Foldable devices are great, but they’re not as good as Samsung wants you to think they are

When a lot of people think about the best foldable phones, I think the idea that comes into their mind is a smartphone that can turn into a tablet. It is the perfect combination of productivity and portability. While the technology is still young at the moment, the dream in the future is to have a device without any compromises. This means that what will be in your hand will be a powerful, compact, durable, and most importantly foldable smartphone at an affordable price. Samsung has been widely praised as one of the leaders in foldable smartphones, and rightly so, as it has four iterations of the Galaxy Z Fold and also four iterations of its Galaxy Z Flip line. Millions of customers have tried foldability in a mass-market product, and Samsung takes credit for that.

But Samsung is also often criticized for not being innovative, and in recent years, that may be true. With so little competition in the United States, the company had no reason to really push the limits on its flagships and its folds. But on the flip side, its frequent updates year after year give it the most mature and refined lineup of any manufacturer offering foldable devices. Although there is a case for foldable smartphones like the Galaxy Z Fold, I feel the same can’t really be said for the Galaxy Z Flip. Samsung presents its latest Galaxy Z Flip 4 with the logos:

more compact. Improved battery. faster processor. Tougher design. The best low light photos.

These are the five pillars Samsung makes use of when it comes to announcing why to buy the Galaxy Z Flip 4. It focuses on the phone’s size, battery life, computing power, a tougher design, and a camera that can perform in all scenarios, especially in low light. But I would argue that most of these are the reasons why the Galaxy Z Flip 4 or The Galaxy Z Flip font for that matter shouldn’t be there. While the Galaxy Z Flip series has become popular, I think that’s mostly due to its novelty and, more importantly, its affordability.

As an old user of the Galaxy Z Flip 3, I chose to skip the Flip 4 and move on to something different, even though Samsung is offering massive promotions to trade in on its latest foldable models. For me, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 didn’t live up to expectations or the experience of a traditional smartphone. I think for all of us there is a basic expectation at this point, and the Z Flip doesn’t meet that standard for me. Some may think the opinions expressed here are blasphemous, but I urge you to have an open mind, and I also urge you to share your experiences with Z Flip because I love hearing it.

short and brave

I can still remember the rush I had when I first unveiled the Z Flip 3. But as soon as the feeling came, it quickly dissipated as soon as I closed it. Was it supposed to be like this? I imagined that the first time I used a foldable it would feel even more surreal. Maybe my expectations were too high. I didn’t think much about it, I went through the setup process, searched the menus, and spent some time getting to know the phone. From that day forward, it will become my primary device, replacing the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Perhaps one of the first things I noticed was that I didn’t like its thickness in my pocket. It’s probably something I should have expected given the specs. While the phone had a smaller space, in my pants, I didn’t feel more pressure. The fact that the phone has become twice as thick made it difficult to store in a trouser pocket compared to a regular smartphone. Now, you can put it away in a bag, and this scenario is a bit better, but again, you have the same thickness issue. The size of the phone remains the same, only its shape has changed, I think not for the better.

Folding the phone does not change its size. It just changed shape, and I think it’s not for the better.

This part is completely subjective, so you prefer either a tall and thin smartphone or a short and thick one. At this point in time, you really can’t have the best of both worlds, but Samsung doesn’t really get to the right place, but I think we’ll get there eventually.

Battery life has always been something to watch out for

The Galaxy Z Flip was the phone I depended on every day. I would go by train as I would listen to a few hours of music and occasionally hop on Google Maps to navigate. Sometimes I need to do translations, and of course, there was communication through applications such as WhatsApp, Line and Google Voice. Sometimes I would watch videos or engage in some light gaming, pretty much just my normal daily use. I’ve never been a heavy user when it comes to smartphones, and I’ve generally been able to handle just a moderate battery drain after a full day’s use. But with the Galaxy Z Flip, things were different.

Galaxy Z Flip 4 90 degree angle

I’ve never been able to kill the battery, but I’ve always had to be careful, sometimes even enabling power saving mode to ensure a full day goes by when I’m out. Sure, the phone was packed with plenty of power with its powerful processor, but on the flip side, the battery life felt insufficient. My experience may have been a bit skewed, especially when I came from a device with a 5,000 mAh battery coming down to a 3,300 mAh phone. But looking back, a lot of phones released during that time had batteries larger than 3,300mAh. I know there are obviously limitations when it comes to a foldable build, but I think when the phone is down $1,000 it should have a bigger 3300mAh battery.

Imagine if Samsung released a traditional Galaxy phone for $1,000 that looked great and had a battery that big, you wouldn’t hear the end of it. I think a lot of people give the Z Flip a pass because the phone folds, but in the end, the consumer has to sacrifice. This is a classic case of form over function. But the sad part is that the look doesn’t really add anything to the experience. I am very familiar with Flex Mode. But come on, I don’t think anyone really needs their app to be squeezed into a small window just so we can access quality controls and features that make the experience look back.

A tougher shell, but the screen was still relatively delicate

The Galaxy Z Flip is described as having a tougher design, backed by Corning’s Gorilla Glass, which offers IPX8 water resistance and an aluminum Armor frame. As far as the screen goes, Samsung Ultra Thin Glass offers improved durability tested with 200,000 folds. Perhaps the best thing that foldable phones have to offer when it comes to durability is the fact that they can be folded to protect the screen. But when you unlock the phone, it’s a different story.

I don’t know about anyone else but when I used the phone for the first few months I felt I should have kept it in mind. After a while, I got used to the experience, but no matter how hard I tried to treat it like a regular phone, there was always a part of me that worried. I never felt it was on par with a regular phone. Maybe you are overprotective of the screen? But watching enough horror stories online made me realize that no matter how protective I was, the screen was just another part I had to worry about when I didn’t.

The best low light photos

The Z Flip’s image quality hasn’t been the best and has always been a bit behind Samsung’s flagship. The same goes for the Z Flip 3, and the same can be said for the Z Flip 4. This part is a bit trickier to discuss because, in the past, Samsung has made a conscious effort to offer a lower quality experience from the higher end lines as a cost-cutting measure. It’s hard to say if this kind of practice is still happening in its latest model, but no matter how good the cameras are, they won’t outperform other phones in the same price range. I hate to sound like a broken record at this point, but again, for a $1,000 phone we’re looking at sacrifice and compromise, and in one of the worst ways possible.

Foldable devices have their own compromises, so know what you’re getting into

Z Flip 3 and 4

Galaxy Z Flip 3 (rear) and Z Flip 4 (front)

I guess we can see what direction my mindset is after exploring some pillars around the latest Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 or the Z Flip line as a whole. When it comes to owning or using a foldable smartphone like this, there are only compromises. Either you are OK with it somewhere in the middle, or you are not. But I think what I relate to most is how much people are paying for this experience.

Of course, the above compromises probably aren’t a deal breaker for you, but for me, I just can’t stand them when I actively use them every day. But I’m thankful I got to experience it because without living with a foldable smartphone, you wouldn’t really know.

These are just some of the personal reasons why I think the Galaxy Z Flip line doesn’t need to exist. If Samsung is just taking a slab phone, a design that’s been greatly improved to perfection, and then adding a wrinkle to it at the expense of comfort, battery life, durability and features, this is when I think we need to step back and rethink the product line as a whole and ask ourselves how we can The Z Flip line would be better.

As a reminder, this isn’t a piece written to try to incite bad vibes, it’s just an opinion, and after all, these are just products. But I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Z Flip line, especially if you find that the phone really improves your experiences on a daily basis.

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