Samsung Galaxy Z Flip factory unlocked cell phone review

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip factory unlocked cell phone review
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Galaxy Z Flip is an expansive new smartphone experience with completely reimagined compact engineering and revolutionary folding glass technology in your pocket. Galaxy Z Flip’s breakthrough camera lets you shoot, stream and connect hands-free from new angles. With ramped up night shots, high-definition 4K video capture and wide-angle perspectives, you can share your world whenever and wherever you are. Get more in Samsung Galaxy Z Flip factory unlocked cell phone review.

Specs – Samsung Galaxy Z Flip factory unlocked cell phone

Price: $1,380
Screen (open): 6.7-inch Super AMOLED (2636 x 1080)
Exterior screen: 1.1-inch Super AMOLED (300 x 112)
CPU: Snapdragon 855 Plus
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 256GB
Cameras: 2 12MP (main: f/1.8; ultra wide: f/2.2) rear/10MP (f/2.0) front
Battery: 3,300 mAh
Size (open): 6.6 x 2.9 x 0.28 inches
Size (folded): 3.4 x 2.9 x 0.61-0.68 inches
Weight: 6.5 ounces

Likes & dislikes

Likes

  • A cohesive device that’s easy to pick up and use right away.
  • Closed, it feels sturdy and compact. Gripping it by the hinge end feels secure.
  • The screen stays open on its own at a wide variety of angles (more on this below).
  • The foldable glass screen — a world’s first — helps keep the dreaded crease to a minimum. There’s no damage so far to the one I’ve bought.
  • Camera quality is strong on all three sensors (see breakout).
  • Solid specs include a Snapdragon 855 Plus processor, 256GB of storage, fast charging and reverse wireless charging (all specs below).
  • A swipe-out screen is helpful for launching favorite apps and split-screen mode, especially during one-handed use.
  • It comes with a free plastic case for extra peace of mind.
  • Android 10 and Samsung One UI 2 keep the software current.

Dislikes

  • It’s expensive: $1,380 or £1,300 (about AU$2,500 converted from the UK price).
  • Fingerprint smudges accumulate quickly on all surfaces.
  • The cover display is too small to be useful. Samsung missed a sizable opportunity (more below).
  • Battery life is a tad disappointing.
  • Many videos and games don’t fit perfectly into the 21.9:9 screen dimensions, resulting in black side bars.
  • The fingerprint reader would be more conveniently placed on the lower half — at least for my hands.
  • It’s vulnerable to damage from exposure to water and dust (you get a one-year warranty and 24/7 customer service).
  • Since you have to unfold it first, it takes longer to do most things than on a standard phone. I’ve missed a few camera moments as a result. (On the flip side, I like the finality of snapping it closed.) 

Who is this for – Samsung Galaxy Z Flip factory unlocked cell phone

Good for

You prefer a small phone with a big screen
This is the best of both worlds. You can have a large 6.7-inch screen, yet fold it in half to carry around a device that’s roughly half the size of many of today’s ‘small’ phones.

You want a phone with true wow factor
The Galaxy Z Flip is a showstopper thanks to its throwback design combined with cutting-edge foldable screen technology. It’ll turn heads, and that’s the real reason to own this phone.

Don’t buy it if…

You need an affordable smartphone
Even with a price drop, the Z Flip isn’t cheap. It exceeded the price of Samsung’s S flagships by a lot at launch and is still hovering above what you’ll pay for an S20 Plus, which has better cameras.

You want Samsung’s best camera and specs
The Note 20 has Samsung’s best cameras with a 5x optical zoom and 50x digital zoom, and options for more storage and 12GB of RAM. If you want the best specs, look elsewhere.

You can wait for version 2
Well, technically version 3, if you want to call the 5G revision version 2. The point is, we suspect a new Z Flip will launch in 2021, and that will make this phone obsolete like every other flip phone before it.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip factory unlocked cell phone review: Price and availability

Before you even examine the relative merits of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, one of its most appealing attributes may be its price. At $1,380, the Galaxy Z Flip isn’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination. But in the world of pricey foldable devices, Samsung’s flip phone feels like a bargain.

The Galaxy Z Flip’s $1,380 price is a $600 drop from the debut price of the Samsung Galaxy Fold. (The Fold’s price has since dropped a little bit as we get closer to the anticipated Galaxy Fold 2 launch this summer.) The Galaxy Z Flip also costs less than the $1,500 the Motorola Razr.

