At a time when the stagnation in smartphone design has resulted in cliched smartphones across categories, Samsung seems to be breaking new ground with every iteration of its Galaxy Z Fold and Flip series. While the former has garnered a reputation for being a mean machine, the Galaxy Z Flip is considered to be more of a looker with its uncommon comeliness and style profile. However, the Flip matches its guise with a powerful performance that could go toe to toe with every other phone in its category. We used the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 for a week, here is our in-depth review.
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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4: Design and Display
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 comes in a sleek black box, which contains the device and a USB Type-C charging cable. There’s some reading material and a SIM ejector tool in the supplementary box inside, but you don’t get a power adapter, which seems to be the norm these days when it comes to premium smartphones.
The smartphone itself has a nice, firm feel to it which you quickly notice as soon as you take it out of the box and place it on your palm. The aluminium frame adds to the premium feel and robustness of the compact smartphone. The back metal panels get the Gorilla Glass Victus+ treatment. When it comes to looks, the Flip 4 isn’t all that different from its predecessor, bar a few minor upgrades.
Samsung has retained the 1.9-inch Super AMOLED cover display which is housed next to the camera unit. The metal spine has the Samsung branding engraved on it. The main 12MP sensor has been tweaked a bit, but it isn’t a big departure from the predecessor and you won’t notice the change unless you’re looking for it. The flatter edges are a distinguishing factor, though, and improve how the phone feels in your hand, playing into its ‘blingy’ aesthetic.
Making the switch from a traditional smartphone, we had our apprehensions about the phone slipping out of our hand, but it doesn’t take long to get adjusted to its form and the metal frame does inspire a lot of confidence while handling the phone. Once you get used to it, it’ll be hard not to fidget with it. On the right side, you’ll find the volume rocker key and the power button which also serves as a fingerprint sensor. The SIM card slot is placed on the left, while the USB port, microphone, and speaker grille are housed at the bottom. At the top of the phone is placed a secondary speaker.
Moving on to the most interesting feature, the Flip 4 can be unfolded with one hand, but it requires some practice and you will have to use a finger between the display as a pivot. Slamming it shut does trigger a warm feeling of nostalgia that will certainly remind you of the snappy flip phones of the past.
The outer cover display lights up every time you fold the phone and shows the clock. Samsung has offered a lot of customisation options for this display, ranging from different clock themes to widgets for music player, calendar, weather, alarm, recorder, step counter, and a lot more. Swiping to the right reveals the notification panel where you can quickly respond to texts with auto-replies and even preview the images that get sent to you. However, there is no keyboard functionality that you get in the Galaxy Smart Watches.
Pressing the power button twice activates the dual camera unit and you can access it from the cover window itself. Swiping to the sides helps you access the photo, video, and portrait modes while swiping vertically switches between the primary and ultra-wide lens. Pretty neat. While there is still room for improvement, the cover screen covers all the basic functions that may seem too trivial to open the phone for.
Moving on, the primary 6.7-inch Super AMOLED display is quite fluid, owing to the 120Hz variable refresh rate. With a peak brightness of 1200 nits, the display doesn’t drop any vividness even in a bright outdoor environment. The 10MP selfie camera is housed in a punch hole cut out. The screen-to-body ratio is 85.4%, something you expect from a flip phone for now, but always hope that you get a full edge-to-edge display in the next few iterations.
The display crease is still very much prominent, but it doesn’t amount to be a distraction. It does tend to blend in when you’re holding the phone upright and in a direct line of vision but becomes noticeable as soon as the phone is held at an angle. We streamed Rings of Power on Amazon Prime, and the display did justice to the colour palette, producing well-balanced lucid images. The crease gets less and less noticeable over a period of time.
The ‘Flex Mode’ offered by the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 has been refined further, and can now force apps that aren’t optimised for it to work in a limited capacity. The native Samsung apps work smoothly with the Flex Mode, but there are still some questions regarding its practicality. The Flex Mode does shine when it comes to apps that support the split screen mode. Watching YouTube videos in the upper display panel while browsing Reddit in the lower panel proved to be a delightful experience, one that definitely cannot be replicated in the same capacity in traditional smartphones.
