Flip phones could be poised for a comeback. After using the Samsung Galaxy Z flip for a few days, I'm falling in love all over again with a device that actually fits in my hand - and my pocket.
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Samsung's first foldable folded up like a book. This device folds in half. The top closes onto the bottom, just like the Moto Razr back in the day. It's small and pocketable, yet when you unfold it you get a nice big screen so you can accomplish modern tasks with ease, like endlessly scrolling through Instagram.
The screen is bright and clear, Samsung says there is even a thin layer of glass. You do see a crease where the screen folds but it's not annoying enough to be a deal breaker.
As for the hinge, it doesn't just snap open and closed. It can stay in basically any degree of open or closed-ness. This presents some unique functions when it comes to taking pictures, video chatting and watching videos.
It's like having a little tripod built into your device. You can finally use Google Duo hands free (if you can convince someone else to sign up and use it) or watch YouTube videos on the top half of the screen while replying to texts on the bottom half.
You can also set up your phone and take hands free selfies, which are crisp and clear because your hand isn't shaking the camera. Propping up your phone means you have an advantage when taking time lapse or night shots.
The camera quality isn't as good as the flagship S20 but I've found in my short testing that it's perfectly fine for casual shots. In typical Samsung fashion you get a ton of shooting modes including Pro, Panorama, Food, night, Live Focus, Live Focus Video, Pro Video, Super Slo-Mo, Slow Motion and Hyperlapse. It's this reason why my wife gets annoyed with me on weekend trips. I want to try them all!
One of the new shooting modes is called Single Take, which takes a whole bunch of pictures and videos all at once. Think friend blowing out birthday candles or your kid performing in a school play. It captures all kinds of media at the same time and you can sort through it later. It will even speed up video and add cool filters.
There's also a tiny viewfinder on the outside of the phone which lets you see notifications and take selfies. Just hold your palm up to the camera lens and it will count down before it automatically takes a shot.
As for lenses, there's an ultra wide lens (lots of fun!) and your standard lens. There's no optical telephoto lens on this device. Of course, you can still zoom in the old fashioned way by pinching the screen, it's just going to use digital zoom to accomplish that, which I never recommend. Always crop your photos later.
The Z Flip has a fingerprint scanner built into the side power button. There is no headphone jack, no SD card slot and no water resistance. You do get 256 gigabytes of onboard storage, which should be plenty even if you're taking a bunch of videos. The device has wireless charing capabilities built in and PowerShare, which means you can charge another device by laying it on the back of the Z Flip.
In the box, you get USB-C headphones and a thin, snap on clear case. Unfortunately, the device is a fingerprint magnet, so keep a microfiber cleaning cloth handy.
It's tough to tell just how durable this device will be over time, but it is certainly one of my favorite new devices over the past few years. It's a delight to handle and use, although I did notice that the more narrow screen makes it a little bit tougher to type. But, thanks to Android and its infinite customization options, you'll likely find an on screen keyboard that fits your preferences.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip is an easy phone to fall in love with. It ticks off all of the important boxes (minus the water resistance) and offers everything you need in a modern phone that actually fits comfortably in your pocket and hand.
This is not a phone you buy for the specs and the foldable design isn't for everyone. You need to be drawn to something like the Z Flip. It represents the future you imagined, available today.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip is available now in Black and Purple for $1380.
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