Back in 2021, Samsung aligned its naming convention for its two foldable smartphone ranges. As a result of this, I, and many others, predicted that Samsung was gearing up for dual annual launches for the Fold and Flip series, replacing that of the Note series before it. It turned out to be true. And, as it was almost like clockwork for the Note release schedule, Samsung released the Galaxy Z Fold4 and Z Flip4 in August 2022.
A few weeks ago, I was presented with the opportunity to take on the challenge of an extended review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4. Over the course of almost two months, I’ve been using the smartphone as my daily driver. Having switched all of my apps and authentication tools over to the Flip4, I was fully engrained into the new device’s ecosystem whether I liked it or not. While it took some time for me to get to grips with its predecessor, the Flip3, it wasn’t the case this time around.
Build and Design
If you look at the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4, it has the near-same clamshell design as its predecessor. I wouldn’t have thought there would be much of a shake-up on the design front year-on-year given the relatively early stages of the folding technology.
That said, Samsung has improved on the design just slightly, making it a little smaller (just about) while also making it a bit more robust overall. When referring to its smaller build, I’m comparing the 165.2×71.9×6.9mm dimensions of the Flip4 versus the 166×72.2×6.9mm on the Flip3. We’re talking 1mm narrower and shorter overall. When it comes to weight, however, it has gained 4g. A bit too much holiday candy it seems. Neither of these two measures makes for significant changes a year on, which is most likely attributed to small changes in the internal components rather than actively attempting to make a smaller-framed smartphone.
In terms of the build, Samsung has added a more robust aluminium frame, which they claim provides “tougher drop and scratch resistance.” I wasn’t able to attest to the strength comparison, given that I never dropped tested either of the units or picked up any scratches, despite not having a case around it for almost two months.
The rear of the device is made of tempered glass, which now sports the Gorilla Glass Victus+ protection. This is, essentially, the cover of the device when folded close, leaving it in reasonably good protection without a cover around it.
Further to this, if you look very closely between the two devices, you’ll also see that the edges are a lot flatter. It’s not all the way flat, as to present sharp edges, but noticeable in hand. It looks less clumsy as a result as well. Although, you wouldn’t have said so without comparing the units side-by-side.
As already, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of a radically new design from the Flip4. In fact, its clamshell design fits into my pocket while taking up half the room of a normal-sized smartphone. I don’t think we can ask for too much more on this end, apart from more ruggedity, new colours and the like.
During the two months review period, I came across two other Flip users, both with the Flip3 iteration. Both owners were interested in any design changes to see if they’d upgrade, which says a lot about people’s perception of what makes a smartphone upgrade worthwhile. With Samsung not spending much in the way of R&D on a new design, Flip3 owners don’t foresee a need to upgrade. Given the average contract length of 24 or 36 months, it’s understandable that many won’t upgrade either.
Samsung South Africa also alluded to this fact at a recent media showcase, indicating that these are the average lengths customers keep hold of their smartphones. If that’s the case, perhaps we can expect a more radical design approach with the expected Flip5 iteration.
Screen and Display
One of the key changes between the original Z Flip and the Z Flip3 was the screen upgrade. It may have been a screen size of 6.7” but it made up for this with a better panel, offering improved refresh rates, new OLED, and better brightness and contrast, to name a few. However, those developments have stalled with this year’s iteration. Although the design of the phone remained relatively unchanged, there were improvements to the build quality to make it worthwhile. The same cannot be said about the screen and display.
In terms of specifications, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 has a foldable 6.7” screen with a dynamic AMOLED 2X panel. Additionally, it supports a 120Hz refresh rate, along with HDR10+ and a maximum brightness output of 1,200 nits. The display has a 1080x2640px resolution with 426ppi pixel density. The only change comes because of the 1mm narrower and shorter build, resulting in an 85.4% screen-to-body ratio compared to the previous, 84.7%.
Further to this, the outer screen also remains the same. It has a Super AMOLED panel measuring 1.9” with a resolution of 260x512px display. The one positive change here is that it now also has the Gorilla Glass Victus+ protection.
As a result of the same screen and technology, the crease in the centre of the screen remains. It’s noticeable at the start of using the Flip again but soon thereafter it blends into the background like your nose is not noticeable in front of your face.
