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- The $ 1,000 Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 aims to justify its price with beauty and performance.
- Compared to a traditional flat phone, however, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is full of compromises.
- Battery life is mediocre and the foldable phone concept presents usability challenges.
The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is almost a mirror-copy of the Galaxy Z Flip 3 with the bare minimum of upgrades, including 2022's top Android processor. Like its predecessor, there's lots to love about Samsung's newest foldable phone, but there are some missed opportunities, too.
The company set out to fix what desperately needed to be fixed, which was the Z Flip 3's short battery life. Even then, the company hasn't really fixed it — rather, it's been addressed and improved, instead of something new and better.
The Z Flip 4 could also have been an opportunity to make phone actually flip open with one hand rather than needing two hands to unfold due to the stiff hinge. It was also an opportunity to bring down the price, or at least give it comparable battery life and camera quality as other $ 1,000 phones.
The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is ideal for small pockets, but it's a chore to unfold it
Don't be surprised if people ask why you're still using a flip phone, because foldable smartphones are still a novel concept. The appeal is that you can have a full-size smartphone that clams up to fit easily in pockets. Unlike the "mini" versions of regular smartphones, you don't sacrifice screen size.
The Z Fold 4 is undeniably beautiful with its frosted, matte-textured glass that tastefully contrasts with the shiny metal frame and hinge on our purple review unit. I tend to prefer neutral colors on phones, like whites, silvers, blacks, and blues, but the purple is gorgeous.
But, unfolding it every time you want to use the phone can be a tiresome chore; the hinge is so stiff that it requires both hands. If you're expecting the thumb-flip experience from the old-school Motorola Razr, the Z Flip 4 will disappoint.
It's possible to unfold the Z Flip 4 with a single hand, but it's an awkward motion — the Z Flip 4 isn't designed for one-handed unfolding. Not to mention there isn't a notch for thumbs to grip and flip. You might think it sounds trivial, but I found it bothersome enough to mention.
It's clear that Samsung also recognizes this problem, which is why it made the Z Flip 4's outer screen more useful than before. It's tiny, but it displays notifications, lets you control music, set a timer, shows your day's calendar events, and lets you reply to texts with voice. You can even use it as a viewfinder for the main cameras to get better quality selfies, or simply take photos without unfolding the phone. However, you'll need to unfold the phone to use it in most meaningful ways.
The Galaxy Z Flip 4's foldable display still suffers from its inherent quirks
You'll find a crease where the screen folds, which is an unavoidable trait of foldable phones. Samsung did a good job hiding it: It is nearly invisible while using the phone and it has no negative impact on the phone's usefulness. In fact, I find it oddly satisfying and fun to run my thumb across the crease.
A more concerning quirk is the Z Flip 4's lack of dust resistance, especially in the hinge. It's interesting that Samsung made it water resistant but didn't go further to make it even more rugged. I brought the Z Flip 4 to the beach during testing but realized sand could get into the hinge mechanism, possibly causing all sorts of havoc. So, the Z Flip 4 stayed in my pocket while I used my traditional "flat" phone to take photos.
The Galaxy Z Flip 4 runs incredibly fast, but the screen can feel cramped
Swiping around the Samsung-customized Android operating system and opening apps is as smooth and snappy as can possibly be, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor and the 120-hertz (Hz) display. The latter means it refreshes the display 120 times per second compared to 60 times per second like standard 60Hz screens.
However, the Z Flip 4's narrow display width makes everything look cramped on the screen, including videos, photos, text, and any app content, really. Everything looks smaller than it should on a large 6.7-inch screen because it's being squeezed by the display's narrowness.
Battery life is longer, but still not as good as a flat phone
Where the Z Flip 3's battery life would get into the single-digit numbers before bedtime, the Z Flip 4 would last longer with around 20% battery life remaining. During testing, I got about two hours of continuous use, which included video streaming, running apps (Reddit, Slack, Chrome, Twitter, and Instagram), messaging, and shooting photos. This is about half the battery life we would expect from a standard phone with a much larger battery, so expect the need to top-off the Z Flip 4 during the day.
Samsung upped the Z Flip 4's charging speed to 25W versus 15W on the Z Flip 3. It means you can recharge the Z Flip 4 faster, which is especially useful when the phone's battery life is shorter than a regular phone's. Plus, it supports 10W wireless charging for slower, lengthier charging, which is ideal if you're sitting at a desk or on the couch for a while.
Samsung doesn't include a charger and you'll need one that handles at least 25 watts. You may have one already, but if not, we recommend Anker's 30W 711 Nano II charger, or something that can handle multiple devices, like Anker's 65W GanPrime 735 for a phone and a tablet, or Anker's 120W GanPrime 737 for a phone and a laptop.
Despite missing a zoom lens, the camera system is solid
The Z Flip 4 has a dual-lens camera system that includes an ultra-wide lens. It won't disappoint if you simply want something good and reliable. Our only complaint is that it tends to boost colors a little too much, but all Samsung phone cameras suffer from this.
Compared to the triple-lens cameras you get on Samsung's Galaxy S22 series, which includes a 3x zoom lens, the Z Flip 4 is inferior. The S22's main camera sensor performs better in low-light as well.
Yet, the Z Flip 4 has a neat trick up its sleeve that lets you record video and take photos of yourself hands-free, and it's made possible with the phone's foldable design. It's called Flexcam, and it lets you fold the Z Flip 4 about halfway so the phone can sit on its own. It's like having a tripod to record video or take photos, and it's clearly designed for the social media crowd.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 specifications
|Specification||Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4|
|Display||6.7-inch OLED FHD+ (2,640 x 1,080), 120Hz|
|Colors||Bora Purple, Graphite, Pink Gold, Blue|
|Processor / Memory (RAM)||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 / 8GB|
|Rear camera||12MP main, 12MP ultrawide|
|Storage||128GB, 256GB, 512GB|
Should you buy the Galaxy Z Flip 4?
Perhaps the real question is, do you really want a foldable phone? If the concept appeals to you, then the Z Flip 4 is what we'd recommend on account of its excellent performance, design, and solid cameras.
But, foldable phones aren't something we would recommend to most people — at least, not the current generation. As a daily driver, there are too many compromises and shortcomings that overshadow its space-saving benefit, like the constant folding and unfolding, screen width, and shorter battery life.
Compared with most regular phones, the Z Flip 4 is also expensive at $ 1,000. It's the same price as the iPhone 14 Pro and Galaxy S22 Plus, both of which have superior cameras, performance, and battery life.
I'm not telling you to stay away — it is a well-made device — but I'm also not saying it should be on your shortlist.