It always takes a few attempts to bring the vision of a new idea and the functionality of its promise into symbiosis. In the tech world, this usually means years of incremental improvement on a device that helps the use and mainstream acceptance of it live up to the lofty pitch. Such is the case with Samsung’s push to deliver foldable smartphones in 2020 to this year’s Galaxy Z Flip4.
For the first time, it really feels like Samsung got its fashionable foldable to a place where it can serve as more than an intriguing flex, delivering the same level or better in terms of everyday use and features as any standard smartphone on the market. There are plenty of bells and whistles unique to the Flip4 that help make it the best entry in the series, but the changes that help make it a wide-spanning option for users are under the hood.
The Flip4 delivers the best battery the series has seen to date. Over the last few weeks I’ve used the Flip4, the battery has lasted most of the day with usual all-day use. It’s honestly the largest step forward between the Flip3 and the Flip4. The slimmer hinge and improved screen also help the phone look sleeker on the outside while further minimizing the crease on the screen when unfolded.
Its Snapdragon 8.1 processor has been optimized to help improve the Flip4’s battery life as well while maintaining display refresh rates and app performance expected from today’s smartphone offerings.
That extends to the performance of its camera array. The Flip4 features a 12 MP wide and 12 MP ultrawide camera on the back that delivers crisp and warm images comparable to its competitors and the 10 MP selfie camera does the same for snapping Instagram-worthy shots of your day or night. Samsung’s efforts to improve camera performance in low light are also present in these phones, though the performance of what it calls “Nightography” feels slightly lower than images captured on the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
In my experience, the Flip4’s design made it easier to take photos, which made me, someone notorious for not taking a lot of photos, actually want to shoot more shots. Samsung’s hands-free photography mode was made for a phone that you can fold and place on a surface, freeing you to frame yourself unencumbered. This also greatly makes video calls a breeze. It basically eliminates the need for a phone stand or tripod in most cases. You can even take selfies while the phone is closed thanks to the viewfinder on the front screen.
Speaking of the front screen, its new widgets and customization tools give it a good bump in quality. Users can easily check their calendar, the weather, set alarms and even respond to text messages with preset emoji and text responses without opening the device. This combined with its portability make it a great on-the-go option that takes up less space in your pocket or bag.
The slimmer width of its 6.7-inch screen makes one-handed use much easier than other smartphones, and most apps adjust to its aspect ratio well. Even if you’re naturally clumsy when using a phone in that fashion, the Gorilla Glass Victus casing stands up to impact.
The only real issue or worry is the screen crease. It is still somewhat magical to unfold the Flip4 and imagine the work put into the mechanisms that allow a smartphone display this good to fold in half, but the crease is still noticeable. It is less eye-catching than in previous models, but it’s still there, which will always engender some thought about its durability and possible screen discoloration over long-term use.
The Flip4 did run hot once during my weeks of use following an extended photo session, but the phone stayed fairly cool to the touch for most of my use.
While the Flip4’s changes are small in theory when compared to the Flip3, those changes help advance the reimagined flip phone to a place where wide adaptation feels far more realistic and viable for the everyday use enjoyed by owners of non-folding smartphones. There is still room for improvement, as always, but the Flip4 fits right into the palm of the current smartphone market right now.