Galaxy Z Flip, 3 months later: Still love it, still don’t recommend it


Juan Garzon/CNET

Last yr, for those who instructed me about all of the issues that will occur in 2020, I’d shake my head with disbelief. This consists of the truth that I’d just like the Galaxy Z Flip foldable phone. When it launched in February I used to be skeptical as a result of only a yr earlier than, Galaxy Fold reviewer models had various points. Then there was the Motorola Razr. It launched earlier than the Flip and despite the fact that it was costlier and had much less spectacular specs, I found its approach to foldable design more appealing.

Fast ahead to now although, and the Galaxy Z Flip has won me over. I exploit it identical to an everyday phone, which appears foolish to say however one among my largest knocks in opposition to foldable phones up to now is how they do not fairly maintain as much as real-world use. Initially, I used to be protecting concerning the phone; now I’m much less cautious and it is nonetheless holding up.

Most of all, the Galaxy Z Flip is enjoyable and that is one thing I do not say about many phones. Folding and unfolding it’s as pleasant because it was the primary time I did it. Closing the phone shut to finish a name brings me a stage of satisfaction that I do not get from an iPhone 11 Pro or Pixel 4. And opening it with a whip-like flip of my wrist makes me really feel like a badass.

I do know the Galaxy Z Flip is not the right phone or essentially the most highly effective. It would not have the best cameras or battery life. It is laughably costly. And but I am unable to cease utilizing it. After three months, is the Galaxy Z Flip value $1,380? Yes. The excessive worth displays that it’s a phone that may bodily fold in half. Should you pay $1,380 for this phone? No. But for these of you who wish to flirt with the Wild West of mobile phone design, the Z Flip gives a lot to get pleasure from.

The Z Flip’s lovely however cursed show

I really like and hate this show. When it is clear, the tall slim display screen is superb and vibrant. Videos look excellent. The 21.9:9 side ratio can also be actually extensive, so there are black bars on the edges of most movies. I watched widescreen movies like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, although, and so they match the show extremely effectively. 

But from time to time, the plastic polymer coating obtained in the way in which of the display screen’s magnificence, particularly when there have been fingerprints on the display screen which the coating appears to draw endlessly. When I wipe smudges clear with my shirt sleeve, they do not come off as straightforward as a phone with out plastic polymer on it.

Then there’s the crease. Ah, the crease. One factor I observed after three months of utilizing it’s that I bodily really feel the crease always with my fingers. The Z Flip’s crease cuts throughout the center of the display screen and if I scroll by apps like Instagram or Twitter, my finger goes over it like a automobile rolling over a seam in a concrete driveway. But this does not significantly bug me and since it is a horizontal crease as a substitute of the vertical one on the Galaxy Fold, I really see it much less. To me, the crease is like background music at a restaurant. I discover it however overlook about it after awhile. Just like how I obtained used to notches on telephones, I’m now used to the crease.

The Z Flip’s Flex Mode

It brings me an infinite quantity of enjoyment how small the phone is closed. I by no means hesitate to take it with me as a result of it is very pocketable (although the mileage inside girls’s pants pockets could fluctuate). The Z Flip opens up right into a phone as tall because the Galaxy S20 Ultra, albeit a skinner model of that.

I like having to open the phone with a view to use it as a result of I’m extra selective about what I’m doing. The solely time this feels tedious is messaging, I’ve to open the phone to learn a textual content and reply after which I shut it. If I get one other reply, I’ve to start out the method over. I’d be so blissful if I may reply to messages from the skin show even simply with my voice, 

Over time, I ended closing the phone shut as a lot and as a substitute left it open at a 90-degree angle. This made it appear to be a mini laptop and it meant I may maintain a message thread open or mindlessly scroll Instagram or Twitter. Samsung calls this half-fold place Flex Mode, and it’s glorious for filming vertical video too. I truthfully did not anticipate to make use of the Z Flip this a lot as a video digicam however in Flex Mode the phone turns into its personal tripod, which means I had extra choices the place I may set it to get the right shot than an everyday phone.


Angela Lang/CNET

In the subsequent model of the Z Flip, I hope Samsung embraces the video seize side extra. There are rumors that the Galaxy Z Flip 2 will have a third exterior camera. If that seems to be true, there is a chance right here to show the Z Flip into the last word phone for capturing video. Samsung would wish to make the third digicam an identical to the primary one, however rotate it 90 levels (suppose Motorola One Action). That method when the phone is in Flex Mode it may well seize vertical video with the prevailing two cameras and horizontal video with the third digicam.

