Jul 27, 2023

My Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 brings back the joy of hanging up

I never knew I could hang up on so much

My father is a Baby Boomer, and he held onto his flip phone for so long that it became a cliche. I thought he was only doing it to annoy me, his son, the phone reviewer. After spending time with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4, I have come to respect and enjoy the flipping clamshell design, and I realize what I’ve been missing for so long. I missed hanging up.

I don't have as many phone conversations these days, but when I do, I hang up. That is because I’m talking on a Galaxy Z Flip 4 that AT&T sent me to try. When I get a call, I still swipe to accept it because I need a moment to see who is calling, but when I’m done talking, I close the phone, and it hangs up.

Oh, how I have missed hanging up the phone.

When I was a teenager, I would spend literally hours on the phone every night. We had a landline phone, of course, which hung on the wall of the kitchen and which had a 50-foot extension cord that could reach four different rooms on two different floors. When I was talking, I would drag the phone into the basement and lounge with it, twirling and twisting the cord. When I was done talking, I would hang up.

There are so many ways to hang up. You can hang up angrily, famously, and that is a very satisfying hang up. The angry hang up is hard, like a slam dunk. The receiver can somehow feel its force over the line.

You can hang up quietly, because you weren't supposed to be talking on the phone, and you don't want somebody else to know.

You can hang up solemnly, the final act of a very poignant, important conversation. You can hang up slowly, letting the receiver slip from your grasp like two hands slipping apart.

You cannot hang up on a smartphone. Tapping a screen is not hanging up. It is the same every time. A tap or a swipe; these are insipid, digital actions with no gravitas.

You cannot infuse a swipe with all of the emotion that preceded it, the way you can make hanging up the phone the final punctuation to your conversation.

It's hard to understate how great the form factor of the Galaxy Z Flip 4 really is, and how the shape makes it such a joy to use. It's undoubtedly one of the best foldable phones, and I never feel bothered by the crease, not in the slightest bit. I don't notice it with my eyes, and my fingers find it almost appealing.

I love how thin this phone feels when it's open. It's very light and easy to hold. Then I close it and it feels impossibly small. Every time I close the phone I’m watching an illusionist saw someone in half. Even if I know how it's done, it's amazing.

In fact, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 does something totally unexpected. It brings hanging up to the rest of my smartphone life. No matter what I’m doing on my phone, I can hang up on it. Instead of just pressing the sleep button and dimming my screen, I actually fold the phone closed, put it down, and it feels like it has gone away. It doesn't feel like a pause, it feels like hanging up.

I’ve been reading Twitter too long. Time to hang up. Goodbye, Twitter. I close my phone. Now if I want to open Twitter again, I don't just pick up the phone and squeeze the sides. I have to unfold it. It makes me think twice. Do I really want to open Twitter again? Didn't I just hang up?

I love what hanging up communicates to my friends and family. When I show up for dinner, I sit down at the table and hang up my phone. I close the clamshell. I don't just turn off the screen or flip it upside down so that I can't see it. I close it. I hang up on all of the distractions.

It's not true, of course, I can still see that tiny exterior screen, but the motion, the intention, is there. If people see you place your phone face down on a table, they wonder when you’re going to reach for it. If people see you close your phone in half, it feels closed. It is a statement that I am putting the phone away and focusing on what is important. I’m hanging up on everything else.

I showed this phone to my father, thinking he’d be impressed and would jump at the chance to combine his newfound smartphone enthusiasm with his old-school flip phone nostalgia. I opened it up and handed it over. He held it up next to his phone, a shiny Galaxy S22.

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is so small when it's folded, I forgot that it has a much larger screen than the S22 when it is open. The latter phone has a 6.1-inch display, whereas the Z Flip 4 unfolds to 6.7 inches diagonally.

"It's too big," he said. He handed it back. Even magic can't please everybody.

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Phil Berne is a preeminent voice in consumer electronics reviews, having reviewed his first device (the Sony D-EJ01 Discman) more than 20 years ago for He has been writing about phones and mobile technology, since before the iPhone, for a variety of sites including PCMag, infoSync, PhoneScoop, and Slashgear. He holds an M.A. in Cultural Theory from Carnegie Mellon University.

Phil was the internal reviewer for Samsung Mobile, writing opinions and review predictions about top secret new devices months before launch. He left in 2017. He worked at an Apple Store near Boston, MA, at the height of iPod popularity. He has been a High School English teacher at Title I schools, and is a certified Lifeguard. His passion is smartphones and wearables, and he is sure that the next big thing will be phones we wear on our faces.

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