You can get the Galaxy Z Flip from AT&TBest Buy and Samsung. However, these days, the focus is on the Galaxy Z Flip 5G, an updated version of the phone that came out after we published our Galaxy Z Flip review. The Galaxy Z Flip 5G features a more powerful Snapdragon 865 Plus processor with a 5G modem, and it makes some improvements to the multitasking features. For that, you’ll pay $69 more, or $1,449.

We’re focusing on the Galaxy Z Flip for this review, but everything with the exception of performance would be the same with the Galaxy Z Flip 5G.


Compare Samsung Galaxy Z Flip factory unlocked cell phone vs. Motorola Razr

Samsung Galaxy Z FlipMotorola Razr
Display size, resolutionInternal: 6.7-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED; 2,636×1,080-pixels / External: 1.1-inch Super AMOLED; 300×112-pixelsInternal: 6.2-inch, foldable pOLED; 2,142x876p pixels (21:9) / External: 2.7-inch glass OLED, 800×600-pixels (4:3)
Pixel density425ppi (internal) / 303ppi (external)373ppi (internal screen)
Dimensions (Inches)Folded: 2.99×3.44×0.62 ~0.68 in / Unfolded: 2.99×6.59×0.27 ~0.28 inUnfolded: 6.8×2.8×0.28 in / Folded: 3.7×2.8×0.55 in
Dimensions (Millimeters)Folded: 73.6×87.4×15.4 ~17.3 mm / Unfolded: 73.6×167.3×6.9 ~7.2 mmUnfolded: 172x72x6.9mm / Folded: 94x72x14mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams)6.46 oz; 183g7.2 oz; 205g
Mobile softwareAndroid 10Android 9 Pie
Camera12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (ultra wide-angle)16-megapixel external (f/1.7, dual pixel AF), 5-megapixel internal
Front-facing camera10-megapixelSame as main 16-megapixel external
Video capture4K (HDR 10+)4K
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 855+ (64-bit octa-core)Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 (2.2GHz, octa-core)
Storage256GB128GB
RAM8GB6GB
Expandable storageNoneNone
Battery3,300 mAh2,510 mAh
Fingerprint sensorPower buttonBelow screen
ConnectorUSB-CUSB-C
Headphone jackNoNone
Special featuresFoldable display; wireless PowerShare; wireless charging; fast chargingFoldable display, eSIM, Motorola gestures, splashproof
Price off-contract (USD)$1,380$1,499
Price (GBP)£1,300Converts to about £1,170
Price (AUD)UK price converts to about AU$2,500Converts to about AU$2,185

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip factory unlocked cell phone review

Build

The screen is made from multiple layers of plastic and ultra-thin glass and is therefore softer than the hard, scratch-resistant glass on standard phones. But because the phone folds closed like a book, the screen is protected and has remained scratch-free.

Display

Samsung has turned to a full-HD+ display for the Galaxy Z Flip, with a resolution of 2636 x 1080 pixels. That’s a lower resolution than the quad-HD+ panels inside the Galaxy S20 series, but it’s certainly sharper than the Razr’s 6.2-inch, HD+ screen.

Like the Motorola Razr, there is a front display on the lid of the Galaxy Z Flip. Unlike the Motorola Razr, the Z Flip’s is very, very small. The OLED display is only 1.1-inches and shows basic information like the time, notifications, and media controls. If you tap on a notification, the information contained within it will scroll by, but it doesn’t scroll long enough to read the whole message on most occasions. If you double-tap a notification it will prompt you to open the phone to read it, and the associated app will open automatically.

The front display can also be used as a mini viewfinder, in case you want to take selfies with the phone closed. Because of the display’s weird aspect ratio, the image shown is only the center of the resulting image, but since it’s a selfie that’s all the information you really need to have anyway.

The only use I see in this feature is the ability to take higher-resolution selfies since the front cameras are 12MP, vs. the 10MP sensor on the inside of the phone. The wide-angle camera also gives a much wider field of view than the selfie camera if you need to fit more people in the shot. You can switch between the standard and wide-angle lenses by swiping on the display.

