Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 review: From an iPhone user's perspective
After almost three years with an iPhone, an Android smartphone once again found its way into my pocket: The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4. You can read in this review how I liked it and where the strengths and weaknesses of this smartphone lie.
Foldables have not been a significant innovation for a long time. Samsung continued the whole thing with that Galaxy fold more or less a few years ago after a failed attempt moving. Other manufacturers soon followed, such as Motorola with the Razr, Microsoft with the Surface Duo or OPPO with the Find N. And then there are the more “unusual” candidates, including TCL with its trifold smartphone or the Huawei Mate X, which can be folded outwards.
In 2020, Samsung expanded its range with the Z Flip. While the fold is folded vertically, you fold it horizontally. Therefore, there is only more space on the outside for a small display to show the time and other small information. This new form factor makes the Z Flip more compact than many other current smartphones.
I was able to test the third Z Flip, more precisely the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4, for a few weeks. In addition to the usual things, in this article I want to highlight what I noticed after using an iPhone for almost three years. Small disclaimer: After the release of the iPhone 11 I decided to give iOS another chance after having turned my back on the operating system since iOS 4. As it turned out, I fell in love quickly and stayed until recently. But I hadn't written Android off during that time.
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Unboxing and initial setup
As is usual with smartphones these days, the packaging of the Z Flip4 is also quite boring. When designing this, Samsung opted for two different shades of gray. On the right side of the pack we see a logo, on the left it became the Proproduct name printed and we have flip lettering at the top. Samsung put a sticker with small print on the back. The scope of delivery is limited, the Z Flip4 is included in the opened state, a double-sided USB-C cable, several instructions and notes and no power supply. The latter is a trend that Apple is unfortunately starting. And unfortunately could too Samsung not withstand.
A connection to the Google account must then be established and you have the option of importing backups from the cloud. Alternatively, this can also be done via a direct connection to another device. For iPhone users, it is helpful that Samsung allows you to import content from iCloud. In the end I didn't do it, because my calendar and contacts are on Google anyway. However, I then found that iOS automatically stores new contacts in the iCloud. I would like it if I could choose the storage location myself.
In the further course of the setup, you specify an unlocking method and you can connect the Z Flip4 to a Samsung account if you wish. This gives you access to Samsung Pay and Smart Things and you can create and sync backups. Furthermore, this allows you to download various content from the Samsung Store.
Design and workmanship
The Z Flip4 clearly stands out from the crowd of smartphones, because the folding mechanism and the cover display on the back are hard to miss. Samsung offers the device in several colors, called Bora Purple, Graphite (my test device), Pink Gold and Blue. If you are willing to put a little more money on the table for the Bespoke Edition, you can choose the colors of the individual parts yourself.
The frame is made of aluminum and is only interrupted by a few antenna strips. On the right side we have the volume control and the power button. The volume buttons are too narrow for my taste as they are as wide as the power button on my iPhone 13 Pro Max. The pressure point of the keys is okay for that. I found it practical that the assignment of the keys is inverted when the smartphone is folded. That means the volume up button is always up and the volume down button is always down. The fingerprint sensor is located in the power button. The finger is recognized extremely quickly and even with wet skin, the sensor rarely had a Proproblem For me it was exciting to see how quickly you get used to Face ID, although it is much slower and impractical to use. You have to scan the face and then swipe up again anyway. And in the Corona period, the unlocking method with a mask and without an Apple Watch was useless anyway.
The loudspeaker, the microphone and the SIM slot are distributed over the bottom and left side. The stereo speakers, which Samsung developed together with AKG and support Dolby Atmos, were quite convincing for smartphone speakers. Consuming podcasts or YouTube videos was not a problem Proproblem For music, I preferred to use headphones.
The back reminds me a bit of Google's Pixel 2 and Pixel 3. It is divided into an area with frosted glass at the bottom and an area with normal black glass at the top. This upper area is intended to make the front display appear larger than it actually is. Because it is based on AMOLED, this effect works quite well. This also houses the dual camera, under which the flash is located. The matte finish provides a better grip in the hand, thus compensating for the slippery frame.
