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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review – style and substance

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 gets a much-needed camera boost with a new sensor and smart Flex Mode shooting software

A photo of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
(Image: © Basil Kronfli )

Digital Camera World Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 will be Samsung's more popular foldable of 2022 versus the pricier Fold 4, and while it isn't the photography tool the Z Fold 4 is, it's a competent camera phone. Thanks to a new, larger camera sensor, flagship performance, and improved battery life, there's plenty the phone gets right. Maybe one-day Western foldables will get across-the-board flagship cameras complete with periscope optical zoom lenses, but until that day comes, the Z Flip 4 is the best flip phone you can buy.

Pros

  • +

    Stylish and IPX8 water resistant

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    Flex Mode's great for long-exposure shots

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    Much-improved camera performance

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    Excellent screen quality

Cons

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    No telephoto camera

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    Occasionally inconsistent ultra-wide

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    Very visible crease in screen

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 (opens in new tab) was a landmark phone, making its way into more pockets than any other foldable, and a year on, no doubt Samsung's hoping for even greater success with the Z Flip 4. What we really want, though, is a better camera system. After all, the Z Flip 3's 12MP camera had a tiny sensor that missed the mark when the lights went down. 

Costing $999 / £999, the Z Flip 4 still shaves the underside of that $1,000 dollar mark, making it affordable for a foldable, but that doesn't mean you should expect dialled-back performance here.

Powered by the latest internals, looking sleek, and bringing back a water-resistant body, the Z Flip 4 checks the key boxes most care about. The fact its primary camera's been updated with a larger sensor hopefully levels up the camera to help it compete with the best camera phones of 2022 (opens in new tab).

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 design and screen

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)
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If you haven't used a clamshell phone in a decade or more, the Z Flip 4 will take some getting used to. Closed, its footprint is less than half that of the iPhone 14 Pro Max (opens in new tab), and it's about one and a half times thicker (when you factor in the iPhone's camera bump).

The phone's front screen is nothing short of a reflective mirror when closed, lighting up with a double tap. There's frosted glass above it and around the back, and the stainless steel frame and hinge make all the materials a marriage of contrasts. 

Unfurl the Z Flip 4, and it turns into an uncompromising, traditional candy bar smartphone. Its fingerprint scanner/power button combination is on the right side along with the volume rocker, there's a nano-SIM tray on the left, and at the bottom is the USB-C port.

What's excellent about Samsungs' hinge for its folding phones is the fact it secures in place throughout the folding range. This doesn't just enable cool features like Flex Mode, it also makes the motion feel fluid, secure, and adds a sense of durability. 

There are some ergonomic wins and woes of using a flip phone. Opening it will almost always require two hands if you're as undexterous as us, so if your hands are loaded with bags of shopping, it's less practical than a traditional phone. We really appreciated having a smartwatch when we were reviewing the Z Fold 4, as we could leave it in our pocket until we needed to do more than check notifications.

On the plus, we barely felt the Flip 4 in our pockets. Yes, it's thicker than most phones, but it's not thickness that makes phones feel unwieldy, it's height. Matched with the satin finish of its frosted glass, it slides in and out of pockets easily too.

Available in Bora Purple, Pink Gold, Graphite and Blue, you can also customize your design using Samsung's Bespoke Edition service for an extra fee. So is the Z Flip 4 stylish? Absolutely. Its design is smart, feels solid, and combines playfulness with pocketability very well. 

A photo of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

Double tap the mirrored element on the front of the closed Z Flip 4, and the cover display lights up with depth, clarity, and punch, as well as a few options – calendar, voice recorder, and a few other features. The screen packs Super AMOLED technology and measures 1.9 inches. With its 260 x 512 resolution, it's sharp enough to look crisp, but doesn't steal the thunder from the main display.

Open up the Flip 4 and the clamshell turns into a 6.7-inch screened smartphone with a tall Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate. With HDR10+ credentials and a 1200 nits peak brightness, the Z Flip 4 checks every box when it comes to what we'd expect from a flagship phone for the price – foldable or fixed.

