First announced at Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event in New York City, the Korean tech giant’s latest lineup of foldable phones and smartwatches have been highly anticipated. It’s undeniable that Samsung is leading the market for foldable phones with its Galaxy Z line, and the brand is no slouch with its flagship smartwatch lineup either.
But are the devices worth the price? Here, we put the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and the Watch 5 to the test.
Photo: The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 (left) pictured with the Z Flip 3 (right)
At first glance, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 barely looks any different to its predecessor. Design-wise, Samsung has stuck with the formula and only made subtle external changes. Unless you’re looking out for them, the minute tweaks, such as a slimmer hinge and a flatter frame, wouldn’t really stand out to the casual observer.
There are, however, a couple of design changes that are slightly more noticeable. The edges of the phone are now glossy, rather than matte, which adds a slight grip to the ergonomic phone. The back and front, meanwhile, has a matte satin finish that replaces the Z Flip 3’s glossy counterpart. These changes result in a noticeably different handfeel between the new and old models.
The Z Flip 4 is also protected with Gorilla Glass Victus Plus both front and back for durability, and Samsung notes that the phone should last for over 200,000 folds. It retains the same IPX8 water resistant rating as the Z Flip 3, which means that the phone can withstand water, but has no resistance to dust.
The inner display, a 6.7-inch OLED panel, with a 2460 x 1080 resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate, is pretty much similar to the Z Flip 3. The middle crease, or the joint where the two displays meet, also remains, and you can definitely still feel it whenever you scroll or swipe.
Unfortunately, if you’re thinking of purchasing the phone simply for the sake of dramatically flipping it open and close with one hand, well, you can’t. The size of the phone as well as the hinges at the side does make it hard for a smooth snap. While the phone is rather chunky when shut, it does slip well into pockets and my mini purses without much of an issue.
My review unit came in pink gold, a pretty pastel hue that’s new to the lineup. Other colours available are graphite, blue and Samsung’s signature Bora purple. Samsung has also launched a new bespoke edition, where users are able to choose and create their own personalised glass colours and frame options with up to 75 variations.
In terms of performance, the Z Flip 4 is pretty flawless for typical day-to-day use. I’ve been using the phone for slightly more than a week now, and didn’t notice any large hiccups throughout the entire time. I was able to quickly run several apps from Google Drive, to YouTube, to Instagram and switch between them without much of an issue.
One of the standout features for me is the versatility of the foldable display, which Samsung terms as ‘Flex mode’. The app that you have open will split, putting the main functionality on the top half of the screen with additional features, such as a new trackpad navigation, at the bottom of the screen. This essentially creates a (very) mini laptop. The dual-screen also allows me to have a web browser open at the top, whilst taking notes with OneNote at the lower portion of the display; this saves me time and the hassle of going back and forth between applications.
My favourite part of the Z Flip 4 is probably the enhanced cover screen usability. The mini 1.9 inch external display that you get when you flip the phone shut is extremely convenient for checking notifications. You can reply to messages, check your calendar, and even snap photos all without having to unfold the entire phone.
As for the battery life, the 3700mAh battery offers much better endurance as compared to the 3300mAh battery of the Z Flip 3. The phone was able to last me about 8 to 9 hours of heavy usage, which for me includes streaming the occasional YouTube video, making phone calls, using the camera for snapping photos and videos, and other productivity apps like emails. Comparatively, the Z Flip 3 was only able to last me for about 5 to 6 hours. On certain days where I didn’t use the Z Flip 4 as much, I was left with about a 30 percent charge at night.
Photo: Shooting on portrait mode with the Galaxy Z Flip 4 (left) and the Z Flip 3 (right)
One of the largest draws of the Samsung’s Z Flip line is definitely how innovative the foldable display can be when it comes to the phone’s camera skills. There’s no need for a tripod, for you can fold the phone in half and pop it down on a flat surface – an extremely useful feature when I was snapping group photos with friends. For extra fun, you can also hold the phone in an old-school camcorder style to record stable video.
The phone’s rear cameras feature two 12-megapixel sensors, the same as the Z Flip 3. One is the main wide sensor, while the other is an ultra-wide sensor that’s ideal for landscape shots. The Z Flip 4 is equipped with better pixel sensors and enhanced stabilisation, which does make photos and videos look slightly more crisp.
