If you’re after a smartphone with a bit of wow-factor then this Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review could be a good place to start. It’s a clamshell-style folding phone that will take you straight back to the early noughties but naturally, with some much smarter tech packed in.
Launched at a Galaxy Unpacked event in August 2022, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 was launched alongside its bigger, pricier sibling, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 as well as the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro.
What’s really convincing about the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 is that it costs about the same as a flagship so there’s no paying over the odds for the foldable display, and it’s also very compact, folding out to the size of a regular phone. Could this be the best foldable phone for most people?
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review: price and what’s new
You’ll be able to buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 from the 25th August 2022 starting from $999 in the US and £999 in the UK for the model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. For 256GB of storage, that goes up to $1,059 / £1,059 or for 512GB you’ll be looking at paying $1179 / £1,199.
At first glance, it may seem almost identical to the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3, but there are actually a few changes worth knowing about.
You get some new widgets for the tiny cover screen including additional Quick Settings from Samsung Pay and wallet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth controls, Airplane mode and more.
The camera system has been upgraded as well with a bigger size for the main 12-megapixel sensor, now 1.8 microns per pixel up from 1.4. Last but not least, there’s an upgraded processor under the hood - the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review: design and display
Aesthetically, there’s not much that sets the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 apart from its predecessor, and like last year’s phone, the clamshell design is very satisfying to use. When you first get your hands on it, you’ll be sure to spend a decent amount of time folding open the screen and flipping it shut again before eventually, the novelty wears off.
There is some purpose to it bar being fun and something a little bit different. When folded up, it’ll fit into the palm of your hand. Measuring 84.9 x 71.9 x 15.9mm, it's small enough to slip into a tiny bag or small pocket. Cute and compact are the two words I’d use to describe this handset.
What’s great is that you don’t need to unfold it every time you receive a message, thanks to the tiny front cover screen, and when laying flat, it looks like any other standard smartphone.
You can buy it in a few cool new colours, including Bora Purple, Graphite, Pink Gold and Blue, all of which have a sleek matte finish and a matching metallic frame. If you're willing to pay a little more then there’s actually a Bespoke Edition which lets you customise the colour on each back panel as well as on the frame.
The 6.7-inch main screen has a resolution of Full HD+ (2640 x 1080) Samsung calls it their Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel, and I think it’s great. Crisp and vibrant, the screen looks lovely across all types of content be that videos, social media or mobile games. Naturally, you can still see the crease along the centre but it’s not so obvious that it causes too much disruption.
What’s more is that the phone comes loaded with an adaptive refresh rate which dials itself up to a maximum of 120Hz or down to as little as 1Hz depending on what you’re doing, which makes it feel silky smooth to scroll, swipe and tap on but without negatively impacting the battery life.
Samsung has introduced some new widgets this year to the 1.9-inch cover screen that allow you to do all sorts of tasks like responding to text messages, starting a phone call and you can access your Samsung Pay from it.
While some of those widgets came in handy others were less useful. For the most part, I found myself using the phone flipped open for tasks I could technically do on the front screen but frankly, it’s a bit too much of a hassle because that screen is just so small. What I found the cover screen most useful for was to check the time or to quickly skip to the next song on Spotify.
Another much more minor design flaw is that as you fold the phone, your hand naturally sits over the camera lenses, you’ll need to remember to give them regular wipes so your snaps don’t get ruined by dust or dirt.
You may also wonder about the durability of such a flexible phone, but Samsung claims that this one will last 200,000 folds thanks to its toughened glass and sturdy hinge. I do have to say that it feels well made although only time will tell how long it actually lasts because the crease does seem a little less hardy than the body of the device.
You’ll be fine to use it in the rain or by the pool thanks to the IPX8 rating which gives you peace of mind that this phone is fully waterproof.
To unlock the phone, there’s a fingerprint sensor hidden in the power button instead of the usual on-screen equivalent. Every time I went to use it, it worked quickly and efficiently but I did find it was placed much further up the phone’s frame than where my thumb naturally sits which made it a bit of a stretch to use.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review: camera system
Samsung hasn’t made too many changes to the camera system, you’ll still get a set of two 12MP lenses but the physical size of the main sensor has been boosted to 1.8 microns per pixel, up from 1.4.
Straight off the bat, I’ll say that if you’re looking for a top-tier phone camera then you’ll still be much better off checking out a more typical flagship device like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus, but if you’re less of a photography enthusiast then this point-and-shoot phone camera will give you what you need to take the occasional stunning snap.
