks like your average candy bar smartphone, but fold it down, and it suddenly it’s half the size, though twice as thick. I love it… and I don’t. I love it because it’s a much more pocketable phone.

If you ever have issues with smartphones peeking out of your pocket, this solves that problem. Even though it’s “thicker” when you fold it down, it’s much more comfortable in the pocket. It takes up so much less room, and while you’ll still know it’s there, you’ll appreciate how little space it occupies when you sit down and don’t feel the corner of a phone poking at you.

A phone screen covered in dust
Look at all that dust. Josh Hendrickson / Review Geek

But that folding comes with a bit of concern. First, there are durability questions, and we’ll touch on that later (let’s call this foreshadowing). But also, you should keep in mind that while the Z Flip 4 is IPX8 rated to withstand being submerged up to 1.5 meters of freshwater for up to 30 minutes, it is in no way dust resistant. And therein is the part I don’t love.

I’m a woodworker, and as a such, I’m often covered in sawdust, and my pockets are somehow always full of dirt, even fresh out of the washing machine. The folding nature of the phone literally traps dirt, dust, and grime between the two halves of the phone. It always looks a bit gross when I open the phone after taking it out of my pocket. And since it’s not dust resistant, I’m waiting to find some spec of sawdust has ruined the phone. That hasn’t happened yet, though, likely thanks to the brush system Samsung added to its hinges a couple of generations ago.

Speaking of the hinge, it feels nice. It has just enough resistance that you can hold it in a semi-folded state for Flex mode, but not so much that you have to yank to open the thing. It’s the kind of resistance that makes you feel like, “this won’t break tomorrow.” As a nail-biter, I always worry about opening and closing devices like this, but it gave me no problems. The Z Flip 4 hinge feels perfect, in my opinion.

Display

A Galaxy Z Flip 4 on a swing
Josh Hendrickson / Review Geek
  • Inner Display: 1080p 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz adaptive refresh rate
  • Cover Display: 1.9-inch Super AMOLED

The Z Flip 4 inner display is a complicated beast in many ways. The sheer tech that goes into “folding glass” is mind-boggling. Of course, this isn’t pure glass, it’s what Samsung calls Ultra-Thin glass, and it’s really a mix of plastic and glass pieces. Overtop of that is a screen protector that you can not remove. Or well, you could, but just the once and you’d break the display. So uh, don’t.

But let’s talk about the crease. It’s definitely there, it’s definitely visible, and it never goes away. Every time someone sees my Z Flip 4, it’s the very first thing they comment on. My wife insists that the crease is getting bigger, but that’s not true. When you turn the display on, it disappears for the most part unless you look at the phone from an angle. But you’ll never not feel it.

Although I haven’t spent much time with the Fold series, I think the feel of the crease is more obvious on the Flip series due to its placement. On a standard smartphone, you’ll find yourself often dragging your finger from the top to the bottom of the screen to scroll content. That means you’ll drag through the crease constantly. It’s not truly a dealbreaker. You get used to it after a while. But thanks to that screen protector, it’ll always feel like plastic.

The 1080p screen is nice and crisp and almost feels higher resolution than it really is. I had to check the specs to realize it wasn’t something closer to the S22 series. Content looks good, even when in the Flex Mode (assuming the app supports it). But despite the promised 1,200 nit brightness, I felt myself craving a brighter screen. I had trouble viewing content outdoors on a sunny day and found myself trying to cast shadows to see better. Indoors it’s fantastic, and at night I found I could dim the display enough to not shine the whole room. I just want a little more brightness on sunny days.

A Galaxy Z Flip 4 cover screen showing flowers
Josh Hendrickson / Review Geek

Of course, the inner display isn’t the only display. On the other side, you’ll find the Cover Display, covered (no pun intended) by Gorilla Glass Victus+. I don’t have any trouble seeing that outdoors, and the Cover Display is a surprisingly useful addition. I do wish it were bigger; at just 1.9-inches you can get much content on it, but it does the trick for checking notifications, time, and weather. However, that small size made dismissing notifications a little more trouble than it was worth.

