Galaxy Z Flip hands-on review: Samsung has outdone itself
We finally got to go hands-on with Samsung’s most highly anticipated smartphone in recent memory today. The Galaxy Z Flip is Samsung’s second foldable smartphone and its first in the clamshell form factor. There’s a lot of excitement for this phone and we’re sure that many of you are dying to hear what’s it like in real life. So without further ado, here’s our Galaxy Z Flip hands-on review.
Design and feel
Since the form factor is different, there’s no drawing comparison here with the original Galaxy Fold. They’re poles apart from each other. My initial thought when I held the Galaxy Z Flip in my hand for the first time was just how well made it feels. Not for a moment was there a concern in the back of my mind that I’ll have to baby this phone. It’s well put together with a robust hinge that takes care of the foldable bit.
Much like the old flip phones, the Galaxy Z Flip folds down a very compact size so it’s going to be very easy to carry it around in your pocket. Flip it open and you’ve got a gorgeous 6.7-inch OLED display staring back at you, more on that in a bit. There’s really not much going on at the back of the device. It has a dual camera system positioned up top next to the tiny 1.1-inch Super AMOLED cover display. We particularly love how the color extends to the frame as well to allow for a more aesthetically pleasing finish. All of the buttons are placed on the right side of the frame with the power button also having an integrated fingerprint sensor.
The Mirror Black and Mirror Purple finishes are exceptional. Light bounces off of them beautifully, making them appear even more striking in real life. Yes, they’re fingerprint magnets though, so you may want to keep a microfiber cloth handy. Some markets are also going to get a Mirror Gold color which simply looks amazing. There was an audible gasp during Unpacked when Samsung showed the Galaxy Z Flip in Mirror Gold for the first time. It looks really beautiful.
Samsung wants to make the Galaxy Fold’s initial hinge troubles a distant memory because the new hinge for the Galaxy Z Flip is on another level. Dubbed Hideaway Hinge, it has reworked internals for more durability. There’s even a new nylon fiber shield that will prevent dust and grime from damaging the hinge.
Flex Mode is made possible by this hinge. It will let you flip open the display at a 90-degree angle and then set it down. It basically becomes its own table-top tripod, set it up to record makeup tutorial, watch a YouTube video while cooking in the kitchen, or take a selfie from across the room. This is one of the reasons why there’s noticeable rigidity to the hinge but it doesn’t take away from the experience if you’d much rather fully flip open the display in one quick motion.
What struck us the most was just how well built this hinge feels. It doesn’t creak, there’s no wiggling and it folds and unfolds very smoothly. It snaps shut with a reassuring solidity. We’ll have to see how it holds up long-term but the first impressions are very promising.
The Galaxy Z Flip is truly one of kind as it uses ultra-thin glass for the display and not plastic like the Galaxy Fold. There’s little risk of puncturing it with your fingernail, you can get overzealous with your tapping and it’s probably going to come out just fine. The 6.7-inch FHD+ 21.9:9 aspect ratio display feels much more durable because of this glass. Durability remains a concern for foldable smartphones and the Galaxy Z Flip certainly takes a step in the right direction.
Yes, there’s a slight crease and you will notice it when you have the phone in Flex Mode. That’s to be expected but it’s certainly not something that’s going to take away from the experience. The display wraps around the front camera punch hole all the way to the slim bezels. The colors are nice and bright with great viewing angles. Samsung’s OLED displays hardly disappoint. There’s little to complain about and with the added protection from the ultra-thin glass, the possibility of this device running into the same problems as the Galaxy Fold in its early days is non-existent. You can’t peel off the top layer, because there is no top layer to peel off. Samsung says that this glass is going to last for 200,000 folds, so basically, it’s set for a couple of years at the very least.
Samsung has gone with a cute little 1.1-inch cover display for the outside. It’s going to show you the time and battery status as well as snippets of incoming notifications. What’s interesting is that Samsung made it possible to use this display as a viewfinder for taking selfies with the rear camera. The size is obviously quite small but it’s going to be enough to frame pictures correctly. We’ve been asking for this feature for the original Galaxy Fold since the day it came out and hopefully, it’s going to happen in the future.
There was limited opportunity to test the Galaxy Z Flip’s camera capabilities at Unpacked. It’s not packing the same camera tech as the Galaxy S20. The 12-megapixel f/1.8 primary and 12-megapixel ultra-wide f/2.2 hardware has been used on other Samsung phones already. There’s also a 10-megapixel selfie camera. Samsung has included its new Single Take photo mode which captures a moment using all cameras and a variety of modes to give you a selection of results to choose from. We’ll be sure to put the camera through its paces during our full Galaxy Z Flip review. Just know that it packs enough of a punch to keep you on top of your Instagram game.
The Galaxy Z Flip does come with last year’s hardware. There’s a Snapdragon 855+ processor under the hood with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. That being said, it didn’t really feel like a slouch. The units that we tested felt snappy with no visible stutter. Naturally, they weren’t filled up with apps and content that an average user accumulates during use. The Snapdragon 855+ is still a flagship processor and slightly faster than the Snapdragon 855 on the Note 10+, so there’s little to worry about in the performance department.
There’s a combined 3,300mAh of battery capacity with support for wireless charging and even Wireless PowerShare. It will be interesting to see if the battery is capable enough of getting the device through a full day’s worth of heavy use. We’ll bring you the results in our full review.
The initial response to the Galaxy Z Flip has been overwhelmingly positive and with good reason. It really does feel like a solid device, not a concept that was forced into reality. It’s a refinement of the classic flip phone form factor with advanced materials and technology. It’s a testament to Samsung’s engineering prowess and we have very high hopes for it.
Samsung is positioning it as a very fashionable device and it certainly looks the part. It has great potential of becoming the must-have fashion accessory for 2020. Expect a marketing blitz from Samsung around the same lines in the coming weeks.
The Galaxy Z Flip feels “complete” right out the gate, a feeling that was certainly missing from our initial interaction with the Galaxy Fold. It really doesn’t make you wonder if the device will be able to withstand the rigors of daily use. That’s saying something when the foldable era is just starting out. There’s nothing else on the market that comes close to the Galaxy Z Flip and it might stay this way for quite some time. The Galaxy Z Flip goes on sale in the United States and South Korea day after tomorrow. This is what you get your significant other for Valentine’s Day.