It’s been a while since there was a phone released that I was excited about. There’ve been good phones, but none that sparked excitement. The Flip definitely sparks excitement.
What if you could fold your current smartphone in half? That’s almost exactly what it feels like using the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip.
Nearly every other foldable phone opens out to be the size of a tablet. It makes for an unwieldy device that isn’t a good tablet or a good phone. This is why the Z Flip is better.
Opened up, the Flip is a standard smartphone, albeit a slightly tall one.
The only indication that the screen can be folded is a small divot, about half a centimetre thick, that runs across the centre of the screen. It’s hardly noticeable unless it catches the light or you run your finger over it.
The screen is big, bright and clear. In terms of colour and clarity, it’s one of the most impressive screens I’ve used in a while.
Its odd size – 1080 x 2636 pixels – gives it a 22:9 ratio (compared to roughly 20:9 ratio on the Galaxy S20 and the iPhone 11). This means some apps, which haven’t been optimised, may require black bars on either side to fit the screen or be stretched. It’s a bit like fitting a regular image on a widescreen TV.
The extra screen space is good for typing, as it gives you more room for the keyboard.
At first it feels weird folding the phone in half, but it soon becomes natural and, with practice, you can open and close it with one hand.
When completely shut the phone is quite thick (double the thickness of a normal smart phone). This makes for a large bulge in your pocket, but the lack of height means it’ll fit into the pockets of women’s jeans without sticking out the top, which is excellent.
On the outside is a tiny (roughly 10x20mm) LCD touchscreen, next to the rear cameras. This can display time, weather and short messages – good for reading quick texts.
When shut, the rear cameras are still usable, with the external LCD screen showing what’s in the shot. This makes for easier selfies, using the better 12MP cameras rather than the Flip’s 10MP front-facing camera.
If the phone is half-open and propped up in a capital-L shape, it acts as a stand for the camera. Placing it on a flat surface means it’s easier to take long-exposure shots or any other photos where you want to go hands-free.
The L shape also changes how some apps work. When folded like that, the phone becomes a little like a laptop, with the display changing to an on-screen keyboard on the horizontal section and the regular app screen on the vertical part.
I should point out that I discovered all of these special modes after my trial. Like nearly all modern phone interfaces, the Z Flip doesn’t come with instructions and the user is left to figure out how to do things, like taking a screenshot or having two apps open at the same time. For example, I only figured out the external LCD screen was a touchscreen by accident.
This is a general gripe about modern software relying too much on the systems being “intuitive” when they are anything but. More specifically, the Z Flip is a new form factor, so some extra instruction would have been helpful.
I really liked the Z Flip – it was fun to use and, performance-wise, it’s a very good phone. However, the $2400 price tag will probably put most people off (including me).
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip Price: $2399 Dimensions when folded: 87x74x17mm Dimensions when unfolded: 167.3x73.6x7mm Front camera: 10MP f/2.4 Rear cameras: 12MP, f/1.8 (wide), 12MP, f/2.2 (ultrawide) Display: 6.7” AMOLED, 1080 x 2636 pixels
*First Looks are trials of new and interesting products from the perspective of our product experts. Our lab-based tests offer truly objective product comparisons.