Galaxy Z Flip: Selfie camera, one-handed use, early concerns (ongoing review)

The Galaxy Z Flip is the primary foldable phone to have a glass display screen and a hinge that may arise by itself.


Juan Garzon / CNET

Today is my third day with the Galaxy Z Flip Samsung’s flip phone with a foldable display screen. I’m beginning to really feel much less like I’ve been submerged in a mud bathtub (robust fast ideas, however I do know the feeling goes to take a short while to get used to). Now, the Z Flip is starting to normalize. That’s as a result of utilizing a foldable phone is a completely totally different expertise than what most of us are used to right this moment. Living with a phone that it’s a must to open to make use of requires a readjustment, regardless of how a lot nostalgia you may need for flip telephones of outdated.

Some fast professionals and cons have jumped to the floor instantly, and I’ll share them right here, however Samsung’s extremely thrilling and modern options want time to do them justice. Two options stand out: the foldable glass display screen — a world first — and a hinge that retains the Z Flip’s 6.7-inch display screen standing upright at all kinds of angles so you are able to do all kinds of issues hands-free, like eat soup whereas studying an article, which I did at lunch yesterday.

Some questions I hope to reply over the approaching week: How does the Z Flip evaluate to the competitors, and does it make a profitable case for taking foldable telephones into the mainstream — or at least to the next generation. Does it successfully increase your phone’s display screen (and maybe additionally defend it) whereas protecting the system sufficiently small to hold round with out busting by your pocket?

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Galaxy Z Flip is the primary phone with foldable glass



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The most evident competitors is between the Galaxy Z Flip ($1,380 and £1,300, no Australian pricing but) and Motorola Razr ($1,499), however Samsung’s newest additionally contends with the tablet-sized Galaxy Fold and even bigger Huawei Mate X

So what’s the Z Flip actually like use? Here’s precisely how I really feel about it — and the way my view modifications the extra time I spend with the system. Keep coming again over the following days as this ongoing evaluation evolves right into a last rated evaluation.

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Look at it shimmer in purple. Can’t. Tear. Our. Eyes. Away.


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Quick ideas

  • Using the Z Flip one-handed works, however takes some muscle to flip open this manner. The unlock/energy button is on the highest half of the phone, which is not superb for one-handed use. At least not with my arms.
  • The internal and outer screens are large fingerprint magnets. Because of Samsung’s care warning, I’m a bit of involved about my capacity to maintain the internal display screen clear with a microfiber material. Pressing too exhausting may trigger injury to the glass and parts beneath.
  • I watched a number of hours of video on the Galaxy Z Flip (principally Netflix and YouTube). Playing in default mode, you get thick black bars on both aspect (in panorama), although this additionally provides you a spot to place your hand with out messing with the display screen. You can pinch to zoom, however you will crop off the highest of peoples’ heads.
  • I do not thoughts the skinny plastic case that comes within the field. It’s ok and offers me peace of thoughts if/once I drop the phone. So far, so good.
  • The Z Flip has felt snug and safe in any pocket I’ve put it in, not like the unwieldy Galaxy Note 10 Plus and even the folded-up Fold, each of which have toppled out. Of course, all of it is dependent upon the scale of your pockets.
  • Typing on the smaller display screen has been superb for me. My fingers are additionally on the smaller aspect. I favor Google’s Gboard keyboard over the default.
  • I efficiently jogged and hiked with the Z Flip by cupping the hinge finish in my palm. I did not really feel I used to be going to drop it.

New: Selfie digicam is sweet, however taking selfies is not all the time

I’ve gotten fairly good selfies from the Galaxy Z Flip up to now, particularly when opening the system so it sits up by itself and utilizing the timer so I haven’t got that awkward “selfie arm” that exhibits up within the typical handheld shot. 

What is not so good is making an attempt to take a selfie when the Z Flip is closed. You can double-press the facility button to launch the front-facing digicam when the phone is closed. You know it is prepared for you once you see your self on the tiny 1.1-inch cowl show. Swipe the world to change to a wide-angle selfie, then press the volume-down key to take the shot.

