When I first saw Samsung’s new Galaxy Flip Z, I had doubts. Many doubts.
or example: ‘Interesting, but the whole folding thing might be just an expensive gimmick’; ‘there’ll be too many compromises, I want features like the best cameras, the best screens and the best battery life’; ‘what’s so interesting about a folding phone anyway?’
I now have fewer doubts. In fact, I’ve grown to like it. This is a highly interesting, even compelling, phone.
Indeed, it has one elusive factor that most phones covet and very few deliver: delight.
I’ve had more people come up and ask for ‘a go’ of it than any other handset in recent years. And it really does work.
No, the Flip Z doesn’t quite match the top specifications of its S20 and S20 Ultra siblings.
But it’s not far off. It has what would be considered flagship features in most other devices.
Crucially, that folding form factor is actually quite useful. Not just because it fits much more handily in your pocket or in your hand. But because it can be placed sitting by itself while you make a video call or watch something on YouTube or Facebook. This will suit a certain type of user in a way that no other smartphone can match.
Before we go any further, a few clarifications:
1. Yes, the 6.7-inch 21:9 (skinny) display actually folds over in the centre to give something close to a square. And yes, it is glass, not plastic. In a manner of speaking, anyway. The glass is quite fragile and, to protect it from cracking or scraping, is covered by a very thin layer of plastic. (It’s still more markable than other phones; Samsung includes a warning about this in the box.)
2. Yes, you can see the crease crossing the middle of the screen where it folds over. It’s fairly clear whenever light bounces off it. But honestly, I’m largely over it (maybe in the same way we all got over the disruption of the ‘notch’ in newer iPhones).
3. No, there aren’t many protective cases available for it yet. The screen itself should be fairly safe as, when it’s folded over, the glass isn’t exposed. But the rear casing will probably chip or crack itself. So yes, it’s a consideration.
Now, a few other observations:
(i) The rear casing is probably a bigger fingerprint magnet than any phone I’ve ever used. Again, a protective case would probably solve that.
(ii) The cameras on it are good, but missing a lens. It has two rear cameras: a regular (wide) and ultra-wide. Both are 12 megapixels and are very good.
But it’s rare to find a flagship phone without a third telephoto camera (the one with the bigger zoom) now. Having said that, if there could only be two, Samsung was right to pick the ultra-wide instead of the telephoto. (If you want to see examples of shots I took on the Flip Z, go to my Twitter account, @adrianweckler.)
(iii) Battery life appears to be decent but not quite at the same level as Samsung’s more recent flagship phones.
(iv) When fully extended out flat, the 6.7-inch screen is skinny. What I mean is that, unlike most large phones, you can just about get your hand around it. This is good for holding it and using it one-handed.
These are my first impressions of using the Galaxy Flip Z. They may vary over time. But for the moment, this is a job well done by Samsung. Even at its pricey level, the Flip Z is the most interesting, compelling, fun phone of 2020 so far.