And now a few words about the foldability of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4. At first glance, the question naturally arises: "Isn't that too fragile?". The question is justified because, as already explained in the introduction, Samsung's first Fold was a failure, with numerous display damages. In the meantime, however, everyone has it under control, including Samsung.
The Z Flip4 can be opened and closed steplessly, whereby the mechanism feels robust and stable. If you don't open the device fully, you can use the flex mode. I'll explain what that is in detail later. According to the manufacturer, the smartphone should have 200.000 folds proendure without problem. That might not sound like much, but when you consider how often you use your smartphone pro opens the day, you can get away with it for a while. As Tests on the predecessor showed, you can also easily push it beyond that limit. Much more likely were the Z Flip3 sudden cracks along the fold a difficulty. Time will tell if something like this also occurs with this device.
Nevertheless, the Z Flip4 should also be able to withstand external influences. It is IPX8 waterproof, which means you can take it with you in 1,5 meter deep water for half an hour without worrying. Also some dust cannot harm the device. All in all, the workmanship is surprisingly good.
I also really like the form factor. I could hold the Z Flip4 in my hands on public transport without anyone noticing. With the iPhone 13 Pro Max from Apple is impossible. It's also easier to use with one hand, although you still need a second hand in some situations.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 has a total of two displays. On the one hand we have the main display on the inside and on the other hand there is the already explained cover display for displaying compact information.
The main display is 6,7 inches, has a resolution of 1080 x 2640 pixels and is based on AMOLED. Color reproduction and brightness are slightly better than the iPhone, and the black level is good anyway thanks to AMOLED. However, when looking from the side, white turns to blue, which I found on my iPhone 13 Pro Max cannot determine. The 120 hertz is good as expected, but nothing worth mentioning.
The aspect ratio is longer than most other smartphones. As a result, the smartphone fits comfortably in the hand and still has a lot of content on the screen at once. I would notice the biggest disadvantage in everyday life in the gym (if I had had time for it in addition to my move). There I like to start a sequence of a series, whereby the picture would be reduced and a black bar would be visible on the right and left. Some games, such as Asphalt 9, adapt to the aspect ratio for this.
The display glass is protected by a plastic film, which unfortunately is very easy to scratch. So care is required in everyday life. I couldn't get used to the crease in the middle, because you always run your finger over it when scrolling. In addition, it catches the eye more easily because the display is not as large as on the ZFold4 at a hunt.
It continues with the front display, an AMOLED panel that measures 1,9 inches diagonally. This is for displaying compact information and interacting with a modest selection of widgets. You can see the time and notifications at a glance or you can quickly control the current music playback. So it's perfect for quick interactions with the device. The whole thing can be flexibly adjusted via the system settings of the smartphone. There you can, among other things, choose the positioning of the time and the font color.
Another feature of the small touchscreen is that it can act as a view finder for the camera. This makes it easy to take high-resolution selfies. Because after the release, the image that shows the cover display is simply scaled up. The trigger is simply tapped on the display, which I didn't find that intuitive. I would have preferred to use the power button to trigger the recording.
I don't understand why only the inner display supports an always-on mode, because it doesn't make much sense there. Because if I want to know the time, for example, and I'm not actively using the Z Flip4, it's most likely closed and I want to see the time on the cover display.
The battery of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 has a capacity of 3.700 mAh, which is 400 mAh more than its predecessor. Of course, the smartphone supports fast charging with 25 watts, which is very refreshing for me as an iPhone user. With wireless charging, you can still draw 15 watts. Reverse wireless charging is also on board – more on that in a moment.
On average, the Flip4's battery lasted a day. I used the device once more with Netflix and various games and once less. From 30 Procents to 100 Procent, the charging process takes about an hour and from 0 Procents to 50 Proyou can get to the center in about half an hour. A full charge takes around 1,25 hours.
Let's get back to reverse wireless charging, or Wireless PowerShare, as Samsung calls it in the operating system. This is a feature that is not active by default and can be found through Settings or the Notification Center. If you switch it on, the device acts as a Qi charging pad, which can be used to charge other devices with 4,5 watts. This is particularly useful for in-ears or smartwatches, since at least I tend to forget to charge them. The only downside is that the battery drains noticeably faster. But I would still like to see such a function for future iPhones.
