Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 4 is all about that Gen Z life.

Hi, my name is Cecily, and I’m a jaded millennial who feels pushed out of her comfort zone by Samsung’s latest influencer-friendly folding phone, the Z Flip 4.

As an “old” person whose first mobile phone experiences included painstaking T9 text entry, ringback tones, and lots of snake, I mostly just care about a phone that’s speedy and reliable. But that’s every smartphone now, even the budget ones: You get powerful chips, tons of storage, state-of-the-art cameras, and high-res displays. So all that’s left to innovate on are… aesthetics?

From the looks of the Z Flip 4 (and its BTS-focused marketing), that seems to be the case. Unlike the Z Fold 4 which aims to replace the tablet as a 2-in-1 foldable (and does it well!), the Z Flip 4, with its clamshell design reminiscent of early cellphones, provides a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. It’s innovation by way of nostalgia. And it’s adorable.

I had a lot of fun with the Z Flip 4 and I enjoyed playing around with shooting and editing features, tailor-made for Gen Z creators, that make posting content to social media significantly easier. But with a $999 price tag, it all comes down to whether its novelty and flashy colorways appeal to your aesthetic. 

First, here’s what you’re getting:

  • 6.7-inch dynamic AMOLED with 120Hz refresh rate; 1.9-inch Super AMOLED cover display
  • Dual-lens 12-megapixel main and 12-megapixel ultra-wide rear cameras; 10-megapixel selfie camera
  • 3,700mAh battery with wireless charging
  • 8GB RAM on all models
  • 128, 256, 512GB internal storage
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor

Nostalgia is a helluva drug.

The Z Flip 4 had me reminiscing about Paris Hilton’s heydays. Credit: Kyle Cobian / Mashable.

Gather ’round children for a tale from ye olden days. It was the early 2000s and Paris Hilton was on top of the world as well as the cover the US Weekly almost every week. Permanently in her grasp was the cellphone du jour. Sometimes, it was a hot pink Motorola Razr. Other times, it was a bedazzled LG 8700 Shine. There was even a nifty device called the T-Mobile Sidekick, which had you turn your phone horizontally to type. The message was clear: Phones were the new status symbol. 

And that seems to be the case again. With the recent resurgence of Y2K trends, Samsung now has Gen Z, who are obsessed with this period and the millennials who lived through it the first time, in the palm of its hand. As Mashable culture editor Crystal Bell noted: “There’s a reason Samsung unveiled the device with a special music video starring international superstars BTS.”

There are some trends from the early 2000s — e.g., low-rise jeans, chunky highlights, so much ruching — I’d care not to relive. But bringing back colorful flip phones is kind of delightful. The Z Flip 4 model I tested is outfitted in a playful pastel shade called bora purple, but the device also comes in graphite, pink, gold, and blue. Purple isn’t really my color of choice, but it immediately reminded me of the days when Hilton would coordinate her phone with her outfit. That’s not really my style, but I respect the commitment to a lewk, so I get the appeal.

The Z Flip 4’s 6.7-inch inner AMOLED folding display, which is the same size as the iPhone 13 Pro Max, isn’t anything new — this is now Samsung’s fourth iteration of the Flip. But thanks to a wider array of useful cover display widgets and features plus the ability to do more with the dual screen form factor, switching over to the compact Z Flip 4 is now a much more compelling choice.

When I first received the phone, one of the first things I did was try to snap it shut with one hand. I craved the thrill of dramatically ending a call like we all did in the flip phone days. But, unfortunately, the Z Flip 4 doesn’t really allow for that. Due to its size, the Z Flip 4 is hard to close with one hand. It’s not impossible, but you have to kind of bear-claw it on the sides to snap it shut.

Hey, Samsung, some unsolicited advice: If you’re going to lean into the nostalgic flip phone design, maybe make the Z Flip 4 even smaller and more compact.

You can keep it closed

That being said, a smaller Z Flip 4 would probably hinder some of the cover screen features, which are among my favorite aspects of the phone. The cover screen has always been a key selling point of the Flip, but previous models hadn’t quite perfected it. 

Now, with an option to use the cover screen camera with true aspect ratio and a new portrait mode feature, it’s actually a practical way to shoot photos and video. It still has the same 12-megapixel wide and 12-megapixel ultra-wide rear cameras (as well as the same 10-megapixel front-facing camera) as the Flip 3. But a better pixel sensor and enhanced stabilization makes photos and videos look smoother and crisper. 

Taking a photo using the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 cover screen.

The cover screen makes taking photos and video stupid fun. Credit: Cecily Mauran / Mashable

Taking a photo using the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 cover screen in actual ratio mode.

Actual ratio mode is a critical addition for anyone who doesn’t want to see themselves that close up. Credit: Cecily Mauran / Mashable

The Flip 4 also has enhanced widget features, namely, the ability to access and respond to messages straight from the cover screen using quick suggested replies (which can include voice messages and emoji.) This might even make some people check their phone less, by diminishing the need to pick up and unfold the phone. Typically, I have to put my iPhone face down to avoid distracting notifications, but the Z Flip 4’s cover screen is subtle enough that I didn’t get sucked into checking endless alerts while working or grabbing dinner with friends. If it was an important message, I could shoot off a quick reply in a few swipes without even opening my phone.