Galaxy Z Flip review: Samsung’s killer feature is its freestanding screen

The Galaxy Z Flip is the most effective foldable phone I’ve ever used. Considering that is nonetheless a brand new area with solely the Motorola Razr, Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X for competing gadgets you should buy at present, that may not sound like a lot. Don’t consider it. Samsung has performed most issues proper with the Z Flip’s design, making a foldable phone that is enjoyable to wield and sensible sufficient for on a regular basis life. 

Like

  • Sits open for selfies and video calls
  • Foldable glass display
  • Camera high quality
  • Ultraportable

Don’t Like

  • Expensive
  • Overly small outer show
  • Susceptible to break

With the Galaxy Z Flip, Samsung proves past a shadow of a doubt that foldable phones have a proper to exist as extra than simply experimental toys. That’s fairly a powerful feat for Samsung’s second stab at foldables, particularly after its first try had such a disastrous start. To see Samsung pivot so shortly to a design that is sturdier, recognizable as a phone and easy to make use of is price acknowledging. 

I’ve shortly fallen in love with the Galaxy Z Flip — notably the way in which the 6.7-inch glass screen stands upright by itself — however Samsung nonetheless has work to do. At $1,380 (£1,300), the Z Flip is wildly costly for the specs, and past the attain of most budgets. The bendable glass show is fragile and the phone is weak to water and mud. Battery life is just so-so, and its 1.1-inch outer display is silly small. 

Most folks should not run out and purchase the Galaxy Z Flip. While it is adequate to depend on in the true world, foldable telephones stay largely showpieces for early adopters and hobbyists. You’ll get extra digital camera choices, longer battery life and a bona fide water-resistance score from different flagship phones (I check the $1,400 Galaxy S20 Ultra subsequent). 

That mentioned, for those who’re debating between this and the Motorola Razr, get the Z Flip with out compunction. I additionally choose it to the Galaxy Fold, though I’d actually simply look forward to the Fold 2 if you need a tablet-size foldable.

Overall, Samsung has performed a wonderful job bringing thrilling improvements to the Galaxy Z Flip which are easy to know and surprisingly straightforward to make use of. I count on that the following technology will likely be even higher.

You’re staring this phone’s finest characteristic proper within the face.


Juan Garzon/CNET

What I really like concerning the Galaxy Z Flip

  • A cohesive gadget that is straightforward to select up and use instantly.
  • Closed, it feels sturdy and compact. Gripping it by the hinge finish feels safe.
  • The display stays open by itself at all kinds of angles (extra on this beneath).
  • The foldable glass display — a world’s first — helps maintain the dreaded crease to a minimal. There’s no harm up to now to the one I’ve purchased.
  • Camera high quality is robust on all three sensors (see breakout).
  • Solid specs embody a Snapdragon 855 Plus processor, 256GB of storage, quick charging and reverse wi-fi charging (all specs beneath).
  • A swipe-out display is useful for launching favourite apps and split-screen mode, particularly throughout one-handed use.
  • It comes with a free plastic case for additional peace of thoughts.
  • Android 10 and Samsung One UI 2 maintain the software program present.

What I do not like concerning the Galaxy Z Flip

  • It’s costly: $1,380 or £1,300 (about AU$2,500 transformed from the UK value).
  • Fingerprint smudges accumulate quickly on all surfaces.
  • The cowl show is just too small to be helpful. Samsung missed a large alternative (extra beneath).
  • Battery life is a tad disappointing.
  • Many movies and video games do not match completely into the 21.9:9 display dimensions, leading to black aspect bars.
  • The fingerprint reader can be extra conveniently positioned on the decrease half — a minimum of for my arms.
  • It’s weak to break from publicity to water and mud (you get a one-year guarantee and 24/7 customer service).
  • Since it’s important to unfold it first, it takes longer to do most issues than on a regular phone. I’ve missed a number of digital camera moments in consequence. (On the flip aspect, I just like the finality of snapping it closed.) 
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

The Galaxy Z Flip is extremely transportable and simple to hold round.


Jason Hiner/CNET

Flex Mode is the Galaxy Z Flip’s killer characteristic

Open the Galaxy Z Flip from both aspect and let go. The half you pulled up hasn’t snapped again down into closed place or slowly arched again to completely open. Chances are, it is stayed precisely the place it’s.

The hinge’s freestanding capacity is one thing Samsung referred to as Flex Mode, and it is the Z Flip’s most original, attention-grabbing and efficient characteristic by far as a result of it allows you to work together with the phone hands-free. 