You can customize the Cover Display with watch faces, similar to the Galaxy Watch. One option is to use an “emoji character” (think Memoji). You can create your own emoji, naturally, and that led to a bit of disappointment. The initial pickings show a family of emoji people all playing together, and I thought you could customize them to match your family. I didn’t figure out that you can’t until after I created an emoji for myself, my wife, and my two children. Oh well.

Another big miss on the Cover Display comes in the form of payment options. Let’s be clear, Samsung Wallet is fine, but Google Wallet is better. I’d rather use the latter any day of the week. Unfortunately, while you can use Samsung Wallet from the Cover Display with the phone closed, you can’t do the same with Google Wallet. You’ll have to open the phone and pull up Google Wallet the “old-fashioned” way. I get why Samsung favors its own services, but I wish it didn’t.

Software and Performance

  • Android 12L (One UI 4.1.1)
  • Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
  • 8GB RAM + 128GB, 256GB or 512GB storage

Out of the box, the Z Flip 4 runs Android 12L, with Samsung’s One UI 4.1.1. The L in Android 12L denotes a version dedicated to foldables and tablets. I wouldn’t worry too much about that, as Android 13 seems to have rolled the “L” back into the main series. Do you like Samsung’s take on Android? That’s what you get here, in all its glory. And it’s mostly good.

I’ll admit that years ago, I disliked Samsung’s flavor of Android (back when it was TouchWiz), but as of late, it’s much better. Samsung’s stylings still come off as a bit candy-colored, with its bright and whimsical choices. But it looks closer to stock Android than phones of yesteryear. Also to my liking is Samsung’s launcher, which seems to have liberally borrowed from Microsoft’s android Launcher entry. That’s fine with me, I like Microsoft Launcher, and this is one less app to install and futz with.

But I’m going to take a moment to complain about the ads. At least once a day, I’ve received a notification only to find it’s some ad from Samsung. It’s frustrating and annoying. And yes, you can turn it off, but you shouldn’t have to. This is a $1,000 smartphone, a flagship device, not a cheap Roku stick that needs ads to justify its low cost. Believe it or not, the problem used to be worse, but it’s still bad enough to put a bad taste in my mouth.

Setting that aside, the Z Flip 4 is well served by its Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor. Between that and the 8 GBs of RAM (regardless of storage size), I can’t think of a single time I saw the phone stutter. You can play games on this, though again, you’ll feel crease when you do, and it’ll keep up just fine. I spent a little too much time getting in Rocket League Sideswipe hours minutes on this phone.

Never mind that the phone is foldable, the Z Flip 4 has admirable performance for any modern smartphone. It should considering the price, but all too often, you lose out on power in favor of a gimmick feature (hello Nothing Phone 1), and I’m glad to say that’s not the case here. Both in that folding isn’t a gimmick, and you’ll have plenty of power to spare.

Cameras

  • Main Cameras: 12MP (wide), 12MP (ultrawide)
  • Selfie Camera: 10MP

One area you do have to compromise with the Z Flip 4, though, is cameras. Here you get just two, the main camera and an ultrawide. Forget about zooming on things even close by, let alone space zoom. Without a telescopic option, you’ll be into digital crop territory sooner than later, and trust me, that never works out.

Overall, the cameras are fine. With this generation, Samsung stepped up to a 12MP option (same as last year) with a better sensor, while the ultrawide is effectively the same. If cameras are your number one priority, you probably shouldn’t buy a foldable. You’ll want a higher-end set of cameras for that, as found on the S22 Ultra. But I think for most people, the images you’ll get out of the Z Flip 4 are good enough. They’ll post on Facebook and Instagram just fine, so long as you’re close enough to the subject and there’s decent lighting.

The selfie camera falls into the same category of “good enough” as well. I do wish Samsung would step that up a little more, as it produces some pretty flat and washed pictures right now. But it does the trick in a pinch. As a nice bonus, whether you’re taking photos or video, the Flex Mode option is pretty handy.

