How the Galaxy Z Flip 4 fixed my unhealthy phone habits

I subconsciously reach for my phone every few moments no matter what notifications I need to read or respond to. I reassure myself by saying that this behavior is not uncommon; It is widespread, especially in modern societies where phones play an important role in our lives.

However, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 has helped me break the unhealthy habit of checking my phone frequently, especially when I just need to kill boredom. The upgrades over the Galaxy Flip 3 make it a much more desirable smartphone without sacrificing its ability to inspire you to ignore unimportant notifications and proactively leave the phone aside.

Phones take up too much space – but do we have a choice?

The back of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

We are much more dependent on smartphones than we care to admit. We instantly tremble at the thought of losing them, and even a few moments of being away from them can cause separation anxiety. Our emotional attachment to our phones tends into the realm of unhealthy addiction, and many experts liken this fixation to substance abuse.

As our phones become more competent than ever, doing almost anything on them and juggling between different tasks has become a smooth exercise. But our phones sneak through more than just our work. Entertainment – the cure for boredom – is one of the greatest uses of our smartphones. We find movies, music, games and a gushing tide of information to keep us busy, but we constantly seek more but are never satisfied.

In moments of reflection, I find myself guilty of giving up my attention to numbing scrolls on Twitter, frivolous games, and dog videos to boost my dwindling serotonin levels. The realization is uncomfortable, to say the least, which is why I prefer to avoid such poignant and distressing revelations. It’s a lot easier to feel amused by crushing candy or watching videos of ninja cats or people walking and crashing into a pole because they’re looking at their phones, rather than paying attention to where they’re going.

After laughing at the video, you might also realize that as a society we are; We’re constantly looking at our phones and racing through our daily lives to accommodate our phones so they can join us in every activity, record us, and help us share those moments almost instantly.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 turned upside down while half open.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

So what’s the solution? While some phones like the Palm Phone have tried (and failed) to combat non-stop phone use, Samsung has proven with the Galaxy Z Flip 4 that it has the right idea. It’s a spectacular piece of technology that inspires me to be conscious. especially by intentionally delaying my sprint to my phone on the first ring. More importantly, I can do this without sacrificing my need for super-fast processing or a reliable camera whenever I need it.

Below I list a few reasons why it could be a great phone for anyone who has invested too much in smartphones to give up using a smartphone entirely, while still tending to limit their phone usage.

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 limits notification overload

Notifications on an iPhone running iOS 16.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

As I admitted above, I usually pick up my phone and start using it aimlessly, often out of boredom. But on a deeper level, this compulsive habit of checking my phone every few minutes—sometimes right after I’ve put it down—comes from the pressure to stay connected and on top of all my notifications.

Glance at the lock screen to check the notifications quickly turns into checking social media notifications. And before I can take notice, I’ve already scrolled past about a dozen posts on Instagram or Twitter.

I get hundreds of notifications (despite Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Reddit for which I have push notifications disabled). To escape this turbulent influx, I rely on Android’s focus mode at work and DND at night so they don’t bother me. But in the remaining 8-10 hours that I can reach my phone, I’m often annoyed by (mainly promotional) push notifications that are either irrelevant or trivial and unimportant.

With every notification that catches my attention, there is an opportunity for me to give in to mine nomophobia (NO HANDYPHOBIA) and Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). For anyone who isn’t a Zen master, this wish is flirtatious enough to draw them into hundreds of notifications at least once or twice. For me the number is much, much higher.

The cover display of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4.
Notifications on the cover of the Z Flip 4 Joe Maring/Digital Trends

To my surprise, the Galaxy Z Flip 4’s cover display has helped me significantly curb those urges over the past month of using it as my primary smartphone. Essentially, every new notification that arrives on the Galaxy Z Flip 4 notifies me with the app’s icon on the outer screen. If the notification is not marked as private or if the smartphone has already been unlocked with Smart Lock or the fingerprint sensor on the side, it also shows the content of the notifications.

Luckily, the phone only ever shows an app icon when a new notification arrives. Also, the notification panel is separate from the primary clock widget on the cover screen, so you don’t immediately see icons for all apps that have sent notifications. You don’t see a preview of most notifications when you swipe to the notifications widget, and the notifications panel only shows the three most recent notifications at a time, requiring you to scroll for more.

This primitive and crude way of showing notifications makes it immensely easy to focus on important notifications and only open the phone when there is a notification from an important app. You can even check the time, check reminders, set or change alarms, and control the media currently playing right from the outer screen—and these controls keep you from turning the phone over unnecessarily.

You only need to open the phone when needed

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 sits on a bench.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Sometimes the ambiguity of whether a certain message is important or not makes us give in to the desire to look at the phone’s display. By the time that happens, my wriggling attention has already been broken by a series of notifications and I’ve been snapped out of focus.

To be honest, a large part of these notifications are not worth paying attention to. And that realization crashes in with a sense of regret. In rare moments of frustration or emotional volatility, that regret can also welcome a flood of negative emotions, including but not limited to self-criticism and self-loathing.

In contrast, unfolding the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is awkward compared to simply pressing the power button or lifting the phone. Therefore, the first few days with the phone can be very frustrating as you have to open it to check every new notification and bend it back. But getting used to waiting that extra second will help you respond to emotions more consciously and mindfully. The time you spend flipping the phone open is enough to judge if it’s worth the attention.

Closing the Flip 4 means something

Someone is holding a closed Galaxy Z Flip 4.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Folding the Galaxy Z Flip 4 back into its folded position is one of the most satisfying experiences while using the phone. Whether to end a call or complete a task, the gesture is symbolic; it marks the conclusion and prompts our brain to keep the phone down. This inspires the brain to look for other activities instead of seeking more stimulation from the phone.

Completion is also gratifying for the mind. Whenever we complete a task—big or small—a neurotransmitter called dopamine is released in our brain. Dopamine is traditionally associated with the brain’s reward center — and how pleasure (usually unhealthy) triggers a release of dopamine, giving the chemical a bad name. However, recent research shows that dopamine is linked to motivation and persistence to achieve a reward, rather than the reward itself.

Although the way this chemical prompts us to take action is quite complex, the physical cue to complete a task on your phone could inspire us to leave the phone down more often when we don’t absolutely need it.

I drastically limit my phone usage

Diablo Immortal on the Galaxy Z Flip 4

With all these things, it is inevitable to talk about one aspect: you have to open the phone for every important task. As I mentioned above, this can be extremely frustrating, especially in your earlier days of usage. Finally, you need to keep the Galaxy Flip 4 folded when not in use. While you can leave the phone unfolded at all times, concerns about the robustness of foldable displays will prompt you to fold it back unless you’re actively using it.

Luckily, there are surefire ways to run apps – even games – on the Galaxy Z Flip 4’s (as well as the Flip 3’s) cover display. However, you still need to open the phone if you want to fully immerse yourself in an app.

Because of this, my screen time has dropped from my previous daily driver – Galaxy S22 Ultra – from around six to seven hours a day to less than four hours on the Flip 4.

A dynamic solution to save the day

The flexibility to ignore notifications and decide whether or not you actually need to use the phone has a compound effect in the case of the Galaxy Z Flip 4 for the many reasons mentioned above. If you’re unhealthily attached to your smartphone and want to experience a detox without actually sacrificing flagship performance and good cameras, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 might be the perfect device for you – as it proved to me.

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