Without a hint of competition in the market, Samsung has an utterly dominant position when it comes to Foldable smartphones. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 is a stunning example of that, but that does also pose as many questions as it answers.
As we noted in the announcement, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 is a refined version of its earlier self. In the hand it’s not much different at all. But it is incrementally smaller, but with a vastly improved battery life.
To understand where this market sits, I wound back the clock, and dusted off my Galaxy Z Flip – the OG. I bought this from JB HiFi when the price dropped from $2,199 to $999 – I just had to own this.
Interestingly, while there’s an all-new hinge design on the Flip 4 (and Fold 4), the original design is much softer and smoother to open. And no, It’s not from over-use, I barely used the phone – it sits as an ornament to the category in our studio. Likewise when I look at the “fold” in the screen, it’s smoother on the original than the latest generations.
When compared directly to last year’s model – the differences are minimal. Just size really is all that’s changed.
Which got me thinking, is Samsung innovating at it’s own pace here, because there’s no-one else pushing them are they taking their time, working on something radical just to be ready in case of emergency? Who knows.
But all that said, the reason this device is heavier, and requires a bit more force to open is likely down to the dramatic improvements that have been made in durability and water proofing. Those didn’t exist on the original.
I stand true to my opinion that the “flip shut form-factor is the way to go” – I said it over two and a half years ago, and I still believe it now.
Using the phone is like using any other smartphone, its the same tall screen, it has all the apps you want, but you get to tuck it away in your bag and pocket. The screen stays protected from any harm in your pocket – like scratches from keys.
Why more people aren’t rushing out for these I don’t yet know. But I suspect, from reading the comments in my social media posts, that people just don’t trust it.
Fact is, I know of no inherent issues with the mechanism or screen. One mate of mine had the Flip3 and the screen started to crack, though it was just the screen protector not a display layer. That’s the one single report of anything close to failure I’ve seen or heard about.
200,000 opens and closes – that’s how they’re rated. And that’s like 4 years of aggressive usage if you work it out.
So what’s new in 2022 and does it matter?
I was using the Flip 3 leading up to the Samsung Unpacked event in New York, and I’ve been using the Flip 4 since the day of the event. While many things were noted, there are two vast differences you’ll see in daily use.
Firstly, the cover screen. That little screen you see when the device is closed. The options to customise that clock design are much greater, and that’s fun. But also the interactivity with the screen is improved. Most notably in messaging. You can now respond to a message without ever opening the screen. Simple, and effective.
I can also set instant dial shortcuts from the cover screen, and control the features of my Galaxy Buds there too.
Could this be better – 100% yes. As I drop back into my dream mind and wonder what Samsung REALLY has hidden in their R&D department, I imagine a version of this with a full back cover screen. Show me more, let me interact with more, let me open the phone less. That has to be the goal – as simple as that.
Secondly, and critically – the Battery. Battery life on the Flip 3 was not desirable. On the Flip 4 we’re looking at 16 hours of solid use. I’m getting through the day as I would normally expect to.
Now, don’t compare it to an S22 or iPhone, those things might make it through the night without charge (though needing it the next day). The Flip 3 needs juice every night, but you won’t be searching throughout the day.
Improved camera on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4?
Huge improvements here to from Samsung.
While the larger and more expensive Galaxy Z Fold 4 gets S22 like cameras, those would blow the size of this device way out of the park.
Instead, you get improvements for sure, and in my short travels they are more than ample.
Capturing clean colours, in bright conditions
And detail too in low light.
The “Wide angle” camera comes in handy and is a must-have today, though I did find myself reaching for a zoom now and then.
Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4?
100% yes. If this is on your list, buy it. If you’ve got previous generations – trade them in for this.
If you’re a mega screen fanatic, sure, hold out for a Fold 4 – but for nearly all Smartphone users this will feel normal, look great and put you at the forefront.
I’m aggressive about this category – I think people are rightly cautious, but I think as more people take up the Flip, more people will trust it and envy it.
I’ve no doubt that in a few years this will look like a relic, because something thinner, more amazing is coming – but without any real pressure, is that likely to be next year or the year after. I think the latter.
At $1,499 it’s a touch more than the standard iPhone 13 (not Pro) and a touch less than a Galaxy S22+. It is legitimately at the price point I suspect most people are spending on a smartphone.
All it needs is more people to walk over and try it, and then they will buy it. I would.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 is available now for Pre-Order and ships from September 2.