Galaxy Z Flip ongoing review: From how it bends to how it compares to rivals – CNET

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The folding style of the Galaxy Z Flip makes so much sense to me. 

I picked the phone up from the Samsung store in Edinburgh, Scotland, this morning — CNET will soon be getting more models of the Z Flip all over the world. We’ll be updating this article with our findings over the coming days, so keep it bookmarked and pop back later for more. 

I’ve spent spent about six hours with the phone so far — not long enough for a full review, but certainly long enough to have some strong first impressions of this new folding phone. In short, I’m impressed so far. 

Now playing: Watch this: Galaxy Z Flip is the first phone with foldable glass

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Z Flip vs. Fold

I’ve used the Galaxy Fold daily since it launched in the UK in September last year, and its folding design hasn’t really worked for me. It’s the wrong shape in either format; too big when unfolded, too small when closed. I’m not a huge fan. The Z Flip is a very different beast. When unfolded, it’s almost exactly the same shape as any other large smartphone, with a tall, 6.7-inch display. It’s easy to hold, comfortable to type on and all your apps will look the same as on any other Android phone. 

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

And then when you’re done doing what you’re doing, it folds neatly in half and becomes this cute little square, sitting comfortably in the palm of your hand or slipping mostly unnoticed into a jacket pocket. I like it. I love the vibrant shimmering purple color that I bought it in — it’s much more interesting to look at than the black version, which I find intensely dull by comparison.

Read more: Galaxy Z Flip’s foldable glass screen is already more impressive than the Razr

Why fold at all?

The one question that I’ve asked myself so far in my testing is, “Why bother folding at all?” The whole point of the original Galaxy Fold — and indeed, the excitement of folding phones in general — was that it gave you two devices in one; a pocketable smartphone you can use as an everyday device and a larger, tablet-style screen to enjoy movies or whatever you fancy. At least, that was the theory.

The Z Flip isn’t that. It doesn’t offer multiple ways of using it. It’s just a regular phone that folds in half (albeit with a tiny outer screen to check incoming calls). Don’t get me wrong, I like it, but I can’t help but feel that the folding here is more of a “because we can” gimmick, than actually offering any revolutionary benefit, beyond maybe being slightly easier to fit into a pocket. 

This is a line of thought I’m particularly keen to follow in the coming weeks to see if I can settle firmly on one side or another. 

Closing up

The Z Flip’s folding mechanism feels much more refined than that of the Galaxy Fold. The Fold only wants to be open or closed — leave it halfway open and it flaps around awkwardly. Close it further and it snaps shut like one of those awful snappy glasses cases. It’s jerky and feels a bit unpleasant. 

Push the Z Flip closed, however, and the motion is smooth and constant — there’s no snapping shut at any point. As a result, this very much feels like a second-generation device, one that’s had months of refinement to make it better than its predecessor. You might not think it’s particularly important, but when you open and close your phone dozens, maybe hundreds of times a day, it really is. It was immediately noticeable to me how much nicer it felt.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The downside is that opening it fully one-handed can be a little more difficult. Walking around Edinburgh, I found the best way to open it flat is to start it off with my fingers, then press it against my body to assist the rest of the way. It’s not always elegant. My colleague Katie Collins said she wished it had a button that made it automatically snap open. I agree.

Read moreGalaxy Z Flip is a beautiful phone, until you touch it

The crease

The big crease of the Fold was always a sticking point, and yes, it’s still present here. But it’s smaller and the display itself is so bright and vibrant that I haven’t really noticed it in my time so far. If you catch the light in just the right way, yes, you can see the reflections rippling over the surface, but I’ve found you actually have to look for the reflections — they don’t really get in the way of whatever you’re doing.

This story will be updated with more findings throughout the coming days.

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