5 Things I Like About Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

I managed to get my hands on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, a smartphone which is also a flip phone, in 2020. As I was looking through the available reviews online I realised that maybe it was not the best decision to do a review for this device, after all I am not a tech reviewer. Many have done a great job reviewing it. However, having used the Z Flip for about 2 weeks now, I do find myself enjoying the phone more than I initially expected and there are certain aspects about this flip smartphone that are truly unique. I thought it is more appropriate to just share what I like about the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip instead!

Here is a video version which I have uploaded to my NEW YouTube Channel. Yes, you heard that right, I have started a new channel, a spin-off to talk about non-photography/camera/Olympus related topics, such as this smartphone. 


IMPORTANT NOTES:
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip smartphone was on loan from Samsung Malaysia. I did not buy, and I did not own this product. I have no affiliation with Samsung in any way, and this was not a sponsored post/video. Samsung Malaysia did not ask me to write this article, it was a no string attached arrangement, the Z Flip was loaned to me and I was free to write my opinion. As I have mentioned earlier, this is NOT a review, I am only sharing my thoughts and user experience. 

When I first got the Z Flip, I had no idea what to expect from this flip smartphone. After all, it did not have the latest and greatest smartphone specifications and features. The screen display, camera modules and processor in the phone were not the best in current Samsung line up of phones, surely S20 series have more powerful features and performance, with lower price tag to boot. The only stand-out feature was the flipping mechanism, something of a unicorn in today's smartphone trend. However, after using this Z Flip for about 2 weeks, I found myself really enjoying this phone as my daily driver. There are just some things that the Z Flip can do that other typical modern non-flip smartphones cannot do at the moment. 

1. TRULY SMALL AND PORTABLE DESIGN

One of the things that was not immediately obvious was the tiny footprint of the Z Flip when it was in flipped closed position. Once it was folded in, the size effectively was reduced to half of what a typical smartphone would be. While the thickness indeed doubled because of the folding, that was not an issue, considering the overall size was effectively cut by 50%, and that makes a huge difference using this phone day in and out. The Z Flip fits into my pants' pockets so effortlessly, definitely works better for smaller pockets (I hear women complaining their cloths having impossibly tiny pockets all the time), or jeans with impossibly tight pockets. Furthermore, being smaller in size, the phone was easier to handle, taking it in and out of the pocket, as your fingers can easily wrap around the phone securely, in comparison to larger sized phones that can be a lot more slippery. 





2. SPECIAL NEW WAY OF HANDLING THE CAMERA

I found the flip mechanism working very well for the camera operation. In the half-folded position, the screen is split into two, with half being used for settings and adjustments, and the other half for viewing and composition. Since the right half of the screen was not used for framing, you can securely grip it with your right palm, utilising all your 5 fingers to fully hold the phone. I find this to be comfortable, confident and honestly practical for more serious shooting environment, utilizing the Z Flip's camera. While on the left side of the phone, the other half of the screen is the viewfinder, and you can use your left hand to touch the screen for focusing point placement and then press the volume key button which acts as a shutter button. 

Typically, the smartphones are extremely thin and slippery by design, holding them with few just 2 fingers from each side is not the best way to firmly grip the phone. Photographers will be quick to point out how important it is for a secure gripping, and overall handling of a camera. This new "camcorder-style" holding the right half of the phone with the palm-grip is quite a quirky yet perfectly practical solution to the problem!

When it comes to the camera of the Z Flip, it is not the best offering from Samsung, considering the superior camera modules from the S20 series, but I did find myself enjoying the cameras too. Simple, straightforward, and nothing too fancy, they just work and deliver beautiful, punchy looking images. I'd say the images come quite close to what the Note 10+ can do, but of course I did not have the chance to compare the phones side by side, I am making this statement based on my experience shooting with the Note 10+ and the Z Flip separately. 




Here are some sample shots taken from the Samsung Z Flip. I did not intend to make a full review of the smartphone's camera this time, because we already have many other better cameras in Samsung's more recent phones which I have reviewed more extensively. Nevertheless, the camera modules in the Z Flip are no slouch either, sporting a main wide angle 12MP camera with 27mm equivalent F1.8 lens and an ultra wide angle 12MP camera with equivalent 12mm equivalent F2.2 lens. The main camera has built in lens optical image stabilization. The colors from the camera came out a little bit oversaturated and contrasty but that is to be expected from typical smartphone processing, which is forgiveable, and honestly most people (non-photograpers) would appreciate the color boost in their images straight out of camera. I did not torture the camera this time, as I mentioned, I was not making a review of this phone.

Below are a set of sample images shot with the Samsung Z Flip's main camera, with very little post-processing applied (slight tweak on contrast and white balance only).











3. SECONDARY SMALL DISPLAY

There is a small tiny screen situated outside the phone, just next to the main camera. At first, there really was nothing to shout about this small screen, it was there perhaps for practical reasons. However, after days of using the Z Flip, I found myself using that tiny screen a lot more than I have originally anticipated, and I was quite glad Samsung made that secondary small display. 

