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Samsung’s Z Flip4 Is A Slight Improvement, But Still A Fine High-Tech Phone

After over two weeks worth of reviewing and using the latest flip phone from Samsung as a daily driver, we have come to this revelation: the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 is the Mazda MX-5 of smartphones.

Preposterous claim, you say? Well, allow us to explain why. For a start, both the Z Flip4 and MX-5 share similar traits;

  • Both turns heads even for non-tech or car enthusiasts,
  • Both emphasize on fun while barely meeting the requirements of being practical,
  • Many may consider both to be on the pricey side; and
  • You don’t see a need for one – until you get hold of one.

We heaped praise on the Z Flip3 in our review last year. Its ingenuity and solid construction very much trumped its shortcomings of having lacklustre batteries and a mediocre camera. The Z Flip3 was not only a success for the Samsung brand, but it was also for the folding smart devices as a whole. Phones don’t have to look awfully similar. Phone makers can be bold again. Bring out the weird designs, we say!

Turn ‘smartphones’ into ‘smartfun’. ‘Smartfun’. Admit it; it’s genius. Samsung, call us.

 

4front

Anyway, back to the Galaxy Z Flip 4. Like last year, Samsung offered little in terms of packaging and unboxing experience. The Korean tech giants again went down the minimalist route of only providing a Type-C USB charging cable and sim ejector tool alongside the phone. Then again, despite the Z Flip4’s improvement in battery capacity and charging speed, there is no need for a specialized charging adapter hence this decision can be forgiven.

This year’s model comes in four ‘standard’ colours – the boring Graphite, a more flamboyant ‘Pink Gold’, Bora Purple a.k.a Purple Purple (‘Bora’ is ‘purple’ in Korean) and ‘Blue’ which in our eyes, is more grey than blue.

Samsung also upped their customization game for the Z Flip 4, allowing users to create bespoke units. This is done by combining various colours of the phone’s exterior parts. With a premium of RM500 over the base-coloured units, this option is available only through online purchases as each custom build is made-to-order.

In terms of storage, you get to choose from the ‘basic’ 128GB (RM4099) variety to the maximum 512GB (RM4899). Since the Z Flip 4 does not come with expandable storage, we do recommend going for the highest storage option you could afford. The ‘Bespoke’ option only comes with 256GB/8GB combination and retails at RM4599.

All Z Flip4 models come with 8GB RAM and runs on the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor. This means a snappier and power efficient device.

 

4armed Knowledge

As an overall package, the Z Flip4 is an improvement on its predecessor. Although by looks alone, even those who own a Z Flip 3 would have a hard time discerning the older model from the new. Upon closer inspection, I noticed subtle tweaks in design and dimensions. The Flip 4, despite being sleeker and thinner, weighs about 4 grams heavier.

The main screen is pretty much identical save for those who pixel-peep. For casual users, your experience with the older and new models would be hard to distinguish.  Like last year’s model, Samsung also claimed that phone’s hinge has been improved and tested to withstand over 200,000 folds. Assuming you pull off about 50 folding and unfolding actions per day, it’ll still take you over 4000 days to hit that mark. That’s well over ten years. So durability-wise, since we do not have the specific tools to test it so we’ll just have to take Samsung’s word for it.

Those with small hands would instantly appreciate the aspect ratio of the main screen. Its slender nature makes one-handed navigation much easier compared to other models. One of the best features on the Z Flip3 also made a return with the fingerprint sensor being embedded into the power button. You can easily unlock your Z Flip 4 as your thumb naturally sits next to this sensor which is very responsive.

When viewed in a landscape mode, the long-ish screen allows a more cinematic experience and the dual speakers firing from the top and bottom of the phone deliver a respectable stereo experience. Gaming on the Z Flip4 is quite enjoyable as well due to how the phone just fits in your hands.

The crease in the middle is still noticeable. But it isn’t as visible nor as intrusive. We don’t see it going away in future iterations due to one simple reason. Physics. Folding stuff causes creasing. It’s just how the universe work. But what many perceive as a weakness, Samsung turned into a trait which propels them ahead of their competitors. In this year’s model, more apps have been made compatible with the folding form.

For example, launching YouTube in this form separates the navigational controls to the ‘bottom’ screen while the ‘top’ solely focuses on the media you are consuming. In some apps, the ‘bottom’ screen also doubles up as a trackpad.

4midable

The Z Flip 4 receives the same IPX8 rating similar to last year’s model. This means that the device is water-resistant, but not directly water-proof. It should survive accidental spills, usage when caught in the rain or being submerged in fresh water for up to 1.5 meters for a duration of up to 30 minutes. Push these limits at your own risk, though. The ‘X’ means it isn’t as robust against dust most probably due to its mechanical hinge so we’d be careful when we take it to the beach, for example.

