Our first day with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip Full Review

By Yassine Samma - February 15, 2020

The Galaxy Z Flip is already a triumph over the Galaxy Fold in one way. This new foldable phone can fit easily into your pocket when it's closed.
That wasn't the case with last year's Fold, a device that opens up like a book to unveil a 7.3-inch display. The Galaxy Z Flip is different. This time around, Samsung uses a flip phone design. (Yes, exactly like the Motorola Razr.) The Z Flip flips open to reveal a 6.7-inch display that includes a layer of ultra-thin glass for an extra level of polish. More importantly, when the phone is shut, it's tiny — a closed-up Z Flip fit easily in my hand and my paws aren't exactly meaty.
So already the Z Flip is off to a promising start. We'll have to put the Galaxy Z Flip through more testing to see if it can land on our best phones list, but after some initial hands-on time with the phone, we may finally have found a foldable device that appeals to more than just early adopters.

The first thing you notice from the very moment you start using the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip is simply how solidly built and sturdy it is. I'm arriving to the Z Flip merely days after reviewing the new Motorola Razr, and everything about Samsung's second stab at a foldable phone just oozes this sensation of quality and thoughtfulness, from the operation of the hinge, to the look and feel of the ultra-thin glass shrouded display to the operation of the camera and that tiny ticker screen on the top-half of the exterior.
There's no sound when you open or close the Galaxy Z Flip, and the nature of the free stop hinge means you can stop adjusting the angle of the flexible display wherever you wish, and the device will hold its orientation. That's extremely useful if you want to capture a selfie or video chat while going hands free.
However, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip isn't difficult to pry open in spite of that — while it doesn't snap into a fully flexed or shut position like the Razr does, I didn't find the Z Flip's hinge to be heavier or more recalcitrant than the Razr's. That said, this is still the sort of foldable you'd need two hands to open most of the time, so don't expect to flip it effortlessly with your thumb alone.

I'm equally impressed by how flat the phone lays when outstretched. There's always an angle at play with the Motorola Razr, even when fully opened. It's slight, but it's there and hard to ignore. And although the Galaxy Z Flip has one semi-prominent crease cutting horizontally right down the middle of its expansive 6.7-inch display, the rest of it looks and feels just right.
There are absolutely no bumps and lumps hiding in the screen of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, nor are there any unsightly rainbow swirls you often see with plastic screens. The use of ultra-thin glass may have been Samsung's crowing achievement with this new foldable, though we'll obviously need more time to evaluate how it holds up in everyday use.
The display looks just as good as any of Samsung's AMOLED panels from what I can tell, and the performance is snappy as you'd expect, given that this device employs a speedy Snapdragon 855 Plus processor and 8GB of RAM. While that may not be quite on par with the 865 5G chips making their way to the Galaxy S20 range, the 855 Plus is more than powerful enough for practically anyone, and won't leave you feeling short-changed where performance is concerned.

Aside from the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip's ability to pack down into a much more pocketable form factor, its foldable nature also unlocks some interesting software experiences. While in the camera app, you simply need to begin folding the device, and the interface immediately goes into Flex Mode. Here, the viewfinder occupies the top half of the screen, while the bottom half is reserved for camera controls.
I love that you don't need to press a button to launch Flex Mode; you simply begin to close the phone, and it fires up, with the software adopting a more ergonomic layout to match the device's physical state.
Additionally, in Flex Mode you can start a five-second timer simply by briefly holding your palm up, and the Galaxy Z Flip also has the S20 series' Single Take mode, which captures multiple forms and types of media with a singular press of the shutter button.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip specs

Galaxy Z Flip design and durability

The distinctive thing about the Z Flip's design is its horizontal hinge, a contrast to the vertical hinge that the Galaxy Fold used. Samsung put a lot of effort into making sure that hinge is durable, claiming it can flip open 200,000 times.

Even more significantly, the Z Flip's hideaway hinge is designed to keep out dust, with a thin layer of fabric that's specifically there to make sure that particles can't find their way into the gap that exists between screen and hinge. That's what felled the original version of the Fold, forcing Samsung to delay that phone's release last year. At first glance, it look like Samsung learned its lessons from that phone's rollout.

When open, the Galaxy Z Flip's screen measures 6.7 inches from corner to corner. Rather than using plastic to protect the panel — the tack taken by every foldable maker to date — Samsung is debuting a new ultra-thin glass material on this model that we hope will make the Z Flip's display less prone to damage. It certainly feels more polished than the foldable phones I've held to date.

Galaxy Z Flip display

Samsung has turned to a full-HD+ display for the Galaxy Z Flip, with a resolution of 2636 x 1080 pixels. That's fewer than the quad-HD+ panels inside the Galaxy S20 series, but certainly more than the Razr's 6.2-inch, HD+ screen.
If you had hoped that Samsung figured out a way to get rid of the crease that marred the Galaxy Fold experience, you're going to be disappointed. There is a crease where the top and bottom halves of the Z Flip's extended screen meet, and it's not that difficult to spot. It's probably something most users will get used to over time, but when you're playing $1,380 for a phone, every little flaw sticks out. At least it's not as noticeable as the Razr's gigantic crease.

Galaxy Z Flip battery

Inside the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip is a 3,300-mAh battery, which is a respectable size for a foldable. For reference, the Razr uses a tiny 2,510-mAh power pack that allowed Motorola's handset to last only 6 hours and 4 minutes in Tom's Guide's custom battery test, where devices are forced to endlessly load webpages until they run out of juice.

Great phones typically achieve nearly twice the Razr's run time in our testing, so we'll be eager to see how the Z Flip compares. The Galaxy Fold was able to last 10 hours — about average for a smartphone — but its 4,380 mAh battery is much larger than what you get with the Galaxy Z Flip.



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