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Phone review: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

We spent 24 hours with Samsung's latest folding phone.

Using the Galaxy Z Flip prompted some pangs of nostalgia for a time of clamshell devices. For a time before smartphones, before every device became some variation on a black rectangle. From rounded swivel phones to the ones shaped like handheld gaming consoles, the limit was the engineers’ imagination.

First Impressions

The Galaxy Z Flip is one delicious looking piece of hardware. We got our hands on the the Mirror Purple version, and can safely say its a phone that will turn a couple of heads. The reflective, iridescent metal shell is gorgeous, which also means that it collects fingerprints and smudges easily – although it’s nothing a phone case or a quick wipe cannot fix. 

The main draw of the Z Flip is its folding mechanism, which turns an ordinary-sized smartphone into something closer to the size of a compact mirror – and giving flashbacks to the wildly-shaped mobile phones of yore – at roughly 7cm by 9cm.

When closed, a miniscule display on the cover displays the time, or an incoming notification via scrolling text for a pre-mobile phone flashback. The small display also serves as a screen for selfie-taking while your phone’s closed – although this proved tricky as it only displays about a quarter of the full picture taken.

Opening the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

The Galaxy Z Flip can feel pretty awkward to open with one hand.

A magnet snaps the phone shut like its larger brethren the Galaxy Fold, although the Z Flip’s folding mechanism is much stiffer – which makes opening the phone with one had somewhat awkward.  

There’s a reason for this though – the half-fold allows users to set the phone down without an external stand in order to take selfies, video calls, or even long-exposure photos. The fold is only sticky up till roughly 130° though. Opening the phone any wider than that causes it to flip open completely – so the “sitting” feature only works when the Z Flip is placed somewhere that’s roughly eye level.

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Using the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

First up: this is not a phone that sells itself with technical specifications. Its 12MP cameras (two rear cameras at different apertures) clearly lags behind the flagship Galaxy S20 Ultra’s, which boasts an intimidating 108 MPs and 100x zoom.

  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
    Folded, the phone fits nicely into most pockets and pouches.

It’s still a pretty powerful piece of hardware though, and rivals most flagship releases from 2019 – with a Snapdragon 855+ chipset, 8GB ram, and 256GB of internal storage; the phone boasts more than enough juice for everyday uses from picture-taking to gaming. 

Just like every other foldable screen out there, the Z Flip hasn’t been able to get rid of the inevitable crease at the point of folding – which can be a slight eyesore. The crease is a lot less visible when the screen is on though, and with prolonged use, even feeling the crease when you’re touching the screen begins to feel more natural. 

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Besides the folding function and mirror finish though, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip works like any other phone – and that’s a good thing. You get wireless charging, most, if not all of the newer functions found in Samsung phones, including the recently-introduced Android Focus Mode, a “Digital Wellbeing” tool that allows users to block specific apps for a period of time when you want to, well, focus. 

One gripe we had though, was the relatively weak vibration of the phone. Since no one under the age of 60 has a ringtone anymore, incoming calls or alarms were hard to notice.

In a nutshell

If you’re not chasing numbers or specs, the Galaxy Z Flip makes for an eye-catching choice – with a few nifty tricks that will up your selfie game, or make things like video calling or storing your phone more convenient. You’d have to wait to get your hands on one though – the phone is already in short supply in Singapore, and the recent shut-down of the Z Flip factory in South Korea due to the  Covid-19 situation cannot be helping.

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