Both Samsung’s foldable phones are innovative and interesting, offering an alternative to the terminally boring sea of large candy-bar devices that flood the market. Samsung has, not for the first time, been teasing Apple with an ad that shows what could be implied upset-looking possible iPhone users who seem to be looking at a Flip-user on the other side of a fence. The ad asks them to finally get off the fence.

Of the two foldable devices, refined and strengthened for the August 2022 launch, it’s the Z Flip 4 that was thought will make foldables mainstream. This is because when in an unfolded mode, the Flip is almost a regular phone. And yet, when snapped shut, has great differences. And of course, it’s cheaper. In fact, with holiday sales on, there are deals available for the Flip 4 that could bring it more users. Owning the Flip 4 and not using what makes it different would only be half the fun - and half the value.

A little cover

In closed mode, when the Flip 4 is at its most portable, it’s the tiny 1.9-inch display on the lid that makes this device different. There are a handful of things you can do from this small screen that reduce the need to open the phone fully.

When you tap and then double tap the screen, it not only wakes up but goes into an active mode which makes widgets usable. Swipe from right to left and a selection of these appears. Time, calendar, your agenda, your activity and health stats, step count, access to the recorder, weather, timer, alarm, and music player, all become usable. So does the ability to add contacts for quick direct dial. To re-order and organise these widgets, you are prompted to go into the main phone and screen and get to settings for the cover screen and add or disable widgets as you like. Make sure you organise these as they can be annoying if you leave them in their default state.

Long-pressing a specific widget will put you in edit mode from where you can or-order and delete or add them, just as you would find on a smartwatch.

Don’t omit to long-press and swipe through all the options on the clock widget because you can change clock styles and even set a wallpaper which could be a photo or a video from your own collection.

Swiping up will trigger Samsung Pay. Swiping down will reveal quick settings such as the flashlight.

The Flip 4 is actually not as easy to use one-handed as it may seem because flipping it open with wrist action doesn’t really work and could cause the phone to go flying.

Mini camera

While in folded mode, two quick presses on the power button will trigger the front camera, in miniature on the cover screen. This is probably the quickest way to take a selfie, though you won’t have the pleasure of seeing yourself framed and composed as you would with a larger screen. Even though the camera viewfinder is so small, you can actually swipe to access different modes like video, portrait etc. From here, the best way to shoot is actually just to say ‘shoot’. Too few users seem to discover and use the voice command feature in almost all Samsung’s phones. Once enabled, all you have to do is pose and say shoot instead of holding up a palm or using other methods like pressing the power button again to release the shutter.

The other interesting thing with the cameras on this phone is that in open state or ‘flex mode’ the two parts of the device can stop at any angle, allowing you to take photographs at unusual angles.

Flex the Flip

One of the best aspects of this phone is that in open mode or flex mode, many apps go into split screen in a way that puts the content on top and the controls on the bottom panel. Explore this with various apps to see which could suit your usage style. Look at YouTube, for instance, to separate the video from the description, comments, controls and more. You may end up getting a black bar on the bottom and top but you can set the device down on a flat surface to watch.

The photo gallery also splits up rather nicely. So does Google’s calling app, Duo. Most of all, it’s the camera that uses this feature the best and with this you can use a lot of camera modes in a particularly enjoyable way.

You can force the split screen on any app. Open an app, fold the screen so that it looks like a mini laptop, and look for the flex mode icon which appears towards the bottom. Tap it to force the content to the top.

The Z Flip 4 has its own unusual quirky features, but this is a phone to be enjoyed rather than pushed into service as a productivity aid. For that, the larger Fold 4 is the better candidate.

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