Samsung is the current leader when it comes to folding, and after spending a few months with the Galaxy Z Fold 2, I was eager to get hold of the company’s other alternative, the Galaxy Z Flip 5G. After the company opened a 100-day trial, I realized it was worth a shot, but here I do not want to buy the Galaxy Z Flip.
Galaxy Z Flip 5G is a one-trick pony
Collapsible have the ability to switch smartphones as we know them in great ways, but there are useful ways to do it, and one that is not. With the Galaxy Z Flip 5G, the idea is to grab a regular smartphone and shrink it down on command, making the whole package easier to slip in your pocket.
On the specification sheet, there is a Snapdragon 865 chip paired with 8 GB of RAM. As with the Galaxy S20 which shared almost the same options, the performance is quite amazing. No matter how many apps or tasks I had at one time, Flip came with me. What, however, was not the battery life. The 3,300 mAh power pack is not exactly small, but by 2020 standards and beyond it is quite disappointing. At best, I could manage 4-5 hours of active use in a whole day. Usually I can handle a little less than ideal battery life, but what made this frustrating was the wireless charging. I love that it is supported, but I still had trouble adjusting. The phone was too short for one of my charging stations, and at my Nomad base station it did not show up on several occasions, leaving me with an almost dead phone in the morning. In the camera department, that part of the 12MP cameras is fine, and mostly takes good pictures with the same slightly inconsistent experience from other Samsung phones. No surprises there.
As for the hardware, Samsung nailed it. The frosted glass on the Z Flip 5G is comfortable to hold and beautiful. I also love that the matte covers over the small outer screen. The hinge is tight and reassuring as well, but especially I saw that it did not unfold after a few weeks. It is apparently quite common with Flip, and did not affect my use. The inner screen is also of solid quality. It’s sharp, OLED has vibrant colors and good contrast, and the bump in the middle disappears pretty much in front of your eyes when you actually use the phone.
The disadvantages outweigh the pros
However, after using Flip as my headphone for a few days, it became very clear that I was not going to stick to it. Why? The main reason is really only the choices that the manufacturers of this phone made.
Having an internal internal screen that is only available when the phone is opened, comes with a number of usage challenges. One-handed use is certainly possible when the design is open, but the stiffness of the hinge makes it difficult to open the phone with one hand, at least while you feel like you’re trying to protect a $ 1200 device. That alone was enough for me to turn off the device, but the problem is more impactful, the longer you think about it.
Forcing the device to unfold for most tasks sometimes becomes impractical. For example, when you try to take a quick picture, you are automatically delayed by several seconds, that is, if you want to see your subject. You can use the small outer screen to take a selfie, but it does not help in other scenarios. It may sound like something you will get used to, but honestly I can not imagine living with it on my only smartphone, and at $ 1200 this will almost definitely be someone’s only phone.
The annoying problem also ignores the core issues that face everyone collapsing today. Z Flip has no waterproofness to speak of, and the screen can be easily scratched. Ultra-thin glass makes the screen feel better, but it still comes with a plastic screen protector, and the screen below is no longer durable.
Where does this form factor go from here?
Having a phone that folds in two is great, and for some people, this form factor is worth it just because it’s so small in the pocket. For me and I will bet many other people, the current state of Z Flip is not.
However, I believe that there is a middle ground that can be reached, and the plan already exists. It is the outer screen of the Galaxy Z Flip 5G that acts as the Achilles heel. The little strip is okay for alerts, but that’s all. Getting it to cover the entire front of the folded device would solve many problems. You can see full email or text and more. This is something Motorola is offering with its Razr 5G. Samsung gets everything else right on the Flip compared to Motorola’s choice, but the Razr deserves credit for its external display; it is actually useful. I would like to see Samsung also take off something smart with the cameras, so that pictures can be taken while the phone is closed, but that may not be possible … yet.
Is the Galaxy Z Flip 5G worth $ 1200? It really depends on you. If it’s worth the inconvenience of having a phone that is very small in your pocket, I think the rest of the experience justifies the price if one trick is important to you. I will send the Galaxy Z Flip 5G back before the trial period expires. It’s a great phone, but it’s just not for me.
If you want to get in on the fun, the trial period is valid on purchases from Samsung.com that have been made until today, April 1st. Hurry better …
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