Should a Z Flip 3 owner upgrade? If you can afford it, absolutely yes!

Highs

  • Excellent folding phone design
  • Great camera update close to the S22
  • Improved all-day battery life
  • Higher peak performance

Lows

  • Volume button not easily accessible
  • Requires two hands at times
  • Could be too thick for very tight pants

Rating + Price

  • Rating: 8.8/10
  • Available on Amazon

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip series is the most successful foldable phone to date, and the latest Galaxy Z Flip 4 aims to perfect a formula that has kept Samsung ahead of the competition. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, the Z Flip 4 can fold in half to become an extremely compact phone. Once unfolded, it is about the size of a regular 6.7” fully-featured Android phone.

Its bendable nature also allows partially folded utilization. Its base becomes a “natural tripod” for photos or video calls. Some people even hold it like a classic camcorder during video recording.

In this 4th iteration, there are several key improvements you should not miss, such as the larger battery and better battery life, the improved camera system, and the new computing platform. All three (and more) make this new version significantly better than the Galaxy Z Flip 3.

Our specific Galaxy Z Flip 4 works with the AT&T network, where it retails for $27.78/mo if you qualify. There might be minor differences in antenna configuration and 4G/5G bands compared to other models. That said, both Sub-6 and mmWave technologies are supported and support excellent worldwide compatibility for travelers who might be data-roaming.

The phone also comes preloaded with AT&T-specific software such as the AT&T account manager. There is also the AT&T Smart WIFI app for easy and safer connectivity in public spaces and the AT&T Remote Support that lets trained support staff access the phone, with your permission. Since the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is not targeted at power-user, these two apps could be handy to most people.

Industrial Design

The new Z Flip 4 is built around an architecture similar to its predecessor. However, the hinge has been improved, and the aluminum frame looks more premium. Additionally, the metal does not catch any fingerprints (can I have this on my fridge, please?). The back glass surface is slightly more resistant (Gorilla Glass Victus Plus), but please don’t drop it.

When closed, the phone occupies a compact 84.9 x 71.9 x 15.9 mm and unfolds into 165.2 x 71.9 x 6.9mm. Its weight of 187g is comparable with phones that occupy the same volume, and its metal+glass construction probably makes it a bit heavier than lower-tiers phones with more plastic.

The chassis is highly rigid when closed, and “sturdiness” is one advantage of this design. It is tough to crack your primary screen by dropping the phone. Not only is the display sandwiched inside the phone, but it is also made of flexible materials and a soft protective layer. Also, Samsung makes the waterproof (IPx8) foldables, including this one.

The hinge is firm and stays in place at virtually every angle you set it at to accomodate various use cases. The downside is that you need two hands to open it. I’m not saying it’s impossible to open it with one hand, but it is too tricky.

The Z Flip 4 is very comfortable to hold, but the volume button is placed very high to the right, and you’ll probably use two hands to change the volume. Samsung might want to add a widget in the “edge bar” app.

Z FLip 4 Audio quality

That’s a great segway to audio quality. The sound quality of the Z Flip 4’s speaker is outstanding and comparable to other expensive phones, including the iPhone 13 Pro. The Z Flip 3’s form factor does not introduce any tradeoffs here.

Z FLip 4 Experience

The compactness of the (folded) phone is extraordinary if you keep the phone in a front pocket, whether in man’s or women’s jeans with slightly loose pockets. The phone’s thickness might be a bit much for very tight jeans and tight pockets, so it’s something to be known of, depending on your dressing style.

The Flex mode (partially unfolded phone) is very practical, and I mainly use it to watch videos or during video calls. As I said, the base acts as a natural tripod, and you’ll find yourself using it to watch your screen straight on while doing something else with your hands (like taking notes).

Samsung has even introduced Flex mode controls for all apps, where you can force any app only to use the upper half of the screen, leaving the lower half with controls like screenshots, brightness, and even a trackpad. Below is a screenshot that shows how to select which apps are enabled (check the Samsung’s Flex Mode page for more).

The photo gallery in Flex Mode, with editing commands and a trackpad in the screen’s lower-half

When the phone is closed, there’s a 1.9” small cover “screen” that is convenient to check notifications but also for quick interactions via widgets to control basic settings (brightness, Bluetooth, flashlight…).

Samsung has a good number of widgets (weather timer, voice recorder…), but as a user, my favorite use of the cover screen is as a Selfie camera. I highly recommend exploring the cover screen options to maximize its benefits to YOU.

