Flipping a phone open to answer a call, even if it’s a bank upping your credit limit, never gets old. Samsung has been playing on this very aspiration since the first generation of the Flip series and now its most refined avatar yet, the Flip 4, the novelty factor still makes it alluring. While not much has changed since the Flip 3, for 2022 Samsung did get under the skin of the folding phone and made subtle improvements that may tilt you in its favour.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review
It's flippin' great
Flatter edges all around and a two-tone cover finish instantly makes the Flip 4 feel premium in the hand. The biometric reader embedded in the power button is placed perfectly for a quick glance at the cover screen, or double click to open a full suit of selfie cam options - photo, portrait and video, using both the wide and ultra-wide rear cameras. In fact, if you can manage to compose a shot on the 1.9in cover display, that is. Now with even more options for graphics and customisation, the Super AMOLED cover display has steadily become more functional. Now you can have a quick view calendar, instant voice recorder, weather, music controls, alarms and timer and notifications. Some of which, you can quickly respond to with preset responses of emojis. It’s designed to let you do more with the screen still shut, but dig deeper into any app and it will prompt you to flip the main 6.7in screen open.
Samsung claims the hinge has gotten thinner and but in reality, it's an imperceptible change and more crucially, the resistance it offers is still the same. Which is to say, stiff. Any aspirations you may harbour of impersonating a senior officer on the Starship Enterprise will be thwarted immediately. Once you do open the main screen, you do notice the marginally thinner bezels. What you also notice and feel is the crease along the centre, so Samsung clearly hasn’t yet found a way around this. On extremely bright backgrounds or dark and at most angles, it’s not a visual obstruction at all. But you can’t avoid feeling it if you’re scrolling a lot with your thumb around the central part of the screen.
What the crease does allow for though is perhaps the defining feature of the Galaxy Flip series - Flex Mode. Keep the phone at a 45 or 90-degree angle and it opens up a whole new way of viewing and interacting with supported apps. Multi-tasking is the most common use and with the Edge panel, you can have a split-screen with two apps and a third app window floating on top. But it’s in apps like camera where the hinged design works wonders as a makeshift tripod, helping you get photos from better angles and further distances that add a lot more drama and perspective to your selfies. You could even just hold the Flip on its side in a semi-folded state to shoot video like a camcorder and depending on your grip, this could also add to stability, making the final outcome a lot more viewable.
On other apps such as Gmail, Messages, Facebook and most others, the bottom half converts itself into a trackpad, letting you browse on the Flip 4 like a micro-laptop. It also offers options to take a screenshot, adjust volume and brightness or view all your notifications conveniently without having to stretch your fingers awkwardly. This clearly is the result of a learning curve that Samsung has been on since the first-gen Flip phone. What Samsung should offer as an option though, is rubberised back panels that are anti-slip in nature and that would enhance its Flex features and make the handset itself less prone to sliding down surfaces.
Of course, the biggest updates are under the hood where the processor is now the latest Snapdragon 8+ Gen1 and the battery has seen a slight bump to 3700mAh. Although similar to last year’s model, the camera lenses have been housed in new modules, possibly due to a larger main 12MP sensor that is said to be 65% brighter. Transitioning from the cover screen to the main screen, the Samsung streak of vivid, slightly oversaturated colours remains persistent, but switching to Natural mode in the settings makes it exponentially more viewable. The display itself is smooth with an adaptive refresh rate of 1-120Hz, making doom scrolling endlessly fun…and endless. The 21:9 aspect ratio when held sideways also makes it comparable to a PSP for games, at least in form factor. Even though rivals have started touching 16GB memory, the Flip 4 with its conservative 8GB RAM never felt slow. With Real Racing 3, Lightroom, Gmail, gallery and Netflix all open simultaneously, it never showed any signs of nervousness. What you do notice is the heat build-up that happens very quickly, whether you’re gaming or shooting a video. Within a few minutes, the top half gets uncomfortably warm. This could be a result of Samsung having to use extra sealants around the hinges and panel gaps since this is an IPX8-rated device. It won’t handle dust like a Dyson so it's best to keep it away from desert safaris or Atlantis, but light splashes will be alright.
Camera performance is typically Samsung where the colours are a bit OTT but the new sensor does handle highlights well. Images are sharp and detailed for the most part, but when compared to almost any other phone in its price bracket, will display a white-level imbalance. It has a tendency to overexpose images, but that also makes it more revealing in the darker areas of the image, something that works well for social media. Colours are always a notch more saturated than most other phones in the price range and while maintaining focus well around the centre of the frame, the edges could suffer from distortion.
Selfies are much better resolved via the rear camera when folded, compared to the 10MP main display selfie cam. If you’re a right-handed user, your thumb will most likely cover the front lenses but set it on a timer and it delivers impressive results.
Wireless charging and a more powerful 25W wired charging solution round up the updates and the battery life itself sees a big improvement too, thanks to the 3700mAh battery. A full day of use isn’t a problem at all, especially if you find yourself in scenarios where you don’t need to open the main display often (good luck with that though).
A flip phone is clearly more about the want than the need. And if you’ve already decided your priorities, the Samsung Galaxy Flip 4 is the best of the breed. I do prefer the Motorola Razr for its slicker and easier one-handed clamshell operation, but it is beaten hollow by the Samsung Flip in terms of functionality and performance. Samsung calls this flagship-level performance and although its camera or RAM specs don’t indicate that, in real-world usage, it does keep up with the iPhone 13 Pro and the brands own S22 Plus in terms of tasks and everyday photography. If you already have a Flip 3, the upgrade isn’t worth stretching for, but for previous generation owners or Starship Enterprise applicants, this is the best flip phone on planet earth as of 2022.
If you absolutely must have a flip phone, the Flip 4 is the best of the breed. If you have a Flip 3 already, there’s not much here to force an upgrade.
|1.9in cover/6.7in main
|12MP wide + 12MP ultrawide + 10MP selfie
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1