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From Star Trek to the Galaxy Z Flip phone – a new foldable comes to Thailand

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The $1,500 Motorola RAZR flip phone, a sort of ‘smartphone’ version of its original 2004 market favourite, was twice the cost of an iPhone 11, looked cool but had a small battery and plastic screen. It was a throwback to the earlier design but with a foldable screen, the latest ‘thaeng’ in the smart-phone world.

Now there’s the new Galaxy Z Flip phone, a Samsung version that looks a lot more robust and has teeth to match. But before we check out Samsung’s new flipper, let’s go full retro to remember where the idea came from. And it’s a journey all the way back to US 60s TV and the fertile mind of Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek.

The ‘Communicator’ was an ever-present part of every Star Trek TV show and the flip-screen space walkie-talkie would inspire Motorola to come up with its Razr phone in 2004. The crew of the Starship Enterprise would ‘flip’ it open to get themselves out of a myriad emergency situations or a hasty request to be ‘beamed up’.

A few years ago someone even decided to make a real, working version of a Star Trek Communicator, HERE.

Motorola tried to reboot its 2004 Razr with its new ‘smartphone’ version last year but, well, it was a cute retro attempt but mostly panned by reviews and users.

But the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 6.7-inch smartphone has all the feel of a smaller, foldable Razr-style phone, but packed with the power to match. It will fold into a square about half its size, with a small rectangular display on the front cover for notifications. It comes in three colours – gold, purple and black (surely Trekkies will buy the gold) – and goes on sale on February 14 in some countries, and March 9 in Thailand.

At US$1,380, the Z Flip is hardly affordable, but with its new, sturdier design, Samsung could have mastered the flip-phone design, coupled with the power its users demand.

David McQueen, research director at tech advisory firm ABI Research, says the smartphone business has gone through years of complacency, waiting for some design innovation.

“There is little doubt that foldable smartphones are set to become the next technology innovation trend.”

“Foldable displays are set to become an important form factor in future product portfolios bringing much needed innovation into device design.”

From Star Trek to the Galaxy Z Flip phone - a new foldable comes to Thailand | News by Thaiger

Beyond the nostalgia factor – back to 2004 and the 60s – there’s a lot of appeal in a phone that shrinks in size and shuts close. Like the Motorola RAZR, the Samsung Z Flip features a small display on the front so you can still see notifications when they come through if closed.

Unlike the RAZR’s plastic display, the Z Flip features a layer of ultra-thin glass that opens and snaps into place with ease. It packs a powerful processor and decent battery life and does most of what you’d expect from a smartphone these days.

Up to now the barrier to flip and folding phones has been the notorious hinge. Samsung seems to have solved that issue. The Z Flip features a small, internal brush-like system to push out debris and opens and snaps into place with ease. Samsung claims it can open up to 200,000 times without damage. The downside, in this design, is the noticeable crease that resides in the centre of the display, right in the middle where users are swiping and opening apps. You can see it and feel it.

It’s rumoured that Apple might be working on a foldable concept, but nothing has been announced at this stage.

But could flip phones become the next big category of hand-held devices? It’s not as if it’s a new concept. For now, that may be a leap, sideways, from the common form factor. But if executed properly, Samsung’s Z Flip’s “wow” factor will probably entice early adopters and eventually a larger audience.

Get the price tag down below 30,000 baht, and things could get very interesting.

In Thailand the phone will cost 44,900 baht and be available from March 9, according to Samsung.

From Star Trek to the Galaxy Z Flip phone - a new foldable comes to Thailand | News by Thaiger

 

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