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Samsung Galaxy S20 series and Galaxy Z Flip: What’s hot and what’s not

The Peak reviews Samsung’s glass-iest clamshell foldable, S20s with space-age cameras, and its budding answer to the Airpods Pro.

The Samsung vs Apple war continues. 2020’s first salvo comes from Samsung as it takes the offensive with the reveal of four new flagship devices and updated true wireless earbuds. We managed to get our hands on them – for a scant hour – and this is what we thought.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

The Samsung Galaxy Fold kicked off the smart foldables market last September, though its launch was beset with niggles: an easily scratched screen, and removable layers that weren’t supposed to be removed. With the Galaxy Z Flip, lesson learnt – now, the screen is made of a proprietary ultra-thin, foldable glass that retains that luxurious look and feel you expect from a premium device.

The best part? It actually fits in your pocket or micro-bag. When folded, the device is less than 2cm thick, and under 9cm on the long edge (far less than most smartphones nowadays).

Z Flip 1

That doesn’t mean limited screen space though. When unfolded, you can expect a 6.7-inch FHD+ Dynamic Amoled Display (Samsung’s first display capable of a 21.9:9 aspect ratio).

The device can also unfold partially at multiple angles and stay there – great for multitasking, as the display splits into two when folded, but even better for games. Think of the possibilities.

(Related: Where to photograph your car, according to the experts)

Camera-wise, the ability to stand on its own is a game changer. Forget balancing your precious smartphone on a fence to snap a perfect photo. Pose away and let the dual 12MP ultra wide and wide-angle lenses do their work. This is great for time lapses without tripods: together with Samsung’s advanced night mode, you’re guaranteed to get a fire sunset hyperlapse any time you want.

Z Flip 2

The Galaxy Z Flip comes with all the bells and whistles you’ve come to expect from smartphones: a 64-bit Octa-core processor; 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage; fast charging via power cord and wireless charging and a 3300 mAh battery.

There are only two problems: for one, it’s more or less impossible to put a tempered glass screen protector on it. Though some exterior protection is offered by the clamshell design, both screens are essentially pressed together when the phone is folded. I’d hesitate to sassily slam my phone shut to end a call, at least until reviews come in.

(Related: Watch the Samsung Galaxy Fold in action)

Secondly, it’s still not water- or dustproof. Though the hinge apparently uses nylon fibres to prevent any dirt buildup within the mechanism, it’s a departure from many premium smartphones available nowadays where dust and waterproofing is a given.

It’s early days yet for foldables. One thing’s for sure – Samsung’s pioneering efforts, though risky, are treading new ground. And we’re excited for what comes next.

Available from: Feb 14, in Mirror Purple and Mirror Black. More here.

Samsung Galaxy S20

The Samsung Galaxy S20 comes in three sizes (regular, + and Ultra) with 5G support, display improvements and camera advancements that pull it squarely to the lead of the smartphone camera space race. For brevity, I’ll focus on the S20 Ultra.

 

S20 1

 

Display-wise, the S20 series will be the first Samsung phones to feature a 120Hz display. The screen will refresh twice as often compared to standard 60Hz displays, making for fluid animations that never skip a beat. Great when gaming, though it’ll burn through your 5000 mAh battery quicker.

Now for the cameras – there are five. The Ultra has a 40MP front camera. The four rear cameras include: a 108MP main camera; 48MP telephoto camera; 12MP ultra-wide camera; and time-of-flight depth sensor for portrait and 3D photos.

 

 

Using a combination of the lenses and digital enhancement, you can zoom up to 100X with the S20 Ultra: From Samsung’s office window, we could get a pretty clear picture of people strolling around the plaza opposite.

The S20 also comes with a new Single Take function that eradicates the need for “Boomerang or photo?” With a single tap, it’ll take a few photos and videos with the various cameras for you to pick the best shot – well, the onboard AI actually suggests a best shot for you as well.

(Related: Apple’s iPhone 11 versus its closest competitors)

Finally, S20 can take ultra-high-resolution 8K videos that look like they were done by a professional, thanks to the improved anti-shake capabilities of the device.

Also, all Galaxy S20s come with 128GB storage by default and expandable memory via MicroSD. Trust us, you’ll need it.

To compare the individual specifications of the models, click here.

Available from: Pre-registration starts today. The S20 (in Cosmic Grey, Cloud Blue, Cloud Pink), S20+ (Cosmic Grey, Cloud Blue, Cosmic Black) and S20 Ultra (Cosmic Grey, Cosmic Black) will be released on March 20.

Samsung Galaxy Buds+

There’s no way to talk about the Galaxy Buds+ without comparing them to Airpods. Pairing is just as seamless and instant; they also come with silicon tips that fit your ear well; and you can control media playback , or access voice commands, with a tap.

As for battery life, the Buds+ do promise up to 11 hours in a single charge (using them for calls reduces it to 7.5 hours), with an additional 11 hours in the case. The Airpods Pro offer 4.5 hours off a charge (3.5 hours if you’re calling) with around 19 more in the case.

 

Buds+ 1

 

Sadly, the earbuds remain rated at IPX2: unrated for dust protection, and lightly water resistant. Enough for a sweaty workout, but not much else (the Airpods Pro rate at IPX4).

Also, they’re iOS compatible (using an app). Sneaky, Samsung, sneaky.

For now, the main differentiating factor between the Buds+ and Airpods Pro is price and battery life. It’s a shame that Samsung’s earbud case battery capacity can”t match up to others on the market now – it’s comfortable, sleek and intuitive, exactly what we need (and really, expect) from true wireless earbuds nowadays.

Available from: Those who pre-order the S20+ or Ultra will receive a complimentary set of Galaxy Buds+; the Blue and Black variants will be available from Feb 15, while the White variant launches on March 5. More here.

(Related: Apple’s new AirPods to support wireless charging)