Even though Samsung is on its fourth generation of the form factor, foldable smartphones still seem like a novel concept. Even though foldables are far from perfect, each new version brings the biggest problems one step closer to being resolved. Samsung has released a foldable that is actually ready for the majority of customers with the Galaxy Z Flip 4, mostly because it has addressed the most obvious problem.
The Galaxy Z Flip 4 may be summed up very briefly by saying that it is an extremely iterative version of the most well-known and adored foldable smartphone to date, the Galaxy Z Flip 3.
We are therefore adopting a new strategy for our review format this year. Instead of analyzing each component of the Flip 4, we’ll focus on the key areas for improvement, a few things that have changed since last year, what still requires better, and whether or not this gadget is genuinely worthwhile to purchase and for whom.
WTF IS NEW? THE HARDWARE HAS SLIGHT CHANGES TO THE BASIC DESIGN. Samsung followed the tried-and-true strategy developed on the Flip 3 for the Galaxy Z Flip 4, and it continues to provide fantastic results. The Flip 4’s cover screen and cameras are located on the outside of the device in a black glossy region. The primary hue of the phone provides a sharp contrast. This year, all of the glass’ hues are matte, which is a welcome improvement given that the Flip 3’s glossy colors were infamous for slipping off of surfaces.
Beyond aesthetics, the Flip’s concept involves folding a full-size smartphone in half. Why? Smaller sizes are more portable and might be especially useful for people who have tiny or nonexistent pockets. The size has important advantages, as I mentioned in our Flip 3 review from last year.
With this gadget, I could carry a full-sized smartphone without it taking up most of the space in my pocket. Even when it’s folded, I could still comfortably fit my car key fob or the charging case for my headphones in my pocket. I simply can’t do it with other smartphones that have a 6.7-inch display. The phone is thicker than typical when folded, measuring over 15mm, but this is unquestionably a worthwhile trade-off.
Samsung made a wise decision to continue with this design, however some of the adjustments haven’t worked out too well for me after using the phone for a week.
For instance, while the flatter frame is beautiful, it makes it more difficult to pick up and even more so to open the phone (more on that later). In the end, the matte glass is a plus, but the texture is slick on fabric and I’ve almost let the phone slip out of my pocket a few times. For sure, I suggest getting a case for that phone.
USABLE BATTERY LIFE, BUT NOT OUTSTANDING Although we had a great experience with the Galaxy Z Flip 3 last year, the battery life ultimately proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. It most strongly reminded us of the Google Pixel 4, a device with a bad reputation for battery life. The Flip 3 was possibly much worse. At the time, I stated:
My active use decreased over the course of the next days, but for a $1,000 smartphone in 2021, it is still an abhorrently short battery life. In fact, it’s remarkably similar to what I was receiving from the Pixel 4, a gadget that essentially failed due to its infamously short battery life.
The Galaxy Z Flip 4 thankfully fixes the battery life issues.
Two major adjustments are substantially responsible for the battery life improvements. One difference is that the battery has increased by 400 mAh overall, or 15%, compared to the Flip 3. That’s definitely a major concern, but the efficiency of the chipset appears to be the more important factor in this situation. Gains for the Flip 4 are substantially more than 15%. It nearly seems like the battery life has doubled to me.
On the Galaxy Z Flip 4, I would typically spend my day using social media heavily, monitoring my email, texting, watching videos, and taking pictures. It doesn’t require much use, but it’s enough to test the battery. My typical day would last from 7:30 in the morning to 11:00 at night, and on most days the Flip 4 would have been used for three to five hours of the day’s total active time (screen-on time). Even while it’s still not great, it’s still very much an improvement over the previous year. Additionally, I have been utilizing the default settings, including 120Hz for the internal display, and that is without any alterations.
Naturally, that still puts the Flip 4 in a difficult situation. Although battery life on Samsung’s popular foldable is no longer a significant drawback, it is still insufficient compared to the majority of conventional smartphones. Fortunately, considering the form factor, that won’t really matter. By virtue of its design, the Flip 4 is a gadget that nearly tempts you to use it less frequently. Every operation that requires you to physically open the display makes you question if you actually need to interact with that notification. As with the Flip 3 and Flip 5G, I discovered that utilizing the Flip 4 less as a result. But unlike those two phones, the battery didn’t need to be recharged by 7:00 p.m. due to the lower usage.
