foldables

TCL riffs on the foldable format with a pair of prototypes

Posted by | foldables, hardware, Mobile, TCL | No Comments

Those TCL concept phones that were set for Mobile World Congress have finally arrived in prototype form. The Chinese hardware maker showcased a pair of devices this week, including one that saw a brief unveiling during a CES event.

The usual concept caveat certainly applies here. As with concept cars, TCL is clearly gauging consumer interest in certain design elements for the product. And while I’m usually not a fan of dead-end concept devices, there’s something to be said for approaching the foldable category with the same sort of caution you would use to open and close the original Galaxy Fold.

The tri-fold is the product we caught a glimpse of back in January. The name betrays the concept a bit. The device has three screens and two folding mechanisms. That makes for a pretty massively beefy phone when closed, but a luxurious (dual-creased) 10-inch tablet when unfurled.

There’s already some skepticism around how eager users will ultimately be in adopting this technology, and I don’t see effectively double the footprint (and, for that matter, the potential points of failure) as a particularly engaging solution, as nice as it might be to stick a 10-inch tablet in my pocket.

The slide-out device is nothing if not more compelling, allowing the user to essentially pull out the screen for more real estate. That addresses, certainly, hinge and crease issues, but it’s impossible to see if it’s any more robust.

There’s apparently a working unit somewhere in a lab on the other side of the world, but we’re all understandably skeptical until we can get one in our hands.

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Huawei’s ill-fated foldable returns with a more robust upgrade

Posted by | 5g, foldables, hardware, huawei, Mobile, mwc 2020, smartphones | No Comments

MWC may have been canceled on account of rising coronavirus concerns, but the party still went on for Huawei (albeit to what appears to have been a mostly empty room). A year after wowing crowds with the Mate X, the company is introducing the Mate Xs.

Rather than a proper successor, the device appears to be the result of Huawei’s decision to go back to the drawing board, following Samsung’s very public problems with its own original foldable.

The design looks nearly identical to the original version of the phone — which is a pro. Honestly, the one major downside of the device (aside from a lofty price tag) is the fact that it never fully arrived, outside of what appears to be a relatively small batch offering in China.

Like Samsung, Huawei’s update focused a lot on the hinge; with increased mechanical components, the product should be more rugged than the original. Keep in mind that, while we were able to play around with the original Mate X, that was about it. Personally, I saw one at MWC and had an opportunity to try one for a few minutes during lunch, between meetings at Huawei HQ in Shenzhen.

Now that foldables have arrived, it seems Huawei is finally ready to take the leap. Of course, one ought not forget the company’s ongoing issues here in the States that will not only make it more difficult to procure here, but also blocks access to Android apps and services. That will continue to be a major issue for the company’s products, going forward.

Price, too, will continue to be an issue, at around $2,700 when it goes up for sale in certain markets next month. That extremely inflated price gets you a 6.6-inch display, 5G, a beefy 4,500 mAh battery, the latest Kirin 990 chip, 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. Go big and/or go home, right?

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Do phones need to fold?

Posted by | Android, consumer electronics, foldables, Gadgets, hardware, iPhone, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Samsung Electronics, smartphones, Sony, TC | No Comments

As Samsung (re)unveiled its clamshell folding phone last week, I kept seeing the same question pop up amongst my social circles: why?

I was wondering the same thing myself, to be honest. I’m not sure even Samsung knows; they’d win me over by the end, but only somewhat. The halfway-folded, laptop-style “Flex Mode” allows you to place the phone on a table for hands-free video calling. That’s pretty neat, I guess. But… is that it?

The best answer to “why?” I’ve come up with so far isn’t a very satisfying one: Because they can (maybe). And because they sort of need to do something.

Let’s time-travel back to the early 2000s. Phones were weird, varied and no manufacturers really knew what was going to work. We had basic flip phones and Nokia’s indestructible bricks, but we also had phones that swiveled, slid and included chunky physical keyboards that seemed absolutely crucial. The Sidekick! LG Chocolate! BlackBerry Pearl! Most were pretty bad by today’s standards, but it was at least easy to tell one model from the next.

