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Galaxy Fold 2, Z Flip or Bloom: Rumors and specs for Samsung's next foldable phone

The rumored foldable flip phone is designed to rival the Motorola Razr. Here's everything we know about its price, camera and Feb. 11 unveiling.

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We know that Samsung is thinking about a foldable phone like this.

James Martin/CNET

Galaxy Z FlipGalaxy Bloom or Galaxy Fold 2? Months after launching the Galaxy Fold, Samsung has a new kind of foldable phone in the works, which it teased at its annual developer conference this October. But the vertically bending flip design that will challenge the rebooted Motorola Razr. I'm partial to Z Flip, myself.

Whatever it's called, Samsung is widely expected to launch this new foldable phone on Feb. 11 in San Francisco at its official Unpacked event. Invitations are out, subtly hinting at a second phone it will announce alongside the Galaxy S20 (previously thoughts to be called the S11). Rumors have long pointed to a flip design that folds into a square.

We shouldn't take the tease and rumors as evidence that Samsung is moving away from the Galaxy Fold design, which has a 7.3-inch screen that bends in half to open like a book. This smaller -- and likely cheaper -- flip model would simply be a variation that gives Samsung another way to hook people who are interested in foldable phones. 

After only three significant devices in 2019, foldable phones still teeter on the edge of futuristic fancy and reality. Done right, they could double your usable screen space while still closing into a small enough rectangle to carry around. Done poorly, these expensive science experiments could confirm that ever-larger phones are the right way to make a phone.

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Samsung's second attempt at a foldable phone could also help it hammer out problems that befell the Galaxy Fold's original design -- pitfalls that damaged the screen and caused Samsung to delay and redesign its phone. The Fold finally sold four months after its first intended launch date of April 26, 2019. 

Samsung's next foldable phone will be interesting and important, and we have questions. What do we know about its screen? Will the price be low enough to Samsung attract more curious buyers? What can Samsung do to make the design sturdy?

Read on for everything we know and don't know about Samsung's next foldable phone.

Confirmed: Samsung is working on a foldable 'flip' phone that bends vertically

Samsung hinted at a vertically folding phone, sometimes referred to as a flip phone or clamshell, since the Galaxy Fold announcement nearly a year ago. Then the company went a step further. It showed off a mock-up of the foldable design in question.

The most interesting part was the surprise nature of it. Unlike with its Galaxy Fold, Samsung didn't pull out the mockup for the audience to photograph. It didn't even mention the device explicitly. Samsung showed off the foldable flipper while talking about its One UI 2 interface (which is out now in beta).

It might be called the Galaxy Z Flip or Galaxy Bloom

It's tempting to call this unnamed phone the Fold 2, just because it'll be the next foldable device to follow the Fold. But there are two reasons to wave away that idea. 

The first is this rumor, which suggests the folding phone will be called the Galaxy Z Flip or Galaxy Bloom. Here's the second: The Korea Herald reports that there will be a Galaxy Fold successor (the Fold 2?) in August.

Even without those rumors, it's clear that Samsung wouldn't want to make a foldable flip phone part of the Fold family, not when the Galaxy Fold represents a luxury device with an enormous screen and this foldable clamshell phone will have a much narrower display.

We don't have inklings of those screen dimensions yet, but the Motorola Razr unfolds into a tall, slim 6.2-inch display, so we can use that as a template for now. Remember that screen dimensions are measured at the diagonal, but they don't tell the whole story. The Razr's usable screen space feels a lot smaller than the Galaxy Fold, and minute compared with the 8-inch Huawei Mate X.

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During its annual developer conference in October, Samsung discussed two ways a phone could fold.

James Martin/CNET

Two cameras on the back and one inside

The Galaxy Fold has a total of six cameras: two on the outer "cover" display, one on the inside for video chats and selfies and three on the back. The Galaxy Z Flip could cut the total camera share in half, following a supposed leak from frequent phone leaker Ice Universe (originally from Chinese social media platform Weibo).

We see some pixelated images with a clear central hole-punch camera on the phone's foldable screen, and two cameras on the front cover of the phone. These would take selfies when the phone is closed, and also serve as your main camera when it's open.

Support for 8K video capture

8K video capture is a rumor that applies to both the Galaxy S20/Galaxy S11 and the new foldable phone. That's a potential resolution of 7,680x4,320 pixels for a total of 33,177,600 pixels, or 16 times the number of pixels in a 1080p resolution. There's good reason to believe this one, too. 

