The Samsung Galaxy Flip 4 is an effective folding cellphone that feels one technology shy of hitting its stride. The updates over final yr’s Flip 3 are so minimal that this cellphone principally may have been a firmware replace. That makes the Flip 4, like its predecessor, a powerful technical achievement with a few shortcomings that — if Samsung addresses them — would make a giant distinction to the person expertise.

If the Galaxy Fold 4 combines a pill and a cellphone expertise into one gadget, then the Flip 4 is what occurs while you mix a smartwatch and a cellphone. The tiny 1.9-inch cowl display screen features a couple extra helpful options than the Flip 3’s, like sending fast canned textual content replies, besides, it’s considerably restricted in what it permits you to do. Kind of like a smartwatch glued to the again of a cellphone that folds in half.

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Despite the fact that it’s not a lot totally different from final yr, and there’s nonetheless room for enchancment, I genuinely like this cellphone quite a bit — however not for the explanations I believed I might. I actually like taking footage with it, despite the fact that the cameras are simply kinda common. It’s additionally much less attention-hungry than most smartphones. It’s a lot simpler to learn a notification on the tiny cowl display screen, dismiss it, and transfer on with my life than with a standard slab-style cellphone. I admire that, even when Samsung did this by chance.

The Flip 4 is compact, however I wouldn’t name it a small cellphone. Whenever you really have to do one thing with it, 9 instances out of 10, it’s a must to open it, after which the jig is up: it’s a licensed Massive Telephone. However it does match comfortably into the entrance pocket of my denims when it’s folded, which is handier than I anticipated.

The issues that made the Flip 3 good are nonetheless good right here: there’s strong waterproofing, a superb principal display screen, and a $999 price ticket — excessive, however not astronomically excessive just like the $1,799 Fold 4. However whether or not or not it is best to snap it up is dependent upon what you’re searching for. Most individuals, I think, will need the model of this gadget that’s (hopefully) coming subsequent: one thing with a much bigger, extra helpful cowl display screen and a slimmer profile. Proper now, it’s each an unbelievable little gadget that I’m very tempted to purchase for myself and one which falls wanting its full potential.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 with cover screen on

The lil’ bee on this animated cowl display screen flies round. I adore it a lot.

Samsung made some delicate beauty adjustments that give the Flip 4 somewhat little bit of a unique vibe than the three. The aluminum rails are shiny, in distinction to the softer matte end on the Flip 3, and the hinge is somewhat bit flatter. There’s no person on earth who ought to commerce of their Flip 3 for the 4 only for these tweaks, however they offer the cellphone a higher-end look that fits it.

The hinge remains to be agency and calls for that you simply use two arms to open it. You may form of pry it open with one hand and flip it the remainder of the best way when you flip actually onerous, however doing that makes me queasy. There’s nonetheless a spot between the 2 halves of the display screen when the cellphone is closed, and the thickness is similar because it was for the Fold 3: 17.1mm on the hinge and 15.9mm the place the 2 ends of the display screen meet. Enjoyable truth: Samsung calls that the “sagging” facet in its specs.

Galaxy Z Flip 4 folded closed on a desk

That is the non-sagging facet.
Picture by Allison Johnson / The Verge

It’s as thick as a traditional cellphone when it’s open and clearly chunky when the cellphone is closed, although it occupies half the floor area. That is clearly how folding works, however I didn’t actually admire it till I used to be utilizing the cellphone in my every day life. It sits on my slender lavatory sink counter and crowded nightstand way more comfortably than the standard slab-style cellphone.

And I’m nonetheless getting over the utter thrill of becoming this entire cellphone simply into the entrance pocket of my denims. I’m often one to place my cellphone in my again pocket after I’m up and about and never actively utilizing it. This implies I’ve to take it out of my pocket or put my gadget in very actual hazard of being pulverized each time I sit down. With the Flip 4, I don’t even should play this harmful recreation — whether or not I’m sitting or standing, it suits in that entrance pocket. It’s somewhat comfortable, like I’m carrying a pockets, nevertheless it’s undoubtedly much less dangerous.

Just like the Flip 3, the Flip 4 is IPX8-rated, so you’ll be able to submerge it in freshwater, nevertheless it isn’t sealed towards mud. That’s as a result of it actually can’t be, what with the hinge and all. There are little brushes inside to try to preserve mud from getting sucked in and ruining the display screen, however Samsung makes no ensures.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 with screen open showing crease

The crease by no means bothered me.

