Entertainment Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review
Entertainment Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review
Samsung didn’t reinvent its clamshell-style foldable, but the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 does all that it needs to do for the company to hold onto its foldable crown.
Samsung’s mid-year Unpacked event delivered everything we expected. We got new Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, a duo of smartwatches across the Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, and a pair of foldables in the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4.
At first glance, both new foldables look like their respective predecessors, with the Z Flip 4 rocking a familiar two-tone clamshell form factor, a dual rear camera, and an external cover display. So what is new?
For the Fold 4 and Flip 4, iterative refinement seems to be the name of the game, but that’s especially true for the Flip. At a glance, it looks and handles almost identically to its predecessor.
Samsung, however, has been keen to highlight the influence of user feedback and how that dictated what areas of the Z Flip formula the company focused on in refining 2021’s still-compelling Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 may look and feel like its predecessor but it’s dressed up with a smattering of small improvements that demonstrate Samsung’s ability to listen to its users.
Existing Z Flip 3 owners shouldn’t feel left behind, based on the additions and enhancements its successor offers. For anyone else looking to make the move to a modern foldable, even with the slight year-on-year price hike in some markets, the Z Flip 4 looks like the best foldable for the price.
Samsung has left plenty of wiggle room for the Flip 5 (or whatever it’ll be called), however. And bigger camera hardware advancements, higher resolution displays, dust resistance and faster charging are all areas it’d be great to see further improved upon.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 price and availability
- Pre-order from August 10, on sale from August 26
- Prices start at $999.99 / £999 / AU$1,499
- £50 price hike versus Z Flip 3, in the UK
Samsung pulled the wraps off the Galaxy Z Flip 4 at a dedicated ‘Unpacked’ event, held on August 10, 2022.
Pre-orders kicked off on the same day in most markets (and a day later in Australia), with an on-sale date of August 26 in various regions, including the US, UK and Europe (September 2 in Australia).
Pricing has slightly increased this year (in some markets at least, including the UK), no doubt driven by global economic pressures and supply chain issues – problems numerous manufacturers are facing in the current climate, and the reason behind price increases across a variety of products.
- 128GB = $999.99 / £999 / AU$1,499
- 256GB = $1,059.99 / £1,059 / AU$1,649
- 512GB = $1,179.99 / £1,199 / AU$1,849
If it weren’t for the fact that the Z Flip 3 arrived with an even lower starting price, there wouldn’t be any doubt about the value for money the Z Flip 4 offers. That said, it still delivers the most bang for your buck compared to the small crop of rival clamshell foldables now on the market.
Samsung has also seen fit to introduce a new, higher storage variant this time around, giving you up to half a terabyte of space, which wasn’t on the table with 2021’s Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3.
As introduced with the Z Flip 3, in some markets, fans can choose a custom frame and back color pairings for their Z Flip 4 Bespoke Edition. Available on Samsung.com and at Samsung’s Experience Stores, there are 75 combinations for users to mix and match. Whatever combination you opt for, Bespoke Edition models pack in 256GB of storage and are priced as such.
Want to dive deeper into the pricing and availability of the Flip 4 in your region? Head over to our roundup of the best Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 deals to find a spec, color and price that works for you.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 design
- Smaller hinge and slimmer bezels compared to Z Flip 3
- Armor Aluminum frame & Gorilla Glass Victus Plus back
- IPX8-certified water resistance
If you’ve seen the existing Z Flip 3, the design of the new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 may not even register at first glance.
It sports a familiar straight-sided look (with a fraction less rounding this time), with a black ‘visor’ along the top edge of the back that hosts two rear camera sensors and the external cover display. The rest of the back is comprised of Gorilla Glass Victus Plus, set against a complimentary, color-matched Armor Aluminum frame.
Launch colors include Graphite, Pink Gold, Bora Purple, and Blue, as well as the ability to mix and match both back colors and frame finishes in certain markets if you pick up the Bespoke Edition.
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One subtle change between generations is that the frame – which was lightly textured on the Flip 3 – is now highly polished, while the back glass (aside from the ‘visor’ section) is diffused instead of glossy. It makes for a classier look in our opinion and means you’re less likely to spot fingerprints – so all in all a welcome change.
Despite the same primary screen size as the Flip 3, Samsung has managed to make the Flip 4 smaller overall. When folding the phone closed, the logo-engraved hinge doesn’t protrude quite as much as it did on the last model; with a folded height that’s 1.5mm shorter, thanks in part to slimmer bezels (this has also made more room for a bigger battery).
