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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip adds 5G, arrives Aug. 7 for $1,450

The company's foldable, which hit the market in February, is already getting an upgrade to the faster 5G wireless technology. But it'll cost you.

galaxy-z-flip-samsung

Samsung's original Galaxy Z Flip, seen above, went on sale Feb. 14 at a starting price of $1,380.

Juan Garzon/CNET

Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 5G, a variant of its clamshell foldable packed with next-generation cellular capabilities, will launch on Aug. 7. But that extra performance will cost you $1,450.

A 4G version of the Galaxy Z Flip went on sale for $1,380 on Feb. 14 -- about a month before the coronavirus pandemic caused lockdowns in the US. That device, Samsung's second foldable after last year's Galaxy Fold, features a design similar to Motorola's updated Razr. The Z Flip, like the Razr, is essentially a high-tech flip phone, with an interior, 6.7-inch bendable screen and a small, exterior notifications panel. The Z Flip also has a glass screen, the first for the foldables market.

The Z Flip 5G will eventually sell through AT&T, T-Mobile, Samsung.com and Amazon, and is already available for preorder at Best Buy. On AT&T, the device will only be able to connect to the carrier's low-band and midband 5G networks, which currently make up the bulk of its 5G footprint. Likewise, it will only be able to tap into similar 5G bands on T-Mobile. 

The phone will not, however, be able to use the faster millimeter-wave 5G that's available in parts of 35 cities for AT&T and six cities for T-Mobile. 

In addition to 5G support, the new Z Flip 5G will also run on Qualcomm's updated Snapdragon 865 Plus processor and comes in two new colors, a "Mystic Gray" and a "Mystic Bronze." 

Samsung says the new phone will also feature a "haze finish that is soft to the touch while minimizing fingerprints."

In the US, the original Z Flip was 4G only and was sold by AT&T and Sprint, the latter of which has since been acquired by T-Mobile. The initial Galaxy Z Flip started at $1,380. It sold out almost immediately and was backordered for weeks. 

Most companies don't even have one foldable phone, but Samsung now has three in its lineup. 

Along with a 5G version of the Flip, it's expected to introduce the second generation of its Fold -- which expands from a phone into a tablet -- at its digital Unpacked event on Aug. 5. The company delayed the launch of its first Fold, which started at $1,980, by five months from April 2019 to September of that year after some reporters found screen defects in their review units. This year, it's expected to launch Round 2 with what could be called the Galaxy Fold 2 or Galaxy Z Fold 2. The new device would build on what Samsung learned from last year's disaster.

Samsung's new products come at a difficult time. 2020 was supposed to be a strong year for the phone industry, as innovations like 5G and foldable screens got people shopping again. Instead, financial struggles and worries about COVID-19 will limit the number of devices companies can make and how many phones people will actually buy. Even once the worst of the pandemic is behind the US and other countries, the global economy will likely continue to struggle.

Instead of holding an in-person press event, Samsung will host a digital Unpacked event at 7 a.m. PT (10 a.m. ET) on Aug. 5 to unveil its new devices. The plan follows similar moves by companies like Apple, which has shifted its events online during the pandemic. Samsung, for the first time, "will be broadcasting live from South Korea," a spokesperson said. 

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