(Photo by Kim Kulish/Corbis via Getty Images)

Then came the iPhone in 2007; a rectangular glass slab defined less by physical buttons and switches and more by the software that powered it. The device itself, a silhouette. There was hesitation to this formula, initially; the first Android phones shipped with swiveling keyboards, trackballs and various sliding pads. As iPhone sales grew, everyone else’s buttons, sliders and keyboards were boiled away as designers emulated the iPhone’s form factor. The best answer, it seemed, was a simple one.

Twelve years later, everything has become the same. Phones have become… boring. When everyone is trying to build a better rectangle, the battle becomes one of hardware specs. Which one has the fastest CPU? The best camera?

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One year later, the future of foldables remains uncertain

Posted by | foldables, hardware, Mobile, Motorola, razr, Samsung, TC | No Comments

Yesterday, Samsung announced that the Galaxy Flip Z sold out online. What, precisely, that means, is hard to say, of course, without specific numbers from the company. But it’s probably enough to make the company bullish about its latest wade into the foldable waters, in the wake of last year’s Fold — let’s just say “troubles.”

Response to the device has been positive. I wrote mostly nice things about the Flip, with the caveat that the company only loaned out the product for 24 hours (I won’t complain here about heading into the city on a Saturday in 20-degree weather to return the device. I’m mostly not that petty).

Heck, the product even scored a (slightly) better score on iFixit’s repairability meter than the Razr. Keep in mind, it got a 2/10 to Motorola’s 1/10 (the lowest score), but in 2020, we’re all taking victories where we can get them.

There’s been some negative coverage mixed in, as well, of course; iFixit noted that the Flip could have some potential long-term dusty problems due to its hinge, writing, “it seems like dust might be this phone’s Kryptonite.” Also, the $1,400 phone’s new, improved folding glass has proven to be vulnerable to fingernails, of all things — a definite downside if you have, you know, fingers.

Reports of cracked screens have also begun to surface, owing, perhaps, to cold weather. It’s still hard to say how widespread these concerns are. Samsung’s saving grace, however, could well be the Razr. First the device made it through a fraction of the folds of Samsung’s first-gen product. Then reviewers and users alike complained of a noisy fold mechanism and build quality that might be…lacking.

A review at Input had some major issues with a screen that appeared to fall apart at the seams (again, perhaps due to cold weather). Motorola went on the defensive, issuing the following statement:

We have full confidence in razr’s display, and do not expect consumers to experience display peeling as a result of normal use. As part of its development process, razr underwent extreme temperature testing. As with any mobile phone, Motorola recommends not storing (e.g., in a car) your phone in temperatures below -4 degrees Fahrenheit and above 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If consumers experience device failure related to weather during normal use, and not as a result of abuse or misuse, it will be covered under our standard warranty.

Consensus among reviews is to wait. The Flip is certainly a strong indication that the category is heading in the right direction. And Samsung is licensing its folding glass technology, which should help competitors get a bit of a jump start and hopefully avoid some of the pitfalls of the first-gen Fold and Razr.

A new survey from PCMag shows that 82% of consumers don’t plan to purchase such a device, with things like snapping hinges, fragile screens and creases populating the list of concerns. Which, honestly, fair enough on all accounts.

The rush to get to market has surely done the category a disservice. Those who consider themselves early adopters are exactly the people who regularly read tech reviews, and widespread issues are likely enough to make many reconsider pulling the trigger on a $1,500-$2,000 device. Even early adopters are thrilled about the idea of beta testing for that much money.

Two steps forward, one step back, perhaps? Let’s check back in a generation or two from now and talk.

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Images of TCL’s slide-out display smartphone surface in wake of MWC cancellation

Posted by | foldables, hardware, Mobile, mwc 2020, smartphones, TCL | No Comments

This morning brought a look at some of what we’re missing at this year’s Mobile World Congress. The show may have been called off on account of coronavirus concerns, but the news goes on.

