The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip wins the Tom's Guide 2020 Award for best design

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
(Image credit: Tom's Guide/Samsung)

There’s a funny thing that happens the first time you open up the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip. Your brain tells you it shouldn’t work — screens don’t bend, and they certainly aren’t this malleable yet solid at the same time.

The Z Flip has no business working so well, and yet it does. And that’s because of all the progress Samsung has made in researching and developing devices with foldable displays over the better part of the last decade. 2019’s Galaxy Fold, which won Tom’s Guide’s award for best innovation, showed the world that foldable phones were possible at all. But the Z Flip demonstrated that they could be desirable, feasible and — best of all — reliable.

That reliability is largely thanks to two design innovations introduced by the Z Flip: Samsung’s new Hideaway Hinge, and the use of Ultra-Thin Glass to protect the display. The Hideaway Hinge is supported by a clever dual-cam design that utilizes springs to keep the phone shut when you need it to be; friction to ensure it can stay locked in place in a partially-folded position, like a laptop; and the natural force of gravity to keep it fully extended during normal use.

To crib a phrase from another well-known maker of phones, the Z Flip just works. It works so well, in fact, that you barely even think about it after a while. Tapping and swiping on the Z-Flip’s Ultra-Thin Glass display doesn't feel exactly like it does on Gorilla Glass, but it’s a damn sight closer than the purely plastic material incorporated in the Galaxy Fold’s design, which is more susceptible to inconsistencies that distract from the otherwise stellar quality of the display itself.

Are there kinks that'll have to be worked out? Sure. Of course, the Galaxy Z Flip is rife with obvious points of weakness conventional handsets lack, and I wonder if a water-resistant foldable of this nature will ever be possible.

But even so, the Z Flip isn’t just an exquisite feat of engineering; it’s one I would be happy to live with every day. And better yet, it’s reasonably attainable — well, for a foldable phone anyway, with its $1,380 price tag coming in less expensive that the priciest iPhone 11 Pro Max that Apple sells, As someone who loves tech that is both well-built and can pack down to an almost invisible size, the Z Flip is the kind of foldable I hope we see a lot more of going forward.

Adam Ismail is a staff writer at Jalopnik and previously worked on Tom's Guide covering smartphones, car tech and gaming. His love for all things mobile began with the original Motorola Droid; since then he’s owned a variety of Android and iOS-powered handsets, refusing to stay loyal to one platform. His work has also appeared on Digital Trends and GTPlanet. When he’s not fiddling with the latest devices, he’s at an indie pop show, recording a podcast or playing Sega Dreamcast.