Software and performance
One UI 4 based on Android 12 is the software installed on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4. On top of that there is the security patch from November 2022 and the update to Android 13 with One UI 5 is already imminent. Samsung promises updates for a total of four years.
I quickly found my way around Android and One UI, because overall everything is still the same as it was three years ago. Animations were always smooth and there were never any crashes. The large headings in Samsung's own apps were more appealing because they make it much easier to use with one hand. I also like the grouping of notifications in Android a lot better, everything looks tidier than in iOS. On top of that, I liked the interactive widgets, which iOS should definitely get. However, what I also noticed is that the Play Store offers significantly less high-quality apps.
I also noticed two things negatively about One UI 4. Firstly, there is the gesture for switching on picture-in-picture, which is triggered by swiping from top to bottom. As a result, it often happened that I only wanted to look at my notifications and started picture-in-picture instead. On the other hand, I couldn't really do anything with the flex mode. Among other things, you get a mouse pad and some quick actions, for example a button for taking a screenshot if you only partially fold the Flip4.
In contrast, I found the One UI app switcher bar to be very helpful. This offers a limited selection of shortcuts for selected apps.
Other special fold features, like the Z Fold4, are not included.
Samsung installed a dual camera in the Z Flip4 compared to a triple camera in the current Fold. One lens is a wide-angle camera with 12 megapixels, an f/1.8 aperture and OIS. The second camera, an ultra wide-angle camera, also has a 12-megapixel resolution. Videos can be recorded in 4K at 30 or 60 frames pro second or with 4K at up to 960 frames pro Record second and HDR10. The resolution of the front camera is 10 megapixels, it also supports video recordings with 4K.
My impression of the photos is consistently positive compared to the images that my iPhone spits out. Daylight photos are about as good as my 13th Pro Max, they have bold colors and lots of detail. In wide-angle mode, you get a little more with the Z Flip4, which you only notice in direct comparison. In my eyes, Samsung has the edge when it comes to low-light shots. iOS likes to brighten up low-light shots a little more. The images from the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4, on the other hand, remain a little darker and the colors are more saturated, which I think looks more natural. Colors are washed out a bit when taking snapshots in rooms with darkness outside, but this is difficult for most smartphones to deal with.
You will find a small album with test recordings here. The button with the i icon shows which camera the image came from.
Let's go back to the software topic: In my opinion, the camera's UI is too overloaded. There are many, in my opinion partly superfluous, modes and buttons on every corner. Apple did it a lot better, including apps like Halide offer a better division.
Prices and availability
The RRP of the Z Flip4 is 999 euros. Samsung charges at least 1.049 euros for the Bespoke Edition. The prices on Amazon are a bit cheaper.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4: Verdict
I really enjoyed my little "experiment" with the Z Flip4. I was surprised by the compact form factor and the fast charging and power share were useful additions in everyday life. Otherwise, the camera is superior to the iPhone in some situations. Also, it was just interesting once again to explore the other side, namely Androidprobeer I will definitely keep an eye on this area more often in the future.
Apart from that, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 is also just a good smartphone with a nice design. The processing is clean, I could not Pronotice problems when folding and everything else seems very robust. We shall see how this develops over time. Samsung is getting better and better at software. One UI is nowhere near as cluttered as Samsung interfaces used to be. It will still be a while before you can speak of pure Android. Samsung could, for example, save on some gimmicks, such as the Flex mode.
But is such a flip phone worth it at all, do you really need it? I have to answer this question with a resounding no. It does bring some benefits, but no real added value. However, I have to say that the smartphone was noticeably less distracting for me thanks to the front display. Thanks to this, I was able to view notifications there and control music through them without the Flip4 really taking my attention.
What do I wish for the future of the Flip series? Of course, it would be great if Samsung could correct the points of criticism from my test. Furthermore, I would not mind if the crease became less noticeable and the front camera moved under the display as with the Fold.
Thank you for providing the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4.