Samsung on Tuesday unveiled a new foldable phone, the Galaxy Z Flip, its second attempt to sell consumers on phones with bendable screens and clamshell designs.
The company announced the phone at the start of a product event in San Francisco. The new phone can unfold from a small square upward into a traditional smartphone form, and will go on sale Feb. 14 starting at $1,380.
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.
For everyone else, Samsung offers its S series. As the 2020s kick off, the South Korean company showed off the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus and S20 Ultra at an event in San Francisco, skipping directly to the 20s from its 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 renewed focus on the camera follows Apple, whose iPhone 11 phones last fall offered an additional lens for wider-angle shots and combined multiple shots with software to improve low-light images. Google’s Pixel phones also offer a similar low-light feature.
Samsung’s S phones already offer the wider angle and some features for low-lighting – but Samsung 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 are expected to come out in March. Samsung didn’t immediately announce prices. Last year’s main S10 model went for $900 in the U.S. at launch. For all models, Samsung plans to make versions compatible with next-generation cellular networks, known as 5G, though it’s still an early technology that consumers typically won’t need yet.
As people packed into San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts for Samsung’s launch event, they passed a team taking remote temperatures in the security line, likely a precaution to check for the coronavirus. Samsung also offered hand sanitizer stations and face masks inside the event lobby.