I did not should invent causes to maintain the display propped open. That occurred naturally. Sometimes I used to be taking a selfie with out awkwardly getting my arm in the way in which (the wide-angle lens and timer labored nice). Or studying an article or scrolling by means of my inbox or social media feeds whereas consuming lunch. Any time I used to be bored with holding the phone and wished to set it down. Making a video name. Making a speakerphone name from the sofa. Even bending the phone within the center in panorama mode to observe a video solo or to point out a buddy.

Using Flex Mode does include a number of trade-offs I’m keen to make. It winds up bisecting the display, so the half you are interacting with is comparatively small, usually lower than Four inches diagonally. The digital camera app is dynamic sufficient to readjust to Flex Mode, with different apps to return, Samsung says, however for me, the comfort of going hands-free outweighed my different objections. It’s simply that good to make use of the Z Flip as its personal stand. 

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You can watch a video or learn a narrative hands-free. With break up display mode on (pictured), you are able to do each without delay.


Patrick Holland/CNET

On foldables with bigger screens, you may envision an actual profit to utilizing one half as a digital keyboard and the opposite because the show display.

The solely fast draw back I can see to Flex Mode is {that a} stiffer hinge means it takes just a little extra pressure to flick the phone open when it is closed, particularly for those who’re attempting to impress somebody together with your gunslinger expertise. I’m curious (and maybe just a little involved) to see if the hinge will loosen over time and lose a few of that self-supporting functionality, slumping in some way.

Tiny cowl show is the Z Flip’s worst trait

The Galaxy Z Flip is so good that my disappointment with the phone’s outer display pangs me all of the extra. Samsung gave the foldable flip phone a tiny pill-shaped show subsequent to the primary cameras. 

Unfortunately, it is too small, squat and slim to actually do something significant with it, and that is one thing the Razr can brag about. For all its foibles, that phone’s 2.7-inch exterior show is giant sufficient to view notifications and  will allow you to reply to them with voice dictation and canned messages. 

On the Galaxy Z Flip, you may double-tap to see the time, date and battery share. You’ll additionally see the battery share whereas charging up. Swipe the duvet display to see app icons that signify notifications. Tap one to see the topic or learn a message on a scrolling ticker. You might have to open the phone to really see what is going on on. It’s not totally helpful.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

You cannot do a lot with that tiny outer display.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung additionally envisions this mini window as a viewfinder for you and others. The drawback is you could’t actually place your self throughout the picture, and the window is just too small to see what you actually appear like. I do like that you simply get entry to the 2 principal 12-megapixel cameras that manner, and you could swipe on the outer display to swap between commonplace and ultrawide-angle sensors.

In one selfie I took with the phone closed (the one picture sort you may take this manner), a buddy and I seemed centered as I held the phone at arm’s size. It’s solely when checking within the picture gallery that I observed a 3rd particular person in our group had simply as a lot display share, an individual who we did not see within the viewfinder.

Outer screens are tough for foldable telephones. They suck up battery reserves and inner area. If they’re irregularly formed, just like the Fold’s too-tall-and-narrow 4.6-inch display, you begin to resent the cramped quarters that make typing and utilizing apps really feel unnatural. 

To me, this design is clearly Samsung compromising usability for battery life and to undercut the Razr’s value. I do not suppose that is a profitable technique in the long run.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

You get twin 12-megapixel cameras right here and a 10-megapixel shooter inside.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Camera high quality places Motorola Razr to disgrace

I really feel for the Motorola Razr. The idea is terrific, however the execution pales compared to the Galaxy Z Flip. That’s particularly obvious within the digital camera class.

Samsung’s 12-megapixel wide-angle and ultrawide-angle sensors take higher photographs and offer you extra choices than the Razr’s single 16-megapixel digital camera, particularly with low gentle pictures. Inside, the Z Flip has a 10-megapixel shooter that is additionally good for selfies (like once you need extra management over the shot) and for video calls. 

The Razr has a 5-megapixel inside digital camera that the corporate admits is de facto simply there to start out a video name earlier than closing the phone and switching to the higher digital camera, however smaller outdoors display. Stay tuned for a deep dive comparability between the Motorola Razr and Galaxy Z Flip cameras.

The web has authorized of the photographs I’ve been posting on Twitter from the Galaxy Z Flip. Keep in thoughts it is basically utilizing the Galaxy S10’s digital camera sensors. Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S20 telephones all use a minimum of one 12-megapixel digital camera apiece as a part of their arrays, however these lean on bigger sensors that Samsung says have been utterly redesigned and significantly improved.