In December, we saw how Qualcomm's new Snapdragon processors can support 8K video, and how 5G data can help you edit these massive videos online. We're seeing 8K TVs out now, but the videos to watch on them are more limited. 8K phones, 8K YouTube streaming and 8K screens could converge to help make these superhigh-resolution videos more prevalent. 

Will it fold into a square?

The scuttlebutt points to the foldable Samsung flip phone packing down into a square, according to reports such as Bloomberg's. A more pronounced rectangle is also an option.

A decade ago, square flip phones were big. The Motorola Flipout (2010) was a true square, measuring 2.6 inches tall and wide. The Samsung Gloss (2009) and LG Lotus Elite (2010) also helped propel the trend.

It'd be interesting to see a square phone resurgence with foldable screens, but I'd guess that'd be reserved for the least expensive devices. Square phones tend to feel bulky, and the shape could impact video viewing dimensions. It's a good guess that large-screen foldables will retain much higher prices and tablet-size displays that fold into more of a pocketbook shape.

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A smaller screen crease could help fix one Galaxy Fold annoyance

Before all its screen damage overtook headlines, the biggest concern lobbed at the Galaxy Fold was about the center crease where the phone folds in half. Would it ruin the experience, how bad would it look, would it worsen over time?

One of the advantages of a vertical fold like the Motorola Razr is that the part where the screen creases is much smaller than on the Fold. There's just less screen width to bend with this design.

Can the Galaxy Z Flip avoid the Galaxy Fold's fatal screen flaws?

One thing that isn't clear in the leaked photos is what kind of design enhancements Samsung has made to sidestep the Fold's design flaws.

For its second attempt at the Galaxy Fold (the design that eventually went on sale), Samsung used plastic end caps to shrink a gap that could let in dust and debris. It also reinforced internal support for the delicate plastic display, among a few other fixes.

We'll still need to keep a close eye on this unnamed foldable phone's screen and hinge to see if there are any potential gaps.

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The Galaxy S11 is said to go on sale Feb. 11 or 18, shortly before a major mobile conference in Spain.

Cashkaro

Feb. 11 launch date likely, same as the Galaxy S20/S11

Samsung has officially announced its next Unpacked event for Feb 11. In addition to unveiling the Galaxy S20/S11, industry watchers also believe Samsung will use its spotlight to unveil this second foldable phone. 

In 2019, Samsung paired the Galaxy S10 reveal with the Galaxy Fold announcement, saving the foldable phone for last. In one sense, the move was unusual because it meant that Samsung had to overshadow its own premiere phone, which became instantly mundane the second the Fold appeared on stage.

On a practical level, the joint unveiling also made a lot of financial and logistical sense. It's far easier to plan one blowout launch event than two.

It's possible that Samsung will go over the basics at Unpacked and save the details for Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world's largest mobile devices show.

No headphone jack is likely, so are Android 10 and One UI 2

Samsung officially ditched the headphone jack. The Note 10 phones didn't have them at all, and neither does the Galaxy Fold. There is, however, a USB-C charger port. It's also all but guaranteed to work with Android 10 and Samsung's One UI 2 software layer that rides on top of the Android OS.

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Galaxy Z Flip price: Between $800 and $2,000

Industry watchers agree that going with a clamshell style is one of the best ways to make these foldable phones cheaper, and therefore more likely for regular people to buy, not just those with $2,000 laying around.

The Korea Herald reports that Samsung's foldable flipper could cost $850, according to its sources. By comparison, the Motorola Razr costs $1,500, and Samsung isn't usually one to undercut the competition when it can back up its price with quality features and materials.

That said, there is at least one more suggestion that foldable phone prices could come closer to Earth. In early December, a $350 foldable phone called the Escobar Fold 1 was revealed by the brother of Pablo Escobar, the late drug kingpin. We know very little about that device, but it appears to closely resemble the Royole FlexPai, the first foldable phone, which we saw a year ago.

What we don't know about Samsung's next foldable phone

  • What kind of hinge it has, and therefore what kind of air gap when you close the phone
  • Battery design and rated battery life -- two separate battery cells like in the Fold?
  • If there's any waterproofing
  • If it will have 5G globally or only in some countries
  • Processor, memory, camera specs

This is just the beginning of the rumors and leaks for this device. Keep checking back for more details as they surface. In the meantime, brush up on all your Galaxy S11 rumors and leaks.

Published last month and periodically updated with new information.