Samsung Galaxy Z Flip: a functional foldable, but not for everyone [Review]

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip: a functional foldable, but not for everyone [Review]

In the Galaxy Z Flip, Samsung’s idea was to make a foldable one with a big screen, but one that fits in a pocket. The model is surprising for being really well built, with a firm grip and without looking like it will dismantle in your hand.

prosgood camerasFoldable (and fun)Compact but not fragiletop of the line performance consAverage battery lifeslow loadingSmall outer cover screen

Launched internationally in February 2020 and here in Brazil the following month, the Galaxy Z Flip is the best foldable currently available on the market, but the category as a whole has yet to mature.

design

The design of the Z Flip and Motorola Razr is a big draw as it looks like the old flip phones that were successful back then. Also, this way of opening and closing is more practical and leaves the phone half the size when it is closed.

The hinge is very well built and makes no noise during movement. With more careful use, Samsung says the Z Flip can make about 200,000 folds or last about 5 years in real life. During my tests, the wellness tool showed that I unlocked (i.e., unfolded) the phone about 70 or 80 times a day.

But there’s one thing: despite the good construction, I wouldn’t have the slightest courage to take out a foldable cell phone on the beach, even if Samsung explains that the device has a kind of internal “brush” to help “sweep” the dust when you open the phone. Also, it’s important to remember that the Z Flip is not rated for water or dust resistance. Yes, it’s another cell phone of more than R$ 8 thousand without IP68.

Opening the device with one hand is very 1990s/2000s, but it’s not that easy, even more so because the cell phone is expensive and I don’t want it to fly out of my hand. Once you get the hang of the wrist movement (and a little strength), it actually works, but I still think it’s safer to open it with both hands. And, of course, turning off your phone by closing the flip is kind of irrelevant in 2020, albeit a pleasant one.

The cover that comes with the Z Flip to protect the glass back is divided into two parts and is very fragile, but it does its job, despite coming off the device very easily for my taste.

It does not have a 3.5mm headphone jack. On the right side of the device we have the volume keys and the fingerprint reader, which is on the on/off button; on the left side is the chip slot; and on the back (or front when it’s closed), the dual camera shares space with a 1-inch screen that brings some notifications, but it’s not 100% successful.

You can see some important information that is waiting inside the device, control media playback, but to read text it doesn’t work well, as it would need to be a little bigger, like in the Motorola Razr. The external screen also doubles as a viewfinder for selfies, but you can’t see the full picture, so it’s kind of weird. The advantage is that you can take selfies with the rear camera, which is better than the front one. The small screen is also not always on.

Flexible glass?

Another great differential promised with the Z Flip was a folding one with a glass screen, since the other solutions are made of plastic. However, Samsung explained that the 6.7-inch AMOLED screen is made up of layers of plastic and has an ultra-thin glass that is 0.03mm thick — a sheet of sulfite is twice that.

This little bottle is not so scratch resistant, but as it is protected when the cell phone is closed, you can keep it away from the scratches of your pocket or purse. In addition, the touch feeling on it is quite ok and resembles a “normal” smartphone glass, without having that plastic texture.

I also didn’t notice any weird ripples on the screen or any “bruise” marks, as this test unit passed through other hands over the last few months before it ended up here with us.

But of course, there’s one thing you can’t ignore in a foldable: the crease in the canvas. Here it doesn’t attract as much attention as in the Galaxy Fold thanks to the horizontal axis, which makes it occupy a much smaller area on the display. You can feel the mark when you slide your finger across the screen, you can see that it’s there depending on the angle, and when the screen has a lot of white space, for example, it feels like the hinge isn’t completely open, but yes it is. And I have to confess that the crease is the same as the notch: you don’t like it, it bothers you in the middle of the screen, but over time you get used to it.

If you want to buy a Z Flip and are already thinking about putting a film to protect the device’s screen, be aware that Samsung warned that using third-party protection can void the phone’s warranty.

