I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Last year's fridges are this year's bargains.
The latest case in point: the Samsung RF28K9380SG. It's a beauty of an icebox in black stainless steel and one that features Samsung's "4-Door Flex" styling with elegant, recessed handles, a door-in-a-door Food Showcase compartment and the option to dial the temperature of half of the freezer up into fridge mode. It debuted last year for $4,000, but today, you'll find it marked down to about $2,600.
That's a great price for a fridge that offers both style and substance, especially if you're looking for high-end appliance upgrades on a tight budget (as part of a larger home remodel, perhaps). And though it isn't perfect, the RF28K9380SG delivers where it counts, thanks to its terrific design, powerful performance and attractive slate of features.
A generation ago, French door fridges took the world by storm and got homeowners to upgrade en masse to keep up with evolving styles. From the Chef Collection and Family Hub fridges on down, Samsung's 4-Door Flex refrigerators might be a play at getting some of those same homeowners to forget Paris and upgrade all over again.
But fridges like these aren't really all that different from their French-door counterparts. In fact, the fridge section up top is almost exactly the same, with a pair of swinging doors that open from the middle to reveal what's inside. What's different is the freezer compartment down below -- instead of a drawer or a swinging door, you get another pair of doors that open from the middle, just like those above.
In Samsung's four-door fridges (competitors like LG make them, too), that split-freezer approach is put to practical use by literally splitting the freezer into two separate compartments. This enables Samsung to make the freezer on the right into a "FlexZone" compartment with its own distinct temperature presets. Those include two different freezer settings as well as two fridge modes that'll give you a little extra space for drinks or groceries when needed. As fridge features go, it's one of my favorites.
I also appreciate the strong design touches that help accentuate the four-door build, particularly the striking, recessed handles that run down the center of the refrigerator. The inside looks good, too, with smooth-gliding drawers and glass shelves that slide in or fold up out of the way for more flexible storage.
My only real design complaints are that the French-style freezer doors force you to stoop down to get things in and out -- more so than drawer-style freezers, at least. They also need to be opened more than 90 degrees before you'll be able to fully open the drawers inside. And up top, the 16.3 cubic feet in the fridge compartment is pretty small for a high-end refrigerator -- though the extra 5.8 cubic feet in the Flex compartment can help in a pinch.
And with the icemaker eating up precious shelf space in the fridge and dropping its cubes through a slanted chute in the door, this model does, in fact, come with what we've affectionately termed the "salsa moat" -- an extremely narrow and rather useless little shelf in the door that gets blocked by the ice chute's overhang directly above it. In fact, it's one of the narrowest salsa moats I've seen in any of Samsung's fridges (even more so than the one in the fridge we used in the video above).
Food Showcase and other
Beyond the FlexZone compartment, the RF28K9308SG's other key feature is its Food Showcase compartment, which lets you open the front panel of the right refrigerator door to access the in-door shelves without actually opening the fridge itself. I've long been skeptical of door-in-a-door compartments like these -- they don't make it any easier to use your fridge, and they don't make any appreciable difference in how your fridge performs, either (more on that in just a bit).