Below are a set of sample images shot with the Samsung Z Flip’s main camera, with very little post-processing applied (slight tweak on contrast and white balance only).
I managed to get my hands on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, a smartphone which is also a flip phone, in 2020. As I was looking through the available reviews online I realised that maybe it was not the best decision to do a review for this device, after all I am not a tech reviewer. Many have done a great job reviewing it. However, having used the Z Flip for about 2 weeks now, I do find myself enjoying the phone more than I initially expected and there are certain aspects about this flip smartphone that are truly unique. I thought it is more appropriate to just share what I like about the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip instead!
Here is a video version which I have uploaded to my NEW YouTube Channel. Yes, you heard that right, I have started a new channel, a spin-off to talk about non-photography/camera/Olympus related topics, such as this smartphone.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip smartphone was on loan from Samsung Malaysia. I did not buy, and I did not own this product. I have no affiliation with Samsung in any way, and this was not a sponsored post/video. Samsung Malaysia did not ask me to write this article, it was a no string attached arrangement, the Z Flip was loaned to me and I was free to write my opinion. As I have mentioned earlier, this is NOT a review, I am only sharing my thoughts and user experience.
When I first got the Z Flip, I had no idea what to expect from this flip smartphone. After all, it did not have the latest and greatest smartphone specifications and features. The screen display, camera modules and processor in the phone were not the best in current Samsung line up of phones, surely S20 series have more powerful features and performance, with lower price tag to boot. The only stand-out feature was the flipping mechanism, something of a unicorn in today’s smartphone trend. However, after using this Z Flip for about 2 weeks, I found myself really enjoying this phone as my daily driver. There are just some things that the Z Flip can do that other typical modern non-flip smartphones cannot do at the moment.
1. TRULY SMALL AND PORTABLE DESIGN
One of the things that was not immediately obvious was the tiny footprint of the Z Flip when it was in flipped closed position. Once it was folded in, the size effectively was reduced to half of what a typical smartphone would be. While the thickness indeed doubled because of the folding, that was not an issue, considering the overall size was effectively cut by 50%, and that makes a huge difference using this phone day in and out. The Z Flip fits into my pants’ pockets so effortlessly, definitely works better for smaller pockets (I hear women complaining their cloths having impossibly tiny pockets all the time), or jeans with impossibly tight pockets. Furthermore, being smaller in size, the phone was easier to handle, taking it in and out of the pocket, as your fingers can easily wrap around the phone securely, in comparison to larger sized phones that can be a lot more slippery.
2. SPECIAL NEW WAY OF HANDLING THE CAMERA
I found the flip mechanism working very well for the camera operation. In the half-folded position, the screen is split into two, with half being used for settings and adjustments, and the other half for viewing and composition. Since the right half of the screen was not used for framing, you can securely grip it with your right palm, utilising all your 5 fingers to fully hold the phone. I find this to be comfortable, confident and honestly practical for more serious shooting environment, utilizing the Z Flip’s camera. While on the left side of the phone, the other half of the screen is the viewfinder, and you can use your left hand to touch the screen for focusing point placement and then press the volume key button which acts as a shutter button.
Typically, the smartphones are extremely thin and slippery by design, holding them with few just 2 fingers from each side is not the best way to firmly grip the phone. Photographers will be quick to point out how important it is for a secure gripping, and overall handling of a camera. This new “camcorder-style” holding the right half of the phone with the palm-grip is quite a quirky yet perfectly practical solution to the problem!
When it comes to the camera of the Z Flip, it is not the best offering from Samsung, considering the superior camera modules from the S20 series, but I did find myself enjoying the cameras too. Simple, straightforward, and nothing too fancy, they just work and deliver beautiful, punchy looking images. I’d say the images come quite close to what the Note 10+ can do, but of course I did not have the chance to compare the phones side by side, I am making this statement based on my experience shooting with the Note 10+ and the Z Flip separately.