The primary show is one other potential weak level — it’s product of ultra-thin glass that’s extra susceptible to scratches and harm than the standard cellphone display screen. Samsung says the show is 45 % stronger on this iteration, and the non-user-replaceable display screen protector on high is glued in place with stronger adhesive to keep away from it coming aside and effervescent up — an issue for a few of its earlier units.

All that mentioned, the Flip 4 feels very sturdy in its folded kind. The burden of it, the strengthened glass, and the aluminum exterior all really feel reassuring. Paying $999 for this cellphone doesn’t really feel like a dangerous guess. Nonetheless, its long-term prospects towards mud intrusion and every day put on and tear are nonetheless unknown, so I wouldn’t throw all warning to the wind.

I’ve no complaints in regards to the Fold 4’s principal display screen 6.7-inch display screen. It provides a smooth-scrolling high refresh fee of 120Hz, and it will get vivid sufficient to make use of fairly comfortably in direct daylight. There’s a crease, after all, however I bought used to it shortly, and it by no means actually bothered me. There’s a brand new choice while you’re utilizing the display screen in Flex Mode — that’s while you use the cellphone in an L-shape and transfer the content material to the highest half of the display screen with controls within the decrease half.

Z Flip 4 in an L-shape with camera app open

The native digital camera app helps Flex Mode.

In an app that doesn’t assist it natively (which is… most apps), you’ll be able to allow the Flex Mode panel, which has a brand new touchpad function. You need to use it to maneuver a cursor across the high half of the display screen. It’s useful if you actually need to make use of the cellphone hands-free, however the tiny high half of the display screen will get cluttered up and onerous to make use of in a short time. It’s useful for an app like TikTok, the place you would possibly need to use the cellphone in Flex Mode for a short time to start out and cease recording, however I wouldn’t need to use it for an prolonged period of time.

Then there’s the little man: the quilt display screen. It’s a 1.9-inch OLED, and its small dimension actually holds it again. You need to use it to take selfies with the rear cameras, learn your notifications, verify the climate, and a handful of different issues most smartwatches can do. In case you faucet a notification, the cellphone will immediate you to open the principle display screen and proceed your journey there.

However the cowl display screen can do some greater than it may final yr. The Flip 4 permits you to ship fast responses to texts, which is good. You may dictate a textual content — which was the case with the Flip 3 — however when you’d quite not speak to your cellphone, you’ll be able to choose from an inventory of frequent phrases like “On my method” and the subtly passive-aggressive “Nice.” They’re not context-sensitive, like instructed fast replies within the full Messages app or Gmail, and the checklist is somewhat lengthy. You may’t customise them, both — no altering “OMG!” to a extra chill “omg.” Like the brand new software program options on the Fold 4, Samsung isn’t committing someway on whether or not these items shall be ported to older foldable fashions. In concept, there’s nothing basically totally different in regards to the Flip 3 that might forestall this.

Galaxy Z Flip 4 on a desk

The tiny cowl display screen is sort of restricted in what it could possibly do.

You can even preview the precise side ratio of your selfie pictures and video by double tapping the display screen while you’re in fast shot mode. The default preview fills the entire display screen, so it solely reveals you what’s in the course of your shot — not on the high and backside. I’m glad to have the choice so I can see what’s out of body, however I checked, and the preview is actually the dimensions of a postage stamp. There’s a cause why Samsung didn’t embrace this the primary time round.

You can even take portrait mode selfies now in Fast Shot, and since they arrive from the cellphone’s principal digital camera, they don’t suck like most portrait mode selfies. That’s a cool flip cellphone trick. There’s entry to extra capabilities in a fast settings panel, too, together with the flashlight — the cellphone mercifully warns you to show it away out of your face earlier than urgent the quantity key to allow it.

The Flip 4 additionally permits you to set as much as three contacts you can name instantly from the quilt display screen, and there’s a brand new widget to set off SmartThings scenes. The entire earlier cowl display screen options are right here, too, just like the timer, climate widget, and music controls.

Loads of the time I spend taking a look at my cellphone feels prefer it wasn’t by alternative. I resent that it steals away chunks of my consideration, 10 or 20 minutes at a time, when all I wished to do was be certain my alarm was set or verify the forecast for the following few hours. The Flip 4 lets me do these little chores with out really opening the cellphone, and I admire that. Certain, most of this may very well be completed with a smartwatch, however then I’ve one other factor on my individual begging for my consideration, and perhaps I don’t need that.

In any case, the minimal distractions look like extra of a facet product of the quilt display screen not being that helpful quite than an intentional side of the design. An even bigger cowl display screen can be an excellent factor, but when it does add one, I hope Samsung finds a method to preserve this minimally invasive expertise it appears to have constructed by chance.

