I had a chance to do a hands on with the Galaxy Z Flip and here is my five cents.
Everyone was a little excited to join the press conference where we watched new Galaxy phones unveil. For once again after many years, the Galaxy Z Flip, second generation of foldable phone from Samsung, had a curiosity factor.
Unpacked 2020 was a straight forward presentation. Samsung showed the phones quicky and then started talking about it which is a satisfying thing, if you really don’t want to wait. And that was the feeling. After one and half hours I had a chance to see them and experience them as much as it’s possible with a big room full of journalists whom each wanted to see it for themselves.
Hands on: Galaxy Z Flip
The first impressions were yes, you can fold it, way better than Galaxy Fold, but Z Flip is still not very ergonomic in a day to day usage. But why? Why did noone I talked to didn’t want to buy the phone? Or why everyone had a hesitation when asked “Would you buy it?” or even “Did you like it?”
Clamshells might just do it for people
Let’s start with the design. The clamshell form factor is making a comeback with the new foldables, starting with another very exciting phone from Motorola, Razr 2020. And Samsung responded to Motorola by quickly releasing a phone in same form factor. Of course they have been working on it for a while, but having both companies work on a foldable concept is certainly more than a coincidence.
Razr’s design when first unveiled got very good reactions (well, it was different and charming compared to Galaxy Fold or Mate X). And it seems people also liked it more, so the clamshell seems like it is a new front in foldable phones. Samsung is expected to announce another Galaxy Fold this year, let’s wait and see what the consumer will choose or say.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip pic.twitter.com/tTwlPDX2iX
— aytun çelebi (@aytuncelebi) February 11, 2020
A firm form but to safely open it, you need two hands
Galaxy Z Flip has an almost square form and a little bit thicker than a regular smartphone. You need a little force to open it and close it. And it can stay put in different angles, it also stands firm.
You can, for example, fold it to a 90-degrees and rest it on a flat surface. Good for selfies (you won’t need a tripod) or when using just one hand. But even though one can visualize these situations easily, there are more frequent things we do with our phones.
So putting it in your pocket and out and try to open it with one hand is a jeapardous situation. You will probably think what will happen to the phone rather than is it possible.
Yes it can be possible, but you need to get used to it. And in this adaptation term, you must also accept that you can drop it as well. This will definitely be a breaking point for some people.
But hey, let’s not keep our heads down. This is a new type of phone. We need to look closer to grasp the spirit of a clamshell foldable now. (Or maybe not, but you’ve read all this far, didn’t you?)
Galaxy Z Flip has metal frames covering the sides completely, and glass outside it, that meet with the metal on the ends. Definitely a fingerprint magnet and even though I don’t care, I know that someone will.
With the 1 inch display on the front, you can see if your selfie will work
The buttons are pretty much where you’d expect them (or used to have them). Volumes and power (with integrated fingerprint reader) on sides, a USB-C port and speaker on the bottom and that’s it.
On the front face there is a rather small but useful 1 inch display. You can touch it to control notifications, calls and selfies. Yes, you can also see a preview of what’s being taken, and even though the area is really small for a selfie, you get what you are taking and that might be sufficient to see the framing and if anybody in the frame is making a small prank.
A 6,7 inch glass covered screen that can be folded for 200,000 times
When you open the Z Flip, you will have a 6,7-inch AMOLED screen with a glass cover on it. The phone feels pretty solid at hand, and it has a good fit in hand. Doesn’t feel like you are holding a huge screen thanks to 21.9:9 aspect ratio and the glass cover makes sure it won’t get damaged easily as another phone.
Samsung claims that it can stand 200,000 folds, which would do us good for 5 years of usage. Let’s remember when CNET tested the Galaxy Fold for which Samsung had the same claim, but the device lasted only 120,000 folds. Let’s also remember this phone feels much more stable.
Do two things at once: For example write while eating (and if you paid for it, feel no shame)
On the other hand, even though the glass cover feels a bit different, when I tried to press on the screen it kept its form and the image was steady. Motorla Razr 2020 on the other hand, when your finger on its screen, dents a little bit and the image goes through a transformation that looks like a somewhat 80s filter, which might make you feel bad after you pay over a thousand dollars on a phone.
One of the good things about Z Flip is that you will have 4-inch screens when you fold it. So you can do two things at once and it can sit on a desk etc, so you can use it in a number of more convenient ways, such as taking photos without a tripod, message while you are trying to eat at the same time (we know you will), check Instagram when messaging (or waiting for the other party to write). You can imagine more and it can do more, if you can do it on a much smaller (when folded) screen.
The cameras are almost the same with the S10 series
There is a front facing 10MP and two 12MP cameras at the back, just next to that 1 inch display, one for wide and one for ultra-wide angles.
The Galaxy Z Flip can record 4K video up to 60fps. Both works pretty well, but must I remind you that I only had a chance to use it in a very lit big room. But the specs are not anything we are new to, as a matter of fact it is almost the same with S10 series from 2019.
There is a Single Take feature, where you can shoot multiple photos at once and videos for 10 seconds.
Specs are 2019 again but with better folding and stability
Taking a peak inside, Z Flip has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, 3,300mAh battery, an eSIM and a nanoSIM slot. Including the cameras, this foldable is just like it’s from 2019. So, very capable but nothing new in terms of specs.
It is of course very hard to say if it will make it in terms of durability in the long term with what I had of an experience in 30 minutes, but the phone feels more confident with what it has. Z Flip brings new functionality through its ergonomy, but also uses some in terms of practicality.
Is this the one? Will the foldables conquer the smartphone market?
It would be a hard decision to make if I wanted to buy it, but Galaxy Z Flip is certainly an exciting phone that can deliver. Even $100 cheaper than its rival, Motorola Razr 2020, it is still expensive at $1,380. It is almost traditional for Samsung to drop the prices in a short period of time, so I really wonder what will happen there in 2-3 months.
Is this the phone of the foldable age? Will the foldables conquer the smartphone space? For me, no and not soon, anyway. But you are the ones to decide it, as the consumer always has the last say.