By all accounts, the Samsung Galaxy Fold was something of a disappointment.
Tipped to be the 'Next Big Thing' and the catalyst needed to reignite a stagnant smartphone market full of identical handsets, it instead stumbled into existence with a high price and drawn-out launch plagued by hardware failure.
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Now though, a year on from that misfortune, Samsung is trying again. Only this time the phone will fold vertically instead of horizontally, and is expected to make much more sense.
It is also tipped to have a lower price, and might even demonstrate folding glass on a smartphone for the first time, instead of the crease- and scratch-prone plastic used by the Galaxy Fold.
Here is everything we know so far about this handset, which is expected to be called the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip.
Samsung Galaxy Buds, Bluetooth True Wireless Earbuds (Wireless Charging Case Included), Silver - US Version with Warranty
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip: Designs and display
As we said above, the Z Flip is expected to fold open and closed like a clamshell phone, instead of the Galaxy Fold, which opened like a book, or a small phone turning into a larger one. This design puts the new model in the same category as the new Motorola Razr, and it is very similar to a concept briefly shown off by Samsung itself in October 2019.
The benefits here are numerous. First, and most importantly, is how the Z Flip will look like a normal phone when folded open. Where the Galaxy Fold has an unusual square screen with a cut-out in the corner, the new model instead resembles the tall and narrow look of most other handsets — at least according to leaked photos shared online ahead of its official reveal.
This means the phone can run Android as normal, and applications will fill the screen correctly, instead of requiring serious redesign by their developers. It also means using the phone will feel more familiar than the square Galaxy Fold, and when folded up it will take up far less space in the owner's pocket or bag.
Samsung is also expected to fit the Galaxy Z Flip with a simple external display, showing the time, date, battery and notifications when the handset is closed. This isn't as advanced as the external touch screen of the Razr, but it could also mean a lower price than the $1,500 Motorola. Next to this external display we expect to see a rear-facing camera, while a hole-punch style selfie camera is installed inside.
It has been reported by two smartphone leakers — Max Weinbach and the Twitter account known as Ice Universe — that the Z Flip will have a folding display made from "ultra thin glass." This would be remarkable if true, but could also mean a phone less prone to scratches and creasing than the Galaxy Fold. Samsung recently applied for a trademark in Europe for the term Samsung Ultra Thin Glass, so this isn't beyond the realms of possibility.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip: Features and spec
Weinbach also claimed in recent days that the new folding Samsung will have a capacitive fingerprint reader on its side. This is the same technology as used by Touch ID on older iPhones, and is not the same as the ultrasonic readers Samsung fitted beneath the display of the Galaxy S10 and Note 10.
This makes sense, as a user would want to unlock the Z Flip when holding it closed, so they can see the small external display, instead of opening the phone, then touching the internet screen to unlock.
To us this also looks like a cost-saving measure, which hopefully means the handset will be priced below the $1,980 Galaxy Fold.
Weinbach also claims the phone will have a pair of 12-megapixel cameras with wide and ultra wide lenses, plus reverse wireless charging, so Samsung's Galaxy Buds earphones can have their battery topped up when placed on the closed phone.
Power is expected to come from a Snapdragon 855 processor, which we also feel is partly a cost-saving measure, and could mean Samsung gets to create a new 'mid-range folding phone' market segment all for itself. Battery capacity is expected to be either 3,300 or 3,500 mAh, and storage will be 256GB. The phone will have 4G but not 5G — again, to keep costs under control and cement the Z Flip's position in the middle of the market.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip: Launch and release date
Samsung is holding one of its Unpacked product launch events in San Francisco on February 11. We expect to see the new Galaxy S20 phone family and the Galaxy Z Flip.
What isn't clear yet is whether all of these phones will go on sale at the same time, a couple of weeks after the event, or if Samsung will delay the Flip, as it did with the Galaxy Fold a year earlier (before hardware failures caused a longer second delay).
Just this week, the Z Flip was spotted by SamMobile passing through the FCC, which is always a strong indication that the product is almost ready to go on sale.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip: Price
We don't expect the new phone to cost as much as the $1,980 Galaxy Fold, due to its expected use of a mid-range processor, and the lack of 5G and an external touch screen.
Initially, it was reported in the Korean press that the phone could be priced as low as $850, but rumors of prices as high as $1,400 have also circled in recent weeks. Either way, the cost is at least heading in the right direction and it should comfortably undercut both the Fold and the Motorola Razr.
We don't expect the Galaxy Z Flip to be a mass-market phone, but if Samsung can price it at or below $1,000, then we think it will sell relatively well. As long as it proves to be less failure-prone than the Fold, of course.
Samsung Galaxy Buds , Bluetooth True Wireless Earbuds (Wireless charging Case included), Black - US Version with Warranty