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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip blends the past and future

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip is sexy enough to make you flip over in excitement
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip comes with an ultra-thin glass screen

Mathures Paul   |   San Francisco   |   Published 12.02.20, 03:15 PM

Smartphones now come with longer lifespan, which means slower sales and worse, there seems to be fewer features to differentiate last year’s devices from the new kids on the block. In simple words, smartphones appear to have peaked, calling for a new take on a device that’s on us almost the entire day. Innovation means risk. Risk means thinking out of the box, wowing us with something that goes beyond tags like faster or lighter.

The world’s biggest smartphone maker continues to lead from the front in a category that even a year ago was criticised to shreds. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip blends the past and future without making users go on a nostalgic trip.

The company’s second crack at the foldable is unique: Square when it’s shut and opens to reveal a single, glass-covered 6.7-inch screen, which, of course, can be folded in half. There are two things to keep in mind. First, it’s glass. Second, unlike the Galaxy Fold, this one doesn’t open like a book to become a tablet.

Flex mode

The time we got to spend with the Flip was spent admiring the sturdy hinge mechanism, which opens upwards and locks flat to reveal a screen which can well resemble one of the new Galaxy S20 smartphones, complete with a pin-hole selfie camera at the top of the display. Not only that, the phone can open at 45 degrees, which makes video calling so much easier. It’s not just 45 degrees. The phone can be opened and kept at any degree. This laptop-like mechanism is called flex mode, which offers a unique approach to the screen. Say you are watching YouTube. The screen is divided into two halves, with the upper part dedicated to the video while on the lower part the comments would appear. When it comes to app optimisation, Samsung has worked closely with Google to make the Android experience truly unique.

Returning to the hinge, it appears strong and opens without a creak. You may even have to use both hands to open the Flip, unlike the clamshell designs of yore. Nonetheless, sturdy hinges seem to have taken care of the problem the company faced last year and, more importantly, paves the way for a slew of devices that we should see shortly. To ensure dust doesn’t settle in the hinge set-up, there are fibres inside to tackle the potential problem. Samsung has said users can fold and unfold the phone more than 200,000 times without any problem.


The screen

Obviously the most important factor. So far what we have seen in the market is a plastic covering that allows the display to fold, which gives way to issues like marks and scratches. That’s a strict

no-no on a costly device. Samsung has made significant improvements to the screen to improve its durability. The company says the display is “built to last” and it looks like it would.

Under the hood

It’s a win-win situation with the Flip as the phone scores much higher than what Motorola has announced with the new Razr. For your entertainment needs there is a 6.7-inch FHD+ dynamic AMOLED display (21.9:9 aspect ratio) while powering the device is a 7nm 64-bit octa-core processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage and a 3,300mAh “dual” battery. That reads like a stellar spec sheet.

On the camera front, there are two 12MP cameras on the back, a regular wide angle and an ultra-wide angle while on the inside is a 10MP selfie camera on the top of the display.

The cover display is also interesting. The 1.1-inch super AMOLED screen is where you get to see notifications, incoming calls and wait for it… selfies. You can use the tiny screen to take a full-sized selfie with the rear camera. No, you don’t need to open your Flip to snap a quick selfie.

Something extra

Google has played a big part in this year’s Unpacked event where Samsung has launched four new phones. Not only has the company revealed deep Duo integration that lets you video chat easily on the S20 devices, it has even announced a free YouTube subscription with the Flip. Samsung didn’t mention whether the offer is restricted to the Flip, but that’s still a great deal for a service for which you have to pay every month.

No 5G

There is a lot riding on 5G for this company. The South Korea electronics giant has a number of business divisions — from chips to smartphones, and these all can benefit from adoption of 5G, which is something India is going slow on. In fact, all the new Galaxy S20 phones have 5G versions in the US, which gives the company a big edge over Apple, which is yet to announce offerings that take advantage of the technology. Yet, there is no 5G version of the Flip and Samsung may have good reasons for it, like heat, cost and battery. It’s still early days for the Flip and things are likely to change in the coming months and years.

Who will buy the phone?

Going by the form factor, the phone will attract those who are a step ahead when it comes to fashion. In way of design and size, Samsung has struck a balance to attract both men and women. While women can easily slip the phone into their bags, men can keep the phone in their jacket pockets. Remember the late ’90s when businessmen in suits walked around speaking into cell phones and then closed shut the clamshell device, keeping it in their pockets? It’s back to that fashion moment. The company also has a Thom Browne edition, which looks fantastic.

With the Galaxy Z Flip Samsung simply proves that there is a huge market for foldables and no longer many compromises need to be made to achieve success. The ultra-thin glass display is path-breaking enough to inspire a new chapter for the smartphone industry. The Galaxy Z Flip is sexy enough to make you flip over in excitement.

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