All that’s effectively and good, however the diminutive cowl display screen makes for a brief, pill-shaped viewfinder that is not truly helpful for positioning your self within the bigger context of the picture. It’s additionally so small which you could’t actually see your self.

If you take an image of one other particular person, you’ll be able to press an on-screen digicam management to show that cowl display screen right into a viewfinder for them, however now they’re so removed from the digicam, that it does not do a lot good.

New: The outer display screen wants assist

The selfie viewfinder scenario is the obvious symptom of the Z Flip’s comically small show, however I’m at a little bit of a loss with the remainder of its options.

It’s good for seeing the time and battery share (although I’m going to poke round for an always-on setting). It’s not nearly as good at different issues. You can faucet for Wi-Fit networks and to see missed calls and alerts. For instance, I scrolled to see a Slack notification, tapped it, and noticed my co-worker’s Slack message roll throughout the display screen like a ticker. You can open the phone to open the app.

Motorola is heading in the right direction giving the Razr the flexibility to ship canned good replies and voice messages, which supplies that phone extra it will possibly do from the outer display screen with out having to open it up.

Star characteristic: A phone that may stand by itself

I’m enamored with the Z Flip’s capacity to carry itself upright. While watching video, studying a information story, taking selfies, and even working assessments, propping the Z Flip’s display screen up or turning the entire thing on its aspect meant I did not have to carry it. It made my selfies higher (when utilizing a timer). It’s exceptional what number of angles the hinge will assist earlier than snapping absolutely opened or closed (sure, there are magnets in any respect 4 corners). 

That rigidity means you will must precise a bit extra strain to shut the phone and snap it or pull it open, however I have never felt like I’m straining in opposition to the phone. ), but the result’s which you could prop the Z Flip on its base and tilt the display screen at any variety of angles to take a selfie picture with a good friend — or a portrait shot — watch a video, or do any variety of issues. 

The similar goes for barely bending the phone in half whereas watching a video so it will possibly turn out to be its personal stand. When you bend it, some apps dynamically shift right into a split-screen mode so that you see the motion on the “top” and the controls, or feedback on the “bottom.” Not sufficient apps benefit from the characteristic straight out the gate, nevertheless it’s one I hope to see Google and others embrace for the sheer comfort issue.

Is the Z Flip’s glass display screen actually all that?

Let me simply say for the file that beneath 24 hours right into a evaluation interval, I’m reluctant to make any sweeping or particular statements. These issues want time to cook dinner. A superb evaluation takes a few week of live-in time, and even that typically feels quick, however crucial.

So to reply the query as finest as I can proper now, I feel so! Glass so skinny it will possibly bend is wonderful. Foldable telephones up till now have used a plastic materials to cowl the fragile digital show beneath. Press on it too exhausting, or expose it to tough substances, and it’ll fail, leaving you with out a usable phone.

The Z Flip’s glass display screen is supposed to protect the show from the extra raucous components, whereas additionally offering a smoother floor that extra convincingly conceals that telltale crease the place the display screen bends in half. The Z Flip is topic to Samsung’s one-year guarantee within the occasion of harm, in addition to Samsung’s premier concierge help for foldable phones

That mentioned, each the Z Flip and the Motorola Razr each broke on the first try in CNET’s drop tests (with gadgets we purchased).

The Z Flip’s hinge has nostril hairs, form of

The Galaxy Fold’s first design induced some fairly public embarrassment to Samsung when mud and crumbs simply labored their means into the hinge and beneath the display screen. Those early stories on reviewers’ telephones induced Samsung to delay the Fold’s launch by about 4 months and fully redesign it. The excellent news is that these learnings have been carried into the Z Flip.

The hinge is protected by components like inside vinyl fibers — which sound rather a lot like nostril hairs — to maintain mud out of the mechanism. There are additionally plastic caps bordering the within of the phone on the hinge, which additionally assist rebuff the weather. I run my fingernails across the thick plastic bezel and observe how sealed it feels. On the Galaxy Fold and Motorola Razr, I felt I may pry my fingernail beneath the display screen with out a lot effort.

The safety of those inside fibers solely go up to now. Samsung clearly notes on the phone’s overwrap care directions that it is inclined to mud and water injury, so be alert. There’s the everyday one-year guarantee, and a concierge service for 24/7 customer care.