I took photos of the countryside and the city, of people and up close to objects like flowers and fruits. Photos mostly came out looking bright and sharp, they were vibrant with loads of colours and a great level of contrast, although admittedly they did look slightly oversaturated at times and if you look closely you’ll notice some lack of detail.
The zoom is an area that could be massively improved, the 10x digital zoom took shots that looked grainy and I can't see many people making much use of it.
Improved Nightography is one of Samsung’s key camera improvements for the Flip 4, and it worked a treat for me lightening up the scene enough to show more accurate colours although I did think it could go even further to produce even more social-media-worthy shots.
You can see some examples of shots taken on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 below.
The Flex Cam functionality in Samsung’s foldable range makes snapping selfies and group shots easier than on literally any other type of smartphone. You can open up the handset partially, find a spot to get everyone in and set a timer without the hassle of propping it up against random objects around you.
Another handy way of using this phone's unique features for snapping better shots is by using the front cover screen to compose your selfies using the main camera. Granted you will appear pretty small but it'll be very useful for making sure everyone is in the frame.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review: performance and software
A flagship-level phone deserves flagship-level hardware, and that’s exactly what you get in the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor under the hood. Alongside that, you’ll find 8GB of RAM and a choice of either 128GB, 256GB or 512GB of in-built storage, which is just as well given the fact that there’s no MicroSD card slot to expand it.
Given its compact, foldable form factor, the worry would be that this phone could be quite prone to heating up when performing more demanding tasks. Largely this wasn’t the case, I was able to flick through a series of open windows without any issues at all, but when I opened up certain mobile games like Call of Duty it did warm up slightly beneath the cover screen.
On Geekbench 5, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 picked up scores of 836 in single-core and 3,868 in multi-core which is an improvement on what came before it and similar to some other similarly-priced but non-folding smartphones like the OnePlus 10 Pro, although it is below Samsung’s flagship Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
Samsung has boosted the battery too, you’ll now get a 3,700mAh cell inside. I was perfectly happy with the battery life in the Flip 3 but improving it could never be a bad thing - this time around it lasted me over a day of normal use, even into two days, texting and scrolling Instagram being the main tasks at hand.
I ran a video on it over the space of two hours on full brightness, in that time the battery percentage dropped by 14% which suggests it would have lasted just over 14 hours in total which is about the same as the Flip 3.
Charging it up again took about an hour using a 25W charger but you don’t get one included in the box, you’ll have to buy it separately if you don’t already have one. For those who want a more fuss-free option, this does support 15W wireless charging as well.
Running on Samsung’s One UI which is based on Android 12, this clamshell handset runs both smoothly and intuitively. Menus are clearly laid out, the shapes are bold without being over the top and all of the Google apps you'll need come pre-installed.
There are a few features that are exclusive to Samsung’s foldable range as well, like the Flex Panel which shifts your app content across each half when the screen is partially folded. For instance, timers will go on the top half with the reset controls across the bottom or videos will automatically be placed on top with the description on the bottom half.
You’ll also be able to open up two apps at once on this screen, although you don’t get the taskbar functionality as you do on the Fold devices, not that you’d really need that with this sized display.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review: verdict
If you’re looking for a cool alternative to the standard flagship slabs of glass then the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 will definitely be worth a look.
Cute and compact, it’s a fashion statement as well as an impressive and modern piece of technology. You’ll get a high level of performance, a surprisingly long-lasting battery and the two-screen design certainly has its uses.
There are some sacrifices to be made, however, most notably to the camera system which despite the price can only be described as ‘good enough’ given its underwhelming night mode and disappointing zoom, but I wouldn't call that a dealbreaker unless you're big on smartphone photography.
If you already own the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 then it won't be worth the upgrade because it's just not different enough, but if you're a first-time foldable buyer then it'll be well worth the still somewhat eye-watering price tag.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review: also consider
Another pocket-friendly foldable phone to consider is the Motorola Razr 5G, it has a larger cover screen that feels a lot more user-friendly than on the Flip 4 and lets you very easily take selfies using the main camera. Given the fact that it is a little older than the Flip 4, you can’t expect such impressive performance, though.
For a bigger screened phablet-style experience, there’s obviously the new Fold 4 to consider but if you want to save some cash you might be better off checking out the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 which was the 2021 model of the phone.