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The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 is my perfect vacation phone
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 may not have the multitasking prowess of the Z Fold 4, but it still has that special something. It’s sleek and stylish, with all the functionality you’d expect from a modern smartphone — even if some devices offer a better value and don’t fold in half. The distinctive clamshell form factor has, in my experience, made it the perfect amount of smartphone to take on vacation.
I make a conscious effort to scale back my screen time when I find an opportunity to get away. My job involves staring at screens almost constantly, bouncing between phones, computers, and then to other phones. But going on vacation doesn’t mean I stop being a huge nerd. If I’m being honest with myself, I don’t want to completely disconnect like some people do. Instead, I rely on the Z Flip 4 to help me chill out.
Your average smartphone home screen is just a tap away from all of humanity's accumulated knowledge — it's easy to get sucked into something trivial.
Your average smartphone home screen is just a tap away from all of humanity’s accumulated knowledge — it’s easy to get sucked into something trivial. We’ve all been there: You just meant to check a notification, but then you realize you’ve been scrolling Reddit or Instagram for 20 minutes. I’m not one to decry this as a problematic collapse of the human attention span, but I don’t want to get stuck in an endless doom scroll when I should be enjoying time away from all this.
As a clamshell foldable, this phone has a large foldable screen on the inside, but the exterior has a tiny 1.9-inch OLED Cover Screen. The latter provides just enough information that I can be online without getting sucked in. I can check the time, catch up on recent notifications, and get basic bits of data like the weather or my step count. And then it’s back in the pocket with my still-closed flip phone. It’s helped me strike the right balance in my downtime.
I also appreciate the selfie experience on the Flip 4. I’m not a prolific selfie taker, but I have been known to snap them when I’m on a trip with friends or family. The small external display on the Flip 4 lets you take those pics with the superior main camera sensor. It’s only 12MP, but the wider aperture and bigger pixels produce better photos than the selfie camera on this (or almost any other) phone.
The Flip 4 fits easily in one hand, allowing me to frame my shot with the viewfinder and snap multiple photos without losing my grip.
Arguably, the multitasking powerhouse Z Fold 4 can produce even better selfie results with its bigger external screen and 50MP primary shooter, but that phone is enormous and awkward to hold when taking Cover Screen selfies. The Flip 4, however, is an absolute delight. It fits easily in one hand, allowing me to frame my shot with the viewfinder and snap multiple photos without losing my grip. I can even forgo pressing any buttons by holding up my palm or saying “cheese” to capture. Although, the latter is disabled by default in the camera settings. Again, this whole experience happens without even once opening the phone.
The camera is fantastic for selfies, but you do miss out on some more advanced features for general photography. The 50 or 108MP sensors on other flagship Android phones will take better images, and the Flip lacks an optical zoom lens. I can see this being a problem for people who want to take a lot of photos when they’re on a trip, but I’ve found the 12MP shooter to be solidly “good enough” thanks to the processing improvements Samsung has achieved in recent years.
Admittedly, part of the appeal for me is intangible. I am one of those who believes that foldables are the future, and I love the Z Flip 4 as an object. It doesn’t take up much space, whether I’ve tossed it in a bag or it’s riding around in my pocket. There are a ton of interesting cases for it, too. Samsung’s offerings include integrated rings and straps to make it easier to hold, and some wacky third-party options add things like Cover Display shutters and card slots. It is, after all, about the size and shape of a wallet.
When I have a few minutes to kill after I get tired of touching grass, I can open the Z Flip 4, and it's just as capable as any traditional flat smartphone.
For me, the Z Flip 4 is the king of limiting distractions, but you might remember Verizon made a similar pitch for the Palm Phone a few years back. The idea was to carry something smaller and less capable instead of your “real” phone to limit how much you use it. It didn’t catch on, which shocked exactly no one outside of Verizon’s marketing department. A flip phone like the Z Flip 4 is the right way to do it. Just because I value its ability to do just enough on the external display doesn’t mean it can’t do more. When I have a few minutes to kill after I get tired of touching grass, I can open the Z Flip 4, and it’s just as capable as any traditional flat smartphone.
Samsung has maintained the same Flip form factor for the last two generations. The bodies are only slightly different, and they have the same small 1.9-inch display on the outside. There have been rumors about a larger external screen, but I’m not sure I’d be in favor of such a change. As it stands, you can run an app on the external screen with Samsung’s Good Lock customization suite, but screen real estate is sufficiently limited that most apps aren’t worth using. Honestly, that’s the way I like it. If it’s possible to doom scroll on the Cover Screen, I probably will, and that could make my vacations a lot less relaxing.