Note: This article was first published on 13 February 2020.
Samsung is keen to leave behind the stumbling roll out of its Galaxy Fold, and I think it may just have done it. The company did still go on to sell over 400,000 units of the Fold last year, so there's clearly demand for newfangled foldables. The Galaxy Z Flip is Samsung's second foldable phone, and I expect that it'll fly off the shelves like hotcakes when it becomes available to buy here from 14th February.
Let me also just say that I’m now convinced that foldable phones that flip up are far more sensible than the ones that open sideways. What's more, there's just something cool about phones like the Z Flip and the new Motorola Razr, which are almost stylishly retro while still seeming like something out of the future.
Put simply, the Galaxy Z Flip is beautiful. I've never been a huge believer in foldable phones, but Samsung's device has very nearly brought me around to the idea that they might be more than just a gimmick to reel in folks bored of regular candy bar phones.
The Z Flip feels like it's ready for prime time right out of the gate, but I can't stake my name on this claim just yet without actually having made it my daily driver. Still. the hinge is robust and strong, with a reassuring amount of resistance. This is both good and bad, since it takes some effort to use one-handed, but the hinge also feels really solid and like it could withstand the abuse of daily use. It is smooth and quiet, and is capable of holding itself in any position for the most part, instead of snapping abruptly open or close.
There's a reason for why the hinge is so stiff – the Z Flip supports split-screen operation, although it remains to be seen what software and apps will eventually work with it. At the moment, it's mostly limited to things like Google Duo, YouTube, and the camera. YouTube just lets you view the comments section in the bottom half while watching the video at the top, while the camera app is helpful for selfies because someone doesn't have to be holding the phone. You can wave to make the phone take a picture, and it also kind of reminds me of a makeup compact when used in this mode.
The hinge even has fibres built into it to prevent dust from getting in, which was apparently the downfall of early units of the Galaxy Fold. Samsung calls this a "hideaway" hinge, and both halves of the phone slide over the hinge to cover it when the phone is open. I also like that both halves of the display lay flat against each other when the phone is shut, which makes for a nice and seamless look.
But the most significant upgrade is probably the foldable 6.7-inch "Ultra Thin Glass" display, which replaces the plastic on the Fold. Glass is smoother and slicker than plastic, and it's also more resistant to dents, so this is really a huge step up. Though you should know that it doesn't feel as solid as a real flat glass screen and there's no saying how well the glass will hold up after being folded and unfolded many times over – Samsung says it's good for up to 200,000 folds – but this is a step in the right direction.
There is still a visible crease in the middle of the screen, but it immediately becomes a lot less noticeable when the screen is powered on, especially against a lightly coloured background. Screen sensitivity doesn't appear any different in the area either, and I'm glad that the crease is more of a shallow trench than an unsightly bulge. Here's a quick video of the phone's handling and screen as experienced by my colleagues with the Mirror Purple colour:-
The display is framed by raised bezels, which are probably needed to protect the integrity of the foldable glass. A hole-punch camera also sits at the top, similar to the one on the Galaxy S20.
I got to spend time with the Mirror Black version of the phone, and the description is certainly accurate. It is very, very reflective, and you can literally use it as a mirror. Unfortunately, it's also a huge fingerprint magnet, so prepare to put a case on it or just clean it regularly. The black finish is gorgeous though, and it appears almost a deep navy colour under the right lighting.
One of the coolest parts of the Z Flip is how compact it is when closed. I've had people comment that this is one phone that will fit into a tiny clutch with no problems at all, and it's also tiny enough to fit in the palm of your hand. A secondary 1.1-inch OLED screen sits below a sheet of Gorilla Glass 6 and can display the time or show notifications when the phone is shut, but it'll also act as a small screen for a selfie, which you can still take without even flipping the phone open. It's really convenient, and it uses the phone's rear camera to take the picture. Here's a mini video my colleagues posted to show how to take selfies and wefies conveniently with the Z Flip:-
Finally, here's an overview of its specifications:
The Z Flip also has a side-mounted fingerprint sensor on the power button (like the Galaxy S10e) and supports wireless charging. There is no 5G support, however, unlike some of the new Galaxy S20 devices.
Starting from 14 February, the Z Flip will be available to buy in either Mirror Purple or Mirror Black from local telcos at S$1,998. It will also be available from the Samsung Online Store. And if you're looking for yet more opinions, my editor has another to share right here:-