I used that tiny screen mainly to check time. When the Z Flip is in the default closed position, if there was no other display, you have no choice but to physically flip open the phone just to check the time. So having that secondary display to display time and other important information, eg battery life remaining was a good idea. You can also browse recent notifications with the small screen, and more importantly, you can take a selfie using that small screen as a viewfinder. It is extremely small, but it does a good job helping you frame that selfie, and this was something that makes this Z Flip truly special because that means you are using the Z Flip's main camera for selfie, instead of the selfie camera in this mode. We all know how much better the main camera is, in terms of image sensor, lens quality, more resolution, better color and overall rendering. 




4. HALF FLIP POSITION FOR STANDING ON TABLE

Typically, if you don't want to hold your phone for long duration (fingers, wrists and hands strain/cramps) you just lay the normal smartphones flat on the table. By doing so, you need to physically lean yourself to see the screen better and this can be quite awkward as well. There are other solutions such as sticker kickstands, or phone cases that has built in props to stand the screen at a certain angle. However, these solutions are obviously non-elegant and they add bulk or unnecessary ugliness. The flip design of the Z Flip was just so practical for placing the phone on the table and having the half of the screen angled up for easy viewing. At first, it seems gimmicky and would not be something that I need, but seriously, after using it for a while, it just makes sense. It works. Browsing was fun, and scrolling through endless Facebook timeline or Instagram feed was less of a chore than hand-holding the phone. 



5. FLIPPING SATISFACTION

This is the part where a video can really come in handy. But those who are as old as me, or from the yesteryear's generation when we have experienced the flip phones back in the day, you will know how satisfying it is to just flip close the phone. It is addictive and you just want to do it again, and again. That flipping mechanism adds a therapeutic effect every time you use the phone, and it is difficult to justify or explain how amazing it feels. 

I fully acknowledge that the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip comes with a heavy price tag, similar to flagship smartphones, but the specifications do not carry the latest and greatest checklist. It is using last year's flagship processor Snapdragon 855+, there is nothing to write home about the camera modules in comparison to the impressive 108MP camera in S20 Ultra, the screen does not have super high resolution or fast refresh rate, and the only thing cool about this phone, is the flip. The flip itself was quite unique in today's world of flat looking uniform block of smartphones, and I can clearly see how this can be the future. Reducing the footprint and size of a smartphone by flipping it into half was a good solution. Having the screen folded in half opens up a lot of innovative ways to use the phone, including the "camcorder-style" hand-gripping for more secure, comfortable and confident handling of the phone in camera mode and also serving as a "stand" angling up the screen for easier viewing and browsing experience. Honestly, I can see myself buying this phone just for the flipping satisfaction itself, if I somehow land myself a spare RM6000 to burn. 

Do you own the Samsung Z Flip, if you do please share your experience using the phone, I'd love to hear from you! What are your thoughts on flip-style modern smartphones, do you think they have a place in today's smartphone market, or should they be abandoned? Let's discuss!


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A Weekend Returning To Normal

Life in Malaysia is starting to slowly return to normal, and people are already crowding the public places such as the malls. I took this opportunity to catch up with some people, and finally get back to the normal weekend routines - overpriced coffee, hanging out, and hipster food. Sim, Van and myself went to a local cafe Wizards in Bukit Bintang, and it was really great catching up with friends after being isolated for so long. It has been 3 months since I saw anyone and indeed, what a relief to be able to mingle and speak to human beings face to face again. We humans are social creatures after all. 

 Sim's Bao, I think it was chicken in the filling. I remember they only had two variations of Bao previously, Unagi, and something else, and I loved their Unagi Bao. Now they have a lot more!

 Van ordered Budu (something something), man why do the dish names have to be so bombastic. Love the blue rice though!

I ordered this. I swear I was looking for a different menu item. Previously this was known as Sally Bowles but I did not know they changed the name to Salmon Tataki Don (something like that). And I really wanted Salmon. I know you guys have seen this bowl of hipster dish for so many times already over the years, so this repetition this time was not intentional. 

Some funky Horlicks ice-cream, this is a new item in their menu, just released a day prior to our visit. I saw Horlicks, I immediately ordered it. 

Portrait of Van, check his work out at his blog!


Selfie of me and the boys. Van was holding the E-M1 Mark III obviously. The selfie was shot with something which I will be writing about here very soon. 

The past week has been an expectedly draining one. There were just too many incoming messages, through emails, YouTube comments, Facebook, I am starting to feel like I am drowning. I decided to stop replying to the mass comments, especially the ones for YouTube at the time being, for my own mental health's sake. It was depressing so see so many people being so unreasonably negative. 

It was indeed a much needed session to decompress, and just enjoy the company of positive vibes, good food and heavy dosage of caffeine. Thankfully we were allowed to go out and eat in restaurants/cafes again, I cannot imagine the horror of going through this past week being trapped inside the four walls of my room. Just being around amazing people helped a lot, and I was also glad to find my friends doing quite well despite the past months of aggressive lockdown in Malaysia. 