Talking about the image quality of the display, the colors are vibrant and the viewing angle is quite pleasing. In addition, the brightness is enough to see under the sun without great difficulties, after all we are still talking about a Samsung screen. But that almost 22:9 aspect ratio is a little weird, and some apps scale to fit just right. Instagram stories, for example, have black bars at the top and bottom.

performance and software

The Galaxy Z Flip is equipped with a top-of-the-line Qualcomm processor, the Snapdragon 855+, unlike the 2019 Motorola Razr, which arrived with a 2018 Snapdragon 710 processor, at exactly the same price as the Z Flip here in Brazil. Complementing the specs, the Z Flip has 8GB of RAM and 256GB of non-expandable internal storage.

With the Samsung folding device, I had no trouble navigating between apps, multitasking and even playing games. I won’t get too attached to performance, because it brings what you expect from a top of the line with Snapdragon 855+.

On the software side, it runs Android 10 with One UI 2.1, which has a series of Samsung features, but the really cool thing is the Flex Mode, with which you can use your phone as if it were a tripod to take photo, for example. Just partially bend the phone so you can see what’s on the screen and leave it balanced on a surface. You can choose from different aperture angles, and while you’re seeing what’s being captured at the top of the screen, the bottom shows the shutter button and other menu features.

You can also record video hands-free leaving your cell phone supported, make a video call and everything else. But it is still not possible to take advantage of Flex Mode that much, except in applications that have already been optimized for it, such as YouTube, but the update with the feature did not appear here during the tests. Who worked really cool with the optimization was Google Duo, which lets you chat very freely without holding the device.

Drums

The Galaxy Z Flip comes with a 3,300 mAh battery that promises up to 13 hours of surfing the internet. And here we get to a not-so-nice part of the Z Flip. The Galaxy S20 Ultra, for example, has 5,000 mAh, but the Razr has only 2,510 mAh.

You can use it for a whole day, without exaggerating too much, after all we are not talking about a smartphone focused on long battery life. Fast charging wasn’t that fast either: half an hour of charging with the device zeroed to reach just over 40% charge.

The Galaxy Z Flip also features the Wireless Powershare feature, which allows you to charge another compatible device by bringing the batteries closer. This is show.

Camera

At the rear, there are two cameras, both 12 MP, one of them being ultra-wide-angle. The set resembles that of the Galaxy S10 and still inherited that Single Take feature from the Galaxy S20, which automatically takes several photos for you to choose the one you like the most later. It can also record time-lapse videos in low light.

In the end, the result is good photos, nothing too ambitious, and with that slightly exaggerated touch from Samsung that deviates a little from the real tones that we see outside the lens. If you try to use the zoom, you will feel that mess in the details of the image.

During the night or in low light environments, the capture is a little blurry, but the night mode “throws” a light and gives a more artificial exposure effect.

The 10 MP front camera has an f/2.4 aperture and is located in the middle of the screen. The photos come out very sharp and bring the option of a wider mode and another with cropping to be closer to the face. But it is worth remembering that you can also use the wide-angle at the rear and the lid screen to take selfies with more people in the frame.

Conclusion: is it worth it?

I thought I would use my cell phone less if I had to keep opening it all the time, but clearly that didn’t happen. And whose fault is it? It’s mine. But I honestly don’t think this is a hindrance that helps reduce screen time. And there’s that crucial and very adult point of the analysis: it’s fun as hell to keep opening and closing the device.

In times of social distancing, which has greatly increased the use of video calling features, this option of leaving your cell phone supported without having to hold it all the time is great. Using creativity to take pictures with the Z Flip supported and open at different angles is also pretty cool.

The space saving in the bag (which, I have to confess, was fully tested in the Wolf Maia school of imitation of reality, since I didn’t use the bag inside the house during the pandemic) is also a positive point.

But the reality is: none of this is going to change your life. The Galaxy Z Flip is, yes, the best option available so far in the foldable world. It’s got high-end hardware, it’s fast, fluid, well-built, compact — but not flimsy — and it has nice cameras.

It’s worth spending so many thousand reais if you really want to have a different technology in your pocket, if you like to get the attention of the people around you when it’s time to use your cell phone and that kind of thing.

I found the user experience very cool, it didn’t disappoint me, but it probably wouldn’t be my first purchase option for a top-of-the-line device these days.

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