I’m starting to get excited about smartphones again.
Ever since the Nothing Phone (1) landed on my desk, my eyes have been opened to what’s possible in the budget range, and how the rather silly addition of some fancy LED lights can make a dull rectangle far more interesting.
This week, Samsung unveiled two new phones, and while they certainly don’t sit within the budget category, they really have piqued my interest.
The Galaxy Z Fold4 remains a complete mystery to me in terms of who it’s for, why it exists, and what use cases require such a weird form factor. But Samsung has also launched the Galaxy Z Flip4. Which I immediately pre-ordered.
Samsung is obviously keen to continue peddling the resurgence of the flip phone, and it’s time for me to finally get my hands on one. This is what I’m looking forward to about the Z Flip4 – and where I think I might encounter some trouble.
Galaxy Z Flip4 specs
At £999 for the 128GB version, the Z Flip4 ain’t cheap, but we do appear to get a fair bit for our money.
Samsung’s new flippable features a 6.7” display which can be folded in half to provide a smartphone that is just 71.9mm x 84.9mm when placed into your pocket or bag. That’s tiny – particularly in today’s world of huge smartphones.
That display sounds like quite a performer, too. The 2640 x 1080 FHD+ AMOLED panel will be sharp at 425 ppi and, one would assume, rather buttery smooth thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate.
There’s also a second screen on the outer casing known as the ‘Cover Screen’ which display notifications, the time, and various other useful info. This small but equally sharp display is also put to smart use as a monitor for the selfie cam (which is actually the rear camera).
We get two lenses to play with on the Z Flip4 – a 12MP ultra-wide with an F2.2 aperture and a 12MP standard lens with an F1.8 aperture and optical image stabilisation.
The Z Flip4 is also IPX8 water resistant, and offers fast and reverse wireless charging, 5G connectivity, a fingerprint sensor, and up to 4K video recording at 60 fps.
Sounds like quite a phone, doesn’t it?
What I’m excited about the Z Flip4
I’ve made no secret about my desire for Apple to get a bit fruitier with its smartphones. As much as I love my iPhone 13 mini, it’s still a rectangular slab of aluminium and glass and it is rapidly getting as dull as the Apple Watch.
That’s fine – it has been the most obvious form factor for smartphones for many years. But why should that stop innovation? Why shouldn’t there be a flippable version of every smartphone? And as daft as I think the Z Fold4 is, at least it’s different.
The size afforded by Samsung’s Z Flip4 is what excites me the most. My love of the iPhone 13 mini extends mainly from its convenience. You can use it one-handed without dropping it, and it’s never a burden in your pocket. The Z Flip4 takes that convenience to another level.
Plus, ‘flipping’ a phone open will never get boring, will it?
I also think Samsung should be applauded for the customisation options they’re offering with the Flip4. Although I opted for the standard blue version, you can get very specific with your order if you want to. There is a range of Bespoke Editions to choose from, and you can even create your own custom colour combinations.
In fact, Samsung spends most of the landing page for the Z Flip4 talking about its styling and customisation. They’re clearly proud of it, and they should be – this stuff is important to people and turns tech into something far more interesting and personal.
Something I’m really looking forward to, however, is the options the Flip4 might give me for content creation. I’m now producing more short-form video for platforms like Instagram and TikTok, and the idea of having a phone that effectively has its own tripod built into it thanks to the way it folds is rather enticing.
Oh, and that Cover Screen looks awesome, doesn’t it? Using it as a monitor for selfies is such a smart move.
I do have some concerns, though.
What concerns me about the Z Flip4
Will that flip become annoying? As much as I think I’ll find the gesture satisfying to begin with, there’s a chance it might become rather irritating when I want to quickly check my digital world regularly throughout the day.
There’s the elephant in the room, too – the fold. It remains visible (if you look for it) and there’s a good chance it’s still just as noticeable to the touch when scrolling vertically. Samsung tells us we’ll get at least 200,000 folds out of it before anything bad happens, but even that is a bit of a bummer (it feels like you’re constantly working against a clock of impending doom).
Time will tell if the fold is problematic or as inconsequential as the MacBook notch.
The size of the Flip4 is a bit of a worry, too. As much as I love the idea of having something that small in my pocket, I do wonder if it’s too small. This isn’t a phone that is easily protected by a case, therefore nakedness is the order of the day – and given my history of dropping the iPhone 13 mini, that might result in one or two disasters. We shall see.
Samsung has squeezed a 3,700mAh battery into the Flip4, which is impressive but falls rather short of the batteries that end up in most phones these days. That’s part and parcel of this form factor, but given the high refresh rate screen and the capabilities of the Flip4, I do wonder how much stamina it’ll have.
Lastly, there’s the big one – the chip. If you’ve followed my experience with the S22 Ultra, you’ll know that it is a terrible phone when purchased in the UK, thanks to Samsung’s decision to saddle this region with the Exynos chip.
There’s no note of the exact chip in the Flip4 on Samsung’s website, and I’m nervous that we will, once again, be granted the chip equivalent of a chocolate fireguard in the UK edition of the Flip4. That could ruin a perfectly good device. Again.
Let’s hope that’s not the case.
I needed this. Having missed out on the Z Flip3, I feel that now is the time for me to finally get my hands on a genuinely innovative smartphone.
Will I go beyond New Toy Syndrome with the Flip4? Will it become my long-term daily Android carry? I can’t wait to find out.
There’s another element to consider, which is the Watch5 Pro that’s also heading my way. We have no idea whether or not Samsung’s latest smartwatch will play nicely with other Android phones, therefore if I fall in love with the Watch5 Pro and the Flip4 delivers the best experience for the wearable, I may have no choice but to put those 200,000 folds to the test.