Galaxy Z flip test: Samsung's killer feature is the free-standing CNET screen

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Galaxy Z Flip

The Galaxy Z Flip is the best foldable phone I've ever used. Given this, this is still a new field with just that Motorola Razr, Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X. For competing devices that you can buy today, that may not sound like much. Do not believe it. Samsung has done most things right with the design of the Z Flip and created a foldable phone that is fun and practical enough for everyday use.

To like

  • Sits open to selfies and video calls
  • Foldable glass shade
  • camera quality
  • Ultra portable

I do not like it

  • Expensive
  • Excessively small outer display
  • Prone to damage

With the Galaxy Z Flip, Samsung is undoubtedly proving that foldable phones have the right to be more than just experimental toys. That's an impressive accomplishment for Samsung's second leaflet attempt, especially after the first attempt had such a disastrous start, It's worth recognizing that Samsung is moving so quickly to a design that's more stable, recognizable as a phone, and easy to use.

I quickly fell in love with the Galaxy Z Flip – especially that 6.7-inch glass pane stands up alone – but Samsung still has a lot to do. At $ 1,380, the Z Flip is extremely expensive for tech specs and out of reach for most budgets. The bendable glass display is fragile and the phone is susceptible to water and dust. The battery life is mediocre, and its 1.1-inch exterior screen is stupidly small.

Most people shouldn't go out and buy the Galaxy Z Flip. While it is good enough to rely on it in the real world, foldable phones remain mostly showpieces for early adopters and hobbyists. You'll get more camera options, longer battery life, and real water resistance from other flagship phones (I'm testing the $ 1,400 Galaxy S20 Ultra Next).

That means if you argue between this and the Motorola Razr, you get the Z Flip without any function. I also prefer the Galaxy Fold, although frankly I would only wait for the Fold 2 if you want a foldable tablet format.

Overall, Samsung has done an excellent job bringing the Galaxy Z Flip exciting innovations that are easy to understand and surprisingly easy to use. I expect the next generation to get even better.

You can see the best function of this phone face to face.

Juan Garzon / CNET

What I love about the Galaxy Z Flip

  • A coherent device that is easy to pick up and use immediately.
  • When closed, it feels robust and compact. Gripping the hinge feels safe.
  • The screen remains open independently in a variety of angles (more on this below).
  • The foldable glass pane – a world first – helps to keep the dreaded fold to a minimum. So far there has been no damage to the one I bought.
  • The camera quality is strong for all three sensors (see breakout).
  • Solid specs include a Snapdragon 855 Plus processor, 256GB of storage, quick charge, and wireless reverse charge (all specs below).
  • A swipe-out screen is helpful to launch favorite apps and split-screen mode, especially with one-handed operation.
  • It comes with a free plastic case for added security.
  • Android 10 and Samsung One UI 2 Keep the software up to date.

What I don't like about the Galaxy Z Flip

  • It's expensive: $ 1,380 or £ 1,300 (around AU $ 2,500 when converted from the UK price).
  • Fingerprint stains accumulate quickly on all surfaces.
  • The cover display is too small to be useful. Samsung has missed a significant opportunity (more below).
  • The battery life is a little disappointing.
  • Many videos and games do not fit perfectly in the screen dimensions of 21.9: 9, which leads to black sidebars.
  • The fingerprint reader would be placed more comfortably in the lower half – at least for my hands.
  • It is prone to damage from contact with water and dust (you get a one year warranty and 24 hour customer service).
  • Since you have to open it first, it takes longer to do most things than on a standard phone. I therefore missed a few camera moments. (On the other hand, I like the finality of closing it.)
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The Galaxy Z Flip is incredibly portable and easy to carry.

Jason Hiner / CNET

Flex mode is the killer feature of the Galaxy Z Flip

Open the Galaxy Z Flip from both sides and let go. The half that you pulled up did not slide back into the closed position or bulged again to open fully. Chances are that it stayed exactly where it is.

The free-standing function of the hinge is called the Flex mode by Samsung and is by far the most unique, interesting and effective function of the Z Flip, because you can use it to interact hands-free with the phone.

I didn't have to invent any reasons to keep the screen open. Of course that happened. Sometimes I took a selfie without clumsily getting my arm in the way (the wide-angle lens and the timer worked great). Or read an article or scroll through my inbox or social media feed during lunch. Every time I was tired of holding the phone, I wanted to hang up the phone. Make a video call. Make a hands-free call from the couch. Even landscape landscape, bend the phone in the middle to watch a video solo or show a friend.