We knew that TCL was planning to show off a number of “alternative” smartphone form factors, and one just showed up on CNET. The device presents a promising take on the world of expandable screens, with a kind of slide-out display that expands the standard smartphone into something more akin to a tablet.

TCL, of course, showed off its own foldable at MWC last year, but the device was encased in a block of glass. By all accounts, the company’s decision to not rush to market was a good one, as foldables have not gotten off to the most auspicious of starts.

The sources behind the images say that the device would have debuted at MWC, though it’s hard to judge how far along the technology is, given the fact that these are, indeed, renders. If I had to venture a guess, I’d say that best-case scenario, it would have been another under-glass, hands-off debut. These days, it seems that manufacturers are increasingly following the automotive model of showing off early concepts that may or may not ever actually come to market. The word “prototype” certainly seems apt in this case. 

In either case, a TCL rep declined to offer TechCrunch a comment on the images or whether we’ll get a better look in spite of the show’s cancellation.

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Living with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Posted by | foldables, hardware, Mobile, Samsung, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, smartphones, TC | No Comments

The Galaxy Z Flip ships with the same “Care Instructions” as the Fold. It’s a five-item list with the following basic points:

  • Don’t scratch the screen with a pen or fingernail
  • Don’t stick stuff between the screens when folding
  • Don’t get it dusty, wet or feed it after midnight
  • Don’t stick stickers to the screen
  • Don’t get it near credit cards or your pacemaker

Unlike the last time around, however, these warnings seem to have been included out of an (understandable) abundance of caution. As stated in my hands-on the other day, the Flip feels more solid than the Fold in just about every way, from the folding mechanism to the display, which now sports foldable protective glass.

A couple of notes before we start here. First, and most importantly, this is a rare 24-hour device loan. Short loan times are not entirely uncommon with high-end products, but a single day is a bit extreme. I’m being upfront about this because:

  1. You can only go into so much depth with limited time.
  2. It’s worth noting what appears to be a bit of caution on Samsung’s part.

This isn’t a case of an early product in limited supply. The Z Flip went on sale today (happy Valentine’s/Sonic the Hedgehog Day to you and yours). If I had to venture a guess, it would be that Samsung is still reeling a bit from fallout from the Fold, which found a number of review devices breaking prior to the product hitting the market.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

For all of the downside, however, I would argue that coverage that pushed the company to reinforce the product before actually selling it for $2,000 a pop was ultimately a good things. Besides, as was pointed out to me, most if not all of the faulty Folds went sideways before the 24-hour mark.

See also: the Moto Razr. Reviews of the product have started filtering in a week or so after the product hit the market. Seems the company opted not to give out review units until the product was already available (full transparency: I still haven’t gotten my hands on a review unit). The analogy I keep coming back to is movie reviews. If you don’t see any professional reviews by the time a movie hits theaters, that probably doesn’t bode well for spending $10 of your hard-earned cash.

None of this is an indictment of the Galaxy Z Flip, which so far is proving to be a pretty solid device. It’s more a comment on the optics of it all. Give than the handset is roughly the same price as 150 movies, reviews are all that much more valuable to consumers — many of whom are understandably wary after the category’s rocky start.

It’s a shame, because I’ve been enjoying my time with the Galaxy Z Flip. In many ways, this is exactly the device Samsung’s original foldable should have been. For starters, the form factor just makes more sense. The “why” of the Fold was significantly more difficult to explain to those outside the industry (and frankly, many of those inside it, as well).

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Anyone who’s ever used a clamshell phone, on the other hand, will immediately get the Flip. You’ve got a roomy 6.7-inch screen that you can snap shut and stick in your pocket. It’s pretty much as simple as that — it’s just that there was a lot of innovation that had to happen in order to get us back to square one with a larger, uninterrupted touchscreen display.

Also of note is the price. Of course, $1,380 isn’t cheap by practically any measure, but that’s a pretty big drop down from the $2,000 Galaxy Fold. The argument that Fold users should have been extra careful with the device given its price point have always struck me as somewhat counter-intuitive. If anything, a device that price ought to have added safeguards built-in.

