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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 revisited: The good and the bad six months later

In a sea of sameness, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is still a life preserver.
By
February 19, 2023

Smartphone screen sizes have increased dramatically over the years, to the point small phones are now a rarity. For me, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 is the perfect compromise if you’re looking for something less massive. Essentially you get a large 6.8-inch display but in a form factor that folds in half for easier pocketability.

We generally had only good things to say in our initial Galaxy Z Flip 4 review, though nothing is perfect. Half a year later, is the Galaxy Z Flip 4 still holding up well? In this revisited Galaxy Z Flip 4 review we’ll be reexamining Samsung’s foldable flagship, especially now that new 2023 flagships have arrived.

See price at Amazon
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
Efficient performance • Solid primary camera • Compact design
MSRP: $999.00
See review
See review

The good

Performance holds up well in 2023

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 06
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Full disclosure: this isn’t my first experience with the Flip family. I actually used the original Galaxy Z Flip as my daily driver for nearly a full year. While it was a good phone, it fell short of what you’d expect from a premium device. The hinge was much larger and harder to open. There were also sacrifices in terms of the SoC, camera, and battery. It felt very much like a first-generation product.

Thankfully, that’s not the case with current generation member of the family — aside from a few small caveats that we’ll address throughout this review. The design looks and feels polished. It basically handles like a Galaxy S in terms of speed and performance; it just happens to fold in half. The hinge is much smaller, and it’s easier to open and close. It also made major improvements to its cover display. We’ll talk about the last point a bit later in this second-look review.

Of course not everything is perfect. The Galaxy Z Flip 4 still has a pretty noticeable crease on its main display. Every time I show off the phone I hear the same complaint. “That crease would get super annoying,” they all say. The good news is you adjust to it extremely quickly. It’s also worth mentioning the crease is much smaller than the one on the original Z Flip.

The Z Flip 4 packs flagship level performance, albeit with some small compromises.

Focusing on the specs, it has a still-bleeding-edge Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, 8GB of RAM, and multiple storage configurations. The only phone to launch with a newer SoC so far is the Galaxy S23 with its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC. Six months later, this phone still flies. Transitions between apps and menus are fast and fluid. Games run flawlessly. There’s really nothing the Galaxy Z Flip 4 can’t handle.

The original Z Flip got really hot under heavy loads, uncomfortably so. Even the Z Flip 3 had some issues with heat, though not nearly to the same extent. I was curious if the Z Flip 4 would have similar heating issues, so I ran it through several benchmarking tools to stress the phone out. While it would heat up when stressed, it was never to the point it felt uncomfortable.

Yes, there will be faster phones in 2023. That said, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is plenty powerful, looks beautiful, and is really the only flip phone game in the United States that truly matters. (Sorry, Motorola.)

The Z Flip 4 takes solid pictures, minus zoom capabilities

Cameras have never been the Z Flip series’ strong suit. It’s not that the cameras are bad, it’s that they tend to feel a bit dated compared to the Galaxy S series and other flagship phones. The handset continues the outdated dual camera approach, but don’t let this fool you. This camera takes great pictures.

Just like last year, the Z Flip 4 has a 12MP main camera but the pixel count has risen from 1.4μm to 1.8μm. The larger pixels make for much better low-light photography than its predecessor. Samsung has also introduced improvements to AI processing and “Stereo Depth” mapping for greater detail in shots.

During my time with the phone, I’ve found the photos I’ve taken look great, at least to my novice eyes. The details are good, as are the shadows and highlights. The color recreation is far from perfect though, with certain shades appearing bolder than they are in real life.

The Z Flip 4 retains its predecessor’s 10MP selfie shooter and 12MP rear ultrawide camera. If you’re looking for a good camera for everyday shots, this phone fits the bill. Just be aware its zoom capabilities are nowhere near the competition and it is missing a few other cutting-edge features as well.

The cover display is genuinely useful, and only getting better

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 09
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

I’ll be honest, I rarely used the Galaxy Z Flip cover display. The small size and limited functions made it more trouble than it was worth. In contrast, I use the Z Flip 4’s cover display dozens of times a day. The external display is much larger than the original Galaxy Z Flip and has a lot more functionality.

Aside from the obvious use case of checking notifications on a daily basis, there are several widgets that let you control your music, manage alarms, check the weather, set a timer, and check the calendar. There are even extras like being able to turn on your flashlight or to keep track of how many steps you take. Samsung continues to roll out new widgets regularly, so expect the Cover Screen experience to only get better over time.

The Z Flip 4's Cover Screen has continued to get better over time.

The main purpose of the cover display is to save you from flipping open your phone hundreds of times a day just to check basic information. As an insomniac, I also find it really useful for those moments when you wake up in the middle of the night.

I’ll often wake up to check the time or verify I properly set my alarm. It’s just enough glanceable info to satisfy my obsession with checking my phone, but I don’t get flooded by a bunch of screen light that makes it harder to go back to bed.

