Are you familiar with the saying, “What’s old is new again”? It’s a saying linked to the fact that many things which fall by the wayside simply because they’ve outlived their usefulness or appeal can often be brought back if and when they somehow become useful or appealing again.
And one of these things that have been “reborn” after having fallen out of favor is folding phones. If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember that folding phones—such as those offered by companies like Motorola—used to be all the rage, until they weren’t.
But Samsung is one of those firms that’s been trying to bring this old form factor back. Check out our review to see whether the company has succeeded this time around!
A little baggage
Of course, this is far from Samsung’s first attempt at trying to revive the folding device. The company first gave it a try with the Galaxy Fold—which was appealing in its own way but also came saddled with plenty of issues that ultimately led to it being withdrawn from the market. So with the Z Flip, Samsung is attempting not only to continue to sell this old form factor but is also trying to prove to the public that it has learned the hard lessons taught by its experience with the old unit.
First off let’s take a look at the form factor, which will be the main draw for many people. The Z Flip is a full-screen phone that easily folds to fit into a user’s pocket thanks to its use of “revolutionary” flexible glass which Samsung earnestly says is a far cry from the easily damaged plastic screen in the Galaxy Fold.
The screen in the Z Flip is all of 6.7in—not at all small and with very thin bezels wherever you look. Thanks to the form factor it isn’t as heavy or bulky in the pocket as it might have been had this phone not been foldable. (When it’s shut, a user can check its much smaller external screen, which is just 1.1in, for the time or for notifications regarding calls or messages.) Interestingly, Samsung has placed the fingerprint sensor within the side of the phone instead of at the rear or behind the main screen.
Users will notice a crease across the center of the main display when the phone is fully open. Samsung says that this is a natural characteristic of the screen and that there’s nothing wrong with it. The phone also comes with “sweeper technology” to help whisk away dust and dirt in order to keep the phone both clean and safe.
The Z Flip is made of glass and metal and can be had in two color choices, Mirror Black and Mirror Purple. The black choice is classy and understated, whereas the purple option is certainly a little showier and quite striking thanks to the fact that it shifts colors as light plays on it.
The Z Flip’s form factor allows it to be used in some interesting ways. For one, you can flip it half-open so that the top sits 45 degrees relative to the bottom, which Samsung calls “Flex Mode”. Flex Mode is useful for such things as video chats and taking selfies or pictures. And of course you can try and watch video or surf the net in Flex Mode without needing a stand or to hold the phone in your hand.
Moreover, the flip can hold its position at different angles even when partially open, which means that users can play around with camera angles and positions for pretty interesting selfies, videos, and pictures.
Speaking of which, the Z Flip comes with a camera set that’s not particularly powerful as far as modern camera sets go, but which isn’t too bad at all. More specifically, the main camera set is a dual 12-megapixel setup on the back, one of which is wide and the other ultra-wide. The selfie camera, for its part, is 10 megapixels. Both sets in our testing took good photos and decent video, even at night—and there really is something to be said for a built-in stand!
The Z Flip is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 855+ processor, which provides decent amounts of oomph while keeping consumption relatively low. 8GB of RAM helps keep things snappy, and 256GB of onboard storage is decent these days. The battery is a bit on the small side for a modern phone at just 3300mAh, but then again this phone isn’t really aimed at power users. At best our test unit lasted us until early evening when we started out with it fully charged and didn’t use it too heavily during the day; at worst we needed to recharge by midmorning (after a day of testing and showing off its camera abilities to a bunch of people who loved playing with it).
Note that the Z Flip isn’t expandable, so you’ll need to invest in cloud or online storage if its standard memory isn’t enough for you. Oh, and there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack either, but then again if you’re up to buy a phone at this level you probably already have a Bluetooth headset or earbuds.
You have to admire Samsung for not just abandoning foldable devices altogether after its Galaxy Fold debacle. The Z Flip appears to be the fruit of an honest effort to realize what they did wrong and to improve on what they got right.
The resulting phone isn’t for power users, nor is it going to end up a mainstream device—at any rate it’s too expensive for that. It’s more of a stylish, striking phone that offers interesting usage scenarios, especially when it comes to taking videos and photos. As such it doesn’t really have much competition, especially since foldable smartphones still remain to be few and far between these days.
Samsung has made what’s old new again by reviving the more interesting characteristics of the old foldable phones while by and large avoiding the pitfalls of its last generation of foldable. This makes it well worth a look in our estimation.