You can partially fold the phone and basically turn it into its own tripod. I took a quick video of some woodworking cuts you can see above. The first cut is with the selfie camera; the second slow-mo section is with the main camera. I don’t recommend filming yourself woodworking, though, given the lack of dust resistance.

Battery Life

  • Battery: 3,700mAh
  • Wired Charging Speed: 25 watts
  • Wireless Charging: Fast Wireless Charging 2.0
  • Reverse Wireless Charging: Yes

A common complaint with the previous Z Flip came in the form of battery life. Samsung seems to have heard those complaints because, in addition to upgrading to a newer, more power-efficient processor (time makes that easy), the company also slipped in a bigger 3,700mAh battery.

Between the two, any battery issues of the past are essentially solved. I’ve put the phone through its paces for the past few weeks, and I’m happy to say it made it through a day with room to spare. It was common to plop my phone down at the end of a long day with 20% or more charge left. That’s pretty good, considering I have a tendency to wake up at 7:30 AM and go to bed at 1 AM.

But it’s not the best in a class by any means. Other phones can and do last longer on a single charge. Of course, none of those fold. It’s an improvement over the previous generation, but if you’re a hardcore screen user, you might drain the batter before the day is through.

Thankfully in that scenario, the phone does have fast wired and wireless charging. As long as you have the brick and the puck to support them, because, of course, they don’t come in the box. That’s the way of things now, alas.

Should You Buy The Galaxy Z Flip 4?

A Galaxy Z Flip 4 folded and on top of a Galaxy S22 Ultra
Josh Hendrickson / Review Geek

Chances are, if you’re deadset against foldables, nothing I say or do could convince you otherwise. And that’s a perfectly valid opinion. But if you like the idea of foldables and have held out so far because it feels like new tech, I’m happy to say the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is good enough to be worthy of your consideration.

That isn’t to say it’s perfect. But at $999, it’s nowhere near the high cost of the Z Fold, and most of the specs live up to the flagship price. Yes, I’d like better cameras, and if you need the best of the best, this isn’t the phone for you. But they’re certainly passable.

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 does feel like an iteration of the phone that came before it, but that’s for good reason. Samsung already found the winning formula, and a major change would be a mistake at this point. Now it’s about perfecting what’s there, and this is a step closer. There are still some areas to improve upon, but that’s true of every phone ever.

A broken back of a Galaxy Z Flip 4
Josh Hendrickson / Review Geek

Durability, however, is a question to consider. Samsung says the foldable’s display can withstand “over 200,000 folds before failing.” At 100 folds a day, that should last five years. Should be the keyword, as we’ve seen reports of Samsung foldables breaking after just a year or the permanent screen protector bubbling up. You should definitely get insurance for the phone, all things considered. And a case for that matter.

When I went out to take just “a few more final photos,” I ended up dropping my Z Flip 4 onto concrete and a pebble. It cracked the back glass in an instant. Now to be clear, I think every glass phone would have cracked from this fall—it hit a corner on concrete. But that’s all the more reason to get a case anytime you own a glass phone, and I’ve linked a few down below.

But despite all that, I can say with confidence that this is the best foldable phone for most people. Foldables are mainstream now, and Samsung led the way.

Rating:
8/10

Price:
Starting At $1,000

Here’s What We Like

  • Fits in the pocket perfectly
  • Great fingerprint sensor
  • Runs like a champ
  • Affordable for a foldable

And What We Don’t

  • Battery life is good but could be better
  • Durability is still a question
  • Cameras could be better





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About Post Author

Suraj Sewatkar
Suraj Sewatkarhttp://sktodaysnews.com
Hi !!! This is Suraj Sewatkar, a blogger by hobby and HR by profession. I like to learn new things and go to new places. I am a website developer and have developed a number of websites and blogs on Blogger as well as WordPress as well with 3 years of experience in the HR field

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