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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4: 8 ways to get the most out of the cover screen

Not sure what to do or how to use the small front display on the Galaxy Z Flip 4? Read this.
Written by Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer

Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 4 is just one of the company's latest smartphones to feature a foldable display. But unlike the Z Fold 4, which has a large display on the front, the Z Flip 4 has a 1.9-inch screen on the front of the phone. 

The cover screen is what's used to show you relevant information and alerts and interacts with your phone while keeping it closed. 

Review: The Galaxy Z Flip 4 solves these two big problems for me

But how you go about using the cover screen and its different features isn't always an obvious task. Below, I'll walk you through different ways to use the cover screen, so you can get more out of the Z Flip 4. 

1. Tap to wake the Z Flip 4's cover screen

When your Z Flip 4 is sitting on a table or your desk, the cover screen stays off to conserve battery life. If you want to check the time quickly, battery level or you just heard a notification come in; you simply double-tap on the cover screen. It'll light up after the second tap, providing you a quick glance at as much or as little information as you want. 

Z Flip 4 cover screen.
Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

2. Use the Z Flip 4's Cover screen to take a selfie

See the two cameras next to the cover screen? They aren't only there to take photos when the phone is open, but you can use the cover screen in tandem with the cameras to take high-quality selfies. 

Open the camera app by double-pressing the power button/fingerprint sensor. A moment later, you'll see yourself on the cover screen. Swipe left or right to switch between portrait, photo and video mode. Swipe up or down on the cover screen to change how much of the photo you see on the display. 

Also: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4: Where to buy and top deals

When you're ready to take a picture, press the volume up or down button. Easy peasy. 

Person holding Z Flip 4 front camera.
Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

3. Answer or decline phone calls from the cover screen

When the Z Flip 4 is closed and you receive a phone call, you can either open the phone to answer it, or you can use the cover screen to answer the call using your phone's speaker. You'll see the name, number, and if you have one added to the contacts app, a profile photo for the person calling you. 

Touch the green phone button and then drag it towards the middle of the screen to answer. On the opposite side is the red phone button that is used to decline a call. Again, touch the button and drag your finger towards the middle of the screen. 

Incoming call coming from Galaxy Z Flip 4.
Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

4. Reply to text messages

When you wake the cover screen and see a yellow dot on the screen, that means you have new notifications. Swipe from left to right across the screen to view your notifications tray, where you'll then see your alerts. You can tap on any of the alerts to view more information or, in the case of a messaging app, view the message itself. 

As you scroll down and read the message, you can quickly reply to the message with predefined messages right from the cover screen. Just tap on the message you want to send, then tap send when prompted. All of that without ever opening your phone. Neat! 

Incoming text on Galaxy Z Flip 4.
Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

Also: How to mark text messages as spam and block senders on Android 

5. Use Samsung Wallet to make a mobile payment at checkout

Assuming you have Samsung Wallet (formerly Samsung Pay) installed and set up, here's how you can make a payment using the cover screen. After waking the Z Flip 4, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal your default payment card. If you want to switch cards, swipe across the screen and then touch the fingerprint sensor to authorize payment. 

Hold the back of the phone up to a payment terminal and wait for the transaction to go through. 

Also: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 vs Galaxy Z Flip 4

This is not only a cool feature but a necessity if you plan on using Samsung Wallet to make mobile payments, since the NFC tag in the Flip 4 is located on the bottom half of the phone. The location of the NFC chip makes it awkward to pay for something with the phone folded open since most NFC chips are near the top of the phone. 

Galaxy Z Flip 4 Samsung Wallet pay screen.
Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

6. Add, remove, or reorder widgets

When you wake the cover screen and swipe from right to left across it, you start scrolling through a series of widgets that Samsung created for the small display. There are widgets for things like showing the weather, viewing your day's step count, or viewing your calendar. 

You don't have to stick with the widgets that are available by default, nor do you have to stick with the order that the widgets are in. You can add widgets directly on the cover screen by scrolling to the end and tapping on the + icon, but my preferred method is to open the Z Flip 4 and dive into the Settings app. 

Once you're in the Settings app and scroll down until you see Cover Screen, select it. On the next screen, tap Widgets, where you'll then be taken to a list of all the cover screen widgets available. 

Toggle the switch next to each widget you do or don't want to use to the respective on or off position to tailor the list to your liking. And to reorder it, tap on the big Reorder button in the top right corner of the screen, then drag and drop the widgets into your preferred order. 

Galaxy Z Flip cover screen widgets.
Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

7. Customize how the Z Flip 4's cover screen looks

Just as you're not stuck with the widgets on the Z Flip 4's cover screen, you're also not stuck with the looks of the cover screen's clock. 

To change the colors, look and even background image of the cover screen on the Z Flip 4, open the phone and navigate to the Settings app. From there, select Cover Screen > Clock style. 

There are several different designs available for you to choose from. The basic clock options have can have a background image of your choice, including photos stored on your phone. You can also customize the color of the text to make it visible over your image of choice. The Graphical clock styles have predefined images that are shown every time you wake the cover screen. 

The key here is to make sure you tap the Customize button below the clock style preview to adjust the style to your liking. 

Z Flip 4 cover screen lock.
Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

8. Control device settings from the Z Flip 4's cover screen

The final gesture left to use on the cover screen is to wake up the phone and then swipe down on the cover screen. There you'll see six quick settings buttons to control various aspects of the Z Flip 4. Things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplane mode, and a slider to adjust the brightness of the cover screen. There are three buttons per page, with a swipe to the left revealing the second half of the options.

Z Flip 4 cover screen settings shortcuts.
Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

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