Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 REVIEW
PAT PILCHER gets to play with a very sexy foldable smartphone from Samsung that does just about everything right.
Starting from $1699
Samsung’s folding flip phone is one of those cool retro tech-with-a-twist widgets. It aped old-school flip phones but added folding screen tech and oodles of smarts. Now Sammy is back with the Flip 4, which promises upgrades and a pleasant change from the now commonplace slab-like smartphone.
Cutting-edge retro tech costs, however. The Galaxy Flip 4 will set you back $1699 to $2049, depending on your purchase spec. That said, you get a lot of phone for your money, but the Flip 4 isn’t aimed at budget buyers.
Would you like to support our mission to bring intelligence, insight and great writing to entertainment journalism? Help to pay for the coffee that keeps our brains working and fingers typing just for you. Witchdoctor, entertainment for grownups. Riveting writing on music, tech, hi-fi, music, film, TV and other cool stuff. Your one-off (or monthly) $5 or $10 donation will support Witchdoctor.co.nz. and help us keep producing quality content. It’s really easy to donate, just click the ‘Become a supporter’ button below.
Although folding screens aren’t anything new, opening the Flip is like walking into a Tardis. Each time its tiny exterior unfolds to reveal a glorious 6.7-inch display, I can’t help but smile. Fancy pants folding aside, the overall design is attractive. I’d even go as far as saying it’s a head-turner.
This year’s Flip is a definite refinement over the Flip 3. While last year’s model came with water resistance, the Flip 4 is more compact with a less bulky chassis, smoother hinge, and more screen. The glass and alloy body feel high-end, and the silky smooth yet solid movement that the hinge supplies screams premium. When folded closed, the Flip is the same size as an old-school flip phone. Once unfolded, you get about the same screen real estate as with a normal slab phone. This equates to the Flip 4 hitting that all too rare design sweet spot where it manages to be both highly pocketable and very usable.
There’s a crease in the middle of its display as a foldable device. While it is noticeable, it isn’t to the point of being an annoyance. Once fully opened, the Flip 4 feels like a normal slab phone. Like the earlier model, the Flip 4 is water-resistant, but as a foldable, its screen is fragile and will need to be treated with care. We’d recommend a decent phone case and screen insurance.
Under the hood, the Flip 4 packs Qualcomm’s latest flagship silicon, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. This gives the Flip 4 more grunt than a piggery, making it a snappy and responsive phone, even when running demanding apps or games. When it comes to storage there are three options, 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB. You also get a generous 8GB RAM. As you’d expect from the world’s biggest display maker, the screen on the Flip 4 is gorgeous. The 6.7-inch 1080×2640 display (426ppi) sports a 120Hz refresh rate, so everything is silky smooth. HDR10+ is supported and the display is rated at 1200 nits so everything is super bright. When closed, the new cover display comes into play. It’s a 1.9-inch Super AMOLED beastie with a 260 x 512 resolution protected by Gorilla Glass Victus+.
The only real drawback with the Flip’s petite form factor is its battery life. Even though the Flip 4 has a Li-Po 3700 mAh battery and supports 25W fast charging and 15W wireless charging, you’re still looking at daily charges with typical use. The other annoyance is that Samsung doesn’t include a power brick in the box. If you don’t have a fast charger, you’ll need to factor that into the Flip 4’s already steep sticker price.
Like all Samsung phones, the Flip 4 runs a custom Android skin, branded by Samsung as One UI 4.1. Based on Android 12, it is extensively customisable and includes what Samsung calls “flex mode”. This takes advantage of the Flip’s foldable form factor, splitting its screen into two zones whose functionality varies depending on what you’re doing, extending its usefulness. Samsung’s bumf says that the Flip 4 gets five years of software updates. That includes four Android version updates and monthly security patches.
On the camera front, the Flip 4’s rear shooters consist of dual 12-megapixel cameras. One has a bog-standard lens with optical image stabilisation, while the other has an ultra-wide-angle lens. In use, both cameras impressed, even with low-light shooting. While some noise reduction was visible with the ultra-wide shooter, you had to look hard to notice it. Around the front is a 10-megapixel camera, which is a bit redundant as flex mode allows you to shoot selfies using one of the far superior rear shooters.
As you’d expect from a Samsung phone, the video modes are great, and the Flip 4 folds into an L-shape, allowing you to hold and use it like an old-school camcorder. About the only fly in the photographic ointment is when you start zooming in. There is no optical zoom, so you’re stuck with digital zoom. This is fine for up to 2x zoom, but once you go beyond that, you’ll find that detail is lost amongst pixelation and digital noise.
You’re also well covered in connectivity as all the usual suspects are present. Wi-Fi support includes the acronym salad of 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6, along with Bluetooth 5.2. GPS is supported along with GLONASS, GALILEO, and BDS. NFC is present too. The only thing missing when it comes to connectivity is the kitchen sink.
There’s lots to like with the Flip 4. Its nifty design is not only eye-catching but supremely practical. Add to this a generous specification and all the other good bits we’ve come to expect from Samsung, and it isn’t hard to see why the Flip 4 is attracting so much attention. That said, its battery life could be better, and the lack of an optical zoom holds back its otherwise excellent camera set-up. While the Flip 4’s form factor makes an optical zoom impossible, its battery life and lack of power adaptor are surprising given its flagship level sticker price.