The Flip 4’s quicker charging times are another factor that improves battery life. The 25W fast charging capability of the Galaxy Z Flip 4 over USB-C is quick! The Galaxy Z Flip 4 can pick up 10 to 20% in a few minutes to give you a boost if you need it, but you won’t be able to watch the percentage points climb like you do on a device like the OnePlus 10T. The battery was very down by early afternoon on Saturday, and I thought I could use another 10% or so to get through the evening of fun. The battery increased from about 33% to 42% by the time we were leaving after I placed it on a charger for about 15 minutes. Not insane by any means, but quick enough to be practical
The Galaxy Z Flip 3’s battery life was the one significant issue I had with the gadget as a whole, and it seriously spoiled my experience. But this issue has been resolved with the Flip 4.
Despite the increase, the display was generally excellent. Moving on to the display, the Galaxy Z Flip 4’s main display is a 6.7-inch OLED panel that is essentially the same as the Flip 3’s. The panel’s claimed small increase in brightness this year, hitting 1,200 nits at its top, is the only variation from last.
That seems to be the case in my day-to-day usage. I had no trouble keeping track of my scores while playing disc golf on a bright, sunny day, and I had no problems reading websites outside either. Given that Samsung now dominates the display market, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but it’s still good to see that foldables are no longer receiving a trade-off in that area after the previous couple of generations were infamous for having insufficient brightness.
The crease, however, is the opposite. You can readily see and feel a horizontal crease running across the panel of the phone’s display, which is located directly in the middle of the screen. I don’t see this as a huge concern in terms of appearance. The crease is barely noticeable when holding the phone upright because it blends with the content and is really only noticeable under particular lighting settings.
You’ll eventually forget about it, but it only lessens the blow so much when the rivals have already mostly resolved this issue.
FLEX MODE FUN AND USEFUL, IMHO Beyond size, the Galaxy Z Flip 4’s ability to be folded in half adds additional benefit to Flex Mode. The upper part of the Flips can be held in place at different angles with the help of this function, which makes advantage of the hinge design.
Using Flex Mode as a tripod is one of the first ideas that comes to mind, and it works rather well! This ability really comes in useful if you’re by yourself and want to record a brief movie or an interesting selfie. The best method to use this feature, even in a group, may be to prop up your phone to use the camera.
But I didn’t primarily use Flex Mode for that. Instead, I discovered that I was utilizing it to make the phone more manageable and visible.
The Flip 4 must be extremely thin when opened up because it is intended to be folded in half. The device is only 6.9mm thick when unfolded, making it slightly thinner than the Galaxy S22. But at that point, every little bit helps, and I do notice that picking up the Flip off the table when it’s fully unfurled is a little more difficult, possibly in part because of those glossy flat sides. Therefore, even if the app I’m using doesn’t allow any unique features, I frequently prop up the top portion of the display to make it easier to pick up.
This practice is useful with some apps as well. One of my favorite apps to use in the kitchen while preparing lunch is YouTube, and Flex Mode makes it easier for me to view the material from other areas of the room. Flex Mode makes the Flip useful in a hurry even though using half of the Flip’s display for a video isn’t exactly the experience Nolan intended .
To further elaborate on this, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 now has a new Flex Mode Panel that unlocks new tools. The display’s lower half can be used as a trackpad or just as a row of fast settings. Given that each program must explicitly enable it, I didn’t find this to be that useful, but it is a fantastic idea and does function as Samsung intended.
Slight but not revolutionary improvements to the cameras Samsung has made the most of a difficult situation in the camera area. The lack of physical space in this phone goes beyond being a luxury; it actually works against it. That Samsung can only accommodate two rear-facing camera sensors in the phone is understandable.
The main sensor, which is still 12MP but has a superior sensor than the previous iteration, makes a significant difference. Shots are typically detailed, and Samsung’s software performs its customary saturation boost. I’ve been generally happy with the photos, and the low-light improvements stand out in particular.
