Samsung today announced a $1,449.99, 5G version of its Galaxy Z Flip phone a few weeks in advance of its big Unpacked event, clearing the decks for the five new devices that Samsung Electronics President TM Roh said are coming on Aug. 5.
It’s not clear whether the Galaxy Z Flip 5G is one of the five promised devices, or whether there will be five more announcements. At the moment, we expect a Galaxy Note 20 phone; a Galaxy Fold 2; a new smartwatch; and bean-shaped Galaxy earbuds. This could be the fifth device, or Samsung could have a surprise up its sleeve.
The Z Flip 5G comes in a striking bronze color. (Image: Samsung)
The Galaxy Z Flip is Samsung’s show-off luxury phone. It uses the company’s clearly limited supply of flexible “ultra thin glass” to create a 6.7-inch smartphone that folds into a square. When we reviewed the first model in February, we treated it as a fancy fashion item, which is basically what it is; you’re not paying this money purely for performance.
The Z Flip was the most successful of a buzzy set of folding phones that captured imaginations last year. Huawei’s Mate X and Mate Xs weren’t released in the US. The Motorola Razr came out here, but had lousy performance for its high price. The Galaxy Fold just had a really high price.
Here’s the original Z Flip, in hand. The new one looks the same.
The Z Flip 5G seems to have updated internals in the same body as the original Z Flip. The big addition, of course, is sub-6 5G with dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS). That will work with the low-band and mid-band 5G networks, which AT&T and T-Mobile have, although not high-band, millimeter-wave 5G (which is why it isn’t being sold by Verizon). The processor also gets a bump to the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus, a generational jump over the 855+ in the original Z Flip.
Carriers are pressuring phone makers to include 5G on flagship devices as they start to turn their wireless spectrum over to 5G. For AT&T, that means DSS, where the same airwaves get used for 4G or 5G on demand. For T-Mobile, that means reusing Sprint’s 4G spectrum for dedicated 5G use. Every 5G device takes pressure off the carriers’ 4G networks.
The Galaxy Z Flip 5G will come in gray and bronze. It will be sold through AT&T and T-Mobile, as well as Samsung.com, Best Buy, and Amazon, for $1,449.99. That’s a lot—and it’s more than the original Z Flip’s $1,380 price tag. Honestly, though, if you were ready to pay $1,380 for a phone, you’re probably ready to pay $1,449.
Those who are probably hurting the most from this announcement are the relatively few who bought an original Z Flip. Samsung is advertising up to a $650 trade-in on existing phones, which presumably includes the original Z Flip. Still, that means you’ll have paid $730 to use the 4G model for a few months.
The Galaxy Z Flip 5G goes on sale Aug. 7.