Side-on, there’s still a discernible gap at the point at which the screen creases in half and dust ingress is still a risk. With no certified protection against grit, however, IPX8 water resistance does return from last year’s Flip and is still just as unbelievably impressive in an ever-growing market of rival foldables that still offer no such protection.
In practice, the Flip 4 proved resilient enough to repel scuffs and scrapes across its glass and metal construction over the course of the review period, with the real challenge being dust.
After a few moments in a pocket, that gap in the closed Flip 4 is guaranteed to accumulate lint and fluff, which loves to nestle in the minute expanse between the edge of the pre-fitted non-removable screen protector and the raised edge of the bezel.
The T-shaped caps – which Samsung introduced when fortifying the design of its original Galaxy Fold – also have a habit of trapping fine hairs too. So while the phone never felt especially fragile during testing, the threat of dust ingress (which, as a reminder, is the very thing the Flip 4 isn’t rated against) felt ever-present. Just be prepared to wipe down the phone’s main display each time you open it.
Clamshell foldables like the Galaxy Z Flip line operate as an odd flavor of compact phone. The Flip 4 doesn’t stick out the top of a pocket as readily as most conventional candy bar handsets, however, it is understandably a little thicker (17.1mm at its thickest point); so the value of its small form factor hinges on where you’re likely to store it. We’d probably throw it in a back pocket over a side pocket, just remember to take it back out before you sit down.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 display
- 6.7-inch Full HD+ folding AMOLED w/ variable refresh rate (1Hz to 120Hz)
- UTG (ultra-thin glass) 2.0 = 20% more durable than Flip 3
- 1.9-inch Super AMOLED external Cover Display
Like the Flip 3, you’ll find a 6.7-inch Full HD+ (2640 x 1080) ‘Dynamic AMOLED 2X’ panel when you open the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4, which sports a pleasantly smooth 120Hz refresh rate that can scale down to 1Hz in certain situations to extend battery life.
Visual quality is great for the resolution. The crease is unseen when viewed head-on and, although still noticeable, barely felt under a finger, making usability almost as good as on any conventional candy bar smartphone; albeit with a decidedly unconventional 22:9 aspect ratio.
The shape does require two-handed use a little more often, but it also lends itself particularly well to split-screen multitasking and enjoying ultra-widescreen gaming or video playback.
That main screen is also protected by a new version of Samsung’s UTG (ultra-thin glass) 2.0. The company claims it’s 20% stronger than before and, as mentioned in the design section, appears to repel scratches with (surprising) competency (although there are subtle indents visible in the top-layer screen protector when viewed against the light).
It may sound odd, but the fact that the Flip 4’s folding display feels like glass is at odds with the amount of strain it must be under when folded closed. In essence, we’re impressed that everything works as seamlessly as it does. The engineers and material scientists involved deserve a pat on the back for the technology at work here.
Moving around to the front, the external cover display, made larger between generations on 2021’s Galaxy Z Flip 3, looks to have been carried across to the Flip 4; with the same 1.9-inch Super AMOLED panel as before, plus the same 260 x 512 resolution and 60Hz refresh rate too.
Its default function as a clock, paired with the phone’s small footprint, when closed, renders the Flip 4 something of a futuristic pocket watch too; a quirk of the hardware that adds a unique charm to this clamshell’s closed form.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 software
- Samsung’s One UI 4.1.1 atop Android 12 out the box
- Flex Mode: software optimisations for folding form factor
- Four years of OS updates, five years of security updates
Sticking with the Cover Display, Samsung has expanded its functionality between generations. There’s theme-matching when setting Galaxy Themes on the main display and a host of new and improved widgets, like a SmartThings smart home control panel, Samsung Wallet access, expanded quick replies, and more general quick settings.
Flex Mode makes a return too. This lets you position the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4’s sturdy-feeling hinge at multiple angles through its full range of motion to gain access to a number of split-screen experiences.
The company has built on existing offerings like YouTube and Google Meet (formerly Google Duo), with apps like Meta Messenger coming out of testing to receive dedicated Flex Mode support. Features like multi-window have been better optimized for Flex Mode too, now relying on a simple gesture from the bottom of the screen to get going.
Beyond these additions and updates, which capitalize on the Flip 4’s unique hardware configuration, you can expect a more familiar One UI software experience (as you’d find on Samsung’s more conventional phones), underpinned by Android 12.
