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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip: Is this really true innovation?

When Samsung opened Unpacked 2020 (ha, ha) with bit about how their new folding device, the Galaxy Z Flip, is them changing everything about the smartphone—my first thought was: have they not heard of the Motorola Razr? But then, the show carried on and to their credit, Samsung did showcase some interesting things about their new folding smartphone.

So, we’ll get some of the boring stuff out of the way first. The smartphone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ that’s mated to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage.

Obviously, what’s interesting about this phone is the fact that it folds in half a lot like the Motorola Razr does—that is to say in a clamshell-flip-phone style rather than whatever it is the Galaxy Fold does. I suppose that’s where the distinction in the name lies: flip vs fold.

Samsung also says that with the Z Flip, they’re using a proprietary ultra-thin glass technology on its 6.7″ Infinity Flex display that the company says is rated to last up to 200,000 flips. On top of that, this panel also features a punch-hole design at the top centre for the selfie camera—a first for a folding smartphone.

It also looks like the South Korean electronics giant has learned from their previous folding device that dust getting into the hinge is a no-no, so they’ve outfitted the crevices with special fibres to keep the dust and particles out. But, that’s not all because this hinge is also where the Galaxy Z Flip differs from something like the Motorola Razr. Where the “reinvention” happens, and it’s kinda cool.

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While most folding displays are designed to stay in one of two positions (open or closed) the Z Flip has a three-stop hinge which lets you use the phone in a revolutionary way I like to call half opened. With this, you can fold the Z Flip part-way (about 90 degrees) and use it in effectively two halves. A couple of examples Samsung showed off included being able to take selfies and video calls without needing to hold the phone or put it on a tripod, watching a video in the top half and commenting on it with the bottom half, and a couple of other things.

I guess this would change the way you use a smartphone, I’m certainly eager to try it out, but I don’t know if this is really more than just a party trick in the long run. So I don’t know if I’d call it “true innovation” just yet. I do like the fact that Samsung’s built-in the ability to shoot “night Hyperlapse” videos with the screen in this 90-degree mode without needing to put it on some tripod, though.

Unlike the Motorola Razr, and other folding phones of its kind, the Galaxy Z Flip also doesn’t have a big screen on the lid so you can use it while your phone is closed. Instead, the Z Flip has a tiny 1.1″ display next to the camera that you can use to check out your notifications, see who’s calling and all that. You can even use it to take a selfie if you have great eyesight! It is touch sensitive so you can interact with it, but I like that they didn’t go for a really big panel because I think its great from both a battery standpoint as well as a digital well-being standpoint.

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Speaking of cameras, the selfie camera is a 10MP f/2.4 unit, while the rear camera is a dual camera 12MP wide + 12MP ultra-wide combo. No Space Zoom for you here.

What’s more, Samsung also has a special Thom Browne edition Galaxy Z Flip which apparently shows how high fashion and high tech go “hand-in-hand”. I’ll be honest, to a commoner like me, it just looks like they added a racing stripe to the regular Galaxy Z Flip. And, if that turns a regular phone into “high fashion”, I wonder if adding a racing stripe to my Myvi will have the same effect.

In any case, the regular Galaxy Z Flip will come in three different colourways: Mirror Purple, Mirror Black and Mirror Gold (in select countries), and I have to say they look pretty good.

Finally, we’ve got the most surprising thing of all, the Galaxy Z Flip’s price. Samsung says that this smartphone will retail for USD1,380 (~RM5,702), and that’s surprising because it isn’t borderline ridiculous. In fact, it’s not even the most expensive Galaxy Samsung launched this morning! I’m just not sure if that says more about how ridiculously expensive smartphones are getting these days, or how much the price of folding phones have come down since the first wave.

Unfortunately, there’s no information on whether this smartphone will be available in Malaysia, but once we hear from Samsung, we’ll let you know.

What do you think about the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip? Let me know in the comments below.