Flip phones are back in action

Galaxy Z Flip Hands On: Flip Phones Are Back, Baby

February 17, 2020 Reviews By Photo by Henry Phillips
Brand: Samsung
Product: Galaxy Z Flip
Release Date: 2/14/2020
Price: $1,380
From: samsung.com

The Galaxy Z Flip, Samsung’s newest folding phone, just makes a ridiculous amount of sense. Where the giant Galaxy Fold was impressive but also strange and unwieldy and wildly expensive, the Z Flip is instantly familiar and intuitive. When open, it’s just a normal phone! When closed, it is a tiny little square that can fit in the smallest of pockets. And in the transition in between? It’s a wonderful throwback tot he flip phone days of old.

I got the chance to play with the new Z Flip for a fleeting 24 hours, and here’s what I took away from that experience. In short? This little guy is one of the most delightful gadgets I have used in a long, long time. It might not be a glimpse into the future of phones, but I really hope it is.

Video: Hands-On with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Flipping it open and shut is intuitive, satisfying, and hard to go back from

Chances are good you used a flip phone years ago. I know I did, and the Z Flip makes it all come flooding back. There is something wildly satisfying about ending your phone time with a definitive closing snap. The Z Fold’s mechanism is smooth and satisfying, if a little disconcerting at first. There is a noticeable little vibration you’ll feel inside the phone when you snap it shut. But the ability to physically shut an otherwise standard form factor phone before putting it in your pocket just feels so incredibly good and finite. After about 15 minutes with the Z Flip, I already found myself trying to close my normal, rigid phone.

Durability is a huge concern

Like the Galaxy Fold, the Z Flip comes with all kinds of “don’t”s to help you protect the screen, which include avoiding dust and avoiding applying pressure to the screen with anything hard and sharp, even a fingernail. The problem? The Z Flip is pretty one-hand-able, but you will end up pushing it open with your thumbnail if you try this. Samsung says the Flip is rated to some 200,000 folds but I’ll believe that when I see it. There is no doubt in my mind this thing is very fragile and Samsung’s abundance of warnings, which set the table to put the blame on you if and when it breaks, just make that all the more clear.

The folding screen rules, but it might not be essential

Obviously the big draw of the Z Flip and the Galaxy Fold before it is that their literal screens fold. This is cool! It is a flashy, beautiful, impressive technical accomplishment! It also makes them incredibly fragile and incredibly expensive! There is, however, another way. Last year, Microsoft teased its upcoming Duo phone which pairs a folding form factor with a good old-fashioned hinge in the middle of two discrete screens. Sure, it wouldn’t be as good for watching videos in landscape, but other than that it stands to be cheaper and more durable. And while the Z Flip has sold me for good on the idea of a folding phone, I’m not sure that a single, folding screen is actually an essential part of what makes that experience so promising.

Samsung provided this product for review.

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Eric Limer

Eric Limer is Gear Patrol’s tech editor. A resident of Weehawken, NJ, his current obsessions include mechanical keyboards, mechanical pencils and Formula 1.

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