Samsung Galaxy Z Flip hands-on review

GSMArena team, 12 Feb 2020.


On to the main attraction on the Galaxy Z Flip then and its foldable display. As far as specs go, it is a 6.7-inch unit, with a resolution of 1080 x 2636 pixels. Definitely not bleeding-edge as far as density does, but still operating at a crisp 425ppi. Having seen it in person, we can say with certainty that the lower resolution is a non-issue here.

On the plus side, the panel in question still lives under Samsung's new Dynamic AMOLED family. That means you get the full benefits of Samsung's excellent contrast, punchy colors, and peak brightness. Enough, in fact, to secure the HDR10+ certification. So, lower relative resolution aside, the display on the Z Flip offers a true flagship-grade multimedia experience. One notable omission, compared to the S20 family is the 120Hz refresh rate. But seeing how the latter only now made its way onto Samsung's conventional panels, it is a bit ambitious to be looking for it in a folding unit.

Stunning and technologically impressive as it is, we do feel we need to mention one thing about the Z Flip's display design. Even with the advancement in tech over the Galaxy Fold, it seems that foldable panels still require plenty of protection around the edges. This is the reason behind the relatively thick overarching bezel on the front of the Z Fold. The latter also makes for a substantial lip and difference in elevation between the frame and the actual panel. Some style points are sadly lost there. But the current state of the tech necessitates it.

On the flip side, having this display lip around makes for a better "fit" and help eliminate the gap when the phone is closed. Also, it eliminates the possibility for the two parts of the display to rub or slam against each other. That is definitely a good thing.

As for how the display actually feels to use, it is a rather mixed bag. Samsung notably included a new finish on the Z Flip's display. One that is being marketed as a ultra thin film of glass. To their credit, in person, the finish on the Z Flip definitely feels smoother and easier to glide a finger across than the plastic finish on the Galaxy Fold. Definitely an improvement there. Durability is said to be the other obvious improvement. Although, it is too early for us to attest to those claims quite yet.

The unfortunate circumstance of this new, apparently harder display finish is that it makes the crease a lot more pronounced than on the Galaxy Fold. Running a finger over it, while not horrible, always, consistency will make you notice and remember it is there. And an unfortunate consequence of the vertical flip, clamshell design is that said crease is always smacked in the middle of the display. Given that most mobile UI is optimized for vertical scrolling and swiping, that crease will always end up underneath your finger. No doubt about that. Whether or not you can live with this reality will, however, be a very personal matter. One thing is for sure, though, the Z Flip is definitely a phone you need to handle in-person first, before committing to a purchase decision.


The new Galaxy S20 family kind of raised our collective expectations when it comes to the camera. The Z Flip doesn't really shoot quite as high. It is notably missing out on all the Space Zoom hype, with things like 30x and 100x zoom. In fact, it doesn't even have a zoom camera.

Even so, the main 12MP snapper on the Z Fold looks perfectly confident on paper and held up well in our quick initial test in person. Even on paper, it looks quite comparable to the main module in the S20 and S20+. That means a decently bright f/1.8 lens and a few important bells and whistles like OIS and Dual Pixel PDAF. Lending a hand to the main camera, we have another 12MP unit. This one rocking a 123-degree wide field of view and an f/2.2 aperture. Nothing too fancy.

The same goes for video recording. Unlike the S20 generation, we don't get 8K on the Z Flip. On the selfie side, the 10MP pinhole snapper also looks to be a bit toned-down compared to the S20 one. Slightly darker at f/2.4 and without Dual Pixel tech. Still perfectly competent from what we managed to see, though. Plus, you can really get creative with it and the convenience offered by propping the Z Flip in a half-open state on a surface. Then again, there is also the option to take selfies with the main camera and the tiny front OLED, which might just turn out to be a fan favorite as well.


Speaking of slightly toned-down, the Galaxy Z Flip is not on the very bleeding edge of power. Frankly, something to be expected with novel form factor devices, since they have a noticeably longer development cycle and can end up lacking behind. Alternatively, skipping the extra, often unnecessary, costs of re-engineering and parts swapping.

