The next foldable Samsung smartphone is here, and it’s taking design cues from old-school flip phones.
Samsung has formally announced its next foldable smartphone: The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip.
The Z Flip comes from the same company that built last year’s Galaxy Fold, but it changes in several ways that may make a huge difference for interested buyers.
The Z Flip has a new hinge design which makes it possible, according to Samsung, for it to have a screen made of seamless, foldable glass; It has a familiar form factor in its clamshell-style fold; and it competes directly with the new generation of Motorola Razr foldable smartphones that were just announced as well.
With the Razr competing in the same market and the reputation-marring, problem-plagued Galaxy Fold less than a year in the past, life may be tough for the Z Flip. That doesn’t mean it won’t be a good fit for some users, but with folding smartphones still a new form factor it might remain more of a niche device.
What is the Samsung Galaxy Flip Z?
While in concept it’s pretty similar to the Galaxy Fold, Samsung’s previous folding smartphone, the Galaxy Z Flip is taking a different approach to its design: Instead of being a rectangle that unfolds into a square-shaped device the Z Flip is shaped like an old clamshell phone.
When folded up, the Z Flip is a small square. There’s a tiny screen on the outside, but only for displaying notifications and being used as a viewfinder for the selfie camera. Once unfolded, the main 6.7-inch folding screen is visible.
The screen is an all new super-thin, flexible glass that Samsung said is an improvement over the screen in last year’s Galaxy Fold. Coupled with a new hinge called the “Hideaway Hinge” the screen is supposed to take more than 200,000 folds before it starts to have trouble.
The hinge is also designed to stop at any point—like that of a laptop—and many of the stock apps on the Z Flip have the ability to act in a split-screen mode. YouTube comments can show below a video, a gallery of images can be scrolled through on the lower screen while particular images are viewed above, and the like.
When opened the Flip looks almost just like a standard brick-shaped phone—which is probably a good thing. If a folding smartphone can blend in with non-folding ones it means folding phones may be maturing.
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Operating system: Android 10 with Samsung One UI 2
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+
Main display: 6.7-inch 2636 x 1080 FHD Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O, 21.9:9
Front display: 1.06-inch Super AMOLED always-on
Rear cameras: 12-megapixel f/1.8 and 12-megapixel ultra-wide f/2.2
Front camera: 10-megapixel f/2.4
What makes the Galaxy Z Flip different from the Galaxy Fold?
The biggest thing separating these two devices, outside of the Z Flip’s extra generation of engineering, is their shapes.
When unfolded, the Galaxy Fold had a 7.3″ main display with a nearly square shape. The Z Flip, on the other hand, folds out from a square like an old clamshell phone, becoming a long, skinny rectangle shape.
Hardware specs point to the Fold still being a superior machine by all rights: It has more RAM, additional storage space, and larger storage capacity despite being a year older. It could be that Samsung doesn’t want to invest in a new form factor it still isn’t sure will succeed, or has it simply scaled down the hardware since the old version was over-specced?
The release of a new folding form factor could indicate that differences between the Fold and the Flip will both be around to be compared. With Motorola releasing the new folding touch screen Razr, and with the Z Flip practically a direct response to it, a standard type of folding smartphone may be emerging. That, or the new folding phone market is still exploring what works best for it.
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Why should business users care about the Galaxy Z Flip?
The question of whether business users should consider the Galaxy Z Flip is a simple one: Probably not.
While the Galaxy Z Flip is an improvement over last year’s Fold it still doesn’t address a problem with foldable smartphones: They don’t have a clear business purpose.
Developers, on the other hand, may want to get a Galaxy Z Flip to have around. If the device is successful, demand for apps compatible with its folded screen mode may grow, and its unique aspect ratio may lead to app owners scrambling to fix UIs for new devices.
Otherwise, the only reason a professional would want to consider the Galaxy Z Flip over any other smartphone is because their job involves looking up-to-date on the latest tech trends.
Who are the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip’s competitors?
By virtue of its shape alone, the Galaxy Z Flip has its competitive sights set directly on the Motorola Razr.
Both devices reintroduce older clamshell designs back into the modern smartphone market, but have full touchscreens, and both come from major players in the mobile tech world.
Motorola may have a leg up, at least in terms of nostalgia: The design of its new Razr device mimics the old Motorola Razr of the flip phone era.
Price-wise the Flip has an edge, costing $1,380 USD to the Razr’s $1,499. Specs-wise, the Flip has an edge: It has a bigger battery, more RAM, and more storage space.
Whether the Razr and the Flip actually become competitors bodes well for the entire folding smartphone market. If neither comes close to even meeting minimum sales numbers then we know the world still isn’t ready for this new type of device outside of the gimmick.
When will the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip be available?
The Galaxy Z Flip goes on sale on Feb. 14, 2020, for $1,380.