Hinge & rotation

Samsung has also re-engineered the hinge of the phone. This allows for a full 180-degrees of tilt, which is what gives the phone all its extra functionality. Samsung rates the display to fold 200,000 times before potential failure.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip unfolded sitting up

Samsung added fibers to the inside of the hinge to help stop dust from entering the hinge mechanism. While the actual amount of fibers added is much less than what was represented in Samsung’s promo video, I can confidently say that nothing has gotten into my hinge so far. We’ll have to wait and see how this hinge fares over the next couple of months.

Flex mode

Samsung has dubbed this Flex mode, and when you enable it by opening the Z Flip into an L-shape, the top half of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip’s screen serves as a viewing area while all your actions are on the bottom of the screen. Use the camera app in Flex mode, for example, and the top of the screen becomes a viewfinder while the bottom houses the shutter button and menu options. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip factory unlocked cell phone Performance review

One camera feature that the Galaxy Z Flip and Galaxy S20 phones will have in common is Single Take, a new photography mode that will take up to 10 photos and four videos when you select it and then press and hold the record button. The mode uses multiple cameras and settings to quickly get you variety that you can choose from. 

I tried this out several times, and… it’s just not for me. Single Take works best during action shots or when you’re photographing a group of friends hanging out, but I never got a photo or video that I liked better than one I’d take myself. Some of that probably comes down to me and my Type A personality that wants to compose the shot to my specifications. Some might come down to my reluctance to sort through the haul and delete what I don’t want.

The idea here is convenience, and I could see myself using it if I only had one chance to capture a moment. I could also see myself adding the Live Focus portrait mode to my menu bar instead.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip review: Performance

Samsung may have skipped the latest, greatest Android processor in the Galaxy Z Flip when it neglected to give it Qualcomm’s brand new Snapdragon 865. However, at least the company is using the next best chip available.

That would be the Snapdragon 855 Plus, which debuted late last year in a small number of phones, including the OnePlus 7T. Because it’s the 855 and not the 865, the Z Flip cannot connect to 5G networks — though it’s still very snappy, with 8GB of RAM. (If you want 5G, opt for the Galaxy Z Flip 5G and its more capable Snapdragon 865 Plus chipset.)

Additionally, a standard 256GB of storage provides plenty of space for apps, media and games. Forget about the microSD slot you’ll find on most Samsung flagships, though.

Samsung’s latest foldable achieved a Geekbench 5 multi-core score of 2,689 points. The OnePlus 7T fared only slightly better than the Z Flip, notching a 2,759 score in Geekbench 5, while the Galaxy Fold and its slightly less powerful Snapdragon 855 chipset brought up the rear with a 2,619 tally. 

In other words, expect the Galaxy Z Flip to turn in comparable performance to 2019’s Android flagships, even if phones with newer silicon leave it in the dust. The Galaxy S20 Plus, for example, rides its Snapdragon 865 chipset to a 3,076 score in Geekbench.

Graphics testing tells a similar story — the Galaxy Z Flip holds its own with devices that feature last year’s top-of-the-line Snapdragon system-on-chip while lagging behind newer flagship phones. On the GFXBench Aztec Ruins Vulkan test for high-tier phones, the Galaxy Z Flip’s score of 1,048 frames was in line with the 1,038 score produced by the Galaxy Fold. The Galaxy S20 Plus handily bested both foldable Samsung devices with a result of 1,319 frames. Advertisementhttps://97ff12449728698f14a805e108802bbb.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

This isn’t to say that the Galaxy Z Flip is a laggard. It kept up with any app I threw at it, even demanding games like PUBG Mobile. Android users who want the absolutely fastest phone available will want to turn elsewhere, but that’s hardly the appeal of the Galaxy Z Flip. And even if you do prize performance, the Z Flip is no slouch. 

We haven’t benchmarked the Galaxy Z Flip 5G yet, but we’d expect its performance to outshine the original Flip and to behave more like the Galaxy Z Fold 2, though that phone boasts more RAM.

Battery

What good is a $1,400 phone if it can’t take you through the day? Thankfully, that’s not the Galaxy Z Flip’s problem for me most days. With a combined capacity of 3,300 mAh spread across two battery cells, it gives you more juice than the Razr (2,510 mAh). In my real-world tests, it’s lasted from the time I wake up until evening, when I can easily plug it in again.

On my heaviest use days with hotspotting, streaming video and maps navigation, it ran about 13 hours, lasting overnight on lighter days. In CNET’s lab test to simulate mixed real-world use, it lasted 12 hours. In our battery drain test using looping video (and airplane mode), the result was 15 hours of run time on a single charge. 

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