The Galaxy Z Flip has been launched in India at Rs 1,09,999 and is the most affordable foldable smartphone in the market. Read our review to find out if it’s the phone for you.
Despite being based on the promise of constant innovation, the smartphone industry doesn’t really see too much of it. Over the last few years, we’ve seen most phones follow the simple rule of offering iterative updates with their design and feature set, with out-of-the-box innovation only being restricted to the camera department.
However, in 2019, Samsung attempted to buck the trend by unveiling its very bendable-display totting smartphone, the Galaxy Fold. Despite promising pretty much the same functionality as a normal smartphone, the Galaxy Fold managed to bring in a form factor that oscillates between being a tablet and a phone at the switch of a flip.
But the product wasn’t perfect. Although revolutionary, the form factor was not for everyone and had an overall fragile feel to it. And, all this for a price that was princely, to say the least. But it looks like Samsung has learned its lesson from the Fold, and with its latest foldable phone, the Galaxy Z Flip, the company is now attempting a slightly different form factor but one that still stays true to the idea of the foldable smartphones.
We recently got the chance to use the device for a few days. Although not enough for an in-depth review, it did give us enough insight to give a low down on the good, the bad and the ugly about the device.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip review: The good
The Galaxy Z Flip has a lot of things working for it, but the most important of them all is its price tag. At Rs 1,09,999, the Galaxy Z Flip is an expensive gadget and one that’s possibly out of the reach of the majority of phone buyers in the country.
Yet, the very fact that it is the most affordable foldable phone in the market right now, and is not only about Rs 50,000 cheaper than the Galaxy Fold, but also about Rs 15k cheaper than the Moto Razr makes it an absolute steal.
But it’s not just about the money.
As we found out in our time with the Galaxy Z Flip, for the price the foldable smartphone offers an extremely premium experience and one that is utterly enjoyable too. With its design and the form factor, the Galaxy Z Flip emerges as one of those smartphones which most of us would want to covet.
Much of this is because of the extremely manageable, and might we add fun to use, form factor that at a single Flip can transform the phone into a 6.7-inch display totting device — from its otherwise basic avatar where it’s folded shut, and essentially turned into a beautiful piece of metal and glass. Additionally, the flip mechanism on the device also allows it to bring features such as flipping the phone open to take calls or closing it to reject them.
It’s the first foldable smartphone from Samsung that’s not intimidating in its size and has a nice manageable form factor that can slip into your pocket without any troubles but can also expand into a full-sized flagship phone. It’s interesting to look at, but at the same time is also manageable, yet large enough for media consumption at the switch of a flip.
The display itself is quite impressive and looks and works no worse than a competing panel on a regular Samsung flagship from the S and Note series of devices. This is because the Z Flip uses a foldable OLED panel which can churn out a high resolution of 2636×1080 pixels and is the first foldable phone to come with a folding glass on top of it.
The use of folded Ultra-Thin-Glass — covered by a Schott Xensation protective sheet — instead of plastic polymer also helps make the Galaxy Z Flip feel premium in the hand.
While it’s true the phone’s display has a crease, we found it visible only when we tried looking at it from slight angles. So if you’re watching movies, or playing games on the device, and doing so from a natural angle, there would be very little distractions posed from the display crease.
The bendable nature of the phone also allows it to house two separate batteries that add up to provide a rather modest combined rating of 3200mAh. However, once you start using the device, you’d realise that this number is not a true indication of the phone’s battery performance.
In our time with the device, we easily got two days’ worth of use out of it on a single charge. This is pretty good when one compares it to other modern-day flagships. This long battery life also comes in quite handy as the phone supports only 15W fast charging.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip review: The bad
Despite being the company’s second foldable smartphone, the Galaxy Z Flip is a first-generation device, and as such, it does leave a few things to be desired. Well, let’s start with the design.
While the phone is quite premium to look at and even hold in the palm, it doesn’t feel very sturdy. And sadly, this is true both when the phone is flipped open or closed. The outer shell of the device appears quite prone to picking up scratches and cracks in case of accidental falls, while the display of the device also feels the same because of being bendable in nature.
Although the company does claim that the phone’s hinge can hold its own for over 2,00,000 flips, however, in real life you always feel like there’s an accident waiting to happen right around the corner.
Apart from this, the phone’s form factor also leaves it quite vulnerable as opening the phone’s flip with one hand is almost impossible without actually putting the Z Flip at the risk of slipping out and meeting an untimely end. While doing so isn’t really a problem most times, it does, however, pose a problem that takes some time getting used to.
Moving on, the phone also leaves a little to be desired with its core internals. While it’s true that the Galaxy Z Flip packs a lot of power within its sleek frame, the fact that it only comes with last year’s Snapdragon 855+ paired with 8GB of RAM and not the current generation Snapdragon 865 chipset does take the sheen of the device a little — more so when the phone’s Rs 1,09,999 price tag is taken into context.
However, it would be unfair to not mention that the lack of this flagship chipset from Qualcomm is only felt when you put the device to benchmarking tests. In day to day use, and even for resource-intensive tasks such as games and heavy apps, the phone does prove to be up to the task and doesn’t disappoint with its performance.
The cameras on the device are also quite good, however, they underwhelm a little when compared to the ones found on competing flagships. Samsung has equipped the phone with two 12-megapixel lenses that take decent images and capture good detail and accurate colours.
However, their biggest problem appears to be that they can’t match up to the level of performance that Samsung has managed to achieve with the cameras on the Galaxy S20 series, or even the S10 Lite, which in our opinion clicks much better pictures than the Galaxy Z Flip — despite costing almost a third of the price.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip review: The ugly
While overall, the Galaxy Z Flip is a pretty well-made device, one that impresses in the overall package it offers, there is one trick that we think Samsung has missed that could have significantly improved usability of the device.
In our time with the phone, we desperately missed the presence of a bigger front display on the Z Flip. While the 1.1-inch display on the outside is good, it is limited in functionality. Notifications aren’t interactable and as such the phone pushes you to engage the hinge for even the most basic of tasks such as responding to a WhatsApp text.
Now, this not only makes these simple tasks quite cumbersome but also exposes the phone’s hinge to an easily avoidable risk — not to forget also strains the phone’s battery.
The Galaxy Z Flip does give the user the freedom to take calls from the front display, however, because of the lack of an earpiece on the outside, the audio output for these calls is handled by the phone’s speaker, thereby limiting the use of this convenience.
However, the lack of a bigger secondary display and earpiece on the device appear to be consequences of a design bottleneck, which would have otherwise forced Samsung to take away the sleek form factor of the device.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip Review: Should you buy it?
Well, the answer to that is quite simple — yes, if your finances permit.
The Galaxy Z Flip is a head-turner, one that’s nothing like you’ve seen before. Hold it in your palm and it won’t only make you feel special, but will also give you the thrill of using a device that’s truly the first of its kind — a thrill that’s you won’t even get out of the much expensive Galaxy Fold or the Moto Razr.
Despite its lack of certain functionalities, the Z Flip is fun to use a device that definitely deserves your attention. However, that’s only if you really have the money to spare for it. For such buyers, the Galaxy Z Flip comes highly recommended and is a smartphone that they should definitely go out and buy.
But for those thinking about stretching their budget to accommodate the Galaxy Z Flip, we’d like to suggest holding on to your hard-earned money for now, and wait for the next iteration of the Z Flip.