Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 review: Refined design, shame about the price
- Battery Score
- Camera Score
- Design Score
- Performance Score
- Battery Score 2.5
- Good processor performance
- Fun colour choices
- Flipping open and closed is quite addictive
- Poor cameras for the money
- Fold crease is still super visible
- Battery life could be better
- No dust resistance
- Have you seen how much it costs?
|Launch price (RRP)||$0|
In its fourth generation, just as it has done with the Galaxy Z Fold4, Samsung opted for smaller refinements to an existing design rather than a radical reinvention of its smaller folding flip phone.
There's no doubt that these were needed, especially given the Galaxy Z Flip3's anaemic battery life. The Galaxy Z Flip4 has improved in key areas such as performance and battery endurance, but it's still substantially held back by sub-par cameras and an asking price that could score you a much more capable non-folding model.
That puts the cheaper Flip into a curious niche. It should be the phone to appeal to more everyday users as the more "affordable" one. However, for the money, nearly everyone will be better off with a regular smartphone or ponying up the extra cash for the far more impressive Z Fold4.
Design: Funky new colours, same old crease
The Flip story has long been about style, with custom colours that pop out to grab the attention just as much as folding your phone in half is likely to do.
That certainly doesn't change with the Galaxy Z Flip4. In terms of standard colours, you can pick from Bora Purple, Graphite, Pink Gold or Blue finishes. I'm ordinarily a big fan of blue phones, but Samsung sent me the Bora Purple model instead.
I'll admit, it's rather charming and a far cry from the duller business-like colours of the Galaxy Z Fold4. Language pedants might like to note that "Bora" in Korean means purple. Yes, that's right, Samsung sells a Purple Purple phone, just so you're sure what colour you're getting.
If that's not enough for you, there's also a huge array of bespoke colour options to make your Galaxy Z Flip4 your very own. You do pay extra for the bespoke model, but you can't pick it with every storage combination.
Folded up, the Galaxy Z Flip4 resembles a small squarish wallet with a tiny 1.9-inch colour display, broken up with 2 cameras that aren't technically on the "front", because when you fold it open they're on the "back" of the phone. Yes, it gets tricky working out where all these items end up when you're talking about a phone with a central hinge.
Flip the Galaxy Z Flip4 open and you're faced with what ostensibly appears to be a relatively standard 6.7-inch Samsung phone design. Standard, save for the very obvious crease in the middle of the screen where the hinge is.
Screen creases have been an issue from day 1 with foldable phones. To my eye, the Flip form factor brings it much more to your attention than on the Fold. Maybe it's the smaller screen or maybe horizontal stripes are more fattening or something, but it was rare that my eye wasn't drawn to the presence of the crease.
Like its predecessor, you can theoretically dunk the Galaxy Z Flip4 into water, with IPX8 water resistance. I wouldn't advise it generally at its asking price, especially as the X in IPX8 means that it's got no resistance to dust ingress.
Oddly, during my testing time I found that while the casing of the Galaxy Z Flip4 was quite good at resisting fingerprint smudges, the internal screen was the reverse, almost constantly looking dusty or smudgy, and often both.
There is definitely something addictive about flipping the Z Flip4 open and shut. It's both eye-catching – and this is 100% an extrovert's phone – and mechanically pleasing. You can feel, at least at first, that Samsung has put care and effort into providing a solid hinge that feels like a quality part.
Camera: Slight improvements aren't good enough
At the Galaxy Z Flip4's asking price – from $1,499 – you can get some very impressive camera features on a phone.
However, like last year's Galaxy Z Flip3, the price you pay for that folding action isn't just found in the price or a screen that won't handle sand very well.
It's also in the camera specifications. The Galaxy Z Flip4 features dual 12MP (wide/ultra-wide) rear cameras and a hole-punch style 10MP selfie camera.
If you were just counting megapixels, there would be no camera difference between generations at all. However, Samsung claims a larger pixel size for the Galaxy Z Flip4's primary wide sensor, which should lead to sharper low light performance.
In my testing, the Galaxy Z Flip4 was… adequate. I'm choosing my words very carefully there, because unlike the Z Flip3, I didn't end up with too many disastrous shots. However, I so very quickly hit the limitations of what the Z Flip4 could actually do relative to its price point.
So take zoom, for example. There's no true optical zoom on the Galaxy Z Flip4, so you're stuck with digital downsampling and a bit of CPU trickery to boost its digital zoom up to a maximum of 10x.
That's a far cry from the 30x–100x zoom you can find on plenty of Samsung phones in this price bracket, and it's also a pretty awful zoom to boot.
To give you an example, here's the headland at a Sydney beach taken on the ultrawide lens. It's quite pleasing, really:
With the normal wide lens you naturally see less, but it's still good.
At 2x digital, not a great deal of cropping work really, the Z Flip4 still works well.
Take it to 4x, and it's not looking good:
Take it to 10x and… oh dear. It's not worth zooming in like that.
It is also quite nerve-wracking taking an expensive phone with no dust resistance to a beach. Don't try this yourself – I'm a professional.
For your basic photos, the Galaxy Z Flip4 is absolutely fine. It's just that I could say the same thing about a Samsung phone that costs $1,000 less. If photography isn't hugely vital to your smartphone needs and folding is, then this may not be an issue.
I'd argue strongly that if you're spending $1,499 or more on a smartphone, you should expect more power than the Galaxy Z Flip4 can offer.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 Sample Photos
Performance: Fast and flexible, though not for every app
Like its bigger sibling, the Galaxy Z Flip4 uses the Snapdragon 8 Plus gen 1 processor paired with 8GB of RAM. There's no support for storage expansion, so whether you choose the 128GB, 256GB or 512GB models, that's all you're going to officially get.
