A few days ago LetsGoDigital reported that Samsung Bloom won’t be the official name of the next foldable phone from the Korean tech giant. Our sources pointed toward two names – Galaxy Fold Z or Galaxy Flip Z. Less than 24 hours later, Ice Universe announced on Twitter that the device will be called Galaxy Z Flip. The phone will be officially introduced during the Galaxy Unpacked 2020 event on 11 February along with the new Galaxy S20 lineup.
And now it seems that Samsung may have bigger plans! Yesterday another leaked image caused unrest in the tech community, showing what appears to be a marketing picture with Galaxy Z written and a device, folded twice into the letter Z. Samsung logo can be found at the upper left corner as well.
If we look closely at the Z-shaped device on the picture, there is a distinct glow on the left side, suggesting a flexible display folding on two hinges (twi-fold). The photo itself claims to have been taken at a Samsung test facility. It clearly differs from the design of Galaxy Z Flip that we’ve already seen around the web and points to a completely new device. Could Samsung have bigger plans and release two foldable phones this year, starting an entire series?
Huawei, for instance, made it clear some time ago that a new foldable will hit the market in March 2020 – the Mate Xs, a refined version of the existing Mate X. Samsung’s big competitor plans to release yet another foldable in the second half of the year, but details are scarce at this time. If we connect the dots, this extra pressure could have led to the creation of an entire foldable lineup – the Galaxy Z series.
Samsung Galaxy Z-Series
Choosing “Z” for the foldable line may seem strange, but there is an underlying logic behind this. First, the more appropriate “F” (from foldable) bears some negative connotations to the troublesome Galaxy Fold debut. Furthermore, if Samsung is about to show a radical bi-fold design and call it Galaxy Z, it will align nicely with the forthcoming Galaxy Z Flip. By doing this Samsung will move away from the first generation foldable and get a fresh start.
What about the Galaxy Z device itself? Could it become the next foldable flagship and help Samsung get ahead of the competition? Back in August 2019, LetsGoDigital dug up a patent filing by the Korean manufacturer for a Z-Fold design device. It folded on two hinges, creating a Z-shape, very similar to the leaked images from yesterday. Opting for such design will allow users to have even more screen estate while keeping a conventional size in a folded state.
The question remains whether Samsung will be bold enough to officially unveil two new foldable phones at the Galaxy Unpacked event, or this Z-shaped device is scheduled for a release later this year. On the other hand, several Chinese brands hinted at a similar design. Back in October 2019 TCL showed a similar prototype device. Earlier that year Xiaomi also showed a video of the CEO of the company tinkering with a bi-fold phone. Samsung of course always kept more of a conservative approach and with the Galaxy Fold mishap in mind, the Korean company might postpone the bi-fold revolution.
Price is another big concern when going this radical route. Galaxy Fold was mighty expensive and looks like Samsung is trying to bridge the gap between foldable and ultra-premium smartphones with the Galaxy Z Flip. Launching a device with two hinges and a big flexible screen will defeat the purpose.
It doesn’t mean however that such a device doesn’t exist. Samsung might be as well working on a real prototype – something to show behind closed doors during World Mobile Congress in Barcelona next month much like the retractable prototype the company teased in front of a limited few during CES 2020.
New Samsung Mobile CEO
There is an internal reshuffling in Samsung headquarters as well. Samsung Korea announced the appointment of a new president for the Mobile Communication Business of Samsung Electronics. The role goes to Roh Tae-moon – a key person in the Galaxy smartphone line in the past few years working directly under DJ Koh. The latter will step down after almost 5 years as a CEO and focus on optimizing the internal structure and communication between departments.
Roh Tae-moon was appointed vice-president at the end of 2018 and now must fill the shoes of Koh and deal with the ever-increasing pressure from Chinese brands like Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo. The 52-years-old is often praised for his younger spirit and passion for innovation, breathing new life in the company. We might as well see him in action during the Galaxy Unpacked event – there is a good chance that Roh Tae-moon will appear on stage to show the Galaxy Z Flip and the Samsung Galaxy S20 series.
Samsung is well aware of the threat from China, with many local brands catching up with the competition. The local market starts to saturate and these brands are turning sights to Europe and other continents. The flexible screen revolution may give Samsung the upper edge, given the capacity of the company as a display manufacturer.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold and Galaxy Z Note
There’s a possibility for a direct successor of the unfortunate Galaxy Fold, releasing in the second half of 2020 under the name Galaxy Z Fold. This model will refine and build upon the first-generation foldable of the company. Back in August 2019, LetsGoDigital reported on a similar device with a smaller notch and dubbed it Galaxy Fold 2. It all depends on the strategy Samsung is going to adopt – opting for a more aggressive approach or staying conservative and refining existing designs.
Getting Note brand on the flexible train is another possibility for Samsung. In October the Korean manufacturer got approval for a foldable smartphone with a stylus, possibly the Galaxy Z Note. The high-end Note series enjoy very positive reception despite the battery fiasco of Note 7 and bringing the flexible screen technology to the business-oriented series makes a lot of sense. Samsung might as well just accommodate the S-Pen into the new Z-series of foldable devices but we’ll have to wait a bit longer for a definitive answer.
Non-foldable devices with a flexibel display
A flexible screen can, of course, be used in a more “static” way with wrap-around designs like the Xiaomi Mi Mix Alpha or Samsung’s own idea for “continuous screen”. These designs may never see the light of day, as most of them are too fragile for practical use. Nevertheless, big manufacturers tend to explore many options before choosing a production model – Motorola stated that it considered dozens of prototypes before choosing the current design of the new RAZR.
Engineers are working hard to solve these structural issues with technologies, which seem to be taken out of a science-fiction movie. There’s the Ultra-Thin Glass (UTG) which bends and defies the laws of physics and even a nano-diamond coating, making flexible screens much more scratch-resistant. Whether any of these fringe technologies will find their way to consumer devices remains to be seen.
Galaxy Unpacked 2020
Of course, all will become much more clear after the Unpacked event. Will Samsung release an entirely new foldable line up – Galaxy Z series? Or the company will choose the safer route and opt for the clamshell Galaxy Z Flip only? Financial factors play a huge role in such decisions and making an affordable foldable phone may prove to be the better choice. It can pave the way and introduce this concept to the masses.
Meanwhile, all the factories will slowly reconfigure production lines to accommodate flexible technology. This will lead to getting more futuristic and exotic designs further in the future. On the other hand, with the appointment of Roh Tae-moon as the CEO of Samsung Mobile and the pressure from China, the company might decide to adopt aggressive and brave strategy and fire all guns.
Whichever the case, exciting times lay ahead! Stay tuned for more on the subject and be sure to watch closely as the mystery unfolds!
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