In the flesh, when you're using the phone in a bright environment you can easily see the screen's crease, and when your thumb slides up and down the center, it's also noticeable. We quickly got used to this, and it didn't detract too much. When we needed the screen quality to be great – at home when watching a movie on our phone, the lights were dimmed, and a dark environment masks the crease almost completely.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 camera specs

The Z Flip 4's main camera enjoys a larger sensor size than that of the Z Flip 3, despite being the same 12MP resolution matched with an f/1.8 aperture. The new 1/1.76-inch primary sensor, upgraded from 1/2.55-inches in last year's Flip boosts the pixel size from 1.4 to 1.8 microns. The main camera's also matched with a wide 24mm focal length, and sports Dual Pixel PDAF and OIS.

The Z Flip 4's ultra-wide camera is the same as that of the Flip 3, also clocking in at 12MP, matched with an f/2.2 lens, and sporting an expansive 123˚ field of view. With 1.12 micron pixels, the ultra-wide won't be a lowlight champ based on its specs. Thankfully, though, Samsung's software saves the day with a new improved auto night mode.

Open up the phone, and the screen has a centered punch-hole selfie camera. This isn't an autofocusing selfie camera you might expect from top-tier Samsung smartphones, but it's still a respectable 10 MP sensor with an f/2.4 aperture and a wide 26mm lens. That said, you might never use it, given the main camera is also a selfie camera – more on that later.

Shooting modes include Portrait, Photo, Video, Pro, Pro Video, Single Take, Night, Food Panorama, Super Slow-Mo, Slow Motion, Hyperlapse, Portrait Video, and Director's View. 

The Z Flip 4 captures videos at up to 4K resolution at 260fps, and if you're shooting in Pro Mode, manual ISO can be set as high as 3200, and the shutter speed up to 30 seconds.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 Flex Mode for photography

The Galaxy Z Flip 4's camera takes advantage of the phone's Flex Mode in the camera app, so when the Flip 4 is half-folded, the top half of the screen acts as a viewfinder, while the bottom half serves up your shooting controls.

Flex Mode is especially handy in Pro Mode, with the top half of the foldable clear for your picture, and the bottom half displaying manual shooting options. It also adds extra utility to Director's View, so you can get a preview of both focal lengths on the bottom half of the screen.

Samsung also wants you to hold the Z Fold 4 like a camcorder while capturing video. It feels a bit precarious given the slippery, slender frame of the phone and the fact it doesn't give you a great deal to hold onto, but it's actually less awkward than holding it in landscape orientation.

A photo of the Galaxy Z Flip 4 in flex mode

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 camera review

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is a much better camera phone than the Z Flip 3, especially in low light. Samsung's brought back its trademark photo processing – zingy and shareable, but still balanced and rich in detail across shadows and highlights.

In bright environments, you won't see a night and day difference between the Z Flip 3 and 4 for the most part, but when you capture a photo or video of a subject nearer than half a meter away, the Flip 4 grabs a shallower depth of field in the background which adds a richness. It also handles moving objects better, and ekes out a little extra information in the shadows.

The ultra-wide camera is also strong despite its spec on-paper not blowing us away. It captures photos with a similar quality to those of the main camera – decent dynamic range and punchy colors for photos look shareable. Samsung is liberal with contrast compared to some smartphone makers, but its processing doesn't take things as far as Asus in the ROG Phone 6 and Zenfone 9 (opens in new tab), so photos aren't processed to the point editing is hugely compromized.

Because the cover screen can be used for selfies, it's also a selfie camera, in addition to the punch hole camera in the main display. Double tap the power button when the Z Flip 4's closed, and you'll activate the cover screen, and primary camera and the volume buttons can be used to take your photo. In the cover display view, you can swipe between Photo, Portrait, and Video, though given the aspect ratio of the screen, it heavily crops the sides of your photo.

Selfies using the main camera look good, with strong detail and warm skin tones, matched with dialed-back beautification. Flattering but realistic, the form-factor makes the Z Flip 4 one of the best selfie cameras we've tested.

