Samsung has confirmed the tech world's worst-kept secret: its new phone lin-up includes the Galaxy Z Flip - a foldable screen handset that will sell in New Zealand for $2499.

The company has also revealed its new S20 Ultra ($2199), the world's first phone that can shoot 8K video - or footage with twice the quality of 4K Ultra High Definition.

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The Galaxy Z Flip is Samsung's second folding-screen phone after the $3399 Galaxy Fold, which hit NZ late last year and unfurls into a mini-tablet.


The Flip's screen is made from lighter material (and, notably, it's the first bendy phone to be covered in glass rather than plastic) but, like the Fold, its hinge is very hard to spot when you're playing video.

It comes in a purple or black shell, and is broadly similar in design to Motorola's recent re-boot of its iconic Razr, which briefly ruled the smartphone world in the 2000s, before iPhone and Android stormed in.

A tiny exterior screen can be used to take or dismiss calls, or read messages.

The all-screen interior display can be fully-unfurled or sit half-open so the bottom of the phone acts as a base, with the exterior screen converting to a viewfinder.

Samsung readily admits the Flip is something a concept phone, and says supply in NZ and elsewhere will be constrained. The Herald would add that bendy-screen phones from all-comers will have to get thinner, and a lot cheaper, before hitting the mainstream.

But this is an impressive start. If you want to be the top gadget owner on your block, and money's no object, you might want to put it on your shopping list.

The S20 gets 8K video

Samsung was first-to-market with 8K TVs last year - albeit with the proviso that at this point there's next-to-no 8K content (Netflix sill streams in "only" 4K Ultra High Definition, while Sky and the free-to-airs are still on HD).

Now, at least with the new S20, you can shoot some 8K home movies.


In a sneak-peek demo for the Herald, the video quality and dynamic range was stunning when played on a big-screen 8K telly (and you will need an 8K TV; the S20 itself does not have an 8K display - though that would make little sense since most people can't discern the difference between 4K and 8K on a display smaller than 60-inches).

Panning was not completely fluid, however. That was because the new S20 can only shoot 8K clips at 24 frames per second. For 60fps, you have to chop-down to 4K.

Shooting video at 8K per second does provide the major benefit that you can pull out stills at ultra-high resolution.

The first smartphone with 8K video: Samsung's Galaxy S20 Ultra. Still from video by Michael Craig
The first smartphone with 8K video: Samsung's Galaxy S20 Ultra. Still from video by Michael Craig

The new S20 Ultra also has a number of party tricks on the still camera front.

It has 10X optical zoom, putting it on an even footing with Huwaei's P30 Pro (and well ahead of Apple's latest, on 2X). There's also 100X digital zoom.

And the S20 features a mode that will shoot a scene all with all four of its front cameras at once, in a variety of modes, plus a boomerang-style video effect. You choose the pics you want to keep.

If you own the current S10 (which has 2X optical zoom and 10X digital), the S20's camera abilities will be the major reason to upgrade.

The S20 Ultra ($2199) has a 6.9-inch display, 128GB of onboard storage and supports 5G.

There are two step-down models, the S20+ ($1899) has almost the same features bar a slightly smaller display (6.7-inch) and a slightly smaller battery, and a

The S20 ($1499) has a 6.2-inch display, lacks 5G and has a triple rather than quad camera setup.

Pre-orders open Thursday with launch March 6.

See full tech specs and the launch event livestream here.

Folding screens worth their salt?

The short story on folding-screen phones so far is that they pass the "crease test" - unless you know where to look, it's hard to spot the hinge along the middle of the screen.

But they are as expensive as all heck, relatively chubby, and false-starts with the initial release of the Galaxy Fold and Huawei's Mate X (not yet available in NZ) have raised questions about reliability.

Samsung also gets minus points for not releasing the 5G version of the Galaxy Fold in NZ.

And it didn't help that in a CNET torture test of the new Razr, its bendy screen barely lasted 27,000 folds. If you think of that as using your flip-phone a dozen times every waking hour (which would constitute modest use, for this writer) that translates to less than a year.

Watch for more bendy-screen hardware before year's end.

Lenovo (which also owns Motorola's handset business these days) used CES to preview the world's first laptop with a foldable display.

The Lenovo X1 Fold is due mid-year.

Dell, HP and others have plans to follow, with Microsoft due to release a special version of its OS - Windows 10X - aimed at bendy-screen laptops later this year.