Using Flex mode involves some compromises that I am ready to do. It halves the screen so the part you're interacting with is relatively small, often less than 4 inches diagonally. The camera app is dynamic enough to adapt to Flex mode, and other apps will follow, Samsung says, but for me the convenience of being hands-free outweighed my other concerns. It's just so nice to use the Z Flip as your own stand.

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You can watch a video or read a story by hand. When split screen mode is enabled (Figure), you can run both at the same time.

Patrick Holland / CNET

For leaflets with larger screens, you can imagine a real advantage if you use half as a virtual keyboard and the other as a screen.

The only immediate downside that I can see in Flex mode is that a stiffer hinge means that opening the phone when it is closed requires a bit more force, especially when trying to impress someone with your gunslinger skills. I'm curious (and maybe a little worried) to see if the hinge loosens over time and loses some of that self-supporting ability and breaks down in one way or another.

The tiny cover display is the worst feature of the Z Flip

The Galaxy Z Flip is so good that my disappointment with the outer screen of the phone bothers me all the more. Samsung gave the foldable flip phone a tiny pill-shaped display next to the main cameras.

Unfortunately, it's too small, squat, and narrow to make anything meaningful out of it, and the Razr can brag about it. Despite all of its weaknesses, the phone's 2.7-inch exterior display is large enough to display notifications and allows you to respond to it with voice dictations and canned messages.

On the Galaxy Z Flip, you can tap twice to see the time, date, and battery percentage. You can also see the battery percentage when charging. Swipe the deck screen to see app icons that represent notifications. Tap one to view the subject, or read a message in a scrolling ticker. You may need to open the phone to really see what's going on. It is not very useful.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip "data-original =" https://cnet1.cbsistatic.com/img/-4qorapxtfEJfGa-YCUdzLvJX2s=/2020/02/14/d6e728dc-35ec-46a4-b09e-200c8ee3979b/71-samsung-galaxy- z flip.jpg

You can't do much with this tiny outer screen.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Samsung also imagines this mini window as a viewfinder for you and others. The problem is that you can't really place yourself in the photo and the window is too small to see how you really look. I think it's good that this way you can get access to the two main 12-megapixel cameras and swipe on the outer screen to switch between standard and ultra-wide angle sensors.

In a selfie I took with the phone closed (the only type of photo you can take this way), a friend and I looked centered as I held the phone at arm's length. It was only when I checked into the photo gallery that I noticed that a third person in our group had just as much screen sharing, a person we didn't see in the viewfinder.

Outer screens are difficult for foldable phones. They absorb battery reserves and the interior. If they are irregularly shaped, like the fold's over-sized and narrow 4.6-inch screen, get annoyed by the cramped conditions in which typing and using apps feels unnatural.

For me, this design is clearly Samsung, which affects the usability for the battery life and undercuts the price of the Razr. I don't think this is a successful strategy in the long run.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip "data-original =" https://cnet1.cbsistatic.com/img/QotSbPeNMCphWild19kGUJP85mQ=/2020/02/14/4faf1f5c-236e-4662-a594-0cf83a368779/80-samsung-galaxy-z-flip .jpg

Here you get two 12-megapixel cameras and a 10-megapixel shooter.

Sarah Tew / CNET

The camera quality makes Motorola Razr a shame

I feel for the Motorola Razr. The concept is great, but the design fades compared to the Galaxy Z Flip. This is particularly evident in the camera category.

Samsung's 12-megapixel wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle sensors take better photos and offer more options than the Razr's single 16-megapixel camera, especially when shooting in low light. Inside the Z Flip is a 10-megapixel shooter, which is also suitable for selfies (e.g. if you want more control over the recording) and for video calls.

The Razr has a 5-megapixel indoor camera, which, according to the company, is only there to start a video call before the phone is closed and switched to the better camera, but a smaller outside screen. Look forward to a comprehensive comparison between the Motorola Razr and Galaxy Z Flip cameras.

The internet has approved the photos I posted from the Galaxy Z Flip on Twitter. Remember that essentially the Galaxy S10's camera sensors are used. The upcoming Samsung Galaxy S20 phones will all use at least one 12-megapixel camera per part as part of their arrays, but those that rely on larger sensors have been completely redesigned and significantly improved, according to Samsung.

The single-take camera mode is more trouble than it is worth

One camera function that the Galaxy Z Flip and Galaxy S20 phones have in common is Single Take, a new photo mode that, when selected, takes up to 10 photos and four videos and then presses the record button. The mode uses multiple cameras and settings to quickly get a selection to choose from.

