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Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip review

It's more than just a head-turner

What is a hands on review?
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip is the company's second foldable phone, utterly different from the Galaxy Fold. It is a flip-phone-style foldable with a 6.7-inch display that folds in half. The Z Flip has a premium design, slightly better display than the Fold, some nifty features, and it's a more practical execution of such design than the Moto Razr 2019.

For

  • Neat folding concept
  • Cool split-screen UI
  • Premium feel
  • Easily pocketable design

Against

  • Quite expensive
  • The display has a crease in the center
  • Cover Display is too small

After a much talked about debut of the Moto Razr 2019, Samsung has released it's first flip-style smartphone with a foldable display. As expected, immediate comparisons revealed the Razr has a stronger nostalgia game. Yet, Samsung came up with a not-so-nostalgic and somewhat more practical foldable phone - the Galaxy Z Flip.

What goes in favor of Samsung here is that the Z Flip is already up for sale in India, while the Motorola is still figuring out Indian prices for the Razr. If we go by the global pricing of both the flip phones, the Z Flip is significantly cheaper and offers a better package overall.

The issue here is that these foldable smartphones are still in the experimental phase and cost a bomb for early buyers. The real question should be whether the Z Flip ensures sufficient returns as far as the usability is concerned, or should you still wait for the prices to go down?

Is it worth the high price for wishful early adopters? We're here to answer that in our Samsung Galaxy Z first impressions.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

(Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip release date and price in India

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip comes with an exorbitant price tag of Rs 1,09,999. Pre-orders have started on February 21, and the devices will start shipping from February 26.

It comes with a year of Samsung Care+ Protection, one-time screen repair at a discounted price, and four months of YouTube Premium. Pre-orders from the Samsung e-Shop in select cities will also get premium white glove delivery.

(Image credit: Future)

Design and display

Due to its small footprint, the Z Flip is lighter on specs compared to the Galaxy S20 Ultra, but it's not short on novelty – that it has in spades. Just don't expect the latest chipset, Samsung's newest cameras, or the largest battery capacity.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip costs more than the top-end Galaxy S20 Ultra despite being lighter on hardware specs and features. No rewards for guessing why, as it's the foldable design that makes it so expensive. It comes with a design that can turn heads - taking it out of pocket in public will make people ask about it, for sure.

(Image credit: Future)

Putting a short video of the Z Flip on my Instagram was proof of how intrigued people are getting with this design, especially women. It comes in three color variants - Black, Gold, and Purple. While the finish on the black option looks like any glass phone, purple and gold look different in a blingy finish that looks stunning. The only issue with this finish is the fingerprint smudges.

(Image credit: Future)

The front screen has a tiny 1.1-inch interactive AMOLED display next to the rear camera setup. The Cover Display doesn't offer a lot of room. Still, it packs in the essentials when it comes to notifications and quick information, like call information, time, and battery percentage.

It just has enough space to fit a small text, so you get a scrolling notification at most times. You can scroll through the various sets of information on the display, plus there's a way to tap a notification on the Cover Display and then open up the phone to see the app in full.

Like the main display, it can also be double tapped to wake. But we're still unsure if the tiny screen comes out as handy as the bigger displays on the Fold and the Moto Razr. Double tapping on the power key turns up the camera to allow you to take selfies using the cover display.

(Image credit: Future)

When unfolded, one could easily mistake the Z Flip for a typical Android phone until you don't notice the light crease across the middle of the display. Otherwise, the phone's footprint is much smaller when folded. That's one of the big reasons that make flip phones more desirable.

(Image credit: Future)

The design of the Galaxy Z Flip makes it infinitely easier to hold and pocket than regular smartphones. The candy bar-style of the Galaxy Z Flip, when unfolded, makes it distinct from the mini-tablet-like Galaxy Fold. It has a 6.7-inch Full HD+ screen and 21.9:9 aspect ratio, which feels exceptionally tall in hand.

