In the world of foldables, we’re used to candy bar phones that unfold into a large tablet. The Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X both shared this trait and both shared a crazy price tag. There were some no name options that did the same for cheaper but the quality was obviously inferior.
But at Samsung Unpacked 2020, the company has announced a new foldable. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, much like the Moto Razr, is a compact clamshell device that unfolds into a more traditional size device. Not only is it a lot more usable every day, but it might be the start of a new era of phones finally getting smaller again.
On the inside you’ll find a 6.7-inch foldable display with an FHD+ resolution. Unlike the Galaxy S20 you won’t find 120Hz here. It’s also the first foldable display with a hole punch, oriented dead center like the Galaxy S20. This is coated in what Samsung calls “ultra thin glass,” and it really does seem harder than the Galaxy Fold display coating. On the outside is a tiny cover display that shows the time, notifications, and can be used as a viewfinder to take a selfie with the lid closed. This sounds silly but works better than expected.
The hinge is a design similar to the Galaxy Fold. It has a layer of fibers inside to keep particles out when you fold and unfold it. Hopefully this will keep the display safe for at least a few years. This hinge can also stop in two positions other than open and closed, and the software has been optimized to take advantage of it. You can take photos, read comments on the lower section while watching a YouTube video on the top, and more. The different positions can also be used in lieu of a tripod for photos and hyperlapse videos.
The hinge feels extremely solid and has pretty much no flex. It feels nothing like flip phones of old; it’s stiff and hard to move. This makes flipping it closed a bit unsatisfying and opening it with one hand is tough. However it does feel quality and should last for some time.
Otherwise, when it’s open, it feels like a Samsung phone. The experience is not much different from a traditional slab style smartphone and that’s a great thing. It’s quick, responsive, and easily one handable. Once you’re done, flip it closed and throw the compact little device in your pocket.
Rather than making a device that occupies a whole new category, the Galaxy Z Flip really seems like a foldable replacement for a traditional smartphone and that might make it the most usable folding device to date. Innovation is better in usability than in gimmicks, and from just a quick hands on, I think Samsung nailed it. The device launches on February 14 in three colors (Mirror Purple, Mirror Black, and Mirror Gold) for $1,380.