Here are some sample shots taken from the Samsung Z Flip. I did not intend to make a full review of the smartphone’s camera this time, because we already have many other better cameras in Samsung’s more recent phones which I have reviewed more extensively. Nevertheless, the camera modules in the Z Flip are no slouch either, sporting a main wide angle 12MP camera with 27mm equivalent F1.8 lens and an ultra wide angle 12MP camera with equivalent 12mm equivalent F2.2 lens. The main camera has built in lens optical image stabilization. The colors from the camera came out a little bit oversaturated and contrasty but that is to be expected from typical smartphone processing, which is forgiveable, and honestly most people (non-photograpers) would appreciate the color boost in their images straight out of camera. I did not torture the camera this time, as I mentioned, I was not making a review of this phone.
3. SECONDARY SMALL DISPLAY
There is a small tiny screen situated outside the phone, just next to the main camera. At first, there really was nothing to shout about this small screen, it was there perhaps for practical reasons. However, after days of using the Z Flip, I found myself using that tiny screen a lot more than I have originally anticipated, and I was quite glad Samsung made that secondary small display.
I used that tiny screen mainly to check time. When the Z Flip is in the default closed position, if there was no other display, you have no choice but to physically flip open the phone just to check the time. So having that secondary display to display time and other important information, eg battery life remaining was a good idea. You can also browse recent notifications with the small screen, and more importantly, you can take a selfie using that small screen as a viewfinder. It is extremely small, but it does a good job helping you frame that selfie, and this was something that makes this Z Flip truly special because that means you are using the Z Flip’s main camera for selfie, instead of the selfie camera in this mode. We all know how much better the main camera is, in terms of image sensor, lens quality, more resolution, better color and overall rendering.
4. HALF FLIP POSITION FOR STANDING ON TABLE
Typically, if you don’t want to hold your phone for long duration (fingers, wrists and hands strain/cramps) you just lay the normal smartphones flat on the table. By doing so, you need to physically lean yourself to see the screen better and this can be quite awkward as well. There are other solutions such as sticker kickstands, or phone cases that has built in props to stand the screen at a certain angle. However, these solutions are obviously non-elegant and they add bulk or unnecessary ugliness. The flip design of the Z Flip was just so practical for placing the phone on the table and having the half of the screen angled up for easy viewing. At first, it seems gimmicky and would not be something that I need, but seriously, after using it for a while, it just makes sense. It works. Browsing was fun, and scrolling through endless Facebook timeline or Instagram feed was less of a chore than hand-holding the phone.
5. FLIPPING SATISFACTION
This is the part where a video can really come in handy. But those who are as old as me, or from the yesteryear’s generation when we have experienced the flip phones back in the day, you will know how satisfying it is to just flip close the phone. It is addictive and you just want to do it again, and again. That flipping mechanism adds a therapeutic effect every time you use the phone, and it is difficult to justify or explain how amazing it feels.
I fully acknowledge that the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip comes with a heavy price tag, similar to flagship smartphones, but the specifications do not carry the latest and greatest checklist. It is using last year’s flagship processor Snapdragon 855+, there is nothing to write home about the camera modules in comparison to the impressive 108MP camera in S20 Ultra, the screen does not have super high resolution or fast refresh rate, and the only thing cool about this phone, is the flip. The flip itself was quite unique in today’s world of flat looking uniform block of smartphones, and I can clearly see how this can be the future. Reducing the footprint and size of a smartphone by flipping it into half was a good solution. Having the screen folded in half opens up a lot of innovative ways to use the phone, including the “camcorder-style” hand-gripping for more secure, comfortable and confident handling of the phone in camera mode and also serving as a “stand” angling up the screen for easier viewing and browsing experience. Honestly, I can see myself buying this phone just for the flipping satisfaction itself, if I somehow land myself a spare RM6000 to burn.
Do you own the Samsung Z Flip, if you do please share your experience using the phone, I’d love to hear from you! What are your thoughts on flip-style modern smartphones, do you think they have a place in today’s smartphone market, or should they be abandoned? Let’s discuss!
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