The Foldable Screen in the Wild
One final point about the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 screen – or in this instance, the folding hinge – is that it’s also not much different to the Flip3. It still doesn’t fold completely flat, or anywhere near flat, near the centre. This means that while the ends close completely, the middle has a gap through it. As mentioned previously, I came across two Flip3 owners during the review period.
The first of these showed off the centre of their screen where the protection layer had lifted away from the screen, causing quite a bit of dust to collect inside. This made it quite noticeable when in use, something similar to working with a cracked screen. It also made the touch area less capacitive, where you’d need to press a bit harder for it to pick up your finger gestures.
The second device was in a bit better condition, given that the owner had purchased a casing for it. Its case was a bit clumsy, adding quite a bit of bulk to the unit which I didn’t much care for. It’s very elegant, especially since it’s crafted in two separate parts given the fold.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 Performance and Battery Life
While it may not be the best takeaway in terms of its external aesthetics and visuals from the screen, Samsung has gone back and done a fair amount of R&D on its hardware. The first of these changes is that the Qualcomm chipset is a later version. It is now finally on par with the Galaxy S range, where it had been one or two chipset models behind.
This means that performance, on the whole, has also improved. The experience was a lot slicker and easier to use. Its 120Hz refresh rate made the animations look crisp on the UI, while also being able to complete tasks with relative ease. I often spent time editing images and videos using Samsung’s native tools, which I could easily manage on the Flip4. It was a much better overall performance in this regard compared to both previous iterations.
Another aspect that went back to the drawing board was the battery. I noted on the review of the Flip3 that the battery life wasn’t ideal and seldom made it through a full day where I’d be editing or browsing socials. Thankfully, that has changed on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4. As a result of the higher-capacity battery (some 400maH additional), along with the efficiencies of the latest chipset, worrying about making it through the day was no longer a factor. That said, I’d always still feel the need to carry a charger with me throughout the day but only on the odd occasion did I need it. These instances included those mornings when I wasn’t able to fully charge due to loadshedding or being late.
One drawback about the battery, however, is that it takes quite a while to fully recharge. While devices like the Galaxy S22 offer 45W charging support, the Flip4 is still down at the 25W charging mark. This is an improvement over the Flip3’s 15W support. Recharging from near 0% would take around 90 minutes to complete and didn’t always support fast charging using the cable and adapter from my previous unit. The S21 I currently use has a higher battery capacity with the same 25W support, while still being able to fully recharge in about an hour.
While the screen of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 is identical to that of the Flip3, the camera also repeats this copy/paste approach. It, too, sports a dual-lens camera configuration. However, there are slight changes to its specifications, not just on paper, but in real-world testing as well.
The configuration is similar in its build, although there have been a few changes to the aperture and the like. Samsung claims that its main 12MP camera lets in an additional 65% light during the snap, allowing for brighter overall images with better clarity. The dual-lens configuration is as follows:
With a few real-world tests of the surrounding areas near my home, I could pick up that there was, in fact, a brighter image as an end result. Additionally, the images were also more saturated for bolder colours. In terms of its overall sharpness, there’s not much noticeable difference between the two configurations of the old and new.
Switching things up in terms of the imagery, I noticed that in some known environments, the Samsung camera software created an oversaturated image. For example, when taking photos of leaves or flowers, the colours were far brighter than what you’d see with the naked eye. The greens of grass and leaves are the most telling. It may look like a bold colour balance but comes across as cartoonish overall. You can change these settings somewhat if the oversaturated style isn’t your thing.
Should You Buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4?
There are a lot of conclusions to draw from the latest version of Samsung’s Flip range. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 is a solid smartphone, offering quite a few new features and updates over previous models. However, most of these changes are a result of internal hardware and software changes to create a better user experience. If you’re in the market for an upgrade that looks the part, you may then want to shy away from this iteration.
What’s really great about the Flip4 is that its price has remained equal to the previous model – R21,999. This means that if you do want to purchase the Flip3, you should be able to find a few good deals on the market. Additionally, Samsung still offers its Galaxy trade-in option, where owners of previous smartphones can get up to R10,000 as a trade-in deducted from the new phone’s price.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4
On the surface, there is little to no noticeable difference between the old and new models. However, Samsung has done quite a bit of work on the internals and software of the Galaxy Z Flip4, making it a much better device than its predecessor.