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Flipping your way into the future

By Michael Connor

On Friday, Feb. 14, Samsung launched the Galaxy Z Flip. The Z Flip is Samsung’s second foldable phone and while being a truly innovative project, it is fundamentally based on some familiar territory. I’ve gotten a little ahead of myself, let’s start back at the beginning. 

Ever since the iPhone was first launched in 2007, flip phones have slowly become relics of the past. Being a senior here, I have plenty of memories of the Motorola Razr and Nokia devices that dominated the handset market. I also remember when the first iPhone came out and thought its revolutionary touch display was the coolest piece of tech I’ve ever seen. Now touch based displays are so commonplace, that seeing a flip phone is almost strange. 

Tech has evolved over the past decade quite rapidly. Once Apple introduced the iPhone, many other players wanted to enter the market, including Samsung. Before I move forward, I should confess that I am a huge Apple fan and will always be loyal to the company. With that being said, I have a deeper appreciation for the tech industry as a whole and will give credit when it’s due. Samsung, despite being Apple’s most competitive rival, is one of the most innovative and exciting companies in the market. 

As Apple launched generation after generation of iPhone, Samsung stood right behind them launching new versions of the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note every year. Each company embraced the spirit of capitalism and free market as they competed aggressively and impressively every year. Each company has its loyal fans and has built such a following where even arguments amongst the closest friends occur daily. 

In February of 2019, Samsung unveiled one of its most secretive and innovative projects, the Galaxy Fold. One of the pioneering folding handsets, Samsung had a lot riding on the device’s ultimate success. Set to launch in the U.S during April, the Galaxy Fold became highly anticipated and became a popular conversation item among tech enthusiasts and Samsung fans. Unfortunately for Samsung, the product was rushed and many units were defective. Samsung had sent test units to popular YouTube or media tech reviewers before launch, and a negative commonality was shared among them. 

After controversial publicity, Samsung canceled the April launch as they tried to resolve the pending issues. An eventual release date of Sept. 27 was selected. Once the device was improved, it began to receive mixed reviews. Some praised its revolutionary design factor, while others criticized its highly expensive price tag and its plastic-based screen. 

In November of 2019, Motorola announced the development of a new Razr phone inspired by the beloved 2000’s device, but with a foldable OLED display and modern internal specifications. Motorola’s innovative contribution to the smartphone market just launched nearly two weeks ago on Thursday, Feb. 6.  

The talk had occurred in the tech industry about Samsung launching a new foldable device with a similar design to the Razr. Then on Oscar Sunday, it happened, out of nowhere, Samsung showed off the Galaxy Z Flip ahead of its supposed unveiling on Tuesday, Feb. 11. Most tech companies would never reveal a new device before a live event. What an interesting move from Samsung.

 The Galaxy Z Flip is a brilliant contribution from Samsung and will directly compete head-on with the 2020 Razr. As other tech writers would suggest, the Z Flip is definitely an attempt by Samsung to make up for the rocky launch of the Galaxy Fold.

The whole beauty of such a design is a small device capable of fitting pockets with ease, while folding out to become a 6.7-inch glass AMOLED display with plenty of screen real estate. The phone launched with another highly expensive price tag of $1,380. 

Whether the Galaxy Z Flip will be a critical success or not, time will only tell. Launching a second, improved foldable handset is a great move after the Galaxy Fold controversies and makes a lot of sense. One thing is for sure though, Samsung is giving Motorola a run for their money, and Apple who has relied on the same notch design for all their phone handsets for the past three years. Well done Samsung.

Michael Connor can be reached at michael.connor@spartans.ut.edu

 

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