Samsung is launching its second phone with a folding display, called the Galaxy Z Flip, this time in the form of a classic clamshell from the mid-2000s and with a first-of-its-kind ultrathin glass covering in place of plastic.
Square when shut, the Galaxy Z Flip opens to reveal a single, large, glass-covered screen that folds in half. Its previous folding phone, the Galaxy Fold, which opened out like a book into a tablet was plagued with reliability problems.
As shown in an advert during the Oscars before the phone’s launch, the Galaxy Z Flip has a small display on the front to show notifications such as who is calling, alongside a main dual-camera lump reminiscent of traditional smartphones.
The hinge opens upwards, locking flat to reveal the screen, which resembles Samsung’s more traditional Note 10 and new S20 smartphones with a small pin-hole selfie camera at the top of the display. The hinge can hold the phone open at 45 degrees, leaving the display operational for uses such as video calling.
Samsung hopes that the Galaxy Z Flip’s combination of compact form factor, large screen and novelty element will make it the first folding-screen phone success.
Having learned some hard lessons with the Galaxy Fold, which was pulled because of durability problems and ultimately revised for a delayed release, “Samsung is unquestionably the most advanced player when it comes to smartphones with flexible displays”, said Ben Wood, the research chief at CCS Insight.
“The Galaxy Z Flip builds on that experience and it is immediately apparent that Samsung has gone to the next level in terms of hinge design and the finesse of the product, in particular the folding glass that protects the display.”
Until now, a plastic covering was required to enable the display to fold. But the coverings of Galaxy Fold and competitors such as Huawei’s Mate X and Motorola’s recently released Razr, are easy to mark and scratch. The glass covering of the Galaxy Z Flip’s screen is expected to significantly improve the durability of the display.
The Galaxy Z Flip is expected to be cheaper than the £1,900 Galaxy Fold, but is still expected to cost more than £1,000.
“I think the Galaxy Z Flip will be hugely appealing given how big flagship phones have become,” Wood said. “I’m pretty confident the Flip is destined to be a hit despite its high price tag. People like to have something different and the product feels like it has more universal appeal than its predecessor, the Galaxy Fold.”
The Galaxy Z Flip joins the Galaxy S20 line of smartphones, also launched on Tuesday in San Francisco, as well as new Galaxy Buds+ earbuds and other devices.