Read extraGalaxy Z Flip is a beautiful phone, until you touch it

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The purple shade specifically is alluring, however up to now all colours are vulnerable to horrible smudging. 


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Using the cameras

On paper, the Galaxy Z Flip challenges the Motorola Razr with two exterior cameras and one inner sensor. 

  • Z Flip: Dual 12-megapixel sensors (wide-angle, ultrawide-angle) and a 10-megapixel inner digicam
  • Razr: 16-megapixel exterior sensor, 5-megapixel inside digicam (e.g. for initiating video calls)

My colleague Patrick Holland reviewed the Motorola Razr and declared the digicam system to be “just OK.” Meanwhile, I’ve taken some images with the Z Flip that I’m fairly enthusiastic about. I additionally took pictures aspect by aspect on the Razr, however acquired some sudden outcomes, like selfie pictures with drastically totally different white steadiness. I’m going to should look into that.

The Z Flip has a brand new picture mode that it shares with the Galaxy S20 trio of telephones. Called Single Take, it captures as much as 10 totally different nonetheless images and 4 totally different movies. I used to be initially fearful that I’d spend a number of time deleting images I do not like or do not care about, and within the preliminary testing course of, I used to be proper. 

But there are some usable pictures I acquired too, and it did not take a number of time or obsessive focusing to get them, which can be good. Let’s contemplate the jury nonetheless out right here.

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Unboxing Samsung’s $1,380 Galaxy Z Flip



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But what in regards to the crease?!

Look, each foldable phone I’ve seen has a crease. When the sunshine shines immediately on it, you see it. When you run your finger down the seam, you’re feeling it. When an thrilling thriller or documentary film performs, or once you’re sucked into an interesting article or sport, you hardly discover it in any respect.

I do really feel the Z Flip’s glass cowl materials helps decrease the hated crease. So does the truth that the width of the bend is definitely fairly minimal — simply shy of three inches — in comparison with the Galaxy Fold’s 6.34-inch vertical seam.

Battery life up to now

For my last evaluation (which once more, this isn’t), I’m going to guage battery life by two major standards. The first — and most necessary in my thoughts — is real-world testing. The second is a lab check that runs down the battery utilizing particular media.

I’ve been utilizing the Galaxy Note 10 Plus on daily basis for months, and I do know precisely how a lot battery life I must get by a typical day of tethering the phone for 2 hours throughout a working commute, after which all-day wants, together with streaming video on Netflix. I normally use the Note 10 Plus from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. not less than (18 hours), and infrequently have 30% left when I’m accomplished, which I do know will final me hours extra exhausting use.

So far, the Z Flip’s battery story phone confuses me. Power reserves have drained faster than I’d like when doing issues that usually tax a battery: stay maps navigation and streaming video. Standby mode has sipped energy, leaving me with loads of reserves hours after I finished actively utilizing the system. I’m protecting an in depth eye on the scenario, however this one wants time.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Everything that comes within the Z Flip field.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The Z Flip has a 3,300-mAh battery, which is okay, nevertheless it’s break up into two, which does carry my eyebrows in inquiry. Dual batteries are recognized by consultants to be much less environment friendly than a single massive battery cell, which makes me surprise how effectively this battery will maintain up. 

On my first day of testing, the Z Flip’s battery was absolutely charged at 11:18 a.m. At 10:18 p.m. (11 hours later), it tallied in at 33%, and that is after a day of exhausting use and about an hour and a half of streaming video. By 8:30am PT it had drained to 15% in a single day. On my second day, I began at 100% at round 9am. Now at 5:50, it is at 39%. That’s sufficient to final by the evening, however I’ll must recharge once more earlier than I am going out for the day. The Z Flip comes with a 15-watt charger.

What’s subsequent within the Galaxy Z Flip evaluation:

  • Camera, digicam, digicam
  • More hinge assessments
  • Additional battery testing, together with lab outcomes
  • Design: Sexy or truly frumpy?
  • Using mobile funds
  • Quick app shortcuts bar

This story will probably be up to date with extra findings all through the approaching days.

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