Seriously, who the hell is the $1,400 Galaxy Z Flip for?

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

I had a chance to play with the Galaxy Z Flip for about an hour yesterday as I talked about Samsung’s new smartphone during a couple of TV appearances. Overall, I came away impressed with its first-of-its-kind foldable glass design and the overall wow factor, but the same question came up multiple times:

Who is this thing for?

Priced at $1,380, “people with deep pockets” is the easiest answer. But the $1,399 Galaxy S20 Ultra occupies the same price bracket, and there are plenty of other ultra-premium phones on the market, including the $1,099 iPhone 11 Pro Max and Samsung’s own $1,099 Galaxy Note 10 Plus

For starters, the Galaxy Z Flip’s target audience is narrow by design. The phone will be sold in “limited quantities” and only two of the big four carriers in the U.S. are selling it in AT&T and Sprint, though you’ll also be able to buy the phone unlocked, too.

Galaxy Z Flip

(Image credit: Samsung)

Now that I’ve spent some time with the phone, I have a better feel for who the Galaxy Z Flip is for — and who It’s not.

The Galaxy Z Flip is for … Fashionistas

The Galaxy Z Flip is a phone that is explicitly designed to turn heads, and it will for one simple reason: Practically every other smartphone looks the same these days, and those who care about design don’t want to own another slab phone.

Galaxy Z Flip

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Z Flip is remarkably compact when closed, even though it feels a bit hefty, and it can go in your front pocket (even skinny jeans) without creating the same kind of bulge that big-screens do. And that’s the point — you get a big 6.7-inch screen when you need it and then it all just folds away when you’re ready to go.

I had a chance to check out only the Mirror Purple version of the Galaxy Z Flip, but I can see that option being more popular than the Mirror Black model. If you’re going to go foldable phone, why the hell would you be subtle?

The Galaxy Z Flip is for … Vloggers and Multi-taskers

The most remarkable thing about the Galaxy Z Flip is its hideaway hinge. It ensures that the phone opens and closes smoothly, but it also allows the phone to stay open at a laptop-like angle called Flex Mode.

In Flex Mode the camera app automatically knows how the phone is being positioned and puts the viewfinder up top and the controls down below. This allows you to live stream or video chat with ease, and you can also stream YouTube on the top while browsing for other videos on the bottom half.

Galaxy Z Flip

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I’m very interested to see what other developers can do with this new UX with the help of Samsung and Google, who partnered with the phone maker on this device.

The Galaxy Z Flip is for … Photographers

Yes, the Galaxy S20 line has more powerful cameras, especially in the zoom department, but the Galaxy Z Flip’s hinge enables you to prop up the phone without a tripod and shoot with its dual 12MP lenses. That’s pretty convenient.

Thanks to the Z Flip’s design, you can also easily capture timed group shots or record Night Hyperlapse videos.

Galaxy Z Flip

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

It’s worth noting that you can capture selfies using the exterior OLED display, but it’s laughably tiny at 1.1 inches. I could see myself in the screen but not other people who wound up in the shot.

The Galaxy Z Flip is for … People who hate cases

The jury is still out on the Galaxy Z Flip’s durability. Samsung says that the phone is rated for 200,000 opens. The hideaway hinge also includes Samsung’s new “sweeper technology” to repel dirt and dust, which is good because the phone does not shut perfectly flush. There’s a small gap when you close the design. 

Galaxy Z Flip

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The good news is that you probably won’t need a case to protect the display, because it’s protected when this thing is in clamshell mode. 

Bottom line

The Galaxy Z Flip already looks like a big improvement on the Galaxy Fold, Samsung’s first foldable phone. The Z Flip has a glass display instead of plastic; it’s more affordable; and it’s a lot sleeker and lighter. And, frankly, there’s probably a lot more people who want a foldable phone that collapses into something small than those who want an overgrown candy bar that unfurls to a tablet.

Will the Galaxy Z Flip justify its high price? If you’re in one of the above groups, the answer could be yes. Stay tuned for our full review.

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.