Foldable Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4: one year later

Can we recommend it? And did the screen survive?

You have set your sights on a foldable but are just a bit hesitant. Even Samsung's most affordable foldable, the Flip, is still quite pricey, and you want to be sure it's worth the money. We used a Fold 4 for a year. What are our findings? And is the screen still in one piece?

Foldables have enormous potential. Besides the monoblock smartphones that have dominated for at least ten years, entirely new designs are possible. Foldables are also the answer to getting larger screens into compact phones.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 one year later
Our Flip 4 one year later

But as so often with new technologies, they are expensive. We saw this with retina screens, high-resolution cameras, and premium materials. Eventually, the price drops, but slowly. This is mainly because not many companies are releasing foldables (yet). Samsung is one of them, and currently, they dominate the market. Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo followed suit. But even there, the starting prices are hefty.

Many curious glances

The Samsung Flip series is one of the more inexpensive series of foldables. The Flip 4 came out in 2022 and has since been succeeded by the Flip 5. Besides a larger cover screen, not much has changed. Mainly to keep costs low.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 opened outside

Having a foldable results in many curious looks. Some are full of admiration, others full of disgust. The latter category seems to care little for innovation. However, also they cannot deny the advantages of this design. For example, you can keep the Flip 4 almost invisible in your pocket and still have a large screen at hand.

Two hands needed

Unfolding the Flip 4 is something that requires both hands. It should be possible with one hand, but you risk damaging the inner screen with a nail. It's sensitive to that. The screen is not hard like glass. The top layer seems almost liquid, and a swipe with a fingernail remains visible.

Samsung Flip4 bottom closed
Only minor use damage

The seam disappears as soon as the screen is on but is noticeable. We did not find it annoying, but we can imagine that some people think differently.

Part phone, part jewelry

The Flip 4 kept us from grabbing our phone every time we were bored. Unlocking it is a bit of a hassle. The cover screen tells if we have notifications, which are always visible. We did not find the outer screen very usable, but that has been addressed as of the Flip 5.

Samsung Galaxy Flip4 half opened on desk
Half-opened Flip4

We experienced the Flip 4 not so much as a phone but more as a piece of jewelry. Because you can put it upright or half-opened, we played with it and let it glide through our hands. It also reminded us of the old days when phones were much smaller. And yet there, opened, sits a big screen—a match made in heaven.

Small screen, short battery life

The screen is narrow, especially when switching back to a "regular" monoblock smartphone. What is also evident is how quickly the battery drains. One day of use is almost impossible to achieve. You can forget about heavy use altogether. Recharging during the day is necessary. Of course, a battery degrades over time, but in the beginning, making it through the day was also quite a challenge. Hopefully, Samsung will do something about this in future versions.

Torn screen

And then, let's discuss the elephant in the room: the screen. Has it survived a year of heavy use? Well, yes and no. For that, we need to look at the screen's construction. On top of the actual AMOLED screen sits Ultra-Thin Glass, followed by a protective layer and a protective film. Samsung applied the latter at the factory, and you are not supposed to remove it.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 cracked protective film
Cracked protective film

And precisely, this plastic film has cracked twice in our sample. The first time, after only six months, a hairline crack appeared that became deeper and deeper. Eventually, the film became loose at the edge, after which dirt got underneath. Finally, the layer cracked fully.

Samsung Flip4 custom screen protector
Replacing the protective film is easy to do yourself

The device was still under warranty and was repaired by Samsung for free. However, another half-year later, this all started over again. If you search the Internet, you will see more people have this problem. The warranty had expired this time, so we replaced the layer ourselves. This is easy to do but annoying because it is recommended not to use the device for a day. This is because the adhesive layer can harden without leaving air bubbles.

A lot of potential

Did anything else break down during our year of testing? The rubber corners, which keep the screen from slamming hard together, broke off, but this did not affect operation. All in all, what we said in the introduction still stands. Foldables have enormous potential. But they are not perfect. The protective coating needs to last for many years, the battery life needs to go up, and the price needs to come down. Only then can foldables become mainstream.

I sometimes miss the little Fold. A regular smartphone suddenly feels like a brick in your pocket. No one seems interested in what I use as my daily driver, and I can no longer open the screen halfway to watch YouTube while cooking, to name a few. But someday, I'll be back because the benefits of a foldable continue to beckon.

Mentioned products

Join the discussion