There are a few other tricks that are made possible using the Cover Screen, such as the ability to take selfies using the front camera. As you probably guessed, the Cover Screen acts as a viewfinder in these situations.

Software and updates

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 13
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
Z Flip 4

I already extolled the virtues of the Cover Screen and its widgets, but what about the rest of the Z Flip 4 software experience? Once you flip open the phone the experience isn’t too terribly different from any other Samsung flagship.

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is powered by Android with Samsung’s One UI on top. This skin packs a ton of useful features to help you better customize your experience. I often found myself double pressing the power button to launch the camera, reaching for the Edge panel to jump into my most used apps, or fiddling around with Samsung’s different themes in the Samsung Store.

Although some accuse One UI of being a bit bloated, there are enough useful additions to make the sacrifice worth it. It was also easy enough to remove the few pre-packaged apps I knew I was never going to use.

One thing you won’t find on traditional Samsung phones is Flex Mode. This is a Samsung Labs feature that adds extra functionality when your Flip is folded in half. Unfortunately, not that many third-party apps use it in a way that you’ll find truly useful.

Few smartphone manufacturers can compete with Samsung's pedigree for software support and timely updates.

Nearly all third-party apps, and even a handful of native apps, use Flex Mode in the same way. Fold the screen in half and the bottom becomes a panel for taking screenshots, controlling brightness, or opening up a trackpad. Why would you want a trackpad? Unless you pair it with a Bluetooth keyboard and use it as the world’s most awkward mini-laptop, I don’t know either.

Where Flex Mode becomes more interesting is when you use select native apps. For example, Samsung Calendar lets you add events and attach stickers to your calendar entries from the bottom screen. Probably the most useful implementation can be found on the Camera, thanks to its Flex Cam feature. This allows you to fold your phone, sit it on a flat surface, and then take a group selfie simply by waving your hand.

What’s even better about the Z Flip 4 is Samsung continues to make improvements to its software all the time, as it is very dedicated to software updates and support. It began its life with Android 12 and One UI 4.1.1. Since then it’s had a few updates, including a jump to Android 13 and One UI 5.0.

As with all modern flagship Samsung phones it also comes with the very best update policy. The Z Flip 4 promises four years of Android version updates and five years of security patches. That leaves three more major Android updates and security updates into 2027.

The not so good

The form factor isn’t without its compromises and quirks

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 15
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

I have very little to complain about when it comes to the Z Flip 4, but its foldable form factor isn’t without a few possible pitfalls. Let’s start with its size.

One of the things that drew me to the Galaxy Z Flip series was how easy it was to fit into your pocket. It’s much more comfortable to carry around in the front of my jeans than a traditional smartphone, as I don’t have a big display jabbing into my leg as I walk anymore. That said, smaller form factors come with new challenges. A big phone like my Pixel 6 Pro is very noticeable in your pockets, to the point it can be annoying. On the flip side, I never ever forget to leave home without it. I can’t say the same for the Galaxy Z Flip 4.

It might be chunkier, but the compact design makes it harder to notice whether it’s there or not. The smaller footprint also makes it easier to misplace around the house. After all, a giant rectangular hunk of metal is just easier to spot than a foldable phone. For those that use purses, I can imagine the smaller form factor might be harder to find in a cluttered bag as well. Over time I’ve gotten used to the phone and no longer really have these issues. The bigger point is the smaller form requires an adjustment period.

Speaking of adjustments, let’s talk about the crease. I already mentioned that I don’t find it a deal breaker but if it turns you off, you might want to wait off until the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5. Recently Samsung showed off a prototype foldable display that uses a waterdrop-style display structure and a hinge that leaves almost no gap when folded. The end result is a screen with a nearly invisible crease. Current rumors suggest this tech could make its way to the Z Flip 5, and even if they don’t, OPPO has already shown us with the Find N2 Flip that it’s possible to make a folding clamshell with very little visible crease.

samsung galaxy z flip 4 hinge
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

All these points above are pretty minor gripes that just require you to get used to the Flip 4. A slightly bigger concern is the longevity of the phone. Our company purchased the original Galaxy Z Flip in 2020 before coming to me in 2022. While it got its fair share of use before coming to me, the Flip was only two years old when it gave up the ghost.

In January of 2023, the phone developed an issue with the hinge which shuts off the phone any time you fold it. Samsung’s claim for the Z Flip was that it could survive 200,000 folds before failing, more than enough for a lifetime. Even with my constant fidgeting with it, I highly doubt the phone saw that many folds. What likely happened is that dust or debris got into my phone’s hinge over time and claimed its life early. From what I’ve read, this has been a reasonably common issue for OG Z Flip owners.

The good news is the Z Flip 4 has a much better hinge, so there is less room for dust, debris, or sand to get in. Still, it’s hard to deny this design is more delicate than a standard phone. You can’t necessarily treat it the same way you would a typical smartphone and it requires a bit more babying. However, a good case and some basic caution should be enough.

Again, if you adjust your habits and are careful with the phone, there’s really nothing to be concerned about.