The Flip has implemented a number of learnings from the earlier product, namely a glass covering, edges hidden beneath (sizable) bezels and an advanced folding mechanism designed to keep dust and debris out. In fact, this time out, the folding mechanism itself is considered a marquee feature. Per Samsung’s press material:

Inspired by a lotus blossom, the Hideaway Hinge is precisely articulated for a satisfying folding motion — even allowing you to adjust the folding angle. Sweeper technology helps repel dirt and dust to keep your folds as smooth as your style.

That’s a marketing way of saying that it’s a lot harder to get crap trapped behind the screen, which could eventually break it. The folding mechanism is, indeed, a nice step up. It feels more robust than the sometimes floppy Fold. You can keep it open at different configurations, like a 90 degree “L” shape for watching videos.

The biggest downside of the more robust mechanism is that it’s harder to flip open with a single hand, owing to resistance, and it doesn’t have as satisfying a snap shut. Those all seem like pretty minor quibbles, to be honest — especially if it means a more robust product. Samsung rates the Z Flip at 200,000 folds — same as the Fold. Of course, in CNET’s testing, the Fold lasted about 120,000 mechanical folds.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Not terrible, and definitely better than the 27,000 or so the Razr made it through. Also, unlike Motorola’s device, the Flip doesn’t make a troubling creaking sound when it opens and shuts. The Razr really does seem awash in first-generation problems. Motorola can’t be pleased that Samsung introduced a competing device with the same form factor soon after its own product and was able to bring it to market roughly a week after the Razr.

I can’t imagine either of these devices will prove huge sellers for their respective manufactures, but if I was Motorola, the Flip would be cause for concern. The Razr went from an exciting new entry in the foldable category to another strike against it when it was released and both consumer and professional reviews began trickling in.

A little bit of the novelty has worn off for Samsung. That’s honestly not a bad thing. By the second generation, the product should no longer be reviewed as a sort of oddity. Instead, it should be regarded as a, you know, phone. And as such, should be subject to the same sort of regular wear any smartphones go through.

In other words, it’s reasonable to expect that it can withstand, say, a hard press from a finger but not necessarily a five-foot drop onto concrete. Again, this is only after a day of use, but so far, so good on that front, at least.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

The 21.9×9 aspect ratio is an odd one. The phone is really tall and skinny. Also, the crease is still very noticeable — that much hasn’t changed. But the Flip looks mostly unremarkable when open. I was using it open on the subway ride home and no one seemed to notice (New Yorkers, amiright?). The Fold, on the other hand, drew curious looks every time I used it. If having strangers notice your expensive new phone is an incentive for spending $1,400, then that’s a downside, I suppose.

There haven’t been too many updates to the Android UI to accommodate the new screen paradigm. The biggest change is the ability to have two windows open in a vertical configuration. There’s also Flex model, which is currently limited to a select number of applications. Open, say, the camera app, bend the phone so it holds at a 90-degree angle and the app will adapt. In this case, the view finder moves up, occupying the top half of the screens while the controls take up the bottom. It’s a cool feature, with the device essentially serving as its own kickstand for things like taking selfies or reading the news.

Utilizing it more broadly is going to require more work on Google’s part — and more adoption from app developers. The latter especially is going to depend quite a lot on how many of these devices are actually sold. For now, YouTube is the one pure video app that utilizes it.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

That’s fine, honestly, as turning the device to landscape mode and opening it to about 130 degrees is actually an even better way to watch widescreen video. There are a smattering of other tricks here and there. Holding up a palm in selfie-mode, for instance, let’s you snap a photo without touching a button or using voice.

The Flip is the first Samsung device to bake Google’s Duo video calling directly into the UI. It’s a nice choice, too, since the Flex mode is basically built for video calling. Oh, and to answer the question I’ve been asked the most since the Flip was announced: yes, you can end a call by closing the phone. And yes, it is satisfying to give the person on the other end a tactile snap.

The feature is on by default and can be disabled in the settings menu. It won’t work if you have earbuds in, however, because in many cases you’ll want to be using them to chat while the phone is closed in your pocket.