That's a powerful combination and one that had already proven its worth in Finder's lab tests in the Galaxy Z Fold4. The Z Flip4 is of course a smaller phone, and the one catch here is that it ships with 8GB of RAM to the Fold4's 12GB. However, there's less screen space to worry about on the Flip4.
In benchmark terms, this marks the Galaxy Z Flip4 as a real contender in the Android space, especially when you consider it's technically a "smaller" Android phone. Those usually aren't that powerful. Here's how the Galaxy Z Flip4 compares using Geekbench 5's CPU test against a range of premium contenders:
Comparison of graphics processing quality was trickier. Like the Fold4, the Z Flip4 maxes out 3DMark's standard Wild Life test, necessitating a switch to Wild Life Extreme. I don't have as many figures for that test to hand, so here's how they compare against both benchmarks where scores are available:
What all of this adds up to is a phone that lives up to its premium price tag on in-app performance. However, there are a few quirks with that foldable screen to bear in mind.
Unlike the Fold4, where I relatively quickly forgot that the folding crease was there except when I slid my finger across it, the Flip4's fold is nearly always visible for in-app use.
Samsung does try to make the most out of that with a flex mode, which smartly uses the top and bottom screens in varying ways for specific applications. For example, open up YouTube in folded view and you can watch on the top screen and flick through comments on the bottom screen. You should know better than to read the comments, but that's hardly Samsung's fault.
The issue with flex mode is that it's very app-specific, with only a handful of apps officially supporting it. You can force flex mode for apps in Samsung's lab's settings, but all too often this just gives you a half-screen view with little use for the bottom panel display.
The cover display remains fine for simple notifications. You can now add videos to it, but it's still a less-than-functional option. Maybe I don't want to just see my message, Samsung, but reply to it as well? Even a pre-canned response would help here, but most of the time, I ended up sighing and just opening the Flip4 anyway. Maybe I need more patience.
Battery: Bigger battery, but it still left me wanting more
The biggest single problem I had with the Galaxy Z Flip3 was its battery life. To put it politely, its battery life was woeful, though I was tempted to stronger terms every time its power pack failed to last a day.
Samsung has clearly taken that kind of criticism on board, upping the battery on the Galaxy Z Flip4 to 3,700mAh from the 3,300mAh pack in the last generation model. It's a welcome addition, but it still puts the Galaxy Z Flip4 alone in the premium Android battery space at this kind of battery size.
Apple can get away with those kinds of batteries while still giving a generally good performance, and I was keen to see whether the combination of a bigger battery and the improvements in the Snapdragon 8 Plus gen 1 could lead to a less frustrating battery experience.
The first step was Finder's battery test to see whether or not the Galaxy Z Flip4 could at least manage to beat the 90% barrier I look for in that particular benchmark. Here's how it compared:
Off to a good start then – if the Z Flip4 can maintain the kind of performance that the iPhone 13 Pro can, it's in great company.
However, in more day-to-day testing, I was once again left wanting more than once. If you're the kind of phone user tempted by the Z Flip4 because you want to keep it folded up all day, you'll almost certainly last a day. If you're the kind of user that wants to tap into its processing and 5G power… forget it.
I had multiple instances using it as my day-to-day phone where it was under 10% power before 3pm on a working day, which is not good for a premium flagship phone.
It remains true that you can flatten any phone if you work it hard enough, but these were regular days when I was just browsing social media, viewing a few video files and streaming music. Other phones in this price bracket don't struggle with this, but the Z Flip4 does.
When it comes time to recharge the Galaxy Z Flip4, it'll take USB-C power at up to 25W, or wirelessly up to 15W. One slight catch here if you fancy wireless chargers is that the folded design of the Galaxy Z Flip4 means it won't work with vertical stand type chargers at all.
Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4?
- Buy it if you absolutely adore the style and flip-open form factor.
- Don't buy it if you want a good value premium phone or need good cameras.
The Galaxy Z Flip4 is the best folding flip phone money can buy. That's the kind of advertising line Samsung would love and it's undeniably true… with a few caveats.
The biggest caveat of course is that in most markets, it's 1 of only 2 folding flip phones you could buy. Motorola still has its RAZR, but it's curiously reticent to allow reviewers to properly test it, so I can't recommend it at all. Under that criteria, the Galaxy Z Flip4 wins by default, which isn't much of a victory.
However, can I recommend the Galaxy Z Flip4?
It's a big ask because while it's cheaper than the Fold4 by a wide margin, it's still absolutely a premium-priced phone that rests almost entirely on the desirability of that folding form factor.
The cover display is cute, but it's still limited. The cameras are better this year, but they're a pale imitation of what you can get for this kind of money from many other handsets.
It's good to see battery life improved, but the experience of using it suggests you're still going to have plenty of days where you're left racing for a charger before the work day is done.
Pricing and availability
The Galaxy Z Flip4 retails in Australia with pricing from $1,499. It's also available from a wide range of carriers on plan terms.
How to buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 on a plan
You can buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 on a 12-, 24- or 36-month repayment period with a mobile plan from Telstra, Optus or Vodafone.
Power, storage and battery
How we tested
The Galaxy Z Flip4 used for testing was loaned by Samsung to me for the purposes of review. I tested the Galaxy Z Flip4 for over a week, using it as my primary day-to-day phone – or at least until the battery went flat – with a wide array of both practical benchmarks and day-to-day apps, including a lot of photography testing, application testing and gaming.
As a reviewer, I've got more than 2 decades of phone testing experience under my belt. I'm a former Finder tech and telco editor, former editor at numerous technology publications and multi-time Australian IT Journo award winner, including awards for best reviewer and best technical journalist.
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