We pointed out in our Galaxy Z Flip review that the biggest compliment one could give this device was that it didn’t feel unusual. By no means is the Galaxy Z Flip a conventional smartphone. It resurrects a form factor that has long been considered a part of history and fuses that with the world’s first foldable glass display.
How good or bad a smartphone is goes beyond the specs that it can tout. It has to get a lot of things right for the customer to be completely satisfied with their purchase. Once the novelty of a new device wears off, it’s pretty easy to get disillusioned quickly. So after four months of using the Galaxy Z Flip as a daily driver, has our opinion about this device changed from the initial Galaxy Z Flip review?
The hinge and foldable display are clearly some of the most fragile parts of a foldable smartphone. We noted in our Galaxy Z Flip review that one of the things that immediately stands out when you use this device for the first time is just how well built the hinge feels.
We continue to be impressed by the Hideaway Hinge’s durability. Four months later, it still feels as solid as it did the first day. According to Digital Wellbeing, our unit is unlocked 80 times per day on average, which means that it’s folded and unfolded over 80 times in a single day. So far, so good. With the Galaxy Z Flip’s hinge rated for at least 200,000 folds, we have no reason to believe that it won’t be able to hit that mark.
The Galaxy Z Flip has the distinction of having the world’s first foldable glass panel. That doesn’t mean it can take a beating like the Gorilla Glass on your Galaxy S20 can. This is still a fragile component, however, it has held up pretty well over these four months. We don’t find any marks or blemishes on the panel and any fingerprint smudges can easily be wiped away. The fingerprint problem certainly isn’t as bad as it can get on the Galaxy Fold so no complaints here.
You can’t talk about a foldable display and not mention the crease. It’s the elephant in the room and in the Galaxy Z Flip’s case, it’s quite the tame beast. The crease isn’t as prominent as the Galaxy Fold simply because this device folds on a horizontal axis so it’s “smaller.” You will definitely feel it when you slide your finger over it but the crease hasn’t really taken away anything from our experience with this device. This little encumbrance is no different than a notch on the display. You learn to disregard it over time.
Our unit has been able to survive a couple of drops which really is a testament to the build quality of this device. We have continued to use it with the case that ships with the device but it leaves a lot to be desired. The case is flimsy and quick to pick up scratches. It also cracked at the corner because of the drop. The case has provided protection to the actual body which looks as pristine as ever but it’s almost at the end of its life now.
Fortunately, there are some third-party cases available for the device, even though there’s not much variety right now. Samsung has actively cautioned users against applying any protective films or screen protectors to the device, adding that customers who do this risk voiding their Galaxy Z Flip warranty. Samsung does sell its own leather case for the Galaxy Z Flip but currently has no option for those who don’t want to use a leather case with the device.
Flex Mode is a lifesaver
We have talked about just how useful the Galaxy Z Flip Flex Mode is previously. This feature is made possible by the rigidity of the hinge which allows for the device to be opened up at different angles. It can effectively become its own tripod. With foldable phones, you subconsciously become selective of when it’s really necessary to unfold the device, but there isn’t a lot of leeway for that on the Galaxy Z Flip. At least with the Galaxy Fold’s cover display, you can get a lot done without unfolding the phone. That’s not possible because of the Galaxy Z Flip’s tiny cover display.
Instead of having to fold and unfold the device every time a text comes in, we often find ourselves just keeping the phone open in Flex Mode. Whether that’s at work and the Galaxy Z Flip is placed on the table like a mini laptop or when just lounging with the phone propped up on the couch. This level of convenience would not have been possible if the hinge was only capable of either being fully open or fully closed.
The Galaxy Z Flip Flex Mode has proven its usefulness over these past few months and it’s difficult to imagine using a clamshell foldable without it. That’s over and above the fact that this phone can turn into its own tripod to open up different possibilities for capturing photos and videos. The only thing that’s lacking right now is software support for Flex Mode. There are only a handful of native apps that can adapt when the device is in this position and YouTube is one of the few third-party apps that have support. This is an area where Samsung needs to improve as it will only make the user experience even better.
No performance worries
The Galaxy Z Flip is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ processor, this is last year’s flagship chip, and it’s really more than enough for anything you can throw at it in 2020. Even as our device has filled up with data, multimedia content, apps and games over the past few months, we haven’t experienced any notable degradation in performance.
Whether it’s casual gaming, multi-tasking with apps, capturing video or just moving through the interface, the device has met our expectations in the performance department. The Galaxy Z Flip 5G that’s due to launch in August is likely going to come with the latest Snapdragon 865 chip, which will only make things better.
A few concerns
If you’ve been using phones with an IP rating for a few years, chances are you no longer fear to pull your phone out in the rain. Even heavy downpour won’t really damage your phone but that’s not something you can do with the Galaxy Z Flip. We don’t even use our unit when it’s drizzling outside because there’s a good chance that droplets of water could seep in and cause damage.
Now, it’s quite possible that the Galaxy Z Flip can withstand drizzling, but it’s too expensive of a device to experiment with. If you live in places where it tends to rain a lot, you might find yourself getting frustrated with having to first find some shelter before whipping out your phone. Not the kind of frustration you want when it’s about to rain and you’re trying to find a place on Google Maps.
There are concerns about the battery life as well. There’s only so much you can squeeze out of its combined capacity of 3,300mAh. Conservative use can make it last a full day with around 5 hours of screen time but push it a little bit and you’re looking at an average screen on time of just over 3 hours. The figures get even worse when you’re on cellular roaming but that’s just an unintended consequence of having a small battery.
Samsung hasn’t really given any exceptional software support to its foldable smartphones even though they’re the most expensive phones that it sells. This has been our concern with the Galaxy Fold since last year and so far, there doesn’t appear to be much work on new software features for the Galaxy Z Flip. Hopefully, Samsung will add more functionality to the device that leverages its unique form factor.
Our opinion remains unchanged
Our time with the Galaxy Z Flip has been pleasant so far. Throughout this period, we haven’t found any issues or shortcomings that could make a customer question their purchase after the novelty wears off. It’s dependable, built really well, doesn’t suffer any performance issues and is a good package overall. That’s an impressive achievement for a first-generation clamshell foldable.