Samsung's Galaxy Z flip phone makes debut

Are flip phones becoming cool again?

Samsung updated its flagship phones on Tuesday, giving Apple and Google some fresh competition, and possibly making flip phones cool again.

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Here are some specifics as the new Galaxy Z Flip made its debut.

The Galaxy Z Flip:

  • Cost: starts at $1,380
  • Available this Friday, Feb 14th
  • 6.7 inch display when open
  • Comes with YouTube Premium access
  • Hinge holds phone open at different angles
  • 5G compatible 
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The company, which unveiled the product at an event in San Francisco offered hints during a commercial during the Academy Awards Sunday, as the company showed off a phone that opens upward, much like the flip phone of yesteryear.

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Samsung's first foldable phone, the Galaxy Fold, finally went on sale last September after delays and reports of screens breaking. The phone, which carries a price tag of nearly $2,000, folds at a vertical crease rather than horizontally as a flip-phone design would.

Motorola has also taken the flip-phone approach with its new $1,500 Razr phone.

Motorola via AP

The foldable phones represent manufacturers' attempt to energize a market that has seen sales slow down, as people replace their phones less often because they don't improve as much as they used to from year to year. But these foldable models come with higher price tags and are likely to appeal for now mostly to tech enthusiasts and others at the forefront of technology.

As people packed into San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts for Samsung's launch event, they passed a team taking remote temperatures in the security line, likely a precaution to check for the coronavirus. Samsung also offered hand sanitizer stations and face masks inside the event lobby. The S20 phones are designed to take high-quality pictures in dark settings, Samsung product manager Mark Holloway said. The phones can take both video and photos at the same time, using artificial intelligence to zero in on the best moments to capture the still images.

Samsung's renewed focus on the camera follows Apple, whose iPhone 11 phones last fall offered an additional lens for wider-angle shots and combined multiple shots with software to improve low-light images. Google's Pixel phones also offer a similar low-light feature.

For all models, Samsung plans to make versions compatible with next-generation cellular networks, known as 5G, though it's still an early technology that consumers typically won't need yet.

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Rachel Lerman and Kelvin Chan of The Associated Press contributed to this report.