Архив метки: Galaxy Fold

Royole returns with another foldable

I first spent time with the Royole Flexpai at a TechCrunch event in China back in 2018. The device was exciting. It was the first commercially released foldable, after all, before Samsung and Huawei offered their respective takes on the form factor. But ultimately it felt like, at best, a proof of concept. It was a shot across the bow from a little-known Shenzhen-based hardware maker, and ultimately little else.
The last two years have been — let’s say “complicated” for the category. I don’t think anyone was anticipating that $2,000 foldable phones were going to disrupt the industry right out of the gate or anything — especially in a time when more people are spending less money on their mobile devices. But to say foldables got off to a rocky start is something of an understatement. Royole has announced a few more products here and there, but the Flexpai continues to be the company’s most engaging from a consumer perspective.

A closer look at Royole’s foldable display

At an event in Beijing this morning, the company announced the Flexpai 2. The device is similar in design to the first model, which is to say it folds with the screen facing outward. The design makes sense from the standpoint of offering up notifications while closed (there’s a reason the Galaxy Fold 2 got a larger front-facing screen), but now you’ve got two screens to scuff up when the big old device is in your pocket.

The device itself got a bit of screen time during the press conference, though not a ton. For now we mostly have press shots to rely on, which is going to continue to be one of the pain points of covering hardware in the COVID-19 era. Fittingly, the company spent a lot of time talking hinges here — that, after all, was a high profile point of failure for Samsung’s first-gen device.
Here’s how Royole describes it in the press material:

The structure of the hinge is stable and shockproof, providing the great protection for the screen. It has more than 200 precision components with 0.01 mm processing accuracy. The hinge technology holds around 200 patents and solved many issues seen in other foldable smartphones.

Image Credits: Royole

Having had limited time with the Flexpai, I’ll say that robustness didn’t seem like one of the primary issues with a product that had some other first-gen bugs. The thing was pretty massively thick, though — which Royole has addressed with a design here that’s around 40% thinner than the first gen. The display is a generous 7.8 inches — though no mention of whether there’s glass reinforcement, which could be an issue.
There’s 5G support, a healthy 4450mAh battery and a Snapdragon 865 processor. The company updated its waterOS, which is built on top of Android 10 to offer a more seamless foldable experience. It arrives in China this week priced at around $1,427, which is wildly expensive for a standard smartphone, but actually pretty good for a foldable.
U.S. availability is, once again, a big question mark.

Royole returns with another foldable

Samsung is holding yet another Unpacked Event on September 23

One thing I’ll say for in-person events: they compelled companies to cram in a lot of news. After all, if you’re going to ask an auditorium full of people to travel from around the country — or world — you want to give them a lot of bang for their buck.
Samsung did manage that with its Galaxy Note event in early August. We got a new phone, new earbuds, new watch, new tablet and a preview of an upcoming foldable. A couple of weeks ago, the company devoted an entire second event to the new Fold. And now here we are, a couple of weeks later, staring down yet another event.

Samsung’s new Galaxy Fold arrives September 18 for $2,000

The September 23 event will likely focus on the Galaxy S20 Fan Edition that’s been floating around in leaks for a few months now, the way Samsung devices tend to. I’m not saying there won’t be a bunch of other news at the event as well, but the Fold event lowered my expectations a bit with regard to what the company deems worthy of a standalone event in 2020, versus, say, issuing a press release or something.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review

Anyway, the so-called “Fan Edition” finds the company picking up a long-abandoned trend of issuing lower-cost alternatives to flagship devices (notably, a refurbished version of the Note 7).
Here it seems to be a lower-priced take on Samsung’s primary flagship, the Galaxy S20. From the sound of it, the device is essentially a rebranding of its “Lite” line — the latest take on an already confusing approach to its budget flagship offerings.
We’ll find out more September 23 at 7 a.m. PT/10 a.m. ET.

Samsung is holding yet another Unpacked Event on September 23

Motorola gives its foldable Razr another go with the addition of a 5G model

Last year’s Motorola Razr reboot should have been a slam-dunk. An iconic name attached to a cutting-edge form factor — what could possible go wrong? A lot, turns out, especially in the world of foldables, where nothing seems to go according to plan. Some questionable design choices gave rise to a poorly reviewed device that continued the trend of foldable stumbles.

