Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 hands-on: The best gets better

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 looks and feels a lot like last year’s Z Flip 3. It has the same basic design, boasts a few spec bumps, and is available for the same $999 price. It’s a marketing pitch that — at least initially — doesn’t sound very exciting, but it is.

Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 3 was already an excellent handset. We gave it four out of five stars in our full review and hailed it as the “foldable for everyone.” The Galaxy Z Flip 4 takes the formula of the Z Flip 3, improves on it in a few key ways, and doesn’t jack up the price while down so. In that context, the Flip 4 sounds like it’s all but guaranteed to be a hit.

Samsung announced the Z Flip 4 on August 10 alongside its Galaxy Z Fold 4 cousin, and I had an opportunity to play with the phone for a few minutes during a hands-on session. It didn’t blow me away, but it also left me incredibly eager to use it more.

Improving an already great design

samsung galaxy z flip 4.
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As mentioned above, the Galaxy Z Flip 4’s design isn’t a radical departure from the Z Flip 3. And that’s a good thing! The phone still has a large screen when opened, folds up into half the size, and has a cover screen on the front to enable basic interactions when closed. While all of those core design principles are unchanged, they’ve also been improved in subtle ways.

Take the hinge, for example. Like the Z Fold 4, the Z Flip 4 has a slimmer hinge design compared to its predecessor. I didn’t notice any immediate difference compared to my time with the Flip 3, but it still felt every bit as satisfying to flip the phone open and close.

A much more visible change is the frame of the phone. Where the Z Flip 3 had a slightly rounded frame, the Z Flip 4 opts for a flatter one — not unlike the Galaxy S22. The Z Flip 4 is still very comfortable to hold with the straighter edges, and at least to my eyes, the flatter aesthetic looks a bit nicer than the softer one from last year.

When it comes to the displays, things have mostly stayed the same. The main screen is still a 6.7-inch AMOLED canvas with a 2640 x 1080 resolution and a variable refresh rate (which goes up to 120Hz and all the way down to 1Hz). The cover screen also remains at 1.9 inches, despite rumors of it exceeding 2 inches or more. It’s also still an AMOLED panel with a 260 x 512 resolution.

Although I would have liked a significantly larger cover screen to match what we’ll see from Motorola later this year with the Razr 2022, I also can’t complain too much about what Samsung’s offering here. The main display looks and feels outstanding, and even at the same 1.9-inch size, the cover screen is still useful for checking your calendar or managing notifications.

And, of course, there are the colors. The Z Flip 4 comes in four basic colors: Bora Purple, Graphite, Pink Gold, and Blue — but that’s not all. Similar to the Z Flip 3, the Z Flip 4 also gets a special Bespoke Edition for you to customize the phone to your heart’s content. You can choose Yellow, White, Navy, Khaki, and Red colors for the front/back glass panels, along with Silver, Black, and Gold for the frame.  While the Bespoke Z Flip 3 wasn’t available until a few months after its launch, Bespoke customization for the Flip 4 is ready from day one.

Faster performance, bigger battery

samsung galaxy z flip 4.
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One of the biggest upgrades for the Z Flip 4 is something you can’t see at all, but you’ll certainly feel it. Where last year’s Z Flip 3 got Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 chip, the Z Flip 4 leapfrogs the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and goes straight to the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. That’s further assisted by 8GB of RAM and up to 512GB of internal storage.

Playing around with the Z Flip 4 for a little over an hour, there’s no doubt that it’s a fast phone. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is the same chip we’ve seen in phones like the Asus ROG Phone 6 and Zenfone 9. As we’ve experienced with those devices, the Z Flip 4 flies through every app and menu with ease and shows no signs of slowing down. We’ll need to put it through more rigorous tests during the full review, but it’s safe to say there’s ample horsepower here.

samsung galaxy z flip 4.
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

Another internal change is the battery capacity. Gone is the Z Flip 3’s 3,300 mAh dual cell battery and in its place is a 3,700 mAh dual cell battery. Poor battery life was one of the biggest universal complaints against the Flip 3, so having an extra 400 mAh to work with, combined with the enhanced efficiency of the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, should result in noticeable endurance gains.

And when it comes time to charge up, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 supports 25W wired charging to go from 0-50% battery in about 30 minutes. It’s a far cry from the 125W charging offered by the OnePlus 10T, but it’s still a marked improvement over the 15W charging of the Flip 3. Additionally, the Z Flip 4 supports fast wireless charging and wireless PowerShare.

New camera tricks

samsung galaxy z flip 4.
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Samsung also spent a lot of time supercharging the Z Flip 4’s camera system. At the heart of the phone is a 12MP primary camera, with dual pixel autofocus and optical image stabilization. Although the megapixel count is the same as the Flip 3, the new sensor allows for 65% brighter shots for improved lowlight performance. Besides that, you get a 12MP ultrawide camera with a 123 field-of-view, plus a 10MP selfie camera.

In addition to the new camera hardware, Samsung’s also touting software tricks for the Z Flip 4’s camera. FlexCam allows you to partially fold the Flip 4 to prop up the phone and take photos at various angles. This works in the main camera app in addition to Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. You can also take portrait mode selfies in Quick Shot mode (when the Flip 4 is closed) and preview the results in the photo’s actual ratio.

A boring (but important) upgrade

samsung galaxy z flip 4.
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If you were never sold on the idea of the Galaxy Z Flip, nothing about the Z Flip 4 will change your mind. It’s essentially the same device as the Flip 3, just souped up with a tighter design, faster chipset, bigger battery, snappier charging, and more capable cameras.

Does that make the Z Flip 4 the most exciting foldable of the year? Not at all. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is still the go-to choice for anyone who wants a phone/tablet hybrid, Xiaomi’s doing impressive work with the Mix Fold 2, and the Razr 2022 is shaping up to make some exciting changes to its foldable design. But for someone like me, who fell in love with the Z Flip 3, the idea of that same phone — but better in all the places it needed it — is exactly what I was hoping for. I still need more time with the Z Flip 4 before I give it the full review treatment, but based on the hour or so I did have with it, I’m incredibly eager to dive back in.

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 starts at the same $1000 price as its predecessor. You get 128GB of storage for that price, with optional upgrades to 256 or 512GB if you need more space. Pre-orders are live between August 10 and August 25, followed by regular sales beginning August 26.

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