Samsung releases its two new foldable smartphones on Friday – the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Galaxy Z Flip 4.
The smaller and cheaper of the two devices, the Galaxy Z Flip 4, flips open like a retro 90s phone thanks to a horizontal hinge through the middle of the screen.
Users can fold the device at an angle for taking videos and pictures and enjoying video-chat hands-free – perfect for the TikTok generation.
Compared to last year’s Galaxy Z Flip 3, it has smaller bezels and a slimmer hinge for a perfect shape and better grip, Samsung says.
When it’s unfolded, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 looks like a standard smartphone – if it weren’t for the noticeable crease down its centre
Flip 4’s main screen measures 6.7 inches, while the smaller cover screen on the outside (pictured) is 1.9 inch, the same as last year’s Flip 3
Like its predecessors, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 (pictured) can stay open at various angles without snapping shut
It’s also 5G compatible and includes a 65 per cent brighter sensor for better photos, increased battery size, IPX8 water resistance and can be folded and unfolded more than 200,000 times.
Galaxy Z Flip 4 starts at £999 for 125GB of storage and goes up to £1,199 for 512GB of storage. It comes in either Graphite, Bora Purple, Pink Gold or Blue.
What’s different about the Galaxy Z Flip 4 compared to the Flip 3 is it has a smaller bezel – the border between the screen and frame.
The smaller a phone’s bezel, the more the device’s screen blends seamlessly into the edges.
There’s also a slightly slimmer hinge on the new Flip, meaning a smaller gap between the two halves of the screen when the device is closed.
Samsung claims that the act of closing the Flip ‘signals to your friends that they have your undivided attention’.
I’d say this were true if it weren’t for the outer screen, which displays notifications and messages and lets you access basic apps, such as alarm, voice recorder and calendar, when the phone is closed.
What’s cool about the outer screen is that it can be used to reply to messages that have just come through, for example, from Facebook Messenger.
Users can reply to these messages from the outer screen with emojis or basic replies, such as ‘yes’, ‘OK’ and ‘much appreciated’.
However, to reply with anything more advanced than that, you have to open the phone and use the main screen to type it out.
Samsung says the Flip 4 is ‘like having a camera and a tripod all in one’, because you can place it down on a flat surface and get it to take a photo hands-free using the front-facing selfie camera.
Instead of having to hold the phone, users can give a voice command or wave their hand to get it to snap a shot from a distance – although the Flip 3 could do this too.
There’s a slightly slimmer hinge on the new Flip, meaning a smaller gap between the two halves of the screen when the device is closed
Users can reply to phone messages from the outer screen with basic responses or emojis (pictured)
The outer screen displays notifications and messages and lets you access apps, such as alarm, voice recorder and calendar
With the Flip, Samsung also seems to want to revolutionise the way we hold our phone when capturing landscape videos.
If you hold the device when it’s partially folded with the camera app on, the camera display will take up one half of the screen while the control panel will take up the other half – again, the Flip 3 can do this too.
In promo clips, users can be seen holding the phone like an old-school camcorder when it’s open at a 90-degree angle, although I’m not convinced this will catch on.
If you hold the device when it’s partially folded with the camera app on, the camera display will take up one half of the screen while the control panel will take up the other half
Unfortunately, Samsung still hasn’t been able to get rid of the dreaded crease – the dent through the middle of the screen that marks where the display folds.
Although this isn’t a massive deal, I do like the idea of someone not being able to tell that my phone can fold when I’m using the main screen at a conventional 180-degree angle.
I’d like to see Samsung totally eliminate the crease from its future foldable devices.
Also, the Flip is supposed to be influenced by the legendary clamshell flip phones of the nineties and noughties.
But these stalwarts would give a satisfying ‘snap’ whenever you closed them; the Galaxy Z Flip 4 doesn’t do this.
Instead, it gradually closes until the halves just come together with a polite tap; this is due to the phone’s hinge mechanism, which lets the phone stay open at multiple degree-angles for taking photos without it springing shut.
Overall, this new model is not significantly different from the Flip 3, and these incremental tweaks suggest Samsung may need a new chapter in its smartphone story to sustain interest.
When it finally launched its first smartphone with foldable glass in 2019, it was a genuinely exciting moment for the industry and consumers alike.
But three years later and that excitement has faded somewhat – just because its new foldable offerings are not that different from the predecessors.
I’d love to see something different from Samsung – a device that uses its flexible technology to create something new and fun, whether that’s rollable, twistable or retractable glass.
Unfortunately, Samsung still hasn’t been able to get rid of the dreaded crease – the dent through the middle of the screen that marks where the glass folds
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 4 comes in either Graphite, Bora Purple (right), Pink Gold or Blue (left)
It’s worth noting that Samsung is really pushing is ‘environmentally-friendly’ angle with its ‘Galaxy for the Planet’ initiative.
The new Galaxy Z series incorporates ocean-bound plastics into key components and recycled paper for its packaging.
Also, 90 per cent of Galaxy devices now include at least one component made of recycled materials, Samsung says.
But I fear a greener approach would be to get out of the habit of releasing new phone models every year that aren’t actually all that different from the previous iteration.
Thousands of Samsung fans will surely ditch their perfectly usable Galaxy Z Flip 3 in favour of this new version, fuelling a global e-waste problem.
The Flip 4 is by no means a bad phone, and foldable glass is still an enjoyable novelty for new users, but owners of the Flip 3 might find it difficult to justify the upgrade.