Opinion: Samsung's Galaxy ZFlip 4 Might Just Be The First Flip Phone Worth Buying
Back in January 2022, I was faced with the odd conundrum of which phone to purchase after my old OnePlus 7 Pro gave up the ghost. The market is awash with some excellent options and truth be told, I had a hard time debating what to go for. Typically, I was someone who opted to stay away from the 'mainstream' as it were - prior to the 7 Pro, I'd owned a Google Pixel 2 and before that, an LG G5, and before that, an old LG G4 Beat. My only exposure to an iPhone in the house was a second hand iPhone 3GS from some years back.
After doing a little bit of research, it was between a choice of two, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, or the Galaxy ZFlip 3. My heart wanted the ZFlip 3, and for all the wrong reasons at that - the aesthetic and sleek nature of owning a flip phone in 2022, the fact it had two displays was appealing, and on paper at least, it seemed like a good idea. I was this close to pulling the trigger, before my head said 'What the hell are you doing?'.
Then, I took a step back, looked at what I was about to do, and did some more reading. It was only then I realised the problems of the ZFlip 3 - the small battery, dual 12MP camera (come on Samsung, even cheaper phones offer triple or quad setups now), and worst of all, the unsettling crease in the middle of the screen users had reportedly experienced after a few weeks to months of owning the device. Before long, I'd turned my back on the ZFlip 3, and have been the proud owner of an S21 Ultra ever since. Do I regret not picking up the ZFlip 3 instead? Not one bit.
Now though, having had a proper look at a ZFlip 4, I can say that for those who are due an upgrade for their phone, it might not be such a bad idea. Samsung has actually made some pretty big changes to the Z-series of foldable compared to the more incremental updates that occur in the more mainstream S-series. The ZFlip 4 offers a more durable frame with a re-engineered hinge, as well as a bigger battery and oodles of improvements to the phone's dual 12MP set of snappers.
For instance, there's the power of the FlexCam mode that makes the most of Samsung's partnership with Meta so users can prop their phone up and record hands-free for the ever-increasing march of Instagram Reels or WhatsApp. The cover screen of the ZFlip 4 can also be used as a viewfinder for those all-important selfies, and now offers a preview of your photos before you take them - a small throwback to that Samsung compact camera that provided a front-facing LCD screen - the old DV150F that I always wanted growing up. In addition, the ZFlip 4 is also said to offer a larger pixel size compared to the ZFlip 3 so images will offer more detailed imagery.
Okay, it may not be as many wholesale changes as I've made out, but the fact remains that with quality of life improvements such as a smaller hinge, larger battery, and stronger chassis and screen, the ZFlip 4 is a much more intriguing purchase than the ZFlip 3, or indeed any other flip phone out there since their reinvention. After all, it was only a handful of years ago when these phones were breaking and cracking in the hands of reviewers, so you'd think it would only be onwards and upwards from here.
You might sit there and think to yourself - "well, what about the Moto Razr 2022"? To be truthful, it's a valid point. On paper, the new Moto Razr, with its larger megapixel sensor, higher refresh rate main display and larger back panel, looks like a better deal than the ZFlip 4. The small problem is that it's only available in China for the time being, and while it is expected to have a global release sooner rather than later according to recent leaks, it's not confirmed properly as to when it might be.
The problem is, the new Razr is the latest in the line of Motorola's consistent attempts to revive the iconic flip phone from nearly twenty years ago, and let's face it, the last few attempts haven't exactly worked out too well. The first attempt in 2019 skimped on specs and was panned by reviewers for its overpriced nature, while the second generation tweaked the design a tad and added 5G connectivity and some slightly better internals, but still fell way short of the mark. At least with this third iteration, Motorola has lumped flagship specs inside and attempted to offer a better overall package than what Samsung can, but how good the Razr 2022 will be remains to be seen.
Flip phones are still in their infancy, undoubtedly though, but Samsung reckons it's got a design that works with the ZFlip 4 by offering a slew of improvements as opposed to changes compared to its predecessor. Of course, they aren't going to be for everyone, but the ZFlip 4, by attempting to right the wrongs of the previous generations, may just be the first flip phone that more than just us nerds take proper note of.
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