Smartphone innovation has reached the point where it had become hard to impress existing users and get new ones with what is on offer. This is why smartphone companies have been picking their brains on what they can come up with next to shock and awe the user. Since they have been successful in solving most of the pain points of users from battery life to camera quality, the next frontier seems to be form factor itself. This is why there has been a range of attempts — successful and otherwise — to make the phone smaller or more portable. This is also where the need arises to make a phone foldable. Mind you, this is not really solving a user problem. It is more like saying ‘why don’t you try what we have come up with’.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold was in many ways the first attempt to make a phone fold. However, the unfolded Fold was more of a tablet than a phone and the folded Fold was more the phone we were used to in the past. Confusing, right? Well, that could well be the idea. The next attempt has been from Motorola which is trying to review its iconic Moto Razr with a 2019 version that has a screen that can fold. This is more a recreating of an old bottle with new wine in it. Samsung, having had its hits and misses with the Fold, wants to popularise the foldable concept with its Galaxy Z Flip, which is a very different take from the Razr despite all the similarities.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip specifications: 6.7-inch main display/1.1-inch secondary screen | Snapdragon 855+ processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage non-expandable | Android 10 | 3300mAh battery | Dual camera (12MP+10MP)
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip price in India: Rs. 109,999
Well, with the Galaxy Z Flip you don’t have to go hunting for what’s new. Yes, it is the folding form factor. Now, Samsung has thought of this fold in a very different way. It wanted to offer a relatively large display phone for users and used the fold to hide away the awkwardness of the 6.7-inch screen. So you fold it into half and hide it in your shirt or jeans pocket. But then what happens when you fold a 6.7-inch phone? Well, it ends up like a small box, not much smaller than the pricey cigarette cases of the past, just more thicker.
But Samsung has done it well. One, the folded Z Flip is as portable as a phone can ever be, though you still feel it in your pocket thanks to the 183-gram weight. Two, though a folding phone, there is no learning involved on how to use it. It is just a phone that folds at the end of the day and does not present new challenges when it comes to the user interface. But it also presents new opportunities.
Generally, it is believed that making a foldable screen for a smartphone is easier — it just needs two modes: open and shut. But Samsung has pushed itself to offers the screen at all angles in between the two. So you can just keep the phone open at a 90-degree angle and watch YouTube as you also read the comments below. There could be more use cases, but these will evolve over time.
Also, the phone is stylish almost veering towards the sexy with its metallic mirror kind of finish. If the finish itself was not bling enough for you, Samsung also has a gold version of the phone. The design is practical and functional, especially the fingerprint scanner on the side which reminded me of some Sony Xperia phones of the past.
Like Moses splitting water, Samsung has done the inconceivable by making glass bend for the Z Flip, though with some help from German manufacturer Schott. And it is the hinge that is behind the magic of any foldable device, another element that Samsung has nailed. While it is great that Samsung has managed a second foldable device, what is commendable is that this looks like a phone that can take all the heavy bending.
So here is a phone that offers the latest form factor. That itself makes you stand out in a crowd where literally every other phone can’t fold or even bend. That’s why you buy this phone to make heads turn and let the world know you have some serious moolah as well as good taste.
There is also the sheer convenience factor as I mentioned before. We have all used phones that would easily slip into our pant pockets. Now, we have to factor in the phone when you are doing something. Your mind is constantly processing the question: where do I keep it? And you are always trying new places. At times the shirt pocket is too small, or the phone is too heavy for your loose, airy pants. The Galaxy Z Flip can potentially take away a lot of that tension from your life.
Then the Z Flip is a great phone, with or without the fold. This is like any Samsung flagship device and can do everything you expect it to. From top-notch processing power which lets you multitask and push the phone to even edit videos in a jiffy to battery life that lasts more than a day, the Flip has everything. Interestingly, the battery life is better also because the screen is more often than not out of use as you have shut the phone off and only the tiny screen on from is working. Also, the phone has a very good rear camera set up that clicks rich and vivid photos and videos. All you need are taken care of by this phone, which also has the ability to fold into half.
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that you can’t really operate this phone with a single hand. While you might manage folding it with one, it will be tough opening it the same way. This is, after all, large phone and that footprint does impact the phone even when it is folded. The folded phone is a bit clunky, though still very portable. And you have to keep in mind that this will be quite a handful.
The selfie camera of the phone gives some unnaturally smooth images that made me look like I had a shave, when I hadn’t. You might need to tone that down a bit to look natural.
This is yet another phone you buy to flaunt. So, yes, that is one reason to buy this phone: to show that you can afford a phone that costs over a lakh and has the first foldable glass in the world. So I would call this an upper management, business class type phone. Yes, some of the fashion-conscious users can also take a look at the Flip because, as I said before, this is one sexy phone. So the phone appeals to all those who made a beeline to buy the Galaxy Fold a few months back.
But if you just want a phone that ticks all boxes and also has one trick up its sleeve, the Galaxy Z Flip unfolds itself seeking your attention. This is for me a no-nonsense phone that just works. This is one of the best Android devices you can own at the moment.
Disclaimer: The review is based on three days of usage and has some aspects that have not been explored in detail.