Eye on the future
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip redefines cool to make the owner happy as a clam
- Published 21.03.20, 9:04 PM
- Updated 21.03.20, 9:04 PM
- 5 mins read
So far there have been many experiments in the folding phone space but the new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip actually gives us a clear picture of the category’s future. After five days of use, it feels so normal in the hand that one may even say, “Hey, I’ve been using this all the time?” It’s a foldable phone that actually fits into one’s lifestyle.
The magic of glass
Let’s get to the screen because it has been a source of some controversy after tech reviewer JerryRigEverything put out a video in which he doubted if the screen is made out of glass at all. He is wrong. The Galaxy Z Flip does have Samsung’s Ultra Thin Glass, which is a first of its kind and is different from any of the flagship devices out there.
To make the glass bend, Samsung had to keep it really, really thin. No it doesn’t look like the glass one is used to on a smartphone but then this is glass and it’s delicate. In fact, it’s so delicate that the company applied a protective layer on top of the glass, which makes it appear soft. This is the best screen we have seen in a folding phone, which is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.
With that out of the way, the next question one may ask is: “Has the crease been ironed out?” Some may talk from experience... about the vertical crease that was seen on last year’s Galaxy Fold. In 2019, it was a device like no other and, let’s face it, it was a technological breakthrough. A vertical crease always catches the eye more than if there is one across the breadth of the device. Yes, there’s a slight crease but it’s only visible when you are folding or unfolding the Z Flip. While using the phone, one forgets all about the gentle crease and the eyes adjust. Crease? What crease?!
Obviously one can’t compare the screen on the Z Flip with, say, that on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra because the technology is different. In folding phones, this is the sharpest screen I have ever seen.
Out of the box, the Z Flip looks pretty sturdy and over the five days, it remained sturdy, much thanks to the ‘hideaway hinge’, which is backed by “a dual CAM mechanism — small but sophisticatedly designed to ensure every flip and fold is smooth and stable”.
Unlike folding phones of yore — yes, in 2020 we can say that! — which opened with a flick, on the Z Flip it’s a two-handed effort, which is a good thing. And the stiffness allows the phone to be kept open at various angles, which the company calls ‘flex mode’. Half open, one can use the top half for making video calls or simply watching videos. It particularly helps when one is having lunch and wants to read a long article or watch a video. Keep the phone in flex mode and you can do all of that. That the phone can stand at a variety of angles and not just one, is a technological feat.
The folding nature of the phone also allows flexibility. Fold it and tuck the phone into the back pocket of your trouser or the ones on your jacket or in the handbag. In fact, it’s one of the few devices women can comfortably keep in their trouser pockets. And once inside the pocket, there is a sense of security. With most other phones there is always the fear of the car or house key causing scratches to the screen. None of that with this one.
Security also comes in the form of a sweeper technology that’s inside the hideaway hinge. There are nylon fibres that repel dirt and dust, which may come from your pocket or when the phone is just lying around. And the thick bezel doesn’t seem out of place because it forms a protective layer around the phone and one won’t be tempted to peel off anything. And there are no gaps for finger nails to play around!
Also, there is a sense of engagement. Allow me to explain this. After, say, replying to an email one just stares at a smartphone and soon starts fiddling around, wasting time. With a folding phone there is a sense of purpose. One unfolds it. Does what he or she means to do. Folds it shut. End of a digital activity and back to normal life.
When the phone is folded shut, it feels comfortable to hold and there is no fear of dropping it.
The other specs
Unfolded, the screen appears really tall, which is great while typing or making video calls. The issue is when you are watching YouTube videos. There are thick bars on the sides but these can be removed by pinching out, which is fine.
Let’s talk about cameras. There are two of them on the back — 12MP ultra-wide (F2.2) and 12MP wide (F1.8) — which makes one think of last year’s phones. On the inside is a 10MP selfie camera. The image quality is very good. Outdoor shots come out brilliant and indoors or in uneven lighting, things are also good but don’t expect it to match the quality of snaps taken on, say, Galaxy S20 devices. Compared to any other folding phone, this one wins again and again.
The problem I have is with taking selfies when the phone is shut. There is a small screen outside which shows time and one can swipe it to see other icons like notification and settings, which is fine. In case there is a notification, you can simply open the phone and automatically the main screen would showcase it.
To take a selfie, hit the power button twice and then press the volume up or down button to take a shot. The problem lies in contextualising a shot on such a small screen. But the pictures come out really well. Of course, one can always unfold the device to take a selfie without any issue
The feature that impresses me the most is Single Take, which is also there on the new Galaxy S20 series. With one click, the camera captures multiple variations of a shot and even a tiny video, which is brilliant.
When it comes to fingerprint scanning, it’s on the side, on the power button, which I find very helpful. But here’s a suggestion for Samsung. It would be amazing to have a device which helps left-handed people. For them it would be difficult to use the fingerprint scanner which is on the right side of the phone.
In way of performance, there are zero issues and the battery life is enough to last a day even after six hours of heavy screen use. We also like the fact that the phone supports wireless charging. Pretty neat!
Is this the future?
In terms of practicality, the Z Flip scores full marks. It’s ultra portable and the specifications are justifiable. The question is whether you should get one? Looking at the sea of glass slabs out there, this is the most exciting phone and it’s good enough to last the user a few years. I can use the phone all day, every day, without complains. Give it time, folding phones will become the new “normal”. Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip redefines cool and makes the owner happy as a clam.