For those unfamiliar with Samsung’s take on Google’s Android operating system, One UI is a fairly comprehensive reskin of the platform’s underlying aesthetic, with a proclivity for colorful squircle app icons and own-brand alternatives living alongside Google’s typical lineup of services. It’s inoffensive but offers enough customization to suit all tastes without too much effort (supported by the aforementioned Samsung Themes).
Samsung’s Galaxy Store echoes the Google Play Store, but with some exclusives and Samsung-specific optimized versions of popular apps. Samsung Wallet exists in conjunction with Google Pay for contactless payments (albeit with a more limited list of supported banks) and although some native Android 12 features persist (like UI color palettes), they play second-fiddle to Samsung’s specific implementation when it comes to UI layout and customization.
The learning curve shouldn’t feel too sizeable for those coming from non-Samsung devices and the company dresses its interface with plenty of tutorials to succinctly teach you about how specific features work, including Z Flip 4-specific additions like Flex Mode and the Cover Display.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 performance and specs
- Top-shelf Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset
- 8GB RAM across all models
- New 512GB storage variant (UFS 3.1)
Some of Samsung’s flagships – namely the Galaxy S series – run on either Snapdragon or Exynos chips, depending on where in the world you find them. As a result, aspects like performance and camera behavior can vary a lot between the two versions, usually in the Snapdragon’s favor.
Thankfully, you won’t find any of Samsung’s own Exynos chips in this latest crop of Galaxy Z foldables, ensuring performance is more consistent, wherever you pick one up in the world.
Although the Flip 4 focuses on compact portability over the Fold 4’s productivity, it doesn’t skimp on performance, with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 silicon running the show.
That’s the same chipset you’ll find in the latest Android flagships, including Asus’ newest Zenfone 9, as well as the Taiwanese company’s gaming behemoth, the ROG Phone 6.
In this instance, the Snapdragon comes twinned with 8GB of RAM. In isolation that’s plenty, but highlights its fractionally more modest standing when compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s 12GB.
As with the Flip 3, this new model starts with 128GB of non-expandable (but speedy) UFS 3.1 storage. However, Samsung has raised the storage ceiling with a new 512GB model that wasn’t previously available.
Considering the Flip 3 already delivered a strong performance, the Z Flip 4 should prove future-proofed enough for most users’ needs. Pair that with Samsung’s industry-leading promise of four years of Android OS updates and five years of security updates and the Z Flip 4 makes for a better long-term smartphone buy than a lot of rival flagships.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 battery life
- 3,700mAh battery (up from 3,300mAh on Flip 3)
- 25W wired charging, 15W wireless charging, 4.5W reverse wireless charging
- Day-long battery life is attainable but no more
Despite smaller proportions all around and a more compact hinge compared to its direct predecessor, the Z Flip 4 actually weighs a few grams more (187g versus 183g) than Samsung’s last clamshell, but for good reason.
One of the biggest pain points on the previous Flip was its lackluster longevity, which wasn’t too surprising considering it came with a paltry 3,300mAh battery. In practice, a day’s use was out of reach for users looking to get the most from the phone’s standout hardware. To address the problem, Samsung has squeezed a larger 3,700mAh cell into the Z Flip 4.
Despite only a 12% increase in capacity, it pushes the Flip 4 over the line in terms of day-long longevity. This is helped by that adaptive display, intelligent power management that adjusts dynamically based on usage, and a new battery performance profile menu that lets you choose between ‘standard’ and a new ‘light’ option.
The Flip 4 also charges faster than its predecessor, topping out at 25W via wired charging and 15W wirelessly, with the same 4.5W reverse wireless charging as on the previous Flip (which Samsung calls ‘wireless power sharing’). It’s a welcome year-on-year improvement but as with longevity, moves the needle from ‘lacking’ to ‘okay’ when compared to the wider industry standard.
If the phone’s svelte box doesn’t immediately give it away, there’s no power adapter included; as there hasn’t been for multiple generations of Samsung flagship, at this point.
Testing with a generic 27W PD charger managed to refill the Flip 4’s relatively small battery back to full in around 1.25 hours. However, our past experience with Samsung’s official power adapters showed that despite their relatively low wattage, they’re somehow rigged to recharge their own-brand phones more efficiently than no-name brand alternative adapters.