As for the outside, Samsung’s gone decidedly minimalist. The inclusion of an exterior screen was a big selling point on the Fold, but honestly it was too skinny with too small an aspect ratio to do much. The outside of the device has a glossy mirror finish — black in my case. And yeah, it’s a complete fingerprint magnet.

There’s a one-inch display of sorts on the outside of the Flip, but it’s only large enough for small at-a-glance information like battery life and time. It can also show off notifications, but it’s too small to accomplish much without scrolling. If you’ve ever attempted to read a notification on a hybrid smartwatch, the experience is fairly similar.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

The little window is actually a touchscreen. A double tap will turn it on, and from there a swipe with show off information like the music you’re listening to. Attempting to click into an app icon for more information on a notification, however, will prompt you to open the phone for more information. Interestingly, the tiny screen also serves as a view finder. Double-clicking the fingerprint reader/power button will fire it up. It’s okay for getting a rough approximation of what you’re shooting (likely yourself), but is pretty useless beyond that.

And honestly, I think that’s fine. In fact, I would even go so far as to say I think that’s actually a strength. In an era when so many of us are grappling with smartphone use, there’s something to be said for the ability to snap the device shut and disconnect for a bit. You can keep streaming music or listening to podcasts, but when the phone is closed, it’s time to engage with the world around you.

Or not. I’m not going to tell you how to live.

Hey, it’s your $1,400. There are plenty of other ways to spend that much money, of course. You could also pick up the Galaxy S20 Ultra — the mega premium version of Samsung’s latest flagship. For that price, you get the same-old boring form factor, coupled with some crazy high-end specs, including a 5,000 mAh battery, 12GB of RAM and the latest Snapdragon 865, versus the Flip’s 3,300 mAh, 8GB and Snapdragon 855+.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

The Ultra also has an extreme edge on cameras, including a 108-megapixel wide angel, 48-megapixel telephoto, 12-megapixel ultra-wide and a time-of-fight sensor for depth. The Flip, meanwhile, sports a 12-megapixel zoom lens and 12-megapixel super-wide. There’s no competition, but Samsung’s breadth of imaging experience makes for a solid experience regardless.

Again, my time with the device has been limited, but so far I’m pretty satisfied with the combination of hardware an software options. The shots look good and have a nice color balance even in low light. I can’t see myself using Single Take too often, but the ability to get multiple different shot options with a single press could certainly prove useful for amateur photographers.

Perhaps the most notable omission of all is 5G. While it’s true that a number of other companies (*cough* Apple) don’t even offer the option, Samsung introduced a 5G version of the Fold last year (in select markets) and went all in on 5G with the S20 line. It’s clear that the company took feedback over pricing concerns to heart with the Flip. The device is only available in a single configuration, highlighting the gulf between it and the Fold.

Which is to say, it’s still expensive, but that $500 or so makes a difference. So, too, does more robust build and new form factor. I’m recommending you buy the Flip. We’re still very much in the early stages of foldables here. That said, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Flip over the Fold. And while I haven’t really spent time with the Moto Razr, well, that seems like a slam dunk, too. 

Again, if I was Motorola, I would be considering, at very least, a significant price drop. While the Flip likely won’t convince the skeptical that foldables are the future, it should, at very least, be a heartening indication that Samsung is headed in the right direction.

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Phone manufacturers eye their next move as 5G goes mainstream

Posted by | 5g, foldables, hardware, Mobile, Samsung, Samsung Unpacked 2020 | No Comments

For two years running, Samsung played the same trick and front-loaded its annual event by announcing a new foldable.

Last year’s announcement of the Fold was a huge one — the first viable (relatively speaking, of course) foldable handset from a major manufacturer. Of course, some stuff has happened in the intervening months, taking a bit of the shine off the device and the category at large.

This week at Unpacked 2020, Samsung came out of the gate swinging once again, announcing the Galaxy Z Flip at the top of the event. As with last year, the move had the effect of taking some of the wind out of its flagship announcement, a sign of a company convinced that standing out from the pack and reversing flagging smartphone sales trends will require some bold decision-making.

