Who would’ve thought that picking a flip phone in 2022 would’ve actually been a thing again? 15 years after the flat slab took over, we’re finally at a time when grabbing a flip phone is aspirational. Sure, some companies are still struggling to figure themselves out, but Samsung is not one of them. The original Z Flip and its 5G successor were not necessarily products I felt were ready for mass adoption, but I’d say the next two generations were bold enough to earn their own comparison.
In one corner we have the Galaxy Z Flip 4, Samsung’s latest upgrade to the most successful foldable of all time, and in the other we have precisely that phone. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 took the world by storm with its looks, durability and aggressive price. You could judge a book by its cover and think there are no real differences between them, but the story is not precisely that.
If you already own a Galaxy Z Flip 3 and live in the United States, let me spare you the need for watching this entire video. If you’re wondering if it’s worth the upgrade, my immediate answer is of course, but only if you watched this video in time to take advantage of the trade-in deals. Currently Samsung is giving you an insane $900 in trade-in value, plus store credit, a memory upgrade, your choice for a case, and even added discounts on the Galaxy Watch 5 or Buds 2 Pro. Seriously, you’d be crazy not to upgrade for all that gravy. You’re pretty much getting paid to upgrade if you do the math.
If you’re late then the trade-in values probably dropped to half, so yeah, watch the rest of the video cause the decision is more complicated. Visually both phones are just as gorgeous and functionally, they both excel at giving you a larger screen when you need it, that’s collapsible when you don’t. In most things I’d say they’re nearly identical unless you nitpick for what changed.
The Flip 4 is actually a hair shorter and narrower than the Flip 3, even if they’re both the same width, and the Flip 4 is actually 4 grams heavier. Part of this reduction in footprint is because of a new hinge design, even if most of you won’t be able to notice the difference or consider the crease got any less prominent. Actually the best way to tell them apart is because the Flip 3 has the matte rails I visually prefer, even if I’m kind of torn because I also feel the same way about the flat design of the Flip 4, which makes it less prone to fall off a table.
The new variant also has a more modern Gorilla Glass Victus+ in matte versus glossy Victus, even if both share the same armor aluminum rigidity. Colors are obviously different, but I’ll say I like all the options each launch offered, with this Cream and Pink Gold being my favorites.
Flip them open and things continue to look the same, but they’re not. The ultra-thin glass of the Flip 4 is 45% stronger, and the bezels got a minor shrink in footprint. This allows them both to then share the same 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X that provides up to 1,200 nits of brightness, HDR10+ support, pretty awesome color reproduction and viewing angles. Each is capable of variable 120Hz, though where I do find differences is in the speakers. Not sure if it’s just me but I feel the Flip 4 provides much fuller sound than the Flip 3, even if the latter is no slouch.
Their biggest difference is internal, and mainly because even if it sounds like just a generational change in chips, accurately it’s more like four. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is a far more modern and efficient architecture than the 888 on last year’s Flip, and even the two generations of chips in-between. RAM is the same but then you get an extra tier for storage on the Flip 4, along with more modern Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a much larger battery, faster charging on all ends, and about the only thing they share is the water resistance rating, which means water is fine but no dust.
Now the experience operating these phones is not necessarily different. This is that phone you can flip open with one hand like in the old days to take a call, or close it shut to end it. The hinge doesn’t necessarily make it easy, but it serves the second purpose of helping you prop it up for content capture or consumption. The outer display also didn’t really change, and aside from a couple of added widgets and controls, I can’t really call the Flip 4 better than the Flip 3 in this regard.
Same thing with the experience using One UI. I can’t tell if one is quicker than the other, or that the Flip 4 performs any better because the Flip 3 is almost as good. New tricks like the trackpad on the Flip 4 are gimmicks you’ll probably never use, and which might reach the Flip 3 eventually as well. I also consider their 5G connectivity to be comparable as I tested them, and I feel the same about phone calls. It’s not until you reach endurance that you’ll notice the major differences. The added efficiency of the new chip plus the larger battery on the Z Flip 4 does make this a phone that can last all day, where the Flip 3 wasn’t really fit for the task. I say can because if you tax it hard you might not achieve the goal, but at least I can say things got better from one year to the next.
Then the cameras are an interesting story because even if the company made changes to the primary shooter of the new Flip 4, the rest of the sensors are pretty much the same across the board. Obviously with a new ISP and the added computational of the new chip on the Flip 4, things are not necessarily the same, but I’ll let the results speak for themselves.
You’ll notice it mostly with how photos are processed differently on the Flip 4 as saturation is a bit more prominent, even if detail is pretty much the same. The good thing is that neither phone does it excessively if you want to do edits in post, and that both phones can pull some good dynamic range and bokeh from closeups, even if I feel the Flip 4 is better. Switch the cameras and obviously the differences are less evident given the similarities, but I have to say I like the results from both, and I do feel the 2X crop can be somewhat useful for street photography, even if not ideal given there’s no physical change in focal length.
Switch on over to night mode and this is where the Flip 4 shines more than the Flip 3 in being able to tackle complicated scenarios better. Neither is what I would call my favorite in this department, but if you’re willing to hold them steady for a bit, it doesn’t mean you can’t get some pretty good shots.
Now portraits and selfies are where things go beyond conventional because you really don’t need to use the internal camera. Those results are as good as every other Samsung flagship, but closing the phone allows you to use the outer screen and the primary cameras for better shots. The Flip 4 addresses the squared photo limitations of the 3 and even gives you the option for portrait shots, where the Flip 3 at least now, only does photos or videos.
And speaking of those, I wouldn’t say either of these phones is still on iPhone territory, but the videos coming out of both are pretty good. Stabilization is well tuned, colors are subtle and so long as you have enough light, warping as you walk won’t be a problem.
You can record selfie videos with the primary, but even the internal camera gives you pretty crisp 4K at up to 60 fps with some pretty good results for an Android phone.
To conclude, I think it’s interesting to see that even with minor progressions between each generation, I like the fact that Samsung only changed what was broken, because the rest didn’t need to get fixed. The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is just as sexy as its predecessor, and yet all while on a more efficient design. It solves a lot of the battery life issues, and provides extra horsepower to the experience, which even extends to the camera.
If I had to pick a winner, it’s obvious I’d go for the Z Flip 4. As much as I wanted to love the Z Flip 3, its battery life alone was enough for me to feel a conventional flagship was still a better solution for the price. If you currently own a Z Flip 3, I hope you’re still in time to take advantage of the trade-in deals. If you didn’t then sure, I don’t blame you for thinking twice about upgrading so quickly for improvements that aren’t really substantial for many.
Now if you’re on the ropes between a discounted Z Flip 3 and the new Flip 4, I’d go for the Flip 4 any day. I think any sort of price difference is worth it if you’re looking for a pleasant experience with what I’d call the best foldable in town right now, and also once again, one of the best looking and most pleasant phones to use in 2022.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
The latest Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 comes with the most powerful Qualcomm SoC, a better hinge mechanism, and a 1.9-inch Super AMOLED cover display. Pre-order it now and receive a Samsung silicone Ring Case or a Strap case and up to $700 off with an eligible trade-in.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is Samsung’s clamshell-style foldable from last year. It features a 6.7-inch foldable display, Snapdragon 888, 5G, Android 12, and more. Check out all the deals on the device using the links given below.