So far as regular cellphone stuff goes, the Flip 4 has all of it coated. There’s a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor — the Android flagship chipset du jour— and all variations embrace 8GB of RAM. Alongside the fast-refreshing display screen, the Flip 4 feels as quick and responsive as a $999 gadget ought to. There’s a much bigger 3,700mAh battery (up from 3,300mAh). Battery life on the Flip 3 wasn’t precisely unhealthy, nevertheless it wasn’t one of many cellphone’s strengths. The brand new larger capability (and a extra power-efficient chipset) appear to bump battery efficiency up somewhat. I can get via a really demanding day with loads of video streaming, GPS navigation, cellular hotspot tethering, and a few video recording and not using a recharge, which is not any small feat for this comparatively small battery.

For a cellphone at its value level, the Flip 4’s cameras look awfully common. That was true of the Flip 3 (and the Flip fashions earlier than that), and as soon as once more, Samsung has performed little or no to enhance them this time round. The pixels on its 12-megapixel F/1.8 principal rear digital camera are somewhat larger and thus could also be higher at gathering gentle, however that’s all. It’s the identical 12-megapixel ultrawide and 10-megapixel front-facing digital camera because the Flip 3.

Right here’s my confession: regardless of the lackluster specs, I really like taking footage with this cellphone. It doesn’t have something to do with the pixel dimension or the sensors or any of that. It’s the versatile kind issue. I can set it up on a desk and file a video hands-free of me and my toddler to ship to the grandparents — they’re absolute fiends for grandchild content material, and I’m completely satisfied to oblige. Sadly, the built-in microphone place in that configuration means it doesn’t choose up audio effectively, however grandparents don’t care about that form of factor, fortunately.

I also can pop the cellphone open in Flex Mode, transfer the picture preview to the decrease half of the display screen, and shoot from the hip — that method, I can get extra pure candid photographs as a result of I’m not making the apparent “I’m taking an image” transfer of placing the cellphone in entrance of my face. I may have interaction in Avenue Images if I wished to. Let me let you know, I’d really feel like an actual flippin’ Henri Cartier-Bresson strolling across the streets of Seattle with my Samsung Z Flip 4.

I even set the cellphone up in Flex Mode and recorded video for my very first TikTok. A TikTok! At my age! These are all of the issues Samsung desires you to do with the cellphone, and perhaps I’m only a sucker, however I did them, and it was superior. I don’t need to return to taking footage with a slab-style cellphone. My solely remorse is that the Flip doesn’t have a telephoto digital camera. The Fold 4’s portrait mode pictures with its 3x telephoto lens look actually convincing, and it will be so candy to have it on this kind issue. Alas, wide-angle portrait mode is all of the Flip has, and so they nonetheless have that cardboard cutout look.

So far as picture high quality goes, it’s all simply wonderful. It’s typical Samsung saturated shade. Pictures in dim gentle are okay, with heavy noise discount smoothing at instances. Identical goes for video — clips are somewhat noisy in dim gentle, and in darker circumstances, they’re noticeably smoothed over. All of that simply falls throughout the boundaries of acceptable picture high quality from a flagship cellphone, however I want Samsung would do some higher. Give me a higher-res sensor with fancy pixel-binning methods and higher low-light picture high quality! Give me a 3x telephoto lens! That is the “enjoyable” foldable cellphone, so it’s not first in line for digital camera upgrades, I suppose, however Samsung actually can’t afford to take a seat nonetheless once more subsequent yr on the imaging {hardware}.

The little flip cellphone nonetheless comes up quick.

It feels grasping asking for extra from the Flip 4. It folds in half. It’s waterproof. Efficiency is nice. It has pretty good cameras, and you should utilize them in a method that no slab-style cellphone can match. It doesn’t value $1,800. However we will and will ask for extra from this cellphone as a result of it may very well be significantly better.

As a lot as I just like the minimally intrusive 1.9-inch cowl display screen, a much bigger display screen just like the Motorola Razr’s would simply be extra helpful. The cameras may very well be higher — a telephoto lens is all however assured on different $1,000 telephones, and picture how good it will be on this one! There’s additionally the query of long-term sturdiness and what years of publicity to mud will do to its innards. No person is aware of as a result of this type of cellphone merely hasn’t existed lengthy sufficient to know.

Personally, I’m offered. I’ve used a variety of telephones during the last yr; a lot of them have been good, some have been nice. However none of them felt like they might basically change how I take advantage of my cellphone just like the Flip 4 has. It hasn’t fairly hit its stride, however I positive like the place it’s going.

Images by Allison Johnson / The Verge



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