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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip expands the foldable category

Refined foldable

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We already got a good look at the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip thanks to the ad showing up at the Oscars. Now that it’s official, we finally get more details on Samsung’s new foldable.

Samsung is calling this the first device on the Z series. It’s not a direct successor to the Samsung Galaxy Fold, which kind of makes that device feel even more like a concept phone that the company decided to sell to be first to market.

A premium display

That said, the Z Flip looks to be more promising as Samsung is ditching the plastic screen on the Galaxy Fold for the Infinity Flex Display. It’s Samsung’s proprietary Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) display which promises to look and feel more premium and be more durable.

It foregoes the notch and instead opts for a centered in-display camera cutout for the selfie camera. No notch means no distractions on the 6.7” screen with a 21.9:9 aspect ratio. A curious ratio choice, but perhaps one that fits the Z Flip’s design.

Purposeful folding

While the Galaxy Fold was a foldable for the sake of being a foldable, the Galaxy Z Flip’s approach appears more practical.

To achieve the folding action, Samsung developed what it calls the Hideaway Hinge. It ensures a stable way for the device to flip and fold. It can stay open at a range of angles much like a laptop screen which invites several possibilities.

The primary possibility being how the Galaxy Z Flip can practically stand on its own, giving you a camera that you can prop up nearly anywhere and will let you take timed camera shots. Now you really won’t have to rely on another person to get your photo or even video taken when you’re traveling alone.

Close the Galaxy Z Flip and you can still take photos using the main camera for high quality selfies. Additionally, it can also shoot 4K video and Night Hyperlapse, among others.

Software designed for flipping and folding

Working closely with Google, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip has what it calls the Flex Mode. It’s essentially a version of Google with ONE UI that adapts to the device’s form factor.

When the device is free-standing, it automatically switches into two 4-inch screens. You can view photos, video, and other content on the top half and navigate, search, or comment on the bottom.

In this position, you gain access to the Multi-Active Window. Open the Multi-Window tray to drag and drop apps you want to use. There will probably only be limited app support at this time but expect this to grow as devices in the foldable category increase in number.

When opened, it’ll function like any normal smartphone. Close it and you can still check the date, time and battery status on the cover display.

Availability

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip will be available in limited quantities in Mirror Purple and Mirror Black, starting February 21, 2020 and will retail for US$ 1380.

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Xiaomi’s foldable phone spotted in the wild

Is this a prototype?

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Everyone’s getting into foldable smartphones these days. After Samsung’s semi-successful foray into the market, other smartphones are rushing to compete with the South Korean giant. One of the earliest experimenters with the form factor, Xiaomi is apparently making strides in the foldable market. In China, Xiaomi’s foldable phone was spotted out in the wild.

In a now-deleted Weibo post (saved by GSMArena), the leaked phone is a whopper of a device. It’s obviously that Xiaomi’s foldable phone since it runs MIUI 12. It looks a lot larger than Samsung’s Galaxy Z lineup. However, it’s large enough to wield in a subway, as the photo portrays.

Whatever this is, it doesn’t look like it’s doing well. The device has a sizable crease running along its midsection. Back in the Galaxy Fold’s early days, Samsung had the same problem before fixing it in later iterations. Since the technology already exists, it’s likely that the spotted Xiaomi device is an early version of whatever the company is actually working on.

Xiaomi has teased an upcoming foldable phone in the past. However, the company has not outed a consumer-friendly foldable phone outside of prototypes. The last time we heard about a potential Xiaomi foldable phone was an old patent revealed last year.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi patents an upcoming foldable phone

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Samsung will remove the free charger from more phones

Confirmed in an official Q&A

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The cat’s out of the bag. After months of persistent rumors, Samsung has finally ended its free charging adapters and wired earphones starting with the Galaxy S21 series. The controversial decision mimics Apple’s identical ones last October. One question remains, though: Will Samsung remove the free charger in other smartphones? Apparently, yes.

In an official Q&A with Samsung’s officials, the company explained why it chose to remove the free charger from the flagship series. As expected, Samsung is taking the same stance as Apple; that is, everyone already has a bunch of extra chargers lying around anyway. Further, the removal will help in Samsung’s sustainability goals for the future.

However, in explaining their stance, Samsung has revealed its plans for the future. “To support our Galaxy community in this journey, we are transitioning to removal of the charger plug and earphones in our latest line of Galaxy smartphones,” Patrick Chomet, executive vice president of product and innovation, explains.

Besides the Galaxy S21 series, Samsung is likely phasing out the free chargers in future models, too. Thankfully, if you haven’t acclimated to the charger-less future yet, the company is not changing last year’s smartphone packaging; not yet at least, according to online store pages.

If Samsung is truly removing its chargers for future models, we’ll know soon enough. Unlike Apple, who releases smartphones more sporadically, Samsung launches numerous models throughout the year. After starting the year off with a charger-less bang, 2021 is going to be an exciting roller coaster for flagship users.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S21 Series Hands-on

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Trump administration blacklists Xiaomi, 10 other Chinese companies

Xiaomi headed the Huawei way?

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The US has added Xiaomi and 10 other Chinese companies to a blacklist amid national security concerns. The current blacklist is only focused on companies that have military ties and strategic importance in China.

The Defense Department released names of additional “Communist Chinese military companies” operating directly or indirectly in the United States.

Although adding Xiaomi to the list is surprising, the company has largely remained apolitical and focuses on making affordable smartphones. Considered to be China’s answer to Apple, Xiaomi plays a crucial role in progressing China’s telecommunication industry. It surpassed Apple in global smartphone sales in the third quarter, according to IDC.

Xiaomi is China’s second-largest smartphone maker and dominates multiple developing markets like India. Xiaomi’s stock plunged more than 10 percent following the announcement, although it’s considered to be a knee-jerk reaction at the moment.

The ban means that Xiaomi risks getting delisted from global benchmarks like MSCI and American stock exchanges. Just last week, China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom were removed from MSCI indexes. This largely affects their ability to raise capital from the open market in the future due to global compliance complications.

In response, a Xiaomi spokesperson told GadgetMatch, “The Company has been in compliance with the law and operating in compliance with the relevant laws and regulations of jurisdictions where it conducts its businesses. The Company reiterates that it provides products and services for civilian and commercial use. The Company confirms that it is not owned, controlled, or affiliated with the Chinese military, and is not a “Communist Chinese Military Company” defined under the NDAA. The Company will take an appropriate course of actions to protect the interests of the Company and its shareholders.”

Other companies banned

Apart from Xiami, the additional companies blacklisted include Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment, Luokong Technology Corporation, Beijing Zhongguancun Development Investment Center, GOWIN Semiconductor, Grand China Air Company, Global Tone Communication Technology, China National Aviation Holding, and Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC).

Furthermore, the ban is a stepping stone for US authorities to curb Chinese companies’ growth in the international market. The US took a similar step with Huawei and gradually pushed it out of every possible industry. Today, Huawei can’t use Google Mobile Services, cannot ship phones to the US, and has lost significant ground in supplying 5G equipment to telcos worldwide.

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