Technophile

Galaxy Z Flip review: An innovative head-turner of a phone

Mala Bhargava | Updated on March 27, 2020 Published on March 23, 2020

Samsung’s second folding phone is a bit of a novelty but also surprisingly fun to use though perhaps not always practical

If you’re an unabashed attention-seeker, you’re in luck. All heads will turn towards you if you’re spotted holding the Galaxy Z Flip. Samsung’s second folding phone can draw a small crowd if you take it out for an airing in public as I discovered recently, having walked into a shop with it rather obviously in my hand. Shop staff abandoned everything to come and have a look and I quickly had to specify it wasn’t to be touched but gave them a quick demo on how it worked. That’s how bored we are with regular smartphones.

We’ve been over the looks of the Z Flip in our first impressions piece but, to recap, it’s designed like a fashion accessory and comes in Purple, Black and Gold, all with a “Mirror’ prefix. It’s highly reflective and will flash when light falls on it making people look your way. Folded, it’s nice to hold as it feels just like it belongs in your hand. You even forget that it’s now as thick as two phones — obviously because the two halves are together.

There’s a fancy two-part case that comes with it, which protects the pristine reflective surface from scratches. You can then slip it into a bag or a very strong pocket, but the case has to be snapped on carefully because there may be thin plastic protecting the side of the case which prevents it from fitting properly — that has to be removed.

 

An inch of screen

 

What you see on the front of the folded phone is the cameras and a very tiny screen, if you can call something that small a screen. On this, you can see a clock and a few other status indicators such as the Samsung logo when it’s rebooting. There are a limited number of things the little screen can do, but one thing it definitely allows is for you to take or reject a call because when you receive one, it presents a sliding icon. You can take the call without opening up the phone, which is really nice and so much easier to hold than the huge phones we use otherwise.

 

It also shows controls when you’re listening to music. It isn’t an always-on screen so if you want to see the time, you have to tap the little screen. There are always-on display settings but I’m not sure what those are for since it’s no point the larger screen being always-on as it will be invariably folded up. It’s a pity the small screen isn’t a little bigger and more useful, given that there is a bit of space for it, but then the Z Flip wouldn’t be the fashion accessory it is right now. One final thing you can do with the front screen is use it as a viewfinder when taking a selfie, but there’s little of yourself you’ll be able to see, except to make sure you are in the frame.

When you un-flip the phone completely, it becomes a regular Samsung Android phone except that you can see — and feel — a crease in the middle of the screen. It doesn’t matter as much as you’d imagine and for now is the trade-off for carrying around an innovative folding phone. There’s a complicated hinge under that crease and bunch of nylon fibres that are meant to protect it. The hinge moves without a sound and feels sturdy enough though only time would tell how well it lasts.

Folding Flip

 

But if you’re putting down ₹109,999 for the Z Flip, you’ll want to know what it does that’s so different from the usual and that’s really the folding in half or flipping. It doesn’t flip flamboyantly with one hand though and you have to push it along a bit to both open and close. The top part can be stopped at multiple angles which is interesting though there really aren’t very many practical uses for it. It can sit in your hand or on a surface opened like a laptop or powder compact which is a novelty but in the end it isn’t a laptop and you’ll soon find yourself picking it up, opening it fully and using it the good old way.

Samsung has done some interesting things with software to split some apps to divide the screen. In the camera app, for instance, you find the viewfinder on the top half and the controls on the bottom. The same happens with Google’s Duo calling app. But that’s about the measure of it. For the rest, you can use the usual split mode to put one app on top and another on the bottom. Play music on one half while you WhatsApp with the other, but all that would be useful with much larger screens such as on tablets. Despite all this, it’s fun to use — at least for a while. It’s specially an interesting novelty seeing a web page seem to bend in the middle and scroll up or down while you read the portion you want.

 

The Z Flip has some decent hardware specs. The screen is a 6.7-inch one - but of course made of different materials from the usual since it includes thin folding glass. It uses Snapdragon 855+ which is last year’s flagship but still very powerful. It comes with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. The cameras include two 12MP wide and ultra wide — no telephoto — and a 10MP front shooter. They’re good cameras, but not quite the level of the current flagship series as they don’t include all the lenses. It supports night shots and a great feature called Single Take which shoots a short video and allows you to pick from the images it extracts. The nice thing is you can prop it up in tent or open mode to hold up a hand and take a photo, doing away with a tripod. But of course you can do that with any Samsung phone if you use a flip case.

 

Galaxy Z Flip
  • Price: ₹1,09,999
  • Pros: Unique innovative format, attention grabbing look, interesting software tweaks, fun to use
  • Cons: Small front screen too tiny to be useful, unproven sturdiness over long-term, not everyone likes the look and feel, the folding is more fun than functional

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Published on March 23, 2020
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