Futuristic Galaxy Z Flip lands to give the Razr a run for its price... and specs
All eyes may have been on the Galaxy S20 series for Samsung's Unpacked event, but the company surprised us by introducing "innovative devices that will shape the next decade of mobile experiences" in the form of its new foldable phone series started by one Galaxy Z Flip.
Samsung's foldable phone strategy is getting clearer, and it seems already set to mean one "affordable" clamshell focused on portability each spring, followed by a one vertical-axis flagship like the Galaxy Fold and its successor Fold 2, in the second half of the years ahead.
Bloom since October, Samsung's spring 2020 clamshell and direct Motorola RAZR (2019) competitor is meant to be the most affordable, gateway phone for the world of bendy handsets and form factors of the future, as in "blooming" market share.Codenamed
When the company issued the video above, depicting more ways to skin a bendy phone cat than the OG Galaxy Fold. we should have seen the February 11 Unpacked event coming. After all, San Francisco is splashed right there in the clamshell foldable design concept's weather widget, for DJ Koh's sake!
Granted, recently Samsung's DJ Koh may have said that it is actually aimed at girls in their twenties hence styled like Lancome's iconic powder compact, but we'd rather go with the original explanation for the codename, as we don't know many 25-year-olds that can scrape together $1400 for the thing.
Just as expected, however, the name of the final retail device is neither be Fold 2, nor Bloom, but rather carries the Flip moniker, aiming to induce a scent of nostalgia into those who still remember the pseudo-foldables of yesteryear. They enjoyed the folksy term "flip phones" for a good while before smartphones were even a twinkle in Steve Jobs' eyes. So, is the Z Flip a modern reincarnation of the flip phone indeed? Well, judge for yourself after we present you with the facts.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip design and display
Samsung's 6.7" initiator of the new Z-line bends around the horizontal axis, and has just a small 1" screen on the outside for date/time/notification purposes. That's quite a clever and eventually cheaper to produce approach than the current Fold concept. With its new foldable phone effort, Samsung is apparently gunning for portability instead of screen space, and the hinge even has set positions at 90/180 degrees for those times you want to chat or comfortably, we don't know... powder your nose?
Some of Samsung's phone execs have reportedly been deliberating over a larger screen, arguing (rightfully) that this is the whole point of foldable phones - to give you much more extra canvas to work on when unfurled than regular phones. Ultimately, however, cooler heads have prevailed, and the Z Flip will reportedly ship with the original 6.7" display intention, rather than the 8" panel that has also been considered.
Actually, besides the innovative hinge and form factor, the most interesting thing about the Z Flip is that it is the first foldable phone with a display cover that is made of glass, just like on its rigid brethren. Wait, what? Yes, you read cover glass correct. The cover films for the Galaxy Fold, the Mate X or the Razr, are made of things like durable polyimide (PI) as a top layer which in the Fold's case is an integral part of the screen. That wasn't quite clear on the preview units Samsung sent out, and some tried to peel it off, ruining the handset's display in the process.
While Samsung fixed the problem by extending the PI cover over the corners of the upgraded Fold, so as it doesn't look like a screen protector, it has apparently decided to move away of such films in the future, replacing them with... the Z Flip's ultrathin glass cover.
Apparently, the notorious rigidity of a glass structure isn't as valid for glass that is 100 micrometer thin or less, and for the Flip, Samsung has wiggled its way into an exclusive long-term contract with a local manufacturer called DoInsys that can go down to 30 micrometer even. Here's how they do it.
The so-called Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) is, needless to say, more resistant to scratches than the "regular" protective film that other flexibles now use. On top of that, the thin DoInsys creation has proved surprisingly durable, removing the last hurdle before Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip plans.
Motorola managed to avoid a glaring crease on the Razr (2019) by making the hinge stretch the double PI film a bit when the phone is unfurled to literally iron the kink out, and still warns that "bumps and lumps are normal" for this type of display. Unfortunately, UTG or not, the Z Flip comes with a similar crease warning.
As for the cold, hard specs of the display and processor, here's the full scoop:
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip display, camera and battery specs
There is a fingerprint scanner on the Z Flip, too, located on the side, like Samsung did with the Galaxy S10e, instead of hiding in underneath the bottom half of the display. It's a flexible screen after all, yo.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip price and release date
Samsung's foldable Galaxy Z Flip is a great value-for-money, coming at $1380 on AT&T and Sprint as soon as the S20 pre-orders open this Valentine's Day, too. Wait, what value? That's right, bear in mind that the OG Fold is $1999 and the Mate X is $2499, while the Razr (2019) undercuts them to get to the still-unpleasant $1499.
We can only commend Samsung and Motorola for their efforts to bring the foldable form factor to the masses, as, let's face it, only a sliver of users want to lug around a pocket Bible of a phone with a visible crease in the middle that costs two grand to begin with.
The Galaxy Z Flip, however, is surprisingly geared towards the female audience, what with the Lancome powder compact inspiration and the stage opening that can set the display at any angle for selfies. Its specs, however, are way ahead of the Razr, so a little bird (no flipping!) told us that it might attract some interest from the male part of the tech audience as well. Any takers? Here's a short hands-on of Samsung's newest bendy puppy.