With Flex Mode, you also get quick tools for taking a screenshot, notification menu, brightness and volume in the lower menu, as well as the option to turn the lower display panel into a mini trackpad with a small cursor appearing on the upper panel. You can place your Flip on a table and browse the apps with one finger using the trackpad. Since this mode is still in its nascency, there are obviously some practicality issues but we hope Samsung finesses it in future. However, it plays highly into the aesthetics of the phone and stands as one of the unique things you can do with your flip device.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review: Performance and Cameras
With a phone that is heavily reliant on its aesthetics, performance often takes a backseat. Manufacturers are usually willing to make a trade-off by going all in with the looks, leaving a lot to be desired with the performance. We are happy to report that with Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4, this is certainly not the case. One of the improvements that the Flip 4 makes over its predecessor is the switch to Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset, which offers better power efficiency and faster graphics. On top of that, you get an octa-core processor along with Adreno 730. Storage options include 128GB + 8GB, 256GB + 8GB, and 512GB + 8GB.
OS duties are handled by Android 12, skinned with One UI 4.1.1. There are a couple of bloatware apps (Facebook, Spotify, and Netflix), which can be easily removed, but it is never a good look on premium smartphones. The OS offers the user advanced control over the device, which is especially welcome when looks are such an integral part of the phone. The cover screen can be customised with fun themes and you can add widgets according to your liking. The more you dig into the more fun your experience will become.
We played Call of Duty Mobile, Garena Free Fire, and Apex Legends on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4, and were pleased with the smooth gaming experience which presented no frame drops or pesky lags. The crease can be felt at the centre but it isn’t too prominent to complain about. The phone starts heating after the first 30 minutes of gaming but cools down pretty quickly when you put it down. On the Geekbench 5 test, Flip 4 scored 838 points, placing it with the likes of Samsung Galaxy S21 and Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.
The battery pack has been upgraded to 3,700mAh from 3,300mAh and comes with wireless charging. But there are still some previous issues that have not been entirely addressed in this aspect. Firstly, while there is a fast charging option, the smartphone takes a long time to charge. We used a 22.5W adapter and it took an hour and forty minutes to charge the phone from 15% to 100%.
When it comes to battery performance, there is a slight improvement over the Flip 3, largely due to the power efficiency of the SD8+ chipset, but it can still get a lot better. Over a day of moderate to slight-heavy usage, the phone was left with a 10-15% charge by the end of the day. You’ll have to be really conservative with your usage if you want the phone to last until the next day.
Moving on to the camera unit, the primary 12MP sensor has been upgraded, which Samsung claims is brighter than the one on Flip 3. There is still no telephoto lens as the Flip 4 comes with a 12MP primary and 12MP ultrawide lens. But these dual lenses do a lot of heavy lifting and produce excellent results in a diverse range of conditions.
Outdoor photography in bright daylight conditions produced well-balanced images with colours that ‘pop’. The contrast and saturation were managed well by the image processor, and the pictures managed to capture a lot of detail. There is no significant drop in quality while using the ultra-wide lens, as the colours were well presented in the resulting images, with no dullness.
The upgraded sensor clearly makes a difference in low light conditions as the photos we took were detailed and sharp, with no overbearing noise. However, the images get quite grainy when it gets dark, and you will have to turn on the night mode to take decent pictures. Once the night mode is activated, the image quality immediately shoots up and the grain is smoothened out.
The 10MP selfie camera is a delight to use as well, as the pictures produced some great colour balance and warmth, capturing even the finer details. You can even flip the phone shut and use the front camera unit to take selfies and record 4k videos at 30/60fps.
One of the highlights of using the camera on the Flip 4 is its ability to take pictures while it’s at a perpendicular angle, resting on a surface. You can take pictures from several different unique angles, which just isn’t possible with a regular smartphone. You can record stable videos while resting the phone on a table, something that will appeal to vloggers and content creators.
While there aren’t a lot of upgrades over the Flip 3, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 is still a phone that we would highly recommend to first-time Flip buyers. The phone is unmatched when it comes to the design and form factor and does not fall behind when it comes to carrying out heavy-duty tasks. For Rs 89,999 you’re getting a phone that is bound to turn heads while offering a user experience that can not be easily replicated by traditional smartphones.
Slow battery charging
Not a whole lot different than Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3