Samsung Galaxy Z Flip: 5 things it must do to avoid the Motorola Razr’s stumble

Samsung almost certainly has the Galaxy Z Flip waiting in the wings, and according to the rumor mill, it’s going to be different from the current Galaxy Fold. Instead, Samsung’s second folding phone will follow in the footsteps of the new Motorola Razr.

However, Samsung needs to deliver if it’s going to make more people buy. The Motorola Razr’s numerous launch woes and limited availability highlight the issues with early folding phones and threaten to sour reception to the Galaxy Z Flip. To succeed, Samsung needs to nail its launch in five key areas.

The Galaxy Z Flip must feel durable

I want to snap the Galaxy Z Flip closed, and enjoy every second of it. If Samsung delivers anything less than this it will be unacceptable, and the phone deemed an utter failure. This one of the many problems facing the Motorola Razr, a phone that doesn’t match expectations set by its classic sibling.

Samsung Galaxy Fold
The T-like structure in the middle is one of the new caps sealing a gap. Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Folding phones are all about the physical action of opening and closing. Older vertical folders like the Razr and Z Flip close with a satisfying thunk in everyday use, and a full-on snap when I want to end an angry call. Tactile response is important. It’s also hard on the hinge.

The Galaxy Z Flip’s hinge — which may be called a Hideaway hinge — needs to be 100% bulletproof and provide a wonderful, perfectly dampened movement. The Galaxy Fold’s hinge is technically impressive, but for a vertically folding smartphone, it will need to be miniaturized and refined further. Samsung’s engineers have their work cut out for them.

The Galaxy Z Flip must not suffer a recall

Folding smartphones are still new, so teething problems are to be expected. The Galaxy Fold had plenty, and forced Samsung to delay the launch by several months. The Motorola Razr has been blighted by reports of quality issues by those already using one of the devices.

Samsung absolutely must avoid a replay of the Galaxy Fold debacle and exceed the standard set by Motorola for vertically folding smartphones. The Galaxy Z Flip needs to be completely buttoned up before reviewers or owners get their hands on it.

Samsung Galaxy Fold
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Why is this important? It’s not just for Samsung’s sake. It’s for the public’s trust in foldable smartphones. Many people remember the Galaxy Fold problems, but fewer are aware they were solved and the phone is now available to safely buy. A second recall or redesign will hurt the adoption of folding smartphones at a time when they are just beginning to become interesting.

Another mess could even halt development of folding phones, and that would be a shame.

The Galaxy Z Flip needs a great battery

Anyone who used the Galaxy Fold will know it has superb battery life, easily lasting a full day with heavy use. This is in part due to its dual battery cells, giving a total capacity of 4,380mAh. The Motorola Razr has a 2,800mAh cell inside, and according to early reports, it lasts between 11 and 14 hours, depending on use.

The Galaxy Z Flip is going to be similar in size and design to the Razr, but Samsung is rumored to use another dual-cell setup, potentially leading to a total capacity of 3,300mAh. This is still smaller than the majority of non-folding smartphones in 2020, but larger than the Razr.

We don’t expect days of use; but to be acceptable the Galaxy Z Flip needs to last a full day before needing a recharge, even with heavy use.

The Galaxy Z Flip needs a useful second screen

If you’ve tried to type on the Galaxy Fold’s outer screen, you know it’s a frustrating experience. It’s useful for notifications, Google Maps, and not much else. The Motorola Razr is even less helpful, as the screen is just a screen and doesn’t support touch. Samsung needs to find a happy middle ground with the Galaxy Z Flip.

The size restrictions of a vertically folding smartphone means it’ll never be easy to use, but it needs to do something. At the very least, it needs full notification support and the ability to respond, perhaps with the same canned responses on a Google WearOS smartwatch.

Riley Young / Digital Trends

I need the time, the date, and the battery level. It needs to replicate the always-on screens on almost all regular smartphones today, plus a little extra, so opening the phone is not absolutely necessary.

Sadly, all this is likely to remain on the wishlist, because rumors indicate the outside screen will be tiny at just 1-inch, and only provide basic information.

The Galaxy Z Flip needs to be more than a normal phone

Folding smartphones like the Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate X offer a larger viewing space, improved multitasking, and increased convenience. Vertically folding smartphones are smaller and a bit easier to fit in your pocket. To justify its existence, the Galaxy Z Flip needs to go beyond this, especially when it’s going to cost a lot more than traditional phones.

Samsung needs to come up with compelling software features, an immersive video and audio experience, and usable multi-tasking if the Z Flip (and other vertically folding smartphones) are to be as desirable as larger, book-style folding brethren.

The Galaxy Z Flip is rumoured to have an unfolded 6.7-inch screen with a 22:9 aspect ratio. That’s unusual, and could give Samsung the opportunity to do something interesting with multi-tasking. Here’s hoping.

Galaxy Z Flip reveal and availability

When do we find out what the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip will really be like?

Samsung is holding its first Unpacked event of 2020 on February 11. We’re expecting the Samsung Galaxy S20 range to take center stage, but the Z Flip may also be there, just like the Galaxy Fold was during the Galaxy S10’s launch event.

If the Z Flip doesn’t show up at Unpacked 2020, then it may arrive at Mobile World Congress at the end of February, or at a separate event later on.

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