Hands On with the Galaxy Z Flip: I Only Thought I Didn’t Want a Foldable

The Galaxy Z Flip open on its side
Justin Duino

Today at Samsung Unpacked 2020, the company showed off its second foldable in the Galaxy Z Flip. Unlike the Galaxy Fold, this phone doesn’t turn into a big ol’ tablet, but rather harkens back to the glory days of the flip phone. And boys and girls, let me tell you: it’s a badass little gadget.

To be fair, I’ve long been in the “ugh foldables phones are dumb” camp. The Motorola RAZR offered a cool bit of nostalgia, but I’m also not into $1500 nostalgia, so…yeah, I’m out. The original Galaxy Fold is awkward no matter which way you use it—when folded, it’s a not-great phone. When opened it’s a not-great tablet. Either way you slice it, that’s not a great look.

But the Z Flip? The Z Flip just flipped my thoughts on foldables in a hot minute. I went from thinking it was a silly alternative to the RAZR and another novelty to actually seeing myself using one—all in the span of about 30 minutes. It’s a sleek, classy, sophisticated, and downright awesome phone. I’d buy one.

When you first look at the Z Flip, it really takes you back to the days of the flip phone (assuming you’re old enough to remember the days of the flip phone, of course), with its glossy shell and tiny little external display. Unlike the RAZR, the Z Flip doesn’t really have a screen on the outside of the device—it’s more like a little ticker-type notification area. Most of the time it just shows the time, date, and battery, but if you get a notification it will scroll through that too. It’s a useful little addition to the phone, and honestly, I think this is a better choice than trying to cram a very small touchscreen onto the outside of the phone. Good call, Samsung.

To feel the hinge on this little foldable is to love it, too, because it feels really good. It’s a little stiff (okay, a lot stiff) so it’s tough to open with one hand unless you have NBA player-sized hands. But that’s not without reason, as the hinge is designed to be more robust than the design found in the Galaxy Fold. This also allows it to be more useful, since it can be positioned at any angle between open and closed.

The Galaxy Z Flip closed showing the ticker-style notification area
Justin Duino

And that’s honestly where some of the best features of the Z Flip lie, because Samsung created a new mode for the device called “Flex Mode.” This allows certain apps to show split content along the fold of the phone, giving and almost split-screen experience. For example, you can watch a YouTube video on the top half of the screen while scrolling through recommendations and comments on the bottom.

Flex Mode is also available on the camera, so you can flip the phone open, set it up at an angle, and use it to take a selfie. Support for other apps in Flex Mode are all but non-existent right now, but Samsung has all the tools developers need to enable in their apps if they want. I honestly hope more developers take advantage of this because it’s so much cooler than I expected. I know it sounds like a novelty, but just a few minutes with the YouTube app in Flex Mode sold me.

Galaxy Z Flip open in Flex Mode
Justin Duino

Outside of all the hingey, folding goodness, the fully-open form factor of this phone is also excellent. Housed inside of its folding body is a 6.7-inch screen that doesn’t feel like a 6.7-inch display because it uses a pretty unusual 22:9 aspect ratio. In other words, it’s a lot narrower than most 6.7-inch phones. I dig the aspect ratio so hard. It looked really good to me in the limited time I got to spend with it, and I saw nothing awkward given the aspect ratio—save for maybe the black bars on the sides of YouTube videos in landscape mode, but that’s such a minor “issue” it’s barely even worth mentioning.

Of course, once you get past all that, it’s not a super-deluxe powerhouse like its S20 cousins that were announced today. You won’t find beaucoup RAM, an SD card slot, or like 45 cameras on the Z Flip. That doesn’t mean it’s a slouch, either—it has 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB of storage, and an unnamed 64-bit octa-core processor. Pair that up with a couple of 12 MP rear cameras and a 10 MP front shooter, and you have all the makings of a badass, yet simplistic (by modern standards) little phone.

Galaxy Z Flip open
Justin Duino

At $1,380, the Z Flip isn’t cheap. But it’s still cheaper than the Fold, and it has a better design, too. If you miss that old school flip phone vibe, I would honestly skip the RAZR and go straight to the Z Flip. It’s easily the best foldable on the market right now.

The Z Flip will be available starting Friday, February 14th for $1,380.

Cameron Summerson Cameron Summerson
Cameron Summerson is the Editor in Chief of Review Geek and serves as an Editorial Advisor for How-to Geek and LifeSavvy. He’s been covering technology for nearly a decade and has written over 4,000 articles and hundreds of product reviews in that time. He’s been published in print magazines and quoted as a smartphone expert in the New York Times. Read Full Bio »

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