Samsung Reveals Folding Screen Flip Phone During Oscars

The clamshell is back and it’s nothing like you remember

What: During the 2020 Oscars telecast, Samsung ran a commercial revealing its next flexible-screen device.

How: Not much is known about the clamshell phone, but the 24-second commercial gave us a good look and lots of hints. More details will arrive on February 11.

Why Do You Care: Despite a bumpy start, flexible-screen devices are going to be a big part of our mobile device future. This phone could help pave the way.

Samsung flip phones
Samsung's new flexible-screen flip phone. Samsung

With less than 48 hours until its big product reveal, Samsung surprised millions of Oscars telecast viewers with a hearty glimpse of its new, flexible-screen flip phone, rumored to be called the Samsung Galaxy Flip.

Appearing in the first third of the three-hour-plus-long awards show, the roughly 30-second commercial offered almost zero context. There was no voice-over, no specs, no people holding the devices. Instead, the commercial showed off half a dozen of the clamshell handsets folding and unfolding a flexible display of indeterminate size.

Samsung flip phone back
The back of the new clamshell device. Samsung

Rumors of a Samsung flip phone have been swirling for months, but Samsung’s decision to pre-announce the device before its big Galaxy event on February 11 is unusual. Perhaps the company thinks more people will tune in to the live stream just to learn more about this big-display, clamshell smartphone. Judging by the comments I saw in my own Twitter feed, they may be right.

This flip phone is not the first flexible display clamshell. Motorola holds that honor, with the Razr foldable phone, which started arriving in reviewer’s hands last week.

Rumors of a Samsung flip phone have been swirling for months

As for what we can learn from the Samsung Oscars commercial, the obviously OLED screen appears to be a standard smartphone ratio when opened. There’s a black bar at the top to accommodate a camera—the screen does not appear to go all the way to the top edge. There’s a USB-C port along the bottom edge and a volume rocker and power/sleep button along one edge. I couldn’t spot a fingerprint reader (unless it’s under the screen). On the back of the top half there are two cameras and a tiny notification screen, which, in the video, showed a slider for answering a phone call, ostensibly without opening the phone.

There was some text, including the caveat that some screen images were simulated and “You may notice a crease at the center of the main screen, which is a natural characteristic of the screen.” That’s basically a little reminder that this OLED display will feature a plastic covering, much the same as we’ve seen on other flexible-screen devices. So far, none of them have been able to eliminate that pucker.

Other than that, the commercial ends with the slogan, “Change the shape of the future,” and a reminder to watch Samsung’s “Unpacked” event, where we’ll learn more about this phone and what’s rumored to be a variety of other Galaxy handsets.