The advent of bendable OLED screens has seen a resurgence of a once-mainstay, the flip phone. The first generation, like the Galaxy Fold, which still count as new phones, are mostly high-priced novelties thanks to creaky hinges and cheap-feeling screens. Before the first generation of flip phones even has the door shut behind it, though, Samsung has already announced the Galaxy Z Flip. This new flip phone brings a foldable glass display, a lower price point, and some game-changing features.
Galaxy Z Flip has a glass display
A few things set this flip phone apart from other flip smartphones on the market. First and foremost, the phone uses an ultra-thin layer of glass to protect the phone’s primary display from scratching, but the glass still folds. Impressions from outlets that have had hands-on time with the phone say that this alone goes a long way toward making the folding phone feel like a proper smartphone. The Galaxy Z Flip opens vertically, like the Moto Razr, rather than horizontally like the Galaxy Fold.
The other big problem with folding smartphones has been the hinge. The hinges have been unsteady, creaky, and even let outside dust in. The Galaxy Z Flip uses a stronger hinge that can hold in place wherever you want to stop it, letting you set it up straight or even at an angle. It’s reportedly tough to open with one hand, so don’t expect to do any switchblade style tricks with it.
Samsung says the hinge uses special fibers inside to block out dust and debris. Depending on the angle you open it to, you can use the display as two separate displays, such as showing a YouTube video on top and the comments on the bottom. Don’t do that, YouTube comments are terrible.
While reports say that you can still feel the crease when the phone lies flat, those same reports say that it’s harder to see the crease (in admittedly difficult, phone-reveal-event conditions), and that the glass screen and solid hinge to a long way toward making it feel like a true contender.
On the outside of the phone is a small 1.1-inch OLED cover display that can be used to show notifications and to help take closed-phone selfies, but you won’t be doing any work on it. I’m sure someone will get Doom and Skyrim running on it, though.
The Z Flip looks like a standard phone otherwise
When opened, it should look and feel like a pretty standard smartphone. It has a 6.7-inch AMOLED display with a hole-punch-style camera. The phone features a side-mounted fingerprint reader, a USB Type-C port for charging, and of course no headphone jack. The front-facing camera has a 10-megapixel sensor, while the dual rear cameras are a 12-megapixel ultrawide-angle lens and a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens.
Inside, the Galaxy Z Flip runs Android 10 on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ processor. The phone features 8GB RAM and 256GB storage; the latter does not appear to be expandable through microSD.
The Galaxy Z Flip features LTE connectivity–no 5G here–as well as 802.11ac Wi-Fi. The phone backs a 3,300 mAh battery split across the two halves of the phone. Between the processor and the radios, it seems pretty clear that this phone is not meant to push the envelope in terms of top-tier tech. Instead, it focuses on being the best flip phone yet. It’s also just a hair thicker than the other folding phones; it’s 17.3-mm and 7.2-mm thick in the folded and unfolded modes. That compares to 14-mm and 6.9-mm thick for the Moto Razr.
Folding phones are still pretty early, but they’re making strides. The Galaxy Z Flip apparently looks and feels better than its competitors, and cost $1,380. That’s still a very pretty penny, but it’s lower than the $1,980 of the Galaxy Fold and $1,500 of the Moto Razr.
The Galaxy Z Flip launches on February 14 both at retail and online. Samsung isn’t doing a pre-order run for the phone.