Single Take digital camera mode is extra bother than it is price

One digital camera characteristic that the Galaxy Z Flip and Galaxy S20 telephones could have in widespread is Single Take, a brand new pictures mode that may take as much as 10 photographs and 4 movies when you choose it after which press and maintain the report button. The mode makes use of a number of cameras and settings to shortly get you selection you could select from. 

I attempted this out a number of occasions, and… it is simply not for me. Single Take works finest throughout motion pictures or once you’re photographing a gaggle of associates hanging out, however I by no means obtained a photograph or video that I favored higher than one I’d take myself. Some of that most likely comes all the way down to me and my Type A persona that desires to compose the shot to my specs. Some may come all the way down to my reluctance to kind by means of the haul and delete what I do not need.

The concept right here is comfort, and I may see myself utilizing it if I solely had one likelihood to seize a second. I may additionally see myself including the Live Focus portrait mode to my menu bar as a substitute.

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That attractive purple end can get gunked up with fingerprints quick.


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Galaxy Z Flip battery life is simply so-so

What good is a $1,400 phone if it will possibly’t take you thru the day? Thankfully, that is not the Galaxy Z Flip’s drawback for me most days. With a mixed capability of three,300 mAh unfold throughout two battery cells, it offers you extra juice than the Razr (2,510 mAh). In my real-world checks, it is lasted from the time I get up till night, once I can simply plug it in once more.

On my heaviest use days with hotspotting, streaming video and maps navigation, it ran about 13 hours, lasting in a single day on lighter days. In CNET’s lab check to simulate combined real-world use, it lasted 12 hours. In our battery drain check utilizing looping video (and airplane mode), the outcome was 15 hours of run time on a single cost. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip hinge

How lengthy with the Galaxy Z Flip final? That is determined by the display and hinge.


Jason Hiner/CNET

That’s on the decrease finish of the spectrum for many telephones, and a far cry from the Galaxy Note ($800 at Amazon) 10, which simply takes me from early morning to the wee hours with out concern. I would not plan a late evening with the Galaxy Z Flip with out bringing a charger together with me or topping it up first. 

For reference, the Galaxy S20 battery begins at 4,000 mAh and goes as much as 5,000 on the Ultra, a phone that prices $20 greater than the Z Flip. Battery life is clearly a problem for foldable telephones, and one which I hope Samsung and others are engaged on for future generations.

Will the Z Flip’s glass display final?

Longevity is one thing we will not check on a product every week out of the field, however it’s one thing we’re maintaining a tally of with foldable telephones — on our overview items and on others’ reviews. Samsung says that the Z Flip’s display and hinge will maintain up for 200,000 flips, a quantity it estimates will take 5 years to attain throughout typical use. That’s the identical score because the Galaxy Fold.

Galaxy Z Flip vs. Motorola Razr

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip Motorola Razr
Display dimension, decision Internal: 6.7-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED; 2,636×1,080-pixels / External: 1.1-inch Super AMOLED; 300×112-pixels Internal: 6.2-inch, foldable pOLED; 2,142x876p pixels (21:9) / External: 2.7-inch glass OLED, 800×600-pixels (4:3)
Pixel density 425ppi (inner) / 303ppi (exterior) 373ppi (inner display)
Dimensions (Inches) Folded: 2.99×3.44×0.62 ~0.68 in / Unfolded: 2.99×6.59×0.27 ~0.28 in Unfolded: 6.8×2.8×0.28 in / Folded: 3.7×2.8×0.55 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) Folded: 73.6×87.4×15.4 ~17.Three mm / Unfolded: 73.6×167.3×6.9 ~7.2 mm Unfolded: 172x72x6.9mm / Folded: 94x72x14mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 6.46 oz; 183g 7.2 oz; 205g
Mobile software program Android 10 Android 9 Pie
Camera 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (extremely wide-angle) 16-megapixel exterior (f/1.7, twin pixel AF), 5-megapixel inner
Front-facing digital camera 10-megapixel Same as principal 16-megapixel exterior
Video seize 4K (HDR 10+) 4K
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ (64-bit octa-core) Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 (2.2GHz, octa-core)
Storage 256GB 128GB
RAM 8GB 6GB
Expandable storage None None
Battery 3,300 mAh 2,510 mAh
Fingerprint sensor Power button Below display
Connector USB-C USB-C
Headphone jack No None
Special options Foldable show; wi-fi PowerShare; wi-fi charging; quick charging Foldable show, eSIM, Motorola gestures, splashproof
Price off-contract (USD) $1,380 $1,499
Price (GBP) £1,300 Converts to about £1,170
Price (AUD) UK value converts to about AU$2,500 Converts to about AU$2,185

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