Connect with us

Gadget of the Week

Gadget of the Week: It will flip their lids

The Samsung Z Flip4 adds a different dimension to the foldable smartphone category, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

What is it?

While Samsung and Huawei fight it out for leadership of foldable flagship smartphones, the former has taken firm ownership of an uncontested space within the same category.

Thanks to the gorgeous design, a compact and elegant form factor, and an accessible price, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 is poised to turn heads wherever it is opened.

And that, to be frank, is the primary purpose of the device. Samsung calls it “an amazing tool for self-expression”. It is a clamshell smartphone that slips easily into a purse or pocket, in stand-out colours like Pink Gold and Bora Purple. In its natural state, or at least the way users will try to make seem natural, it will lie semi-unfolded on a restaurant or poolside table, with an animated screensaver unfurling across both halves of the screen, daring others not to stare.

In other words, the clamshell format is only remotely related to early flip phones that built functionality into the open lid. In the Flip range, it allows the folded screen to open up to any angle, with the fully opened display serving as a large screen, and when partly unfolded allows each half to be used for a different multi-tasked purpose – or to display a single image running at right angles.

That bizarre category of self-promoters known as “influencers” will take to it more rapidly than to a new Instagram format, but its appeal does go beyond exhibitionists.

For one thing, it is fairly powerful for a phone that seems to be somewhat frivolous. It is powered by the same Qualcomm SM8475 Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip that lurks under the hood of the far more serious Galaxy Fold4, a handset intended for productivity and multitasking. Both chips are manufactured in an insanely thin 4 nanometer (nm) process, which is currently the thinnest that a processor can be made.

The battery size has been boosted by more than 10% over the previous version, going from 3300mAh to 3700mAh. It supports a decent but not dazzling 25W fast charging, promising to reach 50% charge in 30 minutes. Fast wireless charging is also supported, as is reverse wireless charging, meaning it can be used to charge other devices resting on it.

The camera lenses don’t offer too much to write home about – or at least to send images home – with the same pairing of 12MP ultrawide and 12MP wide-angle rear lenses and 10MP selfie lens as in the Flip3. However, the software has been enhanced so that the device performs well in low light. It also allows a seamless transition from Quick Shot videos shot with the closed phone, to the FlexCam camera mode with the phone opened. That’s aside from the folding action allowing shots to be set up from any angle. It’s a feature that will appeal powerfully to both “influencers” and those who see their handsets as lifestyle accessories.

What does it cost?

Recommended retail price: R21,999

Why does it matter?

Not all foldable phones have to be flagships, and they don’t have to cost more than flagship phones. The use cases for foldable phones tend to be about productivity and multitasking. The Z Flip literally flips this round, showing that it can be about fun, fashion and frivolous needs, too. The fact that Samsung has stuck to the format into a fourth generation demonstrates both its popularity and the longevity of the “fashionable foldable” sub-category.

What are the biggest negatives?

·         The camera power is identical to that of the Flip3, even down to the 10MP selfie camera.

·         No memory card slot to expand storage.

·         The crease where the screen folds stands out like a sore thumb when the device is fully opened.

What are the biggest positives?

·         The same powerful chip as its senior sibling, the Fold4, for great responsiveness and overall performance.

·         A bigger battery than its predecessor.

·         The cover display can be very useful, displaying key information or notifications.

·         Priced below high-end flagship phones.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee

Subscribe to our free newsletter
To Top