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 camera could really use a telephoto lens

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 10
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 has a good camera, but the lack of a telephoto lens feels strange in 2023. While Nearly every other flagship phone has moved on from the dual-cam configuration by now. Obviously, this restricts how useful the zoom function is on this phone. Of course, you can still zoom digitally up to 10x with crops of the main sensor, but going over 4x zoom is going to result in a lot of detail loss. Even then you’ll need fairly good lighting.

For example, I was at my daughter’s archery competition and was many rows back. I decided to capture a few shots for posterity. The lighting in the gym was strong, so no surprise the images came out fine at 4x. A few days later I was in a similar situation with my son who was doing a small skit for school. I was sitting about the same distance back but this time the lights were fairly dim. I had to sneak my way closer in order to get a shot that was manageable.

When you’re spending around $1,000, a telephoto lens isn’t a hard requirement but it’s close. It’s something many of us have become used to, and it will be seen as a step backward to adopters coming from more modern camera configurations. The Galaxy Z Flip 4 camera isn’t a deal breaker. Just be aware it’s a bit behind 2022’s flagships, let alone newer 2023 flagships like the Galaxy S23 series.

It’s also possible that the Galaxy Z Flip 5 could bring bigger changes to the camera this year that help it keep up a bit better, but that’s really just speculation right now.

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 battery life is better than its predecessor but has some room for improvement

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 02
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

The Galaxy Z Flip series has a unique design that leaves very little extra room for components like the battery, which is why the Z Flip series historically had less than impressive battery life. The Z Flip 4 is the first attempt to correct this issue, and it comes close.

The Flip 4 packs a 3,700mAh battery with 25W wired charging — the same as the vanilla Galaxy S22, and a 400mAh upgrade over the Flip 3. It also has the advantage of a more battery-efficient Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 SoC.

Since I work from home, I don’t leave the house that much on a typical weekday. On these days, I can easily make it through my day with as much as 40% or more battery life left over. Even on days when I’m out and about more, I can easily get five hours of screen time or better.

If you push it harder with gaming, GPS, and other draining activities, it is absolutely possible to put this phone in the dirt before the day is up. But it doesn’t happen often. If you are the kind that moves around a lot though, I can see how you might want to consider a phone with a bigger battery life such as the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Or you could always pair the phone with a portable power bank.

I’d like to see a bigger battery life in the Galaxy Z Flip 5, similar to the 200mAh upgrades the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus saw over their predecessors. Still, the good news is the battery life is more than manageable. I also really appreciate the upgrade in fast charging, which for me makes up for the lack of a huge battery.

Using a 25W charging you can take this phone from empty to full in about 80 minutes. Even just a few minutes is enough to keep going for hours longer.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review revisited: The verdict

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 03
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Considering where I work, it’s safe to say I enjoy smartphones, but I used to really love them. Each time I got a new shiny toy, it was like having a brave new world to discover. New software tweaks. New form factors or screen sizes. And then, over the years, the changes slowed down. Soon I found myself floating adrift in a sea of sameness.

It didn’t really matter what phone I was rocking, anything mid-tier or flagship level would work about the same anyhow. That’s why I was so excited about the future of foldable. Sure, flip phones don’t add new killer use cases. But it represents a future of phones that feel and work differently. That sense of newness and discovery is finally back for me. And that’s something I’m willing to invest in.

In a sea of sameness, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is your life preserver.

Does this sound like you? If so, the bigger question is if the Z Flip 4 is the right foldable to invest in. If you’re interested in a flip phone form factor right now, it’s actually your only option. Unfortunately, we just can’t recommend the Razr 5G (on the product’s website) as its specs and performance quirks aren’t worth it for most buyers.

If you happen to live in the UK or China, the Oppo Find N2 Flip ($1029 at Giztop) is the best alternative by far. The competing flip phone looks quite similar to the Z Flip, aside from a bigger cover display. It’s also cheaper than the Z Flip 4 in the UK even with Samsung’s frequent discounts.

There’s also the Galaxy Z Flip 5 if you don’t mind waiting. While nothing is official, the phone is expected to be announced in August of 2023. We can’t say exactly what will be new here. The Galaxy S23 family saw reasonably modest updates that focused on improving little things like battery life and camera performance. It’s likely the Z Flip 5 will see similar gains.

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 will require you to sacrifice some battery life, camera performance, and even possibly some longevity over a traditional flip phone. Don’t like the sound of that? You might be better off with a traditional smartphone like the Galaxy S23 ($799 at Amazon) or the Pixel 7 ($479.99 at Amazon).

If all these quirks sound like a fair trade for something eye-catching and a thrill to use, I wholeheartedly recommend the Z Flip 4.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
AA Editors Choice
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
Efficient performance • Solid primary camera • Compact design
MSRP: $999.00
The affordable foldable
While it still costs a pretty penny, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is much more affordable than a lot of other foldable phones. It also has a retro vibe to it due to its clamshell design. But there's more to the phone than looks alone — it also packs plenty of power, a solid main camera, and a lot more.