The next coming week will be quite challenging for me, but hopefully not as emotionally damaging as the last one. There are a few things that I look forward to, and you will see this blog here being updated more frequently than usual. I know, I know, this blog has been neglected somehow, after my more serious venture into growing my YouTube Channel over the past one year. I will try to keep this place more posted, with smaller entries like this one, just a quick sharing of a tiny slice of what's happening in my life. This was what my blog used to be like, just me sharing my weekend adventures, which usually involved photography somehow. 

I hope you have a wonderful weekend as well. 

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Update On Current "Covid-19 Lockdown" Situation In Malaysia - How Is It Affecting Me?

If you have been following me, you must have known that Malaysia, like most parts of the world has been under lockdown or some sort of movement restriction to combat the Covid-19 Pandemic. It was quite gruesome in Malaysia for a period of time, we were not allowed to leave the house unless for essential activities, eg getting groceries or important supplies. If we were caught wandering about for no important reasons, the police will fine us on the spot or send us to jail, and sometimes both. Even as the restrictions were slowly eased over the months, filming in public was specifically prohibited and it was stated in the official government site with guidelines on what to do and what not to do during this lockdown period. I fully acknowledge that photography for personal use should be fine but I am also a professional photographer and when caught it would be extremely difficult for me to explain or justify my actions. Those of you who know how Malaysian police works, you will also know there are many things that require improvement. 



It has been a frustrating past 3 months (since March 18) being trapped at home, but I persevered on and making YouTube videos gave me purpose. I continued doing what I can within the limited confined space and I was quite amazed of what I have come up with all this time. I have shot anything that I can from that tiny little balcony of my residential apartment looking out - trees, buildings, tower cranes, rainbows, lightning, night view of the city towers from far, I have done anything I possibly can. I have also done product photography tips, shooting with natural light and also demonstrated on various toys that I have - Robin Lego, miniature Batmobile, Antman and War Machine figurines and also a watch to show how focus stacking works. I have covered a wide variety of topics ranging from OM-D tips to general photography sharing, but I was getting bored using the same balcony again and again, and I am well aware my audio recording from that balcony was not great - it did sound a little echoey and "boomy". I just did not like filming videos at that spot anymore. 

Thankfully on June 10 onward, Malaysia has moved on to "Recovery Phase" of the movement restriction and the lockdown is further eased. We are now allowed to move about, most businesses are allowed to open and finally, the ban on filming in public has been lifted. I can now go out with my camera, do street photography, film videos for my Vlogs/YouTube without having to constantly look over my shoulders for police presence. I don't have to worry about breaking the law if I were to sneak out to film that B-Roll, or get some sample shots to show how certain features in the OM-D camera works, I can just go out and shoot freely, and that is a huge, huge step forward for me. No more being stuck in that tiny balcony anymore! I am free!

After getting a haircut (barbers were allowed to open on 10 June) I immediately filmed a video, discussing on "Anti-Shock 0 Sec" or Electronic First Curtain Shutter, which was a continuation from the previous Electronic/Silent Shutter video, and man, it felt so good to be out and about again. To have a different scenery in my background, to have much cleaner audio and finally, being able to stretch my legs, it made a huge difference not just for my YouTube content, but for my own personal mental health as well. Being trapped in one place for too long does things to your mind. 

I have since then made a few more videos, all lined up to be published in YouTube and that spark to continue shooting and making content has been reignited. I am all fired up and inspired to go out and shoot more now, and trust me, all these pent up enthusiasm will show in my coming videos. 

As for the work side of things, my calendar for shoots remain looking quite pathetic for the rest of the year and I expect the business side of things to recover very slowly. I am not going to ask for a miracle, I have foreseen this since the beginning of the year and I am expecting things to get worse before they get better. However, I am also positive that I can survive this storm and I know my passion for photography will carry me through. I have all of you beautiful people to remind me that what I do here matters and your constant positive feedback, words of encouragement and also genuine show of faith have helped me in some of my most difficult times. The generous contributions from direct PayPal donations and "Buy Me a Coffee" site have been a great help in keeping me afloat in these times and effectively motivating me to continue on. 

I must thank you all for being so supportive, so patient, kind and understanding. I think you must have been bored seeing me at that same balcony for 3 months. Yet you are still here with me, and I could not ask for a better audience. Without you, there is no Robin Wong. 

I have a lot of interesting content lined up, and I cannot wait to draft the ideas out, write the scripts, film and shoot them and finally edit into final videos, or even a blog format to share with you all, either here on this blog or my YouTube Channel. I have been around, blogging, doing shutter therapy and sharing fresh content for more than 10 years, and surely I am not going anywhere. Part of me felt that I have just begun, and there is so much more I want to do. 

I hope wherever you are, things are going well for you, and you are able to do shutter therapy. I shall stop writing now, grab that camera and go out for my own shutter therapy. I shall come home with plenty of photographs to share, so stay tuned!

Shutter therapy must go on. 
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