Samsung effectively runs the foldable smartphone market with its Galaxy Z Fold line of tablet-turned-smartphone behemoths and its Galaxy Z Flip line of pocket-friendly throwbacks. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 is the latest from the latter camp. Four generations of foldables in, and the Z Flip 4 isn’t doing anything terribly new. So, for a $1,000 phone, let’s get to the bottom of what it actually has to offer.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 – Photos
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 – Design and Features
You’d have to look really close to spot a difference between the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and last year’s Galaxy Z Flip 3. The shape of the phone is largely unchanged, with just under a millimeter shaved off the width and height. This makes for a phone that gets downright compact when it’s folded closed, though kind of beefy at about 0.66 inches thick, and then can sprawl out when unfolded to unveil a 6.7-inch display.
If the 1080 x 2640 Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+ support, and a 1200 nit peak brightness sounds a bit familiar, that’s because it’s spec-for-spec identical to last year’s display. Make no mistake, it’s a looker, especially when pumping out HDR visuals. Samsung does a great job hiding the crease where the screen folds over, but it does have a tendency to show itself if the screen is dark or there’s a lot of one color going over the crease (such as a white background behind text).
At the top of the screen is the same hole-punch selfie camera. The display is flanked by stereo speakers, one on the bottom of the phone and one in the earpiece. These produce enough sound for casual listening, and they remain decently clean at max volume.
The right edge of the phone houses volume buttons and a power button that also doubles as a fingerprint scanner. When the phone is folded open, they’re far up the phone and hard to reach without going two-handed or an awkward hold. That’s just one situation where the phone regrettably calls for two hands.
The aggressively tall screen (it has a 22:9 aspect ratio, and the phone is 4.4mm taller than an iPhone 13 Pro Max) is hard to navigate one handed. Even unfolding the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is best accomplished with two hands – the classic thumb-pry-and-flip of the bygone flip phones is possible, but takes a bit more of an aggressive flip than I’m comfortable with on a $1,000 phone made of mostly glass. Though Samsung has switched to Gorilla Glass Victus+ on the outside of the phone, I’ve yet to see a phone with any kind of glass that won’t break if it’s flung hard enough. Meanwhile, the interior ultra-thin glass is still sensitive enough that Samsung has to advise not putting too much pressure with finger nails.
Thankfully, the phone at least boasts some water resistance with an IPX8 rating that suggests it can withstand full submersion, though there are seams in the frame where it would likely take some time for water to fully evaporate out. It’s odd that Samsung would call the Z Flip 4 “the only water-resistant foldable smartphone” when last year’s Z Flip 3 also boasted an IPX8 rating.
The Z Flip 4 continues to carry a 1.9-inch, 260×512 Super AMOLED cover display on the outside. This provides a convenient peek at the time and date, weather, timers, contacts, and music playback. It’s semi-customizable, but falls short of the options a smartwatch would provide. The cover display can also show notifications, but its best trick is that it can serve as a viewfinder for taking selfies using the two rear cameras situated right next to it.
Wireless charging and reverse wireless charging are supported on the Z Flip 4, and Samsung advertises up to 25W fast-charging as well (up from the 15W of the Z Flip 3), though it may well require a special Samsung charger that’s not included in the package.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 – Software
The Galaxy Z Flip 4 comes running Android 12 – a detail curiously absent from the phone’s specs online. It has One UI 4.1.1 over the top, which keeps the phone feeling more like a Samsung device and less like the Pixel 6 line. Samsung keeps its launcher well-focused, providing plenty of tools and means for customization without hammering me over the head with everything it can do. I especially appreciate that the quick settings menu continues to show more options and information all at once instead of taking the new route seen on the Pixel 6, which shows less and requires more time and interaction to get anything done.
There are some extras for the phone’s folded states. As mentioned, the external display gets some widgets, though surprisingly few. The phone also has a special split-screen mode that can activate when it’s partially folded. But I’ve only seen it provide a small space below the active window for a button for the notification shade, screenshots, brightness and volume controls, and one to toggle a touchpad zone that brings a mouse pointer onto the screen – to do what? I can only imagine. It feels a little like using the world’s smallest laptop, and not in a fun way.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 – Gaming and Performance
While the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 might emphasize style over more practical elements, it’s not totally neglecting power. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen1 and 8GB of RAM inside are more than up to the task of everyday operation, keeping the phone feeling smooth right alongside that 120Hz refresh rate. Even gaming for an hour on GeForce Now, the phone kept its cool. It’s got enough muscle in there for local gaming as well.
The phone packs in a 3,700mAh battery which has proven more than enough to get through the day, especially if I use the external display to check notifications instead of lighting up the entire internal display every time I want to see who texted me.
The phone can come with 128GB of storage as a base but has upgrades to 256GB or even 512GB, giving users plenty of options to fit their needs. 128GB will likely do well enough for users who don’t take a lot of video, while the larger capacity options can fit more before needing to offload to an external storage device.
The 5G connectivity held up well, generally getting better reception and speeds than my Galaxy S20 running on the same network. Different antennas, band support, and new modems can provide a meaningful upgrade that goes under the radar on the spec sheet, but there have been some definite improvements in this department
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 – Camera
The Galaxy Z Flip 4 cameras are largely unchanged from last year’s model, and that’s not the worst news. Those cameras were carrying their weight, and this time around they can still do so. The only notable change is that the main wide-angle sensor got a bump from having 1.4-micron pixels to 1.8 microns, which means more light-capturing goodness.
The Galaxy Z Flip 4 has the following camera setup:
- 12MP wide at f/1.8 with OIS and 1.8-micron pixels
- 12MP 123-degree ultra-wide at f/2.2 with 1.12-micron pixels
- 10MP selfie at f/2.4 with 1.22-micron pixels
These cameras aren’t magic, like you might get on the Pixel 6 Pro, Galaxy S22 Ultra, or iPhone 13 Pro Max. It can’t turn pitch black into a visible image with minimal blur and it’s not snagging crisp detail with a 10x telephoto zoom. But, what it can do is capture what you see with some striking clarity in a rich color palette.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 – Camera Samples
The wide angle is the star of the show, serving as both a competent shooter for normal photos and standing in a league of its own for selfies. Even though the internal selfie-camera is easily respectable, there’s almost no reason to use it outside of video chats because of how easy it is to use the rear sensor for selfies.
The Galaxy Z Flip 4 captures a high level of detail in bright conditions and holds up well even as the scene dims down to more overcast conditions. In the dark, it has a moodiness that somewhat helps make up for the bit of blur caused by its longer exposure times.
The color the main camera is capturing is rich. Though the ultra-wide sensor appears to lose a hint of the vibrance coming through the main sensor, it doesn’t feel like a huge sag in quality. It’s also impressive how well the main camera performs when using digital zoom. It can make fine print legible and comes close to the clarity of even the 10x zoom on my Galaxy S20 (which has an optical advantage), even though neither produces a very useful image at that zoom level.
For day-to-day shooting, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 continues to be a respectable option, though it’s easily beaten by standard smartphones that emphasize photography over fold-ography.