I found a video that goes pretty deep into describing the cover screen features:

Display

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 OLED display supports refresh rates between 1Hz and 120Hz, depending on the situation. Everything happens automatically, but you’ll reap the benefits of longer battery life. The image quality is impeccable, which is not surprising since Samsung leads the small OLED display market.

As usual, the folding display has a crease similar to the Z Flip 3. You can feel it with your finger and see it mainly from an angle. My experience is that you mostly don’t notice and forget about it quickly.

After all, all smartphone displays are largely reflective, so it’s not very different in practice. If you’re unsure, look at the display in a store to form a definitive opinion. That’s the best way, and it’s up to you.

The display has a thin layer of a flexible glass-like material, but an additional soft layer of plastic will further protect the screen. That’s great, but that soft layer is visible around the selfie camera, and many people are tempted to peel it off. DON’T.

At first, the display seemed dim, but you can head to the Display Settings and use the “extra brightness” option to make it as bright as any other high-end phone. I can only guess that it was a battery optimization, but I like my screen to be “extra-bright.”

Galaxy Z Flip 4 Camera

Samsung has much improved the Galaxy Z Flip 4 rear camera system. It gets a Ubergizmo CAMERA HW score of 148 (vs. 117 for the Z Flip 3), so that’s a substantial improvement that we think most independent reviews will agree with.

Samsung uses a better primary sensor with a 63% larger sensing surface and large 1.8-micron pixels. The lens is still optically stabilized for maximum clarity in all situations.

The Z Flip 4 CAMERA HW score of 148 is slightly lower than the Galaxy Z Fold4 CAMERA HW of 155 and the Galaxy S22+ CAMERA HW of 166. The lack of dedicated telephoto contributes to this gap, and no software update can be an adequate substitute.

In the front, the 10MP Selfie camera uses a proven Sony IMX-374 sensor with an f/2.4 lens. The image quality is good, even in dim lighting, and that’s great for video calls. There are smartphones with much more powerful cameras, but the Z Flip also lets you capture selfies using the rear camera and the cover display.

The camera was a weak point of last year’s Galaxy Z Flip 3, and we’re glad to report that the Z Flip 4 brings much better photo capabilities similar to the Galaxy S22.

System performance

Thanks to its Snapdragon 8 Gen 1+, the Z Flip 4 is capable of outstanding performance spikes during everyday phone usage. The processor spikes for a few seconds, get the job done and returns to a low-power state.

In this chassis, the full power of Qualcomm’s platform is constrained by the low cooling performance of the phone. Simply put, it is not designed to be a gaming phone, but for day-to-day usage, you get all the peak-performance benefits of Snapdragon 8 Gen 1+ but not the sustained speed that games or heavy apps require.

The benchmarks show this clearly, even though they don’t run for that long. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 features the same chip but has noticeably higher performance. The primary difference between the two phones is their cooling capabilities. Over time, the Z Flip 4’s heat will build up much faster, which will cap the performance.

That said, this speed remains very good for this size. In a future article, we should compare it to the new Motorola RAZR 2022 powered by the same Qualcomm platform.

Galaxy Z Flip 4 Battery Life

The Z Flip 4’s battery life is noticeably better due to three factors. First, the battery is 13% larger (3700 mAh vs. 3300 previously), which should extend the battery by at least that amount, but it gets better.

Secondly, the 1Hz to 120Hz variable refresh rate also lowers the power consumption. When you’re watching a 30FPS movie, the display can adapt. And if you’re looking at a static image, the refresh rate could drop to 1 Hz. That’s potentially a lot of energy savings compared to constantly running at 60Hz or 120Hz.

Finally, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1+ is significantly more power-efficient than the Z Flip 3’s Snapdragon 888 processor. For the same amount of work, it will burn less energy. The result is a Z Flip 4 phone that should last all day without stress.

If you need to recharge, the 25W wired charge is much better than the previous 15W charge. It’s nowhere near the fastest (check the OnePlus 10T charge speed), but it’s much better than the Z Flip 3.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 is a significant update from its predecessor. Critical systems and features have been improved, and the whole package came out great between the design, performance, battery life, and camera.

Should a Z Flip 3 owner upgrade? If you can afford it, absolutely yes! And if your budget is a bit tight, check the various Samsung deals and trade-ins on the official website because Samsung makes a lot of effort to keep people buying the latest devices.

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is set to become the most popular foldable of 2022, and I’ll probably use it as my primary phone going forward (as I did with the Z Flip 3). Remember that its user experience differs from your “standard” phone, and the same budget would get you slightly higher specs with a classic Galaxy S22+ or above.

Yet, I know many people who could have any phone they want and choose to use the Galaxy Z Flip series as their primary handset. This new Z Flip 4 will accelerate his even more.

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