Motorola throws back to the future with a foldable Razr reboot

This week, however, the reboot is back. And this time, it’s, well, refined. In a blog post announcing the launch of the “New Razr With 5G,” the Lenovo-owned brand is quick to note that, “We’ve heard from consumers that they feel tethered to their devices and want a way to stay connected while still living in the moment.” To put a finer point on it, here’s a quote offered to TechCrunch from a spokesperson:

We’re confident in our foldable system, which is why we retained much of the same technology from the first iteration of Razr. While evolving Razr’s design to include 5G, we focused on areas to make mechanical refinements, based on direct consumer feedback.

In other words, the new Razr is the device that consumer feedback built. Now with 5G. It’s in keeping with the new version of the Galaxy Fold that Samsung recently launched. As many in the industry anticipated, the initial round of foldable devices would bump up against many of the issues commonly attributed to first-generation devices. Here that means an update to things like the hinge, which drew some heat from reviews the first time around.

Attempt to fold Motorola’s Razr 100,000 times doesn’t go great

There’s also an improved camera — another issue with the original. This time out, it’s a quad pixel 48-megapixel sensor with improved low-light shots and faster autofocus. There’s also a 20-megapixel one inside the device. The battery — another pain point on the original — has been upgraded slightly, from 2,510mAh to 2,800mAh. The company says it’s an “all day” battery, though the demands of 5G might have something to say about that. I suspect the demands of thinness really presented a brick wall when it comes to maxing out battery capacity.
The 5G comes courtesy of the Snapdragon 765G processor. That maintains the original’s inclusion of a mid-range processor (710 last time out), but this time Qualcomm has included next-gen wireless in an attempt to speed up adoption. At $1,400, it’s $100 less expensive than the original, but it’s certainly still pricey enough to make a middling processor a definite headscratcher. It’s true you’re paying for the foldable screen here, of course, but at that price, everything really ought to be the latest and greatest.
The new New Razr will be available in the fall.

Motorola gives its foldable Razr another go with the addition of a 5G model

Samsung’s new Galaxy Fold arrives September 18 for $2,000

As far as launches for revolutionary products are concerned, the Galaxy Fold could have gone a lot better. It’s not for lack of hype, of course. Years of prelude punctuated by Samsung’s own breathless expectations provided plenty of build-up, but in the end, the device felt like a partially baked disappointment.
A number of early units broke for a variety of reasons. Samsung recalled the foldable, went back to the drawing board and released it on a delayed timeline. I ran into issues with my second sample pretty quickly. At the end of the day, the device just demanded a level of gingerliness most users can’t really afford with a day-to-day mobile device.

My Galaxy Fold display is damaged after a day

The Galaxy Fold Z 2, which was the centerpiece of today’s Unpacked annex event, is largely devoted to addressing the biggest complaints about the original. Given the issues with the original, that’s about as admirable a goal as any. We were all aware that the Galaxy Fold was going to be a learning process for Samsung — and certainly there’s a certain degree of throwing caution to the wind — but relative to the company’s other device, it just didn’t feel finished.

Image Credits: Samsung

We certainly didn’t feel comfortable advising people to purchase the device for $2,000. The Fold Z 2 is priced the same (which is to say still prohibitively expensive for most), but it could be the product the first gen should have been. I’m going to wait until we’ve had sufficient review time to say anything definitive about the device, but in Samsung’s defense, the company does seem to have addressed most of the major issues with the original — thanks in no small part to some advances introduced with Flip last year.

Living with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

The biggest update here is the addition of what the company calls “Ultra Thin Glass” to the primary foldable 7.6-inch display. That was one of the largest pain points of the original — as cool as the technology is, it’s not worth a lot if the touchscreen can’t withstand touches. The technology here is more or less the same as what Samsung introduced with the Flip.

Image Credits: Samsung

The same goes for the new “sweeper” technology, which builds in a brush to wick away particles that might otherwise fall into the phone. This was another issue with the original — crap was getting behind the screen, causing damage when pressure was applied to the front by the user. This is the third-generation of the feature, according to Samsung, sporting a thinner brush than the original. Per the company:

To achieve this, Samsung developed new innovative sweeper technology to achieve the same level of protection in a smaller space. The Galaxy Z Fold2 Hideaway Hinge features revolutionary slim cutting technology, modified fiber composition and adjusted fiber density.