We're also impressed with the phone's night mode. We had some issues in low-light with the ultra-wide camera initially – it wouldn't automatically fire up into night mode, so we'd suggest manually switching to Night Mode if you run into any problems. Once Night Mode is active, though, the Z Flip 4 is competitive.

Part fold the phone and get it on a surface for some Flex Mode and Night Mode tag teaming. This way, you'll be able to gather a huge amount of detail from both the wide and ultra-wide cameras, as you can see in the photos of the cat above. These were both taken in a dimly-lit environment, with the phone on the floor and Night Mode active.

Handheld night mode photos don't look too bad either. The third and fourth images above illustrate how the Galaxy Z Flip 4 does when capturing a nighttime skyline with mixed lighting. Stationary subjects look great even in darker environments, though it's moving objects that computational photography struggles to freeze. 

Also noteworthy, it's easy to capture steadied lowlight shots in both landscape and portrait orientation. Just half fold the phone and put it on its side. You can see the example below, even at night, you can get shots with minimal noise and ample detail for a phone.

A photo captured on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

A portrait orientation photo captured in Samsung's Flex Mode (Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)

Video captured on the Z Fold 4 isn't quite as standout as stills, given Samsung's smart photography software doesn't save the day when the lights drop with long exposure times and computational photography tricks.

In bright environments, clips looks sharp enough at up to 4K, though large black areas can look noisy – especially in high-contrast scenes. Footage from the ultra-wide is even less adept at handling shadows, so while the Z Flip 4 is a competent camcorder in the day, at night, curb your expectations.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 camera samples

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 performance

With a modest 3700mAh battery, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 falls behind all non-foldable flagships on paper, but its battery capacity is much higher than that of the Z Flip 3, which packs a 3300mAh cell. 

Because the small cover screen will likely stop you incessantly checking your phone for notifications, the Flip's form factor lends itself to lasting that bit longer. To our surprise, therefore, the phone lasted a comfortable day with moderate use.

Charging isn't too quick, peaking at 25W wired and 15W wireless, but we were able to fully charge it in less than 80 minutes using an Anker fast charger which isn't too bad. We also got 50 per cent in 30 minutes.

With Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 power, the Flip 4 is the most powerful foldable on the market in the UK and US along with its Samsung sibling, the Z Fold 4. In turn, performance is great, though Samsung's a bit heavy-handed with its pre-loaded apps and features, with its OneIU interface on top of Android packing a tonne of functionality, and a fair bit of bloat.

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

Flex Mode also goes way beyond just that camera. Half-fold the phone, and the UI will either push your content into the top half of the screen, or a little icon will appear, prompting you to choose how that app is handled when the phone's half-folded. You can leave the phone working in full-screen as standard, or it can use half the screen for your app, and the other half of the screen for tools – brightness, volume, screenshot, and even a trackpad.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 doesn't feature expandable storage, though it's available with a capacity of 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB. Whichever capacity you go for, it's matched with 8GB RAM.

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

Verdict

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)
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Samsung's rekindled the world's love for clamshells, masterfully going after fashionistas and fun young things. In addition to partnerships with K-Pop band, BTS, the Z Flip 4's been taking center stage on RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under, and advertising has been everywhere. When a phone's got its sights so set on style, though, substance can fall at the wayside.

Of course, Samsung knows what it's doing, and the Z Flip 4 is a very substantial phone in addition to being stylish. Its design feels robust, the power inside keeps things smooth, and most important for us, the camera is upgraded both in terms of hardware and software.

With battery life lasting a day and the nifty Flex Mode packing the phone full of charm, the Z Flip 4 will likely be many folks' favorite foldable. So while photography enthusiasts might want to look to the pricier but more powerful Z Fold 4, if you're intent on living your nostalgic clamshell fantasy, no phone does it better than the Z Flip 4.

Read more
Best Samsung phones (opens in new tab) in 2022
Best camera phones (opens in new tab)
Best budget phones (opens in new tab)
Best fold phones (opens in new tab) & flip phones

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