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Galaxy Z Flip: Everything we do and don't know about Samsung's Razr rival

Samsung announced its new clamshell phone at Unpacked. Here's the scoop on the Galaxy Z Flip.

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The bendable screen on the Galaxy Z Flip has lots of possibilities.

Angela Lang/CNET

Update, July 22: Samsung just announced the forthcoming release of the Galaxy Z Flip 5G for $1,450. Original story follows.


Why stop at one foldable phone when you can have two? Following on last year's much-anticipated Galaxy Fold, Samsung is back this week with the Galaxy Z Flip, a foldable device that uses a clamshell design similar to the Motorola Razr.

We caught a glimpse of Samsung's clamshell phone in an ad that ran during the Oscars, but we've been hearing about it for a while, sometimes referred to as the Galaxy Bloom. And on Tuesday, at the Samsung Unpacked event, we got official word that Samsung's clamshell phone is coming this week. Samsung also rolled out at its event in San Francisco three Galaxy S20 phones and its Galaxy Buds Plus earbuds.

The new Galaxy Z Flip joins a tiny but growing collection of foldable phones -- including the Galaxy Fold, the Motorola Razr, the Huawei Mate X and the Royole FlexPai -- that's redefining how we use and think about mobile devices. Here's everything we do and don't know about the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip phone.

What is the Galaxy Z Flip?

Samsung's second foldable phone, the Galaxy Z Flip has a clamshell design and pops open like the Motorola Razr, instead of spreading out like a book, as the Galaxy Fold does. The compact device expands to a 6.7-inch display using bendable ultrathin glass with a hole-punch camera. When closed, a small cover display shows the time, battery status and notifications. For hands-on details, see our first look at the Galaxy Z Flip.

When can you buy the Galaxy Z Flip?

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Along with Mirror Purple, the foldable phone will come in Mirror Black and Mirror Gold.

Angela Lang/CNET

If you have your heart set on a foldable phone, then mark Valentine's Day on your calendar because Samsung said the Galaxy Z Flip will be available in limited quantities this Friday, Feb. 14, in select regions, including in the US and Korea. Unless you live in a major metropolitan area, your best bet for getting a phone this Friday is ordering online instead of walking into a retail store. Here's how to get Samsung's clamshell this Friday.

How much does Samsung's clamshell phone cost?

The 256GB Galaxy Z Flip will go for $1,380 (£1,300 or about AU$2,500), Samsung's Galaxy Fold ($1,380 at Best Buy) is $1,980 and Motorola's new Razr is $1,500.

Which mobile carriers will have it?

Samsung announced AT&T and Sprint are the two carriers that will have the Galaxy Z Flip at launch. 

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What about Verizon?

Right now, it's just AT&T and Sprint. Verizon does have an exclusive on the Razr.

Will the Galaxy Z Flip work with 5G networks?

Unlike the Galaxy Fold -- which is available in a 5G version -- the Galaxy Z Flip is a 4G phone.

How durable will the Galaxy Z Flip be?

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Tiny brushes work to keep dust out of the phone.

Samsung

We don't know, and we don't have a lot of other foldable examples to look to. Early prerelease versions of the Galaxy Fold had some screen problems but a shipping version we tested lasted 120,000 folds -- the equivalent to about three years of use -- in our durability test last year. A recent similar test with the Motorola Razr was inconclusive. Samsung said you should be able to fold and unfold the Galaxy Z Flip 200,000 times.

To prevent dust and particles from getting into the phone, the hinge of the Galaxy Z Flip will have a layer of fibers that will keep dust from entering.

Will Android apps take advantage of the Z Flip's foldable screen?

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Apps will be able to make good use of the Galaxy Z Flip's bendable screen.

Galaxy

You can turn the phone's display into a split screen when you bend the phone at an angle, and at its Unpacked Event, Samsung showed YouTube playing video on the upper portion of the Galaxy Z Flip screen, with video comments displayed on the lower part of the screen. It also showed the phone's Gallery app displaying an image above the fold and editing tools below.

Samsung said it is working with Google to allow YouTube to take advantage of the phone's split screen in the near future but didn't name other specific apps that will take advantage of Galaxy Z Flip's screen.

For more on the Unpacked event, here's a look at the new Galaxy S20 phones and how the Galaxy Z Flip compares with the Galaxy Fold.