My Experience with the Galaxy Z Flip

Published October 5, 2020

I recently saw the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip available for $500 off or $880 at B&H 2 weeks ago and decided to buy it. Prior to the Z Flip, I have been using an iPhone 8. So, the Z Flip represented many firsts for me:

  • 1st foldable phone;
  • 1st OLED phone;
  • 1st phone over 6”;
  • 1st Android phone.

My New Z Flip

By far, the biggest adjustment is not that it is foldable, not that it is OLED, not that it is >6”, but all the differences between iOS and Android. I had hoped to ease into this phone and continue to use my iPhone 8, but my son shattered the front and back of his 8+, so the day I got my Z Flip, he took over my iPhone 8. Amazingly, Apple Care got him a brand new iPhone 8+ for just $99. Thank you for Apple Care! Not having my iPhone for 5 days and then using it again also led to some interesting observations.

So, after a couple of days of moving all my content over, sorting out all my passwords and then using this phone exclusively for a couple more days, I can provide some of my thoughts regarding using the Z Flip as one’s primary phone.

  • Robustness
    • The display is more robust than I had expected. The screen feels like glass. I can’t tell that there is a hard coat, PET and adhesive layer over the glass. I know better than to try and scratch it, but I am pleasantly surprised how hard it feels. The first CPI foldable I handled felt much softer. Also, because it is encased a clamshell, the display is very well protected, and I would bet that this display will outlast any display that my 15-year old uses…Maybe I should get him one…
    • The hinge works great and also feels durable. It does not make any noise and has not shown any limitations. I have not been concerned about getting anything near the hinge. It passed dust and debris tests from JerryRigEverything thanks to its clever use of brushes inside the hinge. Will I take it to the beach though when sand has a better chance of penetrating the hinge and getting behind the display? If I did, I would probably think about how I was using it to keep sand off the hinge just in case.
  • Screen Size and Technology
    • After using a 4.7” LCD for the past couple of years, it feels like a major upgrade to be using a 6.7” AMOLED. Pics and videos look so much better. Going back to the iPhone 8 a week later was like looking at one’s old phone from 5+ years ago. It looks tiny with a small display. Could I really go back? I would miss the deep blacks, the higher contrast, it just looks richer and more valuable like when I go to Best Buy and look at the LG OLED TVs. Also, dark mode is obviously much more effective on an OLED than on LCD and I am getting much better battery life despite the larger display.

iPhone 8 and Z Flip

  • Form Factor and Portability
    • Not only does the Z Flip have a much larger screen than my iPhone 8, it also folds into a much smaller package than this older, smaller phone. It easily fits into the palm of my hand, can fit into front pockets, small purses, small bike jerseys, etc. Because of the clamshell, I don’t have the problem of sweat making the screen unusable when I stop at a light on a bike ride like I do on my LCD iPhone. I also like that I am keeping the flip phone drier as it is not waterproofed.
  • Flex Mode
    • This was a big selling point for me. Being able to split the screen to allow for different functionality on the top and bottom portions of the screen is valuable. I believe it also improves the usability and performance of the display to have it facing you rather than up to the ceiling. It also creates more of a 3D or floating effect. How well do apps natively take advantage of this? Well there are not enough apps that do. Those that do take advantage of it include Google Duo video chat, YouTube and the photo gallery. I hope there are more that do in the future.
  • The Cover Display
    • I believe Samsung missed a huge opportunity here. The 1.1” display is only good for telling the time and battery life. A larger display would have been much more suitable for notifications, as a viewfinder for pictures, etc. I think Motorola had the right idea by putting a 2.7” SVGA display on the cover of the Razr and would expect them to scale it to 3” or larger on the Razr 2 which we expect to be 6.85”. I would expect Samsung to provide a larger display on the Z Flip 2, but it will have some impact on cost and battery life.
  • The Crease
    • What about the crease? This was a concern when I bought it and is a big concern when I mention I got this phone to others. But it doesn’t bother me at all. Why? It actually bends in rather than wrinkling/creasing upwards. It feels like it is part of the hinge design to bend inward.
  • The Wow Factor
    • “Hey, take a look at this”, I have said to people to friends, family and strangers to spread awareness about foldable phones. Many people still are not aware that there are any foldable phones in the market today. It is definitely something most people think is cool. Does it solve a problem? It improves portability and enhances usability in many ways. On the other hand, the Z Fold 2 is better at solving a problem. It is a productivity device, an entertainment device, a gaming device, a phone and a tablet all-in-one. It provides the functionality of both tablets and smartphones in a single device with no real compromise other than cost. So, it is better at solving a problem, but its $2000 price does cause a problem for most people.

So, my conclusion is that foldable phones will become more popular as more people will want to take advantage of these benefits, more content will be developed optimized for foldables and costs/prices fall.. Now that hinges are less of a concern, see my JerryRigEverything article in the latest issue of the DSCC Weekly Review, the biggest concerns are price and scratch resistance. I believe scratch resistance will be solved as UTG evolves, see the first issue of our Quarterly Foldable/Rollable Display Shipment and Technology Report, where we describe how UTG can eventually be used without protective films that are prone to scratches. This report has also quantified sharp cost reductions in both colorless polyimide and UTG cover windows over the past year which should boost panel supplier margins and improve foldable panel affordability.

If you have any questions for me about my foldable experience or if you want to share yours, please contact me at ross.young@displaysupplychain.com.

Image Description
Written by

Ross Young

Ross.Young@DisplaySupplyChain.com