Samsung gives foldables another go with the Galaxy Z Flip

Samsung Z Flip1

Samsung did a surprisingly good job keeping the Galaxy Fold under wraps, surprising the world with its first foldable this time last year during the Galaxy S10 unveil. When it came to the Galaxy Z Flip, on the other hand, the company just went ahead and showed the whole thing off during an Oscar ad buy. (Not to mention numerous Samsung employees playing around with the handsets in their seats this morning, ahead of unveil). Crazy world, these mobile phones.

Of course, that’s not to say we haven’t know about the Flip for a while now. Samsung teased out the Moto Razr-style form factor before it even officially announced the Fold. Samsung wanted to make it perfectly clear that the foldable wasn’t just a one and done situation for the company.

The company kicked today’s event off by unveiling the new foldable, which it claims is “like nothing you’ve ever seen before.” Which, well, isn’t exactly true.

Certainly the Z Flip form factor seems a more logical one, harkening back to pre-smartphone days of clamshell devices. Of course, the Razr has been running into its own issues after its recent release. Between that and — even more notable — the Fold’s myriad problems, the Z Flip will no doubt been under as much scrutiny as any handset in recent memory.

When opened, the screen is 6.7 inches, with a hole punch camera up top. When closed, there isn’t much of a display, beyond a quick bar that offers time, notifications and battery life. Users can also snap selfies with the case closed. The clam shell comes in three colors: black, purple and gold.

One assumes that Samsung learned plenty of lessons the original Fold, after having to go back to the drawing board when multiple reviewers wound up with broken units. Samsung claims the device can handle 200,000 flips, courtesy of foldable glass — which should give it some extra durability.

Samsung claims the device can handle 200,000 flips, courtesy of foldable glass — which should give it some extra durability. In an offhanded reference to earlier issues, the company noted that the hinge is designed to keep debris out, one of the major downfalls of the first gen Fold, which allowed dust and particles behind the screen, damaging it when users pressed down. The new phone has a kind of brush system inside to keep stuff out.

Obviously we can’t quite speak to durability just yet (though I, for one, am excited to get my hands on the thing), but at $1,380, it’s priced — well, it’s less expensive than the $2,000 Galaxy Fold, at least. That puts it more in line with the new Razr, not to mention, Samsung’s just now introduced Galaxy S20 Ultra.

The Flip will be available on Valentine’s Day.

A Thom Browne Edition, meanwhile, will bring the iconic designer’s touch to the device, which will be highlighted in more detail at a special event tomorrow in New York as part of Fashion Week. 

Xiaomi launches Mi Watch, its $185 Apple Watch clone

Xiaomi,  which competes with Apple for the top position in the wearable market, today made the competition a little more interesting. The Chinese electronics giant has launched its first smartwatch called the Mi Watch that looks strikingly similar to the Apple Watch in its home market.

The Mi Watch, like the Apple Watch, has a square body with a crown and a button. It sports a 1.78-inch AMOLED display (326 ppi) that offers the always-on capability and runs MIUI for Watch, the company’s homegrown wearable operating system based on Google’s Wear OS.

Inside the metal housing — aluminum alloy with a matte finish — are microphones on two sides for recording audio and taking calls, and a loudspeaker on the left to listen to music or incoming calls. The Mi Watch, which comes in one size — 44mm — has a ceramic back, which is where the charging pins and a heart rate sensor are also placed.

The Mi Watch is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 3100 4G chipset with four Cortex A7 cores clocked at 1.2GHz, coupled with 1GB of RAM and 8GB storage. The company says its first smartwatch supports cellular connectivity (through an eSIM), Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, and NFC for payments. The Mi Watch should last for 36 hours on a single charge on cellular mode, the company claimed.

The Mi Watch will also help users track their sleep, performance while swimming, cycling and running, and also measure their heart rate.

Over 40 popular Chinese apps such as TikTok and QQ Messenger are available for the Mi Watch on day one. The company’s own XiaoAI assistant is the default virtual digital assistant on the watch.

The Mi Watch is priced at CNY 1,299 ($185) and will go on sale in the country next week. There’s no word on international availability just yet, but if the past is any indication, Xiaomi will likely bring the device to India, Singapore, Indonesia and other markets in coming quarters.

The company says a variant of the Mi Watch that sports a sapphire glass and stainless steel will go on sale next month in China. It is priced at CNY 1,999 ($285).

Xiaomi is no stranger to the wearable market. The company’s fitness trackers — that cost under $25 and sport colorful displays and last for weeks on a single charge — are incredibly popular in Asian markets.

This is also not the first time Xiaomi has been accused of taking too much inspiration from Apple. The early smartphones from Xiaomi looked very similar to the iPhones. But in recent years, its products have carried a little more independence and originality. Well, most smartphones — not all. Also this year, the company was accused of cloning Apple’s cartoony Memoji.