That’s not to say the company’s not pushing the envelope on its flagships. Between 100x zoom on the Ultra and 8K video on all of the devices, Samsung is still duking it out on imaging. But it appears not to have any illusions about what really gets users excited in an era of smartphone ubiquity.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip hands-on: This is more like it

Posted by | foldables, hardware, Mobile, Samsung, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, Samsung Unpacked 2020 | No Comments

The buyer beware adage is never more true than among early adopters. It was price, however, that made the Galaxy Fold such a difficult pill to swallow. When it was finally released to the public after numerous delays, the device came swaddled in warnings. It was a long list, and not exactly a vote of confidence for those who just dropped $2,000 on an unproven device.

At the same time, the impulse to purchase the device was understandable. After years of teasing flexible displays, Samsung was finally ready to show us what life could be like after a decade worth of flat smartphones.

Announced almost exactly a year after the Fold, the Galaxy Z Flip presents a refined look at the category. Having only spent a little time with the product this afternoon after the unveiling, I’m not quite ready to declare that this is the phone the Fold should have been, but it certainly feels like a key step in the right direction.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Top level, here’s what’s better:

  • The price (if only just)
  • The form factor
  • The durability

Last point first. In some ways, the Z Flip finds Samsung atoning for its sins. The display is, get this, covered in glass. The company is vague about the specifics, but everything about the Flip feels more solid than its predecessor, right down to the folding mechanism. It’s sturdy — in fact, you can have the device open at a number of different angles to prop it up. Closing it requires more force than the Fold, and that’s a good thing.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Also, it doesn’t, you know, creak when you close it. There is, however, still a pronounced crease.

The 6.7-inch display puts its toward the larger end of the spectrum among smartphones, but it fits extremely comfortably in the pocket when closed. If you’ve ever used a clamshell phone before (which is to say if you’re over the age of 30), you get the appeal on that front. The Fold’s long form factor was still pretty large when closed.

What you lose here, however, is a fair amount of functionality when closed. The Flip’s screen is small and not super-duper useful, but it’s there when needed. Instead of a full display, the Flip features a little window in the bottom corner. This is almost exclusively good for things like time and battery life. You can swim through to other things, but beyond that, it’s a stretch.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Double-tap the fingerprint sensing power button and it will turn into a display for selfies. It’s a bad selfie screen. It gives you an idea of whether you’re framing the image well, but that’s where the usefulness stops.

At $1,380, it’s priced slightly below the $1,499 Razr. If I was Motorola right now, I would be talking price cuts to stay competitive. The Razr nostalgia will only get you so far, and Samsung’s full generation lead here is showing itself in the form of a more robust device.

Part of the (again relative) price drop is — not exactly corner cutting, but definitely a downgrade from the crazy high-end specs on the Galaxy S20 Ultra. Most notable is the complete lack of 5G option, which is an odd choice for what’s designed to be a forward-thinking device from a company that has otherwise gone all in on 5G with its flagships. More than anything, you get the sense that Samsung was trying to differentiate the product from the Fold with a lower price.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

I’m still a long ways away from actually recommending the purchase of a foldable for the vast majority of consumers, but the Flip feels like a strong step toward helping mainstream the form factor. Who knows? A generation or two from now, maybe we’ll get there.

No delays this time out. The Flip goes on sale February 14. Happy flippin’ Valentine’s Day.

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Samsung gives foldables another go with the Galaxy Z Flip

Posted by | foldables, hardware, Mobile, Samsung, Samsung Unpacked 2020, TC | No Comments

Samsung did a surprisingly good job keeping the Galaxy Fold under wraps, surprising the world with its first foldable this time last year during the Galaxy S10 unveil. When it came to the Galaxy Z Flip, on the other hand, the company just went ahead and showed the whole thing off during an Oscar ad buy. (Not to mention numerous Samsung employees playing around with the handsets in their seats this morning, ahead of unveil). Crazy world, these mobile phones.