Flex Mode additionally has a software program element the place apps adapt to the L-shaped place. But only some apps reap the benefits of it, and even then it feels restricted. The Gallery app, as an example, places images on the highest half and navigation controls on the underside. But once I go to edit a photograph, the image strikes from the highest half of the display screen to the middle. Why not maintain it on the high a part of the display screen and use the underside half to make changes?

With Android 10, I can have two apps show in a break up display screen, which I’ve accomplished for Zoom conferences (on the highest) and electronic mail (on the underside). It is a pleasant method to make use of the gadget with out holding it. But once more, performance is proscribed.

One of the issues I get pleasure from most about positioning the Z Flip at completely different angles is that I can match the phone round my face when I’m speaking on a name as a substitute of getting or not it’s flat. It’s so early 2000s and I get pleasure from it virtually as a lot as ending calls by closing the phone shut.

The itsy-bitsy teenie weenie exterior show

The tiny, pill-shaped show on the phone’s exterior is extremely cool and minimalist, however it’s additionally sort of ineffective. I get pleasure from seeing the time and battery standing, and utilizing it to skip tracks in Spotify. But the show turns off too shortly to learn notifications and I am unable to discover a setting to regulate that. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

Taking selfies with it’s an odd expertise too. The show turns into a viewfinder and lets you use the outside cameras for higher-resolution photographs, however the preview on the display screen is deceptive as a result of it would not replicate the precise framing of the picture.

The usefulness of exterior shows on foldable telephones varies. The one on the Galaxy Fold tries to do an excessive amount of and feels cramped. On the opposite hand, the Galaxy Z Flip’s display screen is horribly simplistic. The Motorola Razr hits the candy spot in-between the 2.

While I perceive that phone makers must strike a stability between the dimensions and utility of exterior shows, the one on the Z Flip can nonetheless be improved. Samsung may go the Motorola route and make the display screen a contact bigger, or allow notifications to be displayed longer. It additionally must have some functionality to let customers take primary actions with notifications.


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Dust, particles and sturdiness

When the Z Flip launched, there have been considerations about its versatile show and long-term sturdiness. After three months of standard use, I do not see a single scratch or nick on the show (although once more, there are many smudges). The physique has a tiny scuff from when the phone slid off my desk and onto the ground. While we’re on that topic, I have not dropped the phone however it has dropped by itself a number of instances. The exterior coating is ridiculously slippery and there have been many instances when I’d go away it on a counter or desk and are available again to search out it on the bottom as a result of it slid off. 

When closed, there’s an air hole between the 2 halves of the display screen. The solely draw back I’ve observed is that it lets mud and lint gather on the show. Unlike with evaluation models of the Galaxy Fold, I have not had issues with filth or mud getting beneath the show or into the hinge mechanism.

My largest takeaway on the subject of sturdiness is that I can use it identical to an everyday outdated smartphone. I do not child this phone, or fear that I’d break it. Daily use over months and years would be the true check for its sturdiness.

Last yr’s efficiency is ok in use

In phrases of efficiency, utilizing the Z Flip is like utilizing a Samsung Galaxy S10E. Both aren’t on the high of the Samsung spec heap; that title goes to the equally priced Galaxy S20 Ultra. But I by no means felt restricted by the phone’s efficiency. Animations look easy and apps launch shortly. I do marvel what the lifespan of this phone might be when it comes to software program help, nevertheless.

The battery, which is middling, is probably the most important compromise when in comparison with an everyday phone. I barely get by a day and a late-afternoon cost is typical. It’s not terrible, however it wants a cost by supper time.


Angela Lang/CNET

Galaxy S10 cameras on the Galaxy Z Flip

In phrases of cameras, I will not go in-depth on this (simply check the original review for that info). In quick, the cameras are good, however not nice. It’s primarily the S10 digicam system, which incorporates an ultrawide-angle digicam (with much less decision than the S10) and a most important extensive angle digicam that lacks a dual-aperture. Photo and video picture high quality earns a strong B in comparison with the A+ of the Google Pixel four or iPhone 11 Pro.

In use, the digicam all the time had chops for capturing a photograph or video in any state of affairs. Heck, there’s even evening mode on this pet. Check out the video beneath made completely of footage filmed on the Galaxy Z Flip.

At the top of the day, I believe there’s a lot to admire concerning the Galaxy Z Flip, however for most individuals it’s nonetheless way more of an experiment than a reliable day by day driver. That stated, if you’d like the innovative, warts and all, it is positively value checking it out in a retailer (after we can do this once more) or ready for it to go on sale.


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