Samsung’s hi-tech flip phone has been a bit of a hit over the past year. Now the Z Flip is back for 2022, with better cameras, a faster chip, longer battery life and more customisation options than ever, as the company attempts to appeal to those bored of flat phones and looking for something more exciting.
You still have to pay a pretty penny for that cutting-edge appeal. The Galaxy Z Flip 4 costs £999 ($999/A$1,499), which is roughly in line with what you would pay for a premium standard phone, but it is likely to be frequently found at a discount.
Four versions on, the Flip has lost none of its novelty. Opening it to reveal the large 6.7in OLED screen still feels like magic. Its compact pocket size is a welcome relief from massive phones, and its attractive design still very much turns heads. You can even choose a custom colour combo with Samsung’s bespoke studio tool.
A big advance was made last year with water resistance. This year is all about small refinements. The new version is slightly shorter and narrower, with a smaller hinge and thinner bezels around the screen. The sides of the phone are flatter and have a luxurious lustre to them, which with the frosted glass makes the closed Flip 4 a lovely, tactile thing to hold.
It feels like a truly premium piece of consumer electronics, which makes it easy to forget that the folding tech at the centre of the Flip 4 is still very much bleeding edge. You can still see and feel the crease in the middle of the display where it bends but it otherwise feels like a normal glass slab in operation.
It isn’t normal hardened glass, though, and must be treated more carefully than traditional devices. The Flip 4 is not a phone I would recommend ever handing to your kids.
Main screen: 6.7in FHD+ 120Hz AMOLED Infinity Flex Display (425ppi)
Cover screen: 1.9in AMOLED (302ppi)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
RAM: 8GB of RAM
Storage: 128, 256 or 512GB
Operating system: One UI 4.1.1 based on Android 12
Camera: dual 12MP rear, 10MP front-facing
Connectivity: 5G, nano sim + esim, wifi6, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2 and GNSS
Water resistance: IPX8 (1.5-metre depths for 30 minutes)
Folded dimensions: 84.9 x 71.9 x 17.1 to 15.9mm
Unfolded dimensions: 165.2 x 72.2 x 6.9mm
Top performance, average battery life
The Flip 4 ships with Qualcomm’s latest top processor, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, which is the same chip as used by the very latest Android smartphones such as the OnePlus 10T. As such, it is a snappy and responsive phone with the highest performance available on Android, matching or surpassing normal phone rivals.
Battery life is still below average despite the Flip 4 having a larger capacity battery than its predecessor. It lasts about 31 hours between charges with the screen used for under five hours, meaning you will have to charge it each day. It takes about 95 minutes to fully charge with a 25W power adaptor but one isn’t included in the box.
Samsung does not provide an expected lifespan for the battery but it should last in excess of 500 full charge cycles with at least 80% of its original capacity. The phone is generally repairable, and the battery is replaceable by authorised service centres in the UK. Inner display repairs cost £339. The screen is covered under warranty for two years but Samsung evaluates breakages for “evidence of product misuse” and may charge a fee for repairs. Insurance is recommended.
Several internal components are made from 20% recycled nylon or plastic. Samsung offers trade-in and recycling schemes for old devices. The company publishes annual sustainability reports but not impact assessments for individual products.
One UI 4.1
The Flip 4 ships with One UI 4.1, which is the same software as found on the Galaxy S22 series and based on last year’s Android 12. It is a refined version of Android that offers plenty of customisation options and useful tools including “flex mode”, which splits the screen into different functions when you fold the phone into an L-shape.
The Flip 4 will receive at least five years of software updates from release, including four major Android version updates and monthly security patches, making it one of the longest-lasting Android devices available, and just behind Apple’s six-year-plus support for its iPhones.
The dual 12-megapixel camera on the back features a normal lens with optical image stabilisation and an ultra-wide angle. Similar to last year’s model, both cameras shoot very good images in most lighting conditions with slightly improved low and middling light performance. The ultra-wide camera loses a little detail and can look a bit grey in dull light but is still good.
The 10-megapixel selfie camera is pretty good, too. But one of the best things about the Flip is the ability to shoot selfies with the rear cameras by using the cover display as a viewfinder. You can use either the normal or ultra-wide camera, which produce much better images than any dedicated selfie camera, particularly in low light or party settings. You can also prop the Flip up half-open for a variety of fun camera-shooting opportunities. Video capture is also very good, and fold the phone into an L-shape and you can pretend you are using a camcorder from the early 2000s.
The biggest letdown is a lack of a telephoto camera. Digital zoom is OK at 2x magnification but any more than that and it starts to look horrid.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 costs £999 ($999/A$1,499) with 128GB of storage, £1,059 with 256GB, or £1,199 with 512GB.
For comparison, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 costs £1,649, the Galaxy S22 Ultra costs £1,149, the Galaxy S22+ costs £949, the Microsoft Surface Duo 2 costs £860, the Google Pixel 6 Pro costs £649, and the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max costs £1,049.
The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is one of the most interesting phones available. Where standard phones have become stale and boring, there’s something fun about unfolding the Flip.
While you can do novel things with it propped up, such as taking photos at unusual angles and selfies with the rear camera, for the most part, it behaves like a standard Android phone when open. Just one you can fold in half for a much more compact size to pocket.
It is water-resistant but the cutting-edge screen tech is still more fragile than normal hardened glass and needs treating with care. Buying insurance might be wise. You are also trading battery life for the compact size compared with a normal Samsung.
Little has moved on since last year’s model – just small refinements across the board. But the Flip 4 is still a fun phone that proves folding screen devices are more than just a novelty.
Pros: a great large screen that folds in half, good cover screen, IPX8 water resistant, good camera, different and fun, One UI 4 with five years of updates, nano sim and esim.
Cons: less durable than a regular phone, no dust resistance, no telephoto camera, only a day’s battery life, not much of an upgrade since last year.