Samsung released a new foldable, the Galaxy Z Flip phone that uses “folding glass” in its display and small fibres in its hinge to protect itself from damage.
Samsung is making all three models in its new flagship smartphone range 5G-compatible. The top-end Galaxy S20 also introduces a 100x zoom camera.
The camera module on the S20 Ultra is thicker than those of the smaller models
There are three S20 variants: the basic model with a 6.2in (15.7cm) display. It has three rear cameras: a 64-megapixel telephoto lens, a 12MP wide and a 12MP ultra-wide. It starts at $999/£799
The S20+ has a 6.7in (17cm) display. It adds a depth sensor to the basic model’s array. It starts at $1,199/£999
The S20 Ultra has a 6.9in (17.5cm) display. Its telephoto lens is only 48MP, but the wide-angle lens is bumped up to 108MP. It starts at $1,399/£1,199
The S20 Ultra’s camera module is thicker than that of the others to incorporate a periscope. This uses a prism to reflect light into the device’s interior, allowing the wide-angle option to feature a longer lens and bigger sensor.
Although it is possible to take 108MP shots, owners are expected to let the phone automatically merge groups of nine pixels into one most of the time. This aids low-light photography.
The 100x “super-resolution zoom” facility uses the lower-resolution 48MP camera. Machine-learning techniques stitch together pixels from up to 20 different frames to achieve a better result than would be possible via a simple digital zoom.
It allows Samsung to boast double the zoom range of Huawei’s competing P30 handset, although one expert questioned how usable it was in practice.
“The 100x zoom ends up with a quite blurred image, so I don’t think people will turn to it that often”, commented Mr Jeronimo.
“But it should have a wow factor when shown off in stores. And at 20x to 30x you can get a good photo.”
The phones also introduce Single Take mode. Samsung said this uses artificial intelligence to simultaneously take a mix of stills and videos via the various cameras, giving the owner a selection to choose from after the fact.
Single Take mode takes photos and video clips over a 10 second period using a variety of the cameras
“We want to make sure consumers can really enjoy the moment in front of them… and don’t have to worry about adjusting settings,” explained product manager Mark Holloway.
The phones are also among the first to be capable of recording in 8K resolution – four times as many pixels as 4K and 16 as many as 1080p high definition.
Most people do not yet own 8K screens, but Samsung suggests this offers a degree of future-proofing as well as the ability to extract high-quality stills from the footage.
The S20 phones are Samsung’s first to feature screens that refresh their image 120 times a second, which it says should make games appear smoother.
Samsung is pitching gaming as one benefit of having 5G connectivity, suggesting that lower latencies will mean that players can see and react to events in online titles split-seconds faster than if they were on 4G.
The phones’ Google Duo app also displays video chats in higher quality when on 5G.
The Z Flip is the second smartphone Samsung has made with a flexible screen. The Z Flip, however, is limited to 4G.
Several of its features – including a clamshell design with a small display on the outside and a 6.7in foldable screen on the inside – had already been revealed by Samsung in a TV advert on Sunday.
The other big change is to the display, which now features a substance Samsung calls “folding glass”.
The Z Flip will cost $1,380 in the US and £1,300 in the UK and becomes available on 14 February.