The Galaxy Z Flip 4 will never be able to compete with the greatest smartphone cameras on the market due to the inherent restrictions of being a foldable, with space available for the sensors being the main issue here. In reality, no one is buying the Flip 4 just for its cameras. However, the Flip won’t be too far behind either, I’m sure of it.
This camera’s ultrawide sensor is functional and is comparable to the Flip 3’s. The distortion is within acceptable bounds, and the sharpness is suitable for a backup camera. The internal selfie camera works perfectly as well. As long as you use Samsung’s native camera app, it will capture a good picture.
See more full-size camera samples here
The aspect of the video that most disappointed me was that I thought it was not at all sharp. The quality felt drastically diminished, even outside. Even while it is partially a result of the hardware, that feels like a major omission on Samsung’s side for a phone that is aimed at the TikTok generation.
A LITTLE MORE USEFUL THAN THE COVER SCREEN! A 1.9-inch outside display next to the cameras serves a few very specific purposes. Even with an always-on display feature, the exterior display may show the time and date, making it an excellent desk mate. It may also illuminate in response to notifications. It functions much like a miniature smartwatch mounted on the outside of the phone, but it has a few more capabilities.
You may preview and now actually engage with a set of notifications by swiping to the left. Notifications could only be seen and rejected on earlier Flip models. Now, you can truly respond to messages without picking up the phone. This doesn’t imply that you won’t ever open the main display, but it does suggest that you can accomplish a lot more before doing so. In my opinion, that completely changes the game and significantly increases the utility of the cover display in daily life.
You can choose from a list of widgets over on the right. Weather, a calendar, alarms, timers, health information, and earbud controls are available options. Although there are a lot of options, I can’t help but feel that this is severely restricting. Samsung only permits you to use a select few of its own widgets. I wish I could install a widget from a third-party weather app, a short note-taking one from Google Keep, or a news carousel from Feedly, but I am unable to.
For mobile payments on the outside display, the story is similar. The Flip 4 supports Google Wallet for mobile payments, but only when it is opened up. The only option for the exterior display is Samsung Wallet, and Samsung doesn’t appear to be interested in changing that.
This year, a group of fast settings have been added to the Galaxy Z Flip 4’s exterior display as the second new feature. From the cover display, you can choose between Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and airplane mode, set the ringer to vibrate or mute, change the brightness, and even turn on the flashlight. The flashlight option is also shrewd enough to realize while the LED is still pointing at your face that it shouldn’t turn on right away; instead, it should be activated by pressing the volume key. It also knows to turn off on its own when you flip the phone back around. Neat!
Additionally, the camera on the cover display has greater capabilities now. The camera starts up in its default mode when you double-tap the power button, but you can swipe for portrait or video modes, swipe down to use the ultrawide camera, and double-tap to see the whole frame. Although I didn’t use it much, the entire process feels more refined than it did on the Flip 3. However, if you snap a lot of selfies, I can definitely see the utility.
The Galaxy Z Flip 4’s cover display offers a lot more potential for Samsung. I’d prefer to run complete applications without having to download a third-party program or use Good Lock, but at least things are moving in the right direction.
THE ACCOUNTABILITY AT LEAST, SNAPDRAGON 8 GEN 1 IS AMAZING. The Galaxy Z Flip 4 comes pre-installed with Samsung’s One UI 4.1.1 skin on top of Android 12L. It appears to be virtually unchanged from other contemporary Samsung phones at first glance, indicating that the software is generally very good. There are many features here, but you may not utilize many of them because Samsung approaches software like it’s the kitchen sink. However, if you’ve ever used an Android phone, you’ll feel perfectly at home here.
There is still a lot to enjoy if you have never used an Android phone and Samsung’s foldable technology is luring you away from the Apple environment. Although One UI has a distinctively Samsung aesthetic, it is generally relatively consistent in the key areas. Samsung’s apps are very easy to use with one hand and work well together, but there’s nothing keeping you from using Google’s software exclusively in this situation. The vast majority of Google’s essential apps are pre-installed, and functions like Google Assistant, Google Wallet, and Photos all function flawlessly. Numerous Google applications, including YouTube and Google Meet, which both make use of Flex Mode, are also tailored for Samsung’s hardware. With its smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and earbuds, Samsung may be the leader in the market. Nothing quite compares to Apple’s level of fit and finish or, in particular, the cross-device integration.