As mentioned, you can snap photos via the cover screen, without having to unlock the phone. You get to choose between the wide and ultra-wide lens through selfie mode, and the photos are, in fact, of decent quality. This was actually one of my favourite ways to snap selfies with friends, due to the convenience (and fun!) factor.
Photo: Using the wide lens with the Galaxy Z Flip 4 (left) and the Z Flip 3 (right)
While the exterior of the Z Flip 4 isn’t much of a jump compared to its predecessor, the software upgrades and subtle design improvements have definitely refined the phone by leaps and bounds.
And while I can’t dramatically flip the phone shut with a swift flick of my wrist like a sassy character in a late ‘90s chick flick, the Z Flip 4 does have its perks. If you’re looking for versatility in your phones, the Z Flip 4’s multitasking features, hands-free usability and useful cover display definitely checks the boxes.
Alongside two new foldable smartphones, Samsung has also rolled out new watches in the forms of the Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro. For my testing unit, I received the Watch 5 40mm version in pink gold, a sweet pink hue that matches the Z Flip 4.
Similar to the phones, most of the updates to the smartwatches are focused on software refinement. The circular display stays, of course, but the Watch 5 has a curvier back sensor for better skin contact in order for more accuracy when it comes to data.
The biggest update design-wise is the new sapphire crystal display, which is significantly stronger as compared to the Gorilla Glass displays for the previous watches. The watch reportedly has a 60 percent harder outer layer and should stay scratch-free under most circumstances, which is definitely reassuring for me when I wear it to sleep. The new display also offers gorgeous colours, crisp fonts, and a seamless touchscreen experience – no complaints there.
The Watch 5 runs on One UI 4.5, Samsung’s watch interface, on top of Wear OS 3.5. Translation: you’re no longer limited to Samsung’s apps, and you’re able to download compatible apps and watch faces directly from the Google Play Store. Apps such as Spotify, Google Assistant and Google Wallet can be accessed from the watch, offering a nice blend of functionality.
Health is clearly a big focus for the Watch 5. Through the improved 3-in-1 BioActive sensor, you’re able to measure your heart rate, ECGs, blood pressure, and blood oxygen. You can also track your stress levels and body composition analysis. These insights can also be sent to your Samsung phone for a more comprehensive look.
The Watch 5 also proves that Samsung’s automatic walk detection remains one of the best in the smartwatch market. I also appreciated that the watch sends prompts for you to stretch your legs and go for a walk if you’ve been idling away at your laptop.
In terms of sleep tracking, the Watch 5 is Samsung’s most advanced sleep monitoring watch yet. The Sleep Dashboard offers you sleep reports, time scores, sleep stages, snore detection (which requires a smartphone at hand as well) and blood oxygen readings.
If you’re like me and you’re obsessed with tracking such health features, I would say that this is one of the more exciting updates. You can also get in-depth sleep coaching where you’ll be able to discover a custom sleep animal symbol. The animal is then used to customise your unique sleep coaching experience, and you’ll get to complete daily goals such as meditation, exercise and resisting naps. You do, however, need 7 full days of eligible sleep data and finish 2 full sleep surveys to get a single insight. I have only tested the unit out for less than a week, so I can’t say how well this feature works long-term just yet.
Battery-wise, the Watch 5’s battery is 13 percent larger than the previous version, offering up to 40 hours of battery life. That seems pretty accurate, for the watch seems to be able to last me around two days of use without a single charge. This was without GPS activity and with always-on display disabled. I did, however, poked around the different health features for some time, streamed some music, and went for a walk over the course of two days. By the second day, I was left with about 5 percent of charge at night.
While the Watch 5 isn’t a flashy upgrade as compared to the Watch 4, it’s still an extremely sophisticated smartwatch that has been through considerable polishing and fine-tuning. And while there are more changes made to the Watch 5 Pro, which is dedicated for fitness enthusiasts, the Watch 5 is still a great watch for everyday use. If you’re looking for a satisfactory fitness companion on your wrist that’s also able to offer certain forms of productivity such as answering calls and replying messages, this could be the watch for you.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Watch 5 is available in stores starting today, September 2, 2022.