Those looking to grab Samsung’s native 25W power adapter to pair with their Flip 4 will have to cough up an additional $19.99 / £17 / AU$29.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 cameras
- 12MP primary and ultrawide rear cameras
- 10MP hole-punch selfie camera
- Brighter main sensor + new FlexCam functionality
You’ll find three cameras on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4, which at first blush look very familiar to those on the Z Flip 3.
The foldable display sports a centrally-positioned 10MP (f/2.4) punch-hole snapper, while the two sensors next to the cover display on the back are comprised of an OIS-supported main 12MP (f/1.8) sensor and a 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide.
While the apertures remain the same between generations, on the Flip 4 the primary 12MP sensor is fractionally wider and promises brighter stills and videos (by up to 65%), thanks to larger pixels (1.8µm, up from 1.4µm previously). The rest of the hardware appears unchanged from the Flip 3.
Both OIS (optical image stabilization) and VDIS (video digital image stabilization) have been improved, with the latter being particularly handy in light of the new FlexCam mode. This will properly orient the UI when holding the phone like a 90s camcorder while the hinge is folded to a 90-degree position.
The cover display experience has been expanded too. You can jump through aspect ratios, grab quick shots – including portrait photos – and start shooting video on the cover display while unfolding and switching to the main display without interrupting recording.
Something about the convenient nature of being able to jump into shooting without opening the phone, by relying on the main and ultrawide sensor paired with the Cover Display, ups the likelihood of snapping more selfies and makes shooting feel more fun and spontaneous.
Functionality includes a few specialized modes for more creative outcomes, like Single Take – which creates a collage of videos and stills from a single shutter press – panorama, food, slow motion and time lapse-style video capture modes, and Director’s View, which lets you shoot video using multiple sensors and switch between them during recording as required.
Manual control for both stills and videos is also supported, as is the ability to fold the Flip partially so that it serves as its own stand, allowing for easier hands-free shooting and stills – the fundamental benefit of FlexCam.
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As far as quality goes, the Flip 4 offers what could be described as a ‘joyful’ camera; serving up shots filled with bold color, nice contrast and great fine detail. They’re easily shareable too.
If you’ve not encountered Samsung’s camera science before, across the board you’re served punchy shots with fairly heavy-handed post-processing (including notable sharpening and contrast boosting) and the Flip 4 is no exception.
Generally, you can capture some great photos across all the cameras on the phone, however, there was a recurring issue with exposure and color balance when switching to the ultrawide on occasion, producing the odd shot that was over-exposed or excessively cool relative to the scene. Such an issue is easily remedied by a software update and in the meantime, can be wrestled under control with a quick tap on the viewfinder when you notice it occurring.
Low-light performance is, as promised, pretty strong, taking some really attractive Night mode shots that are loaded with detail and impressively accurate color, considering the conditions.
Side-by-side tests with a compact camera rival, the iPhone 13 Mini, reveal that while Apple’s pocket rocket offers superior dynamic range, as long as you’re happy with Samsung’s signature image processing, you’ll get great color, contrast and sharpness from shots taken on the Flip 4.
While the selfie snapper is a pleasingly capable 10MP sensor in most situations (including low light) the ability to so easily shoot selfies with both of the phone’s more potent 12MP rear-facing sensors means you have far more opportunities to grab top-notch selfies in a wider range of conditions.
The improved VDIS also renders some impressively smooth and stable video capture, that shares the still’s bright and bold look and feel too.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 score card
|Design||Still the best-designed clamshell foldable around. And the only one with water resistance.||4.5/5|
|Display||Beyond how miraculous folding glass feels, the screen offers a great viewing experience with smart power optimizations.||4/5|
|Software||Not everyone will love One UI but it’s a comprehensive user experience loaded with features and supported by long-term updates.||4/5|
|Performance||More grunt than you might expect, with one of the best chips on the market. More fast UFS 3.1 storage is a bonus too.||4.5/5|
|Battery||A step in the right direction, meaning the Flip 4 can just about last a day.||3/5|
|Cameras||Sure, there’s no optical zoom but what is there is capable and the form factor makes grabbing selfies more fun.||4/5|
|Value||Pricey but still the best value clamshell foldable on the market.||4/5|
Should I buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4?
Buy it if…
Don’t buy it if…
Whether it’s the folding form factor, the compact footprint, or the powerful performance, if you’ve decided the Flip 4 isn’t what you’re after, try these alternatives on for size, instead.
- First reviewed August 2022