Of course, that’s not to say we haven’t known about the Flip for a while now. Samsung teased out the Moto Razr-style form factor before it even officially announced the Fold. Samsung wanted to make it perfectly clear that the foldable wasn’t just a one-and-done situation for the company.

The company kicked off today’s Unpacked event by unveiling the new foldable, which it claims is “like nothing you’ve ever seen before.” Which, well, isn’t exactly true.

Certainly the Z Flip form factor seems a more logical one, harkening back to pre-smartphone days of clamshell devices. Of course, the Razr has been running into its own issues after its recent release. Between that and — even more notable — the Fold’s myriad problems, the Z Flip will no doubt be under as much scrutiny as any handset in recent memory.

When opened, the screen is 6.7 inches, with a hole-punch camera up top. When closed, there isn’t much of a display, beyond a quick bar that offers time, notifications and battery life. Users can also snap selfies with the case closed. The clam shell comes in three colors: black, purple and gold.

One assumes that Samsung learned plenty of lessons from the original Fold, after having to go back to the drawing board when multiple reviewers wound up with broken units.
Samsung claims the device can handle 200,000 flips, courtesy of foldable glass — which should give it some extra durability. In an off-handed reference to earlier issues, the company noted that the hinge is designed to keep debris out, one of the major downfalls of the first-gen Fold, which allowed dust and particles behind the screen, damaging it when users pressed down. The new phone has a kind of brush system inside to keep stuff out.

Obviously we can’t quite speak to durability just yet (though I, for one, am excited to get my hands on the thing), but at $1,380, it’s priced — well, it’s less expensive than the $2,000 Galaxy Fold, at least. That puts it more in line with the new Razr, not to mention, Samsung’s just now introduced Galaxy S20 Ultra.

The Flip will be available on Valentine’s Day.

A Thom Browne Edition, meanwhile, will bring the iconic designer’s touch to the device, which will be highlighted in more detail at a special event tomorrow in New York as part of Fashion Week. 

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Samsung teases videocalling on its next foldable during the Oscars

Posted by | Asia, foldables, Gadgets, Mobile, Motorola Razr, Samsung, Samsung Electronics, samsung galaxy, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, smartphones, south korea, The Oscars | No Comments

It was South Korea’s — rather than Netflix’s — night at the Oscars, thanks to Bong Joon-ho’s biting class satire Parasite, which won a well-deserved best picture

But tech giant Samsung appears to have been hoping to steal a little of the national limelight. The Korean phone maker chose a prime Oscars ad slot to show off a 360-degree view of its next foldable, running it as a teaser for its Unpacked 2020 unboxing event, which takes place in San Francisco tomorrow.

#Samsung showing off the new foldable during the #Oscars ahead of #unpacked2020 pic.twitter.com/PD9KdZKjmB

— Carolina Milanesi (@caro_milanesi) February 10, 2020

The ad shows the flip phones from all angles, opening and closing while the Comic Strip sounds of Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot pop and crackle in the background.

Notably we see the foldable propping itself up, with the screen half or three-quarters open, for a hands-free face-time style chat. (In case you were wondering what the point of a flip phone might be in 2020.)

There’s also an eye-popping iridescent purple color-way on show that seems intended to make the most of the screen-concealing clamshell design. A black version does a much better job of blending into the background, and a brief side view of the phone shows what looks like a side-mounted fingerprint scanner as shown in earlier leaks.

And if you’re wondering how you’ll screen incoming calls when the clam is closed, the ad shows a micro display that tells you the name of the person calling. TL;DR: You can still ghost your frenemies while packing a flip.

We’ve seen renders of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip leak online before but this is an official full view of the foldable Samsung hopes will spark a retro fashion craze for clamshell flip phones. (See also the rebooted Motorola Razr.)

Samsung will also, of course, be hoping this foldable can bend without immediately breaking.

Stay tuned for all the details from Samsung Unpacked 2020 as we get them (we’re especially keen to find out the price-tag for this foldable), including our first look at the next flagship Galaxy S device.

TechCrunch’s intrepid hardware editor, Brian Heater, will be on the ground in San Francisco tomorrow to get hands on with all the new kit so you don’t have to.

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