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First Impressions Samsung Galaxy Z Flip: Take Two

The Galaxy Z Flip is a real eye-catcher among smartphones, and Samsung has taken a similar approach as Motorola with their Razr. On paper, the Korean smartphone should be the better choice. We had the chance to take a first peek at the Flip during a hands-on and were able to find a few improvements over the Fold, but a few drawbacks as well.
Daniel Schmidt, 👁 Daniel Schmidt (translated by Finn D. Boerne), 🇩🇪 🇷🇺

The highlight of the first evening of Unpacked 2020 was without a doubt the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, the second foldable smartphone by Korean OEM Samsung after the Galaxy Fold. The Flip smartphone features a completely new hinge design, and is supposed to be an overall improvement over the Fold. However, it should not be considered a successor to the Fold, but rather a completely separate design.

One of the first things we noticed was its lower price compared to the Fold, albeit Samsung still charges a hefty premium for its foldable display. The hardware specs (see below) are better than the Motorola Razr’s but in many cases worse than the Fold’s.

In particular, storage capacity, connectivity, and cameras had to be compromised. On a positive note Samsung continues to include a full year of Samsung Care+. On the flip side, it is still not possible to extend this warranty any further.

Specifications
Main display 6.7 inch, Infinity-O-Flex, Dynamic AMOLED, 2636 x 1080 Pixel, 21.9:9
Front-facing display 1,05 inch, Super AMOLED, 300 x 112 Pixel
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+
RAM 8 GB LPDDR4x
Storage 256 GB
Connectivity Wi-Fi 4, 5 (a/b/g/n/ac) with MIMO and VHT80, NFC, MST, Ant+, Bluetooth 5.0, LTE Cat. 16
SIM Nano-SIM + eSIM
Main camera 12 MP wide angle (Super Speed DPAF, OIS, f/1.8, 1/2.55", 1.4 μm, 78°, HDR10+ Video) + 12 MP ultra wide angle (f/2.2, 1/3.0", 1.12 μm, 123°)
Front-facing camera 10 MP (f/2.4, 1/3,24", 1,22 μm, 80°, UHD-Video at 60 FPS)
Battery 3,300 mAh, Wireless PowerShare, fast charging (15 W)
Dimensions unfolded 167.3 x 73.6 x 6.9 mm
Dimensions folded 87.4 x 73.6 x 17.3 (hinge) - 15,4 (crease) mm
Weight 183 g
Price (MSRP) $1,380

The Glass Makes the Difference

The Galaxy Z Flip features a lot of glass. The exterior is covered with Gorilla Glass 6 while the cameras are protected by Gorilla Glass 3. The thin and flexible glass layer atop the foldable display is a novelty, unfortunately Samsung did not disclose any further details. It is supposed to reduce the Galaxy Fold’s often criticized sensitivity, and we can confirm that we were unable to depress the touch panel with our fingernails. Overall, the panel seems to be much more robust. Unfortunately, it still formed ripples around the hinge mechanism where the display folds.

Speaking of which, the hinge has been redesigned completely. It is now a dual-hinge with an additional protective finned brush designed to keep debris out of the hinge mechanism and the inside of the screen. Samsung claims up to 200,000 folds without issues. Assuming 100 folds per day this would result in more than five years of life and should thus easily outlast the lifetime of a smartphone.

The build quality was excellent. Our only gripe was the somewhat thick and dowdy plastic frame around the display. The Galaxy Z Flip will be available in two different colors, Mirror Black and Mirror Purple.

Galaxy Z Flip with Three Cameras and Built-In Stand

The Flip’s front-facing camera seems to lack auto-focus capabilities, and its rear-facing main camera has been reduced in its features as well. While the dual-lens camera supports the fast dual-pixel auto-focus, which we are very familiar with from other Galaxy S smartphones, it lacks the latter’s variable aperture.

Overall the camera seems to be more akin to the Galaxy S10e’s setup. It lacks a telephoto lens and comes with an ultra wide angle lens instead. We will thus have to assume that picture quality is going to suffer compared to Galaxy S10 and S20 smartphones. To compensate for this Samsung has improved the night mode, which is supposed to deliver a better low-light photo experience. It takes 15 photos within a 5 second window and combines these into a single optimized image. We will have to wait for our extensive review to find out more, though.

One useful feature is the Flip’s capability to use the exterior display as selfie viewfinder. Furthermore, the small panel can display additional information such as time and date, battery level, and notifications. It also supports media control via touch input. Due to the largely freely adjustable display angle you can use the smartphone itself as a stand in order to take free-handed selfies.

Flip Phone with Last Year’s Hardware

The cameras are not the only bit of hardware in this foldable phone that are not state of the art anymore. For example, its Snapdragon 855+ was first introduced last year but might be a good choice from an efficiency standpoint, and it should offer plenty of performance nonetheless. Given that Samsung does not officially disclose the type of storage bus used we will have to assume that the Flip only supports the older UFS 2.1 standard. Our full review will tell us more on this matter.

Despite its high price connectivity is not the greatest. The Flip lacks support for 5G and Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.0 is not the latest and greatest anymore either. Optional memory expansion is not supported, and the Flip lacks any form of IP certification.

While it supports wireless charging it is limited to just 12 W, and wired charging is capped at 15 W and therefore not that much more powerful. Considering the dual-cell 3,000 mAh battery this should most likely be a non-issue, though.

Preliminary Verdict – Expensive Style Icon

In review shortly: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
In review shortly: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

The Galaxy Z Flip is a huge step in the right direction, and it is a stylish and well thought-out smartphone. Our first impressions after this hands-on are positive, particularly considering that the improved rigidity should finally turn this foldable smartphone into a dependable everyday driver.

When folded shut it remains fairly thick, but should nevertheless easily fit into any pocket. Our only real gripe is with its internal hardware, especially considering its high price. Samsung continues to charge a hefty premium for hits foldable display. Last year’s Galaxy S10 offers better hardware and costs but a third of the Flip’s MSRP.

Nevertheless, the Galaxy Z Flip promises a more attractive experience than the Motorola Razr. Which, on top of that, is plagued by poor quality to boot.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > First Impressions Samsung Galaxy Z Flip: Take Two
Daniel Schmidt, 2020-02-14 (Update: 2020-02-15)
Daniel Schmidt
Editor of the original article: Daniel Schmidt - Managing Editor Mobile - @Tellheim
Already as a little dwarf I was fascinated by my Commodore 16 and ignited my enthusiasm for computers. With my first modem I surfed the Btx and later also the World Wide Web. The latest technology trends have always fascinated me and this is especially true for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. For Notebookcheck, I have been on the ball since 2013 and I am looking forward to the innovations that are still to come and that we will put to the acid test for you.