With the Galaxy Z Flip, Samsung searches for its foldable do-over

10 Feb 2020 11:34 AM
A year ago, Samsung took the stage at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA and unveiled a device poised to improve the complete smartphone market: the Galaxy Fold. It captured the attention of everyone at the event and even intrigued the non-tech savvy tuning in from afar. But it wasn't long before the Fold had problems: defects in the foldable screen, shaky iphone app compatibility and a delayed launch. 

This year, Samsung is poised for a do-over. 

The South Korean electronics giant again will host a meeting in SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA -- this time around taking the stage at the Palace of Fine Arts on Tuesday at 11 a.m. PT -- and again it'll show a fresh foldable. But this iteration, believed to be called the Galaxy Z Flip, could avoid many problems faced by its predecessors, including high pricing and insufficient apps. 

The event is notable for another reason: It is the first show that Samsung's new head of mobile, Tae-moon Roh, will lead. Along with the Flip, Samsung is likely to unveil a trio of Galaxy S20 phones and new Galaxy Buds Plus earbuds, and it could even introduce its long-awaited Bixby-powered smart speaker. But it is the Galaxy Z Flip that'll likely capture the attention of attendees.

At the same time most companies don't have even one foldable phone, Samsung now could have two. And they're likely to be completely different from one another. Samsung first teased the new foldable during its developer conference in October. The Flip is thought to resemble an ultra high-tech flip phone, with a bendable glass interior display, versus the Fold's phone-tablet hybrid design. 

If the Z Flip's design been there as well, that's because we've essentially already seen it. Motorola's new Razr foldable, which hit stores Thursday, includes a design that hearkens back again to the hugely popular Razr flip phone, and the Z Flip is likely to utilize the same clamshell design. Samsung's Galaxy Fold was essentially a smartphone that expanded outward into a tablet. 

When it finally continued sale in September, the Fold was difficult to acquire in stores, and its $1,980 price tag was high for most buyers. Five months after it became available, there still aren't enough programs that transition well between the Fold's small front screen and the large, interior display. And reviewers criticized that smaller front screen, saying it wasn't large enough to really be very useful.

Motorola, meanwhile, faced multiple delays of its Razr before finally launching the device, and the version now on sale for consumers has some issues, such as a squeaky hinge. It's tough to find in stores, is back-ordered online and includes less-advanced technology -- just like a weaker processor and more-limited camera capabilities -- than what most high-end smartphones boast. 

The Flip, which some rumors say could go on sale as soon as this month, presents a chance for Samsung to again capture the buzz in the foldables market. The Galaxy Z Flip, using its familiar interior smartphone screen, could attract a whole lot of buyers immediately, unlike the Fold, which mostly seemed aimed toward early tech adopters.  

App compatibility must not be a problem for the Flip. (The inside screen is expected to be the same size as regular smartphones and there's likely no front display). The response to Motorola's Razr has proven that persons are intrigued by the clamshell foldable model. And the Flip is expected to cost about $1,400, much less compared to the Fold, and even $100 significantly less than the Razr.