The Z Flip sticks to last year's Snapdragon 855+. Interestingly enough, no Exynos version. That chipset still has plenty of raw power to throw around. 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage are still plenty. A microSD card slot would have been nice to see, but not a major deal breaker. One interesting consequence of sticking to last gen hardware is that the Snapdragon 855+ still has a built-in X24 LTE modem, unlike its Snapdragon 865 successor. In a phone as challenging design-wise as the Z Flip, the last thing you want to have to deal with is placing an extra external modem. Not to mention finding a proper place and location for the big and complicated 5G antenna setup. The latter just seems totally out of the question at this point in time. Hence, it comes as no surprise that the Z Flip is not taking part in the 5G push the S20 family is leading.

That doesn't mean, though the Z Flip is short on connectivity. On the contrary. You still get a 2x2 MIMO, 5CA setup, with Cat.15 LTE down and Cat.13 up. Dual-band, MU-MIMO Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0, with ANT+and NFC are also part of the mix. Samsung even found enough room to include a wireless charging coil. The Z Flip can even do Wireless PowerShare, or reverse wireless charge.

And speaking of battery, there are a pretty decent pair of batteries inside the device, totaling a respectable 3,300 mAh. Unfortunately, you are limited to charging those at a max of 15W. But, again, considering the overall Z Flip package, we can cut it some slack.

Usability features

Just like on the S20 family, Samsung leaned heavily on familiarity when it comes to the OS of the Galaxy Z Flip. One UI 2.0, on top of Android 10 makes for a nicely polished, distinctly Samsung, feature-packed experience.

One thing noting is that the Korean giant has started experimenting with a new visual API specifically for the new foldable form factor. Understandably so, if the Korean giant does, indeed, intend to learn more and more heavily on the emerging segment. From what we saw in the current state of the custom UI implementation, certain apps on the Z Flip did respond to folding and unfolding the device. Most notably, the camera and gallery apps triggered an interface with content on top and controls on the bottom half of the screen, when they detected the phone is being used in a half-oven state. Definitely an interesting concept and one that does already provide some ergonomic and usability benefits. It remains to be seen, though, just how far Samsung takes this new software project and how open it decides to make it to third-party developers. Let's not forget, Google is already hard at work and has made significant progress on Android-wide foldable form-factor UI optimizations of its own.

Final thoughts

The Galaxy Z Flip and its arrival alongside the S20 line opens up plenty of questions and leaves room for confusion. On the one hand, it makes perfect sense to start a potential future foldable push in what is an arguable "safe" manner. In the sense that surrounded by flagship, hot-ticket products that are sure to sell, there is a lot less direct attention or pressure on the Z Flip. At least from a market perspective. Plus, it is so distinctly different from its sibling, that the possibility for market share overlap is slim at best. That is if we assume the Z Flip is even intended to exist in any meaningful quantity in the first place.

On the other hand, Samsung does sound pretty confident with this particular foldable release. Definitely a lot more so than with the Galaxy Fold. Pre-orders are already up and pricing actually puts the Z Flip neck to neck with the Galaxy S20 Ultra. Again, the two are a very different breed of luxury items. Still, it feels like a somewhat odd move.

Putting aside any market realities or PR decisions, the Galaxy Z Flips is nothing short of captivating, both for its fresh form factor, refined foldable display tech, as well as simply from a design and aesthetic standpoint. As far as actually getting and daily-driving one, though, we expect plenty of uncertainty on users and reviewer's end for the foreseeable future. All we know for sure is that we can't wait to put it through its paces in a full review.

Reader comments

If it's pricey, it has to be water-resistant. That basic.

  • AnonD-843592
  • 29 Feb 2020
  • pc7

Yeah they totally lied again. Samsung is becoming as dirty and notorious as apple for lying and misleading customers. It's highly unethical what they're doing. Hopefully they will get hit hard sales wise.

  • Jman
  • 22 Feb 2020
  • nF6

There's a market out there for these, just not your average everyday user. Years ago, I bought the Ericsson T28 because I thought it looks "cool" The people buying this have the same mindset, in this age of functionality.