New Sam­sung flip phone cheaper, still a nov­elty

Baltimore Sun - - ENTERTAINM­ENT - By Rachel Ler­man and Kelvin Chan

SAN FRAN­CISCO — Sam­sung has un­veiled a new fold­able phone, the Galaxy Z Flip, its sec­ond at­tempt to sell con­sumers on phones with bend­able screens and clamshell de­signs.

The new phone can un­fold from a small square up­ward into a tra­di­tional smart­phone form, and will go on sale Fri­day start­ing at $1,380. The com­pany an­nounced the phone at a prod­uct event in San Fran­cisco.

Sam­sung’s first fold­able phone, the Galaxy Fold, fi­nally went on sale last Septem­ber af­ter de­lays and re­ports of screens break­ing. The Fold, which car­ries a price tag of nearly $2,000, folds at a ver­ti­cal crease rather than hor­i­zon­tally as a flip-phone de­sign would. Mo­torola has also taken the flip-phone ap­proach with its new $1,500 Razr phone.

The fold­able phones rep­re­sent man­u­fac­tur­ers’ at­tempt to en­er­gize a mar­ket where sales have slowed. Many con­sumers are hold­ing onto old phones longer, in part be­cause new phone fea­tures offer in­creas­ingly mar­ginal ben­e­fits. But these fold­able mod­els come with higher price tags and are likely to ap­peal for now mostly to tech en­thu­si­asts and oth­ers at the fore­front of tech­nol­ogy.

“While there’s a lot of ex­cite­ment around this new cat­e­gory, it is still early days and they will evolve sig­nif­i­cantly.” said Paolo Pesca­tore, an an­a­lyst at PP Fore­sight. “While these in­no­va­tive new de­signs are nice to have, they’re not must-have, sought-af­ter fea­tures among users.”

The Z Flip can stay open at dif­fer­ent an­gles for use watch­ing videos or tak­ing photos. When the phone is closed, it will take self­ies and dis­play no­ti­fi­ca­tions in a small win­dow on the cover. Un­folded, its screen mea­sures 6.7 inches di­ag­o­nally.

Sam­sung says it added fibers to the gap be­tween the hinge and the phone to keep out dust and im­prove hinge func­tion, likely to ad­dress short­com­ings of the Galaxy Fold.

On the more tra­di­tional front, Sam­sung of­fers its S series. In a nod to the start of the 2020s, the South Korean com­pany showed off the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus and S20 Ul­tra, skip­ping di­rectly to the S20 from its pre­vi­ous S10 series.

The S20 phones are de­signed to take high-qual­ity pic­tures in dark set­tings, Sam­sung prod­uct man­ager Mark Hol­loway said.

The phones can take both video and photos at the same time, us­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to zero in on the best mo­ments to cap­ture the still im­ages.

Sam­sung’s S phones al­ready offer the wider an­gle and some fea­tures for low­light­ing.

But the com­pany says the new phones will fo­cus on high-res­o­lu­tion photos and the abil­ity to zoom in 30 to 100 times, de­pend­ing on the model.

The S20 phones go on sale in the U.S. on March 6, and will range in price from $1,000 to $1,400. All S20 mod­els will be com­pat­i­ble with next-gen­er­a­tion cel­lu­lar net­works known as 5G, al­though it’s still an early tech­nol­ogy that con­sumers typ­i­cally won’t need yet. The Z Flip will not work with 5G net­works.

JOSH EDELSON/GETTY-AFP

Sam­sung un­veiled its Galaxy Z Flip phone with a lofty price tag aimed at “trend­set­ters.”

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