That’s a fancy way of saying they made thinner bristles. The hinge has also been improved to allow the device to stand at a variety of angles. That’s going to be an important point as the company looks to compete directly with the likes of Microsoft’s Surface Duo and any other dual-screen devices coming down the road. That’s augmented by Flex Mode (another Flip addition), which reconfigures the screen to make the best use of the partially open display.

Image Credits: Samsung

The other big update here is the addition of a much larger front-facing screen. At 6.2 inches, the front of the device is actually a serviceable display for use while the device is closed. Last time around, the front-facing screen had a weirdly long aspect ratio and wasn’t really great for anything but notifications. The company seemingly took something away from Huawei’s first dip into the foldable category.
The new Fold has 5G support, of course — that’s now standard across the company’s flagships, along with some mid-tier devices. That’s coupled with a beefy 4,500 mAh of battery life (split in two, each behind a display), 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. There’s only one memory/storage option for the device for the States, which will run $2,000.

That entitles the buyer to the Galaxy Z Premier service, which includes on-demand support for the phone and a one-time replacement after accidental screen damage. There’s also a bunch of other perks thrown in, like Founders Card membership and access to golfing, or dinner at a Michelin-star restaurant. I would have preferred a pair of Galaxy Buds, to be honest, but Samsung’s really pushing the luxury angle here.
The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is up for pre-order September 2, and starts shipping on the 18th.

Samsung’s new Galaxy Fold arrives September 18 for $2,000

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip hands-on: This is more like it

The buyer beware adage is never more true than among early adopters. It was price, however, that made the Galaxy Fold such a difficult pill to swallow. When it was finally released to the public after numerous delays, the device came swaddled in warnings. It was a long list, and not exactly a vote of confidence for those who just dropped $2,000 on an unproven device.
At the same time, the impulse to purchase the device was understandable. After years of teasing flexible displays, Samsung was finally ready to show us what life could be like after a decade worth of flat smartphones.

Samsung gives foldables another go with the Galaxy Z Flip

Announced almost exactly a year after the Fold, the Galaxy Z Flip presents a refined look at the category. Having only spent a little time with the product this afternoon after the unveiling, I’m not quite ready to declare that this is the phone the Fold should have been, but it certainly feels like a key step in the right direction.

Top level, here’s what’s better:
The price (if only just)
The form factor
The durability
Last point first. In some ways, the Z Flip finds Samsung atoning for its sins. The display is, get this, covered in glass. The company is vague about the specifics, but everything about the Flip feels more solid than its predecessor, right down to the folding mechanism. It’s sturdy — in fact, you can have the device open at a number of different angles to prop it up. Closing it requires more force than the Fold, and that’s a good thing.

Also, it doesn’t, you know, creak when you close it. There is, however, still a pronounced crease.
The 6.7-inch display puts its toward the larger end of the spectrum among smartphones, but it fits extremely comfortably in the pocket when closed. If you’ve ever used a clamshell phone before (which is to say if you’re over the age of 30), you get the appeal on that front. The Fold’s long form factor was still pretty large when closed.
What you lose here, however, is a fair amount of functionality when closed. The Flip’s screen is small and not super-duper useful, but it’s there when needed. Instead of a full display, the Flip features a little window in the bottom corner. This is almost exclusively good for things like time and battery life. You can swim through to other things, but beyond that, it’s a stretch.

Double-tap the fingerprint sensing power button and it will turn into a display for selfies. It’s a bad selfie screen. It gives you an idea of whether you’re framing the image well, but that’s where the usefulness stops.
At $1,380, it’s priced slightly below the $1,499 Razr. If I was Motorola right now, I would be talking price cuts to stay competitive. The Razr nostalgia will only get you so far, and Samsung’s full generation lead here is showing itself in the form of a more robust device.

Part of the (again relative) price drop is — not exactly corner cutting, but definitely a downgrade from the crazy high-end specs on the Galaxy S20 Ultra. Most notable is the complete lack of 5G option, which is an odd choice for what’s designed to be a forward-thinking device from a company that has otherwise gone all in on 5G with its flagships. More than anything, you get the sense that Samsung was trying to differentiate the product from the Fold with a lower price.

I’m still a long ways away from actually recommending the purchase of a foldable for the vast majority of consumers, but the Flip feels like a strong step toward helping mainstream the form factor. Who knows? A generation or two from now, maybe we’ll get there.
No delays this time out. The Flip goes on sale February 14. Happy flippin’ Valentine’s Day.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip hands-on: This is more like it