The only downside of that tall form factor is that people with small hands might struggle a bit to operate it with one hand. Especially for tasks like pulling the notification and quick settings tab.

(Image credit: Future)

It's commendable that Samsung decided to use a thin glass layer above the screen instead of going with vulnerable plastic OLEDs that we've seen on the Razr, Galaxy Fold, or even the Huawei Mate X. There has been a huge debate around the use of thin glass on display, but we felt the screen to be smooth to swipe across and better to touch in comparison to the Galaxy Fold.

One potential issue with the Ultra-Thin Glass, however, is that there's a crease on the screen side where the hinge is located. The crease doesn't seem as dramatic as on the Galaxy Fold, but, then again, it's across a smaller screen, and the unit we used was brand new and hasn't been folded many times. 

(Image credit: Future)

We used the phone in an indoor setting, and the display looked very impressive. It has a tall aspect ratio that chops off head and foot space when YouTube videos are stretched to full screen, but on a good note, it allows you more space to multitask on two halves of the screen.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

(Image credit: Future)

Battery

The Z Flip has a big 3,300mAh battery compared to the Razr's 2,510mAh cell. It is a no brainer, a bigger battery is always favoured, and Samsung has done it with a dual-battery design like the Fold. Note that the Z Flip is also thicker than the Moto Razr in both folded and unfolded states. 

It supports 15W fast charging over the USB Type-C connection. Additionally, it has wireless charging support, which is an added plus. We did not get a chance to test the charging speeds and battery backup, but we'll be sure to do it all in our full review.

(Image credit: Future)

Hinge quality

While it's too early to comment on the hinge durability, it's right to say that it functions very seamlessly. Opening the fold will need your attention for some time until you get used to a natural way of unfolding it.

Opening and closing the top felt very smooth, but what's even more interesting is that it can hold itself at a range of angles around 90-degrees to enable different functions. We were quite convinced with the easy of doing video calls by keeping your Z Flip on a surface like your laptop.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

(Image credit: Future)

Specs and features

For imaging, there are only two lenses on the rear. Although it's more expensive than the Galaxy S20 Ultra, it's not going to compete with it anytime soon. There's a 12MP F2.2 Ultra-Wide camera that works with a 12MP F1.8 wide-angle shooter.

The front camera resides in a small cutout on display. When you have the phone unfolded, a 10MP front-facing shooter takes up the selfie and video calling duty. We could only use it for a few minutes in an artificially lit cafe, and the results didn't shock or surprise us.

(Image credit: Future)

The internal specifications of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip are flagship-grade. It is powered by a 7nm Snapdragon 855+ powering it, alongside 8GB of RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.0 storage. There's no microSD slot here, though, so you won't be able to expand that any further.

On paper, we've found the camera quality and the chipset to be nearly the best, but not the best. That title will likely go to the S20 series, which packs more robust internals and better camera sensors. While those phones are cheaper than the Z Flip, it's still going to be a tough call for people to afford, either.

(Image credit: Future)

Early verdict

Samsung isn't shying away from accepting that Galaxy Z Flip is an expensive phone. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip is clearly a better flip phone than the Moto Razr. The hardware isn't as robust as the new S20 range, but what it offers right now is still a better option if you have made your mind to buy a flip phone.

It's a head-turner, you might buy it if you like attention and love to flaunt. It can offer excellent performance with the Snapdragon 855+, and S10 equivalent camera, but it's still not the best Android smartphone to buy. If you want the complete best of everything, you should consider the Galaxy S20 Ultra, but remember it doesn't fold.

We're yet to test the Z Flip for a long time, but we're convinced that Samsung's experiment brings more hope to the future of foldable smartphones. We call it an experiment as there are still areas to work on, with the most obvious one being the crease in the middle. Maybe a more interactive cover display?

If anything, the new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip is evidence that the future of foldable phones hasn't been decided, but we'll know once the Z Flip and Moto Razr spend some time in the market.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.