You also don’t need to worry about its toughness as the Z Flip 4 comes with sturdy Corning Gorilla Glass Victus Plus framed by an ‘armour aluminium’ chassis. This combination leads to not only a more secure feel when handling the device, but also an oh-so-satisfying clap whenever you close it.  When closed, like last year, the screen does not sit flush with one another. Some may complain but we believe this was a conscious effort from Samsung to avoid stray particles getting wedged in between screens, causing irreparable damage.

We totally understand the reservations about picking up folding devices due to their perceived lack of durability. This is indeed contentious since perception is subjective. We highly encourage you to decide on it yourself at any Samsung store. Test units at these stores would have gone through thousands of folding and unfolding motions so they should give you a good indication of how sturdy the device is.

Cov4 Screen

One of our few gripes about this year’s model would be the size of the cover screen which remained the same. The main difference this year is that you are now able to run more apps on it. We aren’t sure whether this improvement is specific to the Z Flip4 or a software update which will allow the Z Flip3 to do the same.

Some may see the cover screen as trivial, but in our books, it’s a smart way to regulate users’ smart device behaviour. You can now pick up and respond to calls albeit via loudspeaker while the phone is clasped. You can also respond to messages without having to open the phone although replies are still limited to canned responses. Want to check the time? Tap on the screen to show it.

But by far, its best use would be as a preview screen for photography (more like self-photography) enthusiasts out there.  Like the Z Flip3, you can make the Z Flip4 steadily ‘sit’ at almost any angle, negating the need for a tripod. From this position, you not only are able to fully utilize the main cameras, you also have a stable base for your photo snaps or video recordings. Hereon, photo snaps or video recordings are just a hand gesture away.

When it comes to camera performance, the Z Flip 4 provides incremental improvements from last year’s model. In short, it is already much more than what a casual user would ever need. The photos and videos were taken on the Z Flip 4 turn out brilliant nine times out of ten, with the odd one out being user-influenced.

Take it from us – unless you’re looking to win a National Geographic photo contest, you’re looking up the wrong device. Perhaps the S22 Ultra might be more up your alley.

In the Z Flip4, Samsung also addressed another point of contention which stopped the Z Flip3 from being a truly viable option to their other flagship line, last year’s S- range. Battery capacity. By bumping up the battery in the Z Flip4 by roughly 12%, this year’s device is more than capable of lasting through the day. Although we could use with more, 3700mAh should be sufficient for most users out there.

4gone Conclusion

With most of last year’s issues addressed, does it make the Z Flip4 a more viable choice as your next daily driver? It very much depends on your priorities and what you seek in your next smart device. Style or practicality? While the Z Flip4 is no slouch when it comes to being practical, its strength lies in its uniqueness and wow factor.

Like the Mazda MX-5 mentioned at the start, it ticks all the style points while simultaneously hitting the right notes of being barely practical. Sure, you could use a ‘larger engine’ or ‘faster processor’ which puts the S22+ in your sights. But why blend in when you can stand out? As the wise sages of Smash Mouth once preached, “Only shooting stars break the mould”

Pros

  • Sleeker silhouette compared to last year’s model.
  • Sturdier construction.
  • Improved battery and camera performance.
  • Like the MX-5, is a head-turner – a conversation starter.

Cons

  • Cover screen can be larger.
  • No expandable storage. Again.

 

Final Score: 90/100

Review unit provided by Samsung Malaysia.


Vital Statistics

Body: Unfolded: 165.2 x 71.9 x 6.9 mm Folded: 84.9 x 71.9 x 15.9-17.1 mm (187g)
Build: Plastic front, glass back (Gorilla Glass Victus+), aluminum frame – IPX8 water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins)
Chipset: Qualcomm SM8475 Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 (4 nm)
CPU: Octa-core (1×3.19 GHz Cortex-X2 & 3×2.75 GHz Cortex-A710 & 4×1.80 GHz Cortex-A510)
GPU: Adreno 730
Display: Foldable Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz, HDR10+, 1200 nits (peak)
Cover Display: Super AMOLED, 1.9 inches, 260 x 512 pixels (Gorilla Glass Victus+)
Memory: 128GB/256GB/512GB + 8RAM for all options. Non-expandable
Main Camera: 12 MP, f/1.8, 24mm (wide), 1/1.76″, 1.8µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS; 12 MP, f/2.2, 123? (ultrawide), 1.12µm
Video: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@60/240fps, 720p@960fps, HDR10+
Sound: Stereo speakers. No jacks given
Battery: Li-Po 3700 mAh – 25W, 50% in 30 min, fast wireless charging 15W, reverse wireless charging 4.5W
Price: MYR 4099(128GB/ 8GB); MYR 4399(256GB/8GB); MYR 4899 (512GB/8GB) via Samsung Malaysia.
Bespoke option also available at Samsung Malaysia. 

 

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