Samsung Galaxy Z Flip: The thing about Samsung’s latest foldable is that it can’t compete with the best top tier flagship phones that are doing the rounds of the market. It neither has the fastest processor, it doesn’t have the most visually appealing display, nor does it have the best cameras and at the same time, its battery is rather small while the entire package is rather fragile by modern standards. So what the hell are you paying for upwards of Rs 1,00,000, you’d ask? Well, it is a combination of vanity, cutting edge futurism seen in science fiction and nostalgia for old school phones from a simpler time. Yes, that’s the promise of the Galaxy Z Flip with the added benefit of features that one expects on top tier phones, even if it doesn’t do those things as well as the usual suspects.
The other promise of the Galaxy Z Fold is if you’re solely in the market for a phone that has a folding screen, then simply, there is nothing better — because it is simple in almost an elegant way, functionally normal like any premium smartphone and oh so cool which is kind of the point behind buying something so expensive.
Fundamentally, it is basically a Galaxy S10 if you’re going to judge it on the basis of its innards. You get Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 processor, 8GB RAM, 128GB storage, very good 12-megapixel dual cameras on the back, 10-megapixel front shooter and 3,300mAh battery which gets charged via USB C. This was kind of the benchmark for what we saw last year on most flagship Android smartphones, but then you can argue that this can be had for less than a quarter of the price of the Galaxy Z Flip, even on Samsung’s own phones like the S10 Lite? Well, I left out one thing — the display.
The display is what changes everything on the Galaxy Z Flip. With its 6.7-inch foldable screen, the Galaxy Z Flip is the very definition of science fiction cuddled up in nostalgia. The Z Flip brings the flip phone concept back to life and how. Now, there are other folding phones, most notably, Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, and more recently, Motorola’s Moto Razr reprise which for many was the most iconic flip phone from the 2000s. But the Galaxy Z Flip is significantly better than the Razr and in ways is also better than Samsung’s rushed first foldable that made the news for all the wrong reasons.
This is the first foldable phone to feature a glass OLED screen which not only makes the screen pop but also makes it smoother in terms of interaction feel and makes it sturdier less prone to scratches. This is a huge elevation from what we saw in foldable phones in 2019. The screen on the Galaxy Z Flip moves the needle in a significant way. Though this screen isn’t the nicest one that you’d see on a smartphone today. Its crease is also an oddity visually and physically which can take some getting used to.
Design-wise, its hinge is so sophisticated that it maintains a balance between being stiff and gives you the rapid click of a flip phone by closing rapidly. It can also be reared up like a laptop for people to view some content on the top half while doing something else on the bottom quadrant of the panel
While doing so, in the 4 days I tested this phone, I didn’t manage even an iota of dust entering the hinge which could’ve made the phone potentially prone to damage like the Galaxy Fold or Motorola’s Razr. It must also be noted, for a clamshell design, this phone is very compact especially for something that has a hulking monster of a screen.
As one might imagine, the performance of this phone is the top class. Despite not being as powerful as some of the newer phones that we’ve seen in the last couple of months — it can hold its own with the best. Its guts are more or less the same as the Samsung Galaxy S10 which was the South Korean major’s flagship last year, the same holds true for day to day performance.
It is great for watching movies. It is fast, can multitask with elan while can handle even the best of games without much trouble, while it also has decent cameras — that take great photos in both low-light and sunshine. Despite the rather small battery, its performance is impressive, easily lasting me through a day with medium to heavy usage providing upwards of 6 hours of screen-on time.
Samsung has also added a small panel on the back which can be used for notifications and even acting as a selfie mirror for rear dual cameras. But this screen is so small that it is hardly useful.
The big thing about this phone is that it does everything well — Samsung has even paid attention to small details like the vibration motor which makes the software interactions very delightful. That’s not been the case so far with foldable phones. Its performance is very close to the flagship phones that we see today which is again a very positive thing.
But everything boils down to value for money — and I can’t in good conscience recommend this phone to most people. The reason for it is simple — it starts at almost Rs 40,000 more than the Galaxy S20+ and iPhone 11 which are my recommendations for the best phones for most people. While doing so, it is inferior in build quality as it lacks any kind of water resistance or scratch protection, its cameras are weaker, it’s using fundamentally older processing hardware which means it will not age as well, while its screen can be an acquired taste for some.
However, those who are adventurous and want a glimpse of the future, this is the real deal right now. More so than the hilariously poor Moto Razr and even Samsung’s overly bulbous Galaxy Fold. The reason is simple like I outlined at the beginning of this piece — the Galaxy Z Flip is the first foldable which feels normal in use, cutting edge by its very nature and evokes nostalgia. This in itself is a monumental achievement that excites me for the future of foldable — well done Samsung!