Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 4 gets new software tricks, bigger battery

What is happening

Samsung has just announced the Galaxy Z Flip 4, the latest iteration of its foldable flip phone.

why is it important

Foldable phones have been widely available for about three years, but they still represent only a fraction of the smartphone market. The Z Flip 4 and Fold 4 are Samsung’s attempt to change that.

And after

Samsung will launch the Galaxy Z Flip 4 on August 26, starting at $1,000.

Samsung announced the Galaxy Z Flip 4 on Wednesday during its Unpacked event as part of its latest popularization effort foldable phones. The Z Flip 4 has new software that takes advantage of its foldable design, improved cameras with better low-light photography and a bigger battery. It goes on sale August 26 and starts at $1,000 (£999, AU$1,499).

The Galaxy Z Flip turned out to be the most popular foldable yet according to market research estimates. But in the industry, high prices, inferior cameras and battery life compared to standard phones, and a lack of attractive features have hampered the overall appeal of foldables. With the Galaxy Z Flip 4, Samsung addresses some of these concerns, but not all of them. More importantly, it’s also advancing the public’s understanding of foldable devices like the Z Flip.

Samsung is trying to prove there’s more to the Z Flip 4’s appeal beyond its compactness. That’s why it’s leaning into Flex Mode – the feature that splits apps between the top and bottom parts of the screen when folded halfway. Now you’ll be able to use the bottom half of the screen as a trackpad to navigate the top of the screen – an update that should make it easier to manipulate apps in Flex mode.

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This feature is new to the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Z Fold 4, although Samsung has said it will evaluate its integration with older foldables as well. In the short time I spent with the Z Flip 4, it seemed to work quite smoothly after activating the feature in the settings menu.

The Z Flip 4’s cover screen also gets a few new additions. You’ll be able to send quick replies to text messages, make phone calls, and take portrait mode photos from the exterior display.

Samsung foldable

The cover screen of the Galaxy Z Flip 4.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Taken together, these upgrades are a step in the right direction for the Z Flip 4. It’s unclear if the Flex Mode expansion and additional Cover Screen features will be enough to convert those who don’t. aren’t already interested in foldable phones. But it shows that Samsung is paying more attention to software in addition to hardware, which is crucial in proving the promise behind foldable phones.

Otherwise, the Z Flip 4 gets a handful of routine updates that you’d expect to see in any new smartphone – foldable or not. it will work Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, a slightly improved version of the chip that powers the Galaxy S22 line up. Although the resolution of the main camera is the same as in the Flip Z 3 (12-megapixel wide and ultra-wide lenses), the Z Flip 4 inherits the The improved night photography of the Galaxy S22. This means it will have a brighter wide lens and larger pixel size in addition to support for portrait mode shots in the dark. The Z Flip 4’s battery size is also increased to 3,700mAh from its predecessor’s 3,300mAh battery.

These are all welcome changes that reduce the trade-offs you have to make when choosing between the Z Flip and Samsung’s non-folding Galaxy S phones. The previous Z Flip 3’s battery life was disappointing, and the camera system felt like “the equivalent of the cameras you’d find on a $700 phone,” as my colleague Patrick Holland put it.

The design of the Z Flip hasn’t changed much, apart from a few improvements. The hinge is slightly smaller and now has a glossier finish than the Z Flip 3. The interior screen of the Z Flip 4 is 45% more durable while the exterior is coated with Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus Plus. Color options include new bora purple, which Samsung just introduced for the Galaxy S22 with rose gold, blue and graphite. These differences aren’t immediately noticeable when you pick up the device, but you can see them by looking at the Z Flip 3 and Z Flip 4 side-by-side.

Samsung foldable

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

The Z Flip 4’s $1,000 price tag is still probably too high for many people, especially since there are plenty of attractive standard phones on the market that cost hundreds of dollars less. With a few new software enhancements and routine camera, processor, and battery upgrades, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 doesn’t seem like a monumental upgrade.

But it still represents a turning point for Samsung’s foldables. Samsung has moved beyond just making apps run smoothly on foldable screens. It finally tries to find new ways to interact with apps that you couldn’t get with a non-folding phone.