Every foldable smartphone released so far features significant compromises.
For example, Samsung’s Galaxy Fold is an undeniable technical achievement, but it’s bulky, features a relatively useless front-facing display, and beyond its folding screen, it just isn’t a great smartphone.
Not to mention its foldable plastic screen feels flimsy compared to other high-end smartphones — even after its minor redesign following issues with early media units — and the fact that it costs an astounding $2,599 CAD.
It’s obvious foldable screens are still a work-in-progress and that the Fold was in several ways Samsung beta testing a not quite ready, but still incredibly cool product. Don’t get me wrong though; I’ve been writing about foldable display technology for over a decade at this point, so it really felt like a game-changing moment when I finally got my hands on the Fold (this is probably why my initial impressions of the smartphone were resoundingly positive).
Looking back though, I don’t think I could recommend anyone purchase the Fold.
With all this in mind, if the never-ending stream of rumours surrounding Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Z Flip are accurate, I’m hoping it will be the first foldable smartphone that doesn’t feature significant compromises.
Leaks indicate that Samsung’s next foldable smartphone will feature surprisingly high-end specs, including last year’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, a 6.7-inch AMOLED FHD+ display and a new ‘hideaway hinge’ that removes the unsightly crease that’s visible when the Galaxy Fold is opened.
As impressive as the Fold is, the crease that you can always see when the device is unfolded entirely is difficult to ignore once you notice it.
In an interesting move, the Z Flip also reportedly features a 1.05-inch outer screen designed for notifications and showing the time, which, while similar to the Fold’s external display, seems far better on battery life and more passive.
While I appreciated the Fold’s massive, tablet-like 7.3-inch screen, in practice I found it incredibly unwieldy, especially if I wanted to quickly pull the phone out during my often crowded commute to work. Since the Z Flip folds like a clamshell, this likely won’t be an issue.
While Motorola’s Razr solves some of these same issues, including fixing the visible crease problem, it also features a few notable drawbacks. For one, the smartphone features a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor instead of the higher-end Snapdragon 855 or 865.
Further, early reports indicate that its unique hinge makes a strange clicking noise. Of course, it’s possible Samsung’s still-unannounced Galaxy Z Flip could suffer from similar design flaws.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip – First Hands On Video pic.twitter.com/4b8Uzt5kRB
— Ben Geskin (@BenGeskin) February 2, 2020
The Razr’s overall look straddles the line between the future of smartphones and an unabashed throwback. While people that have a nostalgic connection to the Razr will appreciate this retro look, I prefer the forward-thinking aesthetic of the Galaxy Z Flip.
It kind of looks like a modern take on Nintendo’s classic Game Boy Advance SP handheld when folded. Take a look at the image above and you’ll see what I mean.
To be clear, the Z Flip isn’t here yet. We don’t even know for sure that it exists, though the recent stream of leaks indicates that it almost certainly does. I also haven’t touched or seen the phone yet, and have no idea if it’s coming to Canada. In fact, given Samsung’s recent track record when it comes to the Galaxy Fold, there’s a possibility the Z Flip could suffer from some sort of device-ruining flaw.
That said, the optimistic side of me is hoping this won’t be the case because if the leaks and rumours are accurate, the Galaxy Z Flip looks like the first foldable smartphone I’m actually interested in buying for what I can only assume will be a ridiculous amount of money.
Update 02/10/2020: Samsung officially revealed the Galaxy Z Flip with a 30-second trailer during the 2020 Oscars.