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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip: Can Samsung flip the competition?

The Financial Express logo The Financial Express 26-03-2020 Ishaan Gera

When Samsung revealed its Fold series last year, flexible screens were a marvel to look at.

a laptop computer sitting on top of a table: The Flip is not S20, so there are no zoom or quad cameras. © Provided by The Financial Express The Flip is not S20, so there are no zoom or quad cameras.

So, it isn?t surprising that Samsung isn?t the only one betting on folding phones. Since the launch of Fold, Motorola has released its iteration, but recently Samsung also unveiled the Galaxy Z Flip?its other take on folding devices. Instead of providing a horizontal book design as it did with Fold, Samsung unveiled a phone with a traditional flip design, once a hallmark of Moto Razr.

But the company is not stopping there; by giving the phone flagship specs, it is trying to woo the top segment. Given that folding phones have not lost their wow factor, at least, not yet, Samsung?s bid may just work.

Design

After the first preview of the phone, my colleague had an interesting observation. He said the phone looked like a compact mirror. With shiny black and purple colours, his estimate was not too far off. While many may not hold a fascination for compact mirrors, Galaxy Z Flip does have an exciting design. The phone has the right amount of sheen, and while it does look like a compact mirror, the design makes it easy to carry. There is a small strip sized screen on the top and two cameras on one side, and rest is all phone surface. There?s a volume button on the side and power, which doubles up as fingerprint scanner.

But the real innovation is when the phone opens up. Samsung has gotten better at hinges since the Fold. The phone seems sturdy, and the hinge is flawless. And, much like a compact mirror, it can settle in different angles. The ergonomics of Flip are excellent. It doesn?t fall off and can be adjusted in any number of ways. Where it does go off though is the width. While it is easy to put in the pocket, it also has a pretty broad design. The bezels are more prominent, but they ought to be. But they don?t trouble much.

Camera

The Flip is not S20, so there are no zoom or quad cameras. But it does host two 12MP (ultra-wide and wide-angle) cameras that do serve the purpose. The photos are clear, and the quality is good. More important, you can hold the phone like a Handycam in L position to take images and video. The regular mode, like all Samsung phones, has too much saturation, colour and smoothening, but the pro mode makes all these go away. The front camera isn?t as powerful, but the phone?s design makes it a delight. Keep the phone in L position, and it is good to serve its purpose for video calling, selfies. 1.1-inch super AMOLED screen on the outside does serve as a viewfinder, but the utility is not that much. What can you find in 1.10-inch?

Screen

The 6.7-inch FHD AMOLED display, on the other hand, is something else. The screen is bright, and like all Samsung phones, it do not disappoint. The dimensions are a bit odd, but not too troubling. However, the problem is the part where the screen folds. With the Fold, the curve did not create problems as the curve was vertical and was not apparent from all viewing angles. Here the bump in the screen is evident, which makes it visible at all times. Also, as you scroll down, you can feel this bump each time you reach halfway. But that is a disadvantage of all fold devices. This is not a gaming phone so expecting an S20 like performance is too much of an ask. The external 1.1-inch Super AMOLED display is only useful for notifications and that too on a limited scale. The screen is too small for any operation. I fail to understand why Samsung did not go for a screen outside as well like the Moto Z. Even a strip, somehow, would have been a better option.

Sound and Battery

Although there is a Dolby Atmos option, it is only available for headphones. Otherwise, the sound specs of the phone do not go with its magnificent screen. There is only one speaker, and it lacks depth and loudness.

The battery, on the other hand, was a pleasant surprise. While it is just 3,300 mAH, battery management has improved considerably. The phone lasted a full day with regular use. However, with video playback and heavy use, it was only suitable for 9-10 hours, which is still considerably good given the device.

Price & Verdict

Priced at Rs 1,09,999, it is not that expensive either, especially for a flip phone. There is only one SIM, but Samsung does provide eSIM facility, which, if you have a Jio or Airtel number, can come in handy. Samsung provides you with flagship features, unlike Motorola. An 8GB RAM, 256GB space and Snapdragon 855+ processor is more than one can ask for at this price along with flip option. But I don?t see the phone making a splash. Lack of front screen is a minus for Samsung, but remember this is the first iteration and just a concept.

Samsung may be able to woo some Apple users, but its loyal base may not go for it just yet. One good thing that Flip has done is that it has shown that there is a market for this and Samsung will only get better at it. The ball is in Apple?s court now.

If you have the money to splurge and want a fancy looking device, Flip is certainly worth consideration.

Estimated street price: Rs 1,09,999

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