Additionally, Samsung continues to have the greatest update policy in Android, providing the Galaxy Z Flip 4 with four years of major updates and five years of security fixes.
The software’s performance, however, is where it really excels.
One UI 4.1.1 makes a few changes to the appearance and feel of Samsung’s Android overlay, and when combined with Qualcomm’s newest CPU, everything works quickly. At least in the world of Android, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is a wonder of efficiency and raw performance, and it makes the Flip 4 one of the fastest smartphones available right now.
The Flip 4 never once slowed down or hung up throughout my regular use. Heat was kept to a minimum even though there were some rather heated summer days. Even the few games I tried out—which were admittedly few—were unable to get the phone extremely warm due to the strange aspect ratio of the screen, which is not great for gaming. Benchmarking software won’t tell you much about real-world performance, but in this instance, they are undoubtedly true when they claim that the Flip 4’s performance on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is substantially better than the Flip 3 and even Samsung’s Galaxy S22 series.
ONE-HANDED USE OF A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD NOT SO GOOD The Galaxy Z Flip 4s’s main selling feature is that it transforms a large phone into a small one, although this is actually something of a compromise.
The Flip 4 may fit in locations where other phones of a comparable size cannot, but at the sacrifice of real one-handed usage. For example, because the display is substantially larger than the Galaxy S22equivalent ‘s size, some objects are simply out of reach.
The Flip 4’s inability to be opened with one hand easily is the other, more serious issue. Without doing one of two things, the flat, shiny sides don’t provide enough grip to comfortably open the phone with a single hand. Pushing the phone into your body is the first option, and I usually choose it because there is the least chance of injury. The second choice is to aggressively flick the phone open, which is clearly bad for the hinge even if long-term Flip owners have done it without experiencing major issues. But once more, the flat sides are at play here. I don’t feel like I can do this comfortably since they don’t provide me enough grip. However, it is still a ton of fun to do.
DURABILITY NO IMPROVEMENTS THAT MATTER The lack of durability improvements in the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Fold 4 is perhaps the single biggest issue I have with either device.
Samsung continues to use ultra-thin glass, the same fundamental hinge design, and essentially the same frame. I was very hopeful that Samsung will finally fix this issue after a year of witnessing Galaxy Z Flip and Fold owners have their displays crack, and even waking up to one of our Flip devices spontaneously fracturing. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case, and if it is, Samsung isn’t making as much of a fuss over it as it ought to.
Even said, it’s difficult to overlook the fact that Samsung is still in a fantastic position in this area. Other foldables can’t yet match the Flip 4’s IPX8 water resistance. In general, the innovative hinge design does a decent job of preventing dust and dirt issues. Samsung has made a lot of progress, but the issues from this year’s release remain.
No one should, in my opinion, purchase a Galaxy Z Flip 4 without additionally covering it with insurance.
FINAL THOUGHTS | The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is a foldable designed for the general public, and I believe it succeeds in that endeavor. This device has a number of appealing qualities, including a classic design, real utility, and reasonable price.
longer battery life, quicker charging outstanding performance Top Android support guidelines Excellent trade-in values at a fair price Cons:
Still, battery life is not very good. Although respectable, cameras fall behind comparably priced phones. The longevity is still in doubt. arduous to use with one hand But even so, not everyone will want this particular item. To obtain a Flip 4, you still need to make trade-offs. Battery capacity is not as high as that of a typical slab. Even if they are decent, the cameras are still inferior to almost everything else available at this price. I consider this device’s inability to be used with one hand to be a real drawback.
The Flip can do some things that other phones simply cannot, so for the individual who needs this device, those trade-offs won’t matter. With the Flip, I can put my keys and headphones in the same pocket as a Pixel 6. With a Galaxy S22, I don’t always have a tripod on hand for a quick film or photo, but with the Flip, I do. It’s not very challenging to explain loving this smartphone at its $999 price point since there are valid reasons to. In the end, you aren’t shelling out any more money than you would for a typical flagship. It all depends on what is most important to you.
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