I've tried it several times and … it's just not for me. Single Take works best with action shots or when you're photographing a group of friends, but I never got a photo or video that I liked better than one that I would do myself. Some of this is probably related to me and my Type A personality, who want to compose the recording according to my specifications. Some may be due to my reluctance to sort and clear the shipment, which I don't want.

The idea here is convenience, and I could imagine using it if I only had a chance to hold on for a moment. I could also imagine adding Live Focus portrait mode to my menu bar instead.

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This beautiful purple finish can quickly be covered with fingerprints.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

The battery life of the Galaxy Z Flip is only mediocre

What's the use of a $ 1,400 phone if it can't get you through the day? Fortunately for me, that isn't the Galaxy Z Flip's problem most days. With a total capacity of 3,300 mAh, distributed over two battery cells, you get more juice than with the Razr (2,510 mAh). In my real tests, it took from waking up to evening to just plug it back in.

On my most intense days of hotspotting, video streaming, and map navigation, it took about 13 hours and overnight on lighter days. It took 12 hours in CNET's lab test to simulate mixed use in the real world. Our battery discharge test with looping video (and airplane mode) showed a runtime of 15 hours on a single charge.

Samsung Galaxy Z flip hinge "data-original =" https://cnet4.cbsistatic.com/img/kEmQth4RVe5YH5DAOJVEVZuCVpc=/2020/02/14/fbf0d181-aa08-44df-9341-e24899951a70/20200211-1344j

How long does the Galaxy Z Flip last? It depends on the screen and the hinge.

Jason Hiner / CNET

That is for most phones at the lower end of the spectrum and far from the Galaxy Note ($ 800 on Amazon) 10, which takes me from early morning to early morning without hesitation. I would not plan a late night with the Galaxy Z Flip without bringing a charger or refilling it first.

For reference, the Galaxy S20 battery starts at 4,000 mAh and goes up to 5,000 on the Ultra, a phone that costs $ 20 more than the Z Flip. Battery life is clearly a challenge for foldable phones that Samsung and others will hopefully work on for future generations.

Does the glass of the Z Flip hold?

We can't test longevity on a product every week, but we keep an eye on it with foldable phones – in our test devices and in other people's reports. Samsung says the Z Flip's screen and hinge will hold 200,000 flipsThe estimated volume will take five years in typical use. This is the same rating as the Galaxy Fold.

Galaxy Z Flip vs. Motorola Razr

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Motorola Razr

Display size, resolution

Internal: 6.7-inch FHD + Dynamic AMOLED; 2,636 x 1,080 pixels / External: 1.1 inch Super AMOLED; 300 x 112 pixels

Internal: 6.2 inches, foldable POLED; 2,142 x 876 pixels (21: 9) / External: 2.7-inch glass OLED, 800 x 600 pixels (4: 3)

pixel density

425ppi (internal) / 303ppi (external)

373ppi (internal screen)

Dimensions (inches)

Folded: 2.99 x 3.44 x 0.62 ~ 0.68 inches / Unfolded: 2.99 x 6.59 x 0.27 ~ 0.28 inches

Unfolded: 6.8 x 2.8 x 0.28 inches / Folded: 3.7 x 2.8 x 0.55 inches

Dimensions (millimeters)

Folded: 73.6 x 87.4 x 15.4 ~ 17.3mm / Unfolded: 73.6 x 167.3 x 6.9 ~ 7.2mm

Unfolded: 172x72x6.9mm / Folded: 94x72x14mm

Weight (ounces, grams)

6.46 ounces; 183 g

7.2 ounces; 205 g

Mobile software

Android 10

Android 9 Pie

camera

12 megapixels (wide angle), 12 megapixels (ultra wide angle)

16 megapixels external (1: 1.7, dual pixel AF), 5 megapixels internal

Front camera

10 megapixels

Corresponds to the external 16 megapixel main device

video recording

4K (HDR 10+)

4K

processor

Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ (64-bit octa-core)

Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 (2.2 GHz, octa-core)

camp

256 GB

128 GB

R.A.M.

8 GB

6 GB

Expandable memory

none

none

battery

3,300 mAh

2.510 mAh

Fingerprint sensor

power switch

Under the screen

Interconnects

USB-C

USB-C

Headphone jack

No

none

Special features

Foldable display; wireless PowerShare; Wireless charging; Quick charge

Foldable display, eSIM, Motorola gestures, splash-proof

Price outside the contract (USD)

$ 1,380

$ 1,499

Price (GBP)

£ 1,300

Converted to around £ 1,170

Price (AUD)

The UK price is converted to approximately AU $ 2,500

Converted to approximately AU $ 2,185