Android 15 might finally get me to switch from the Motorola Razr to the Galaxy Z Flip

The second Android 15 developer preview is available now for eligible Pixel phones, and the software gives us another look at what we can expect when the full update rolls around. While there’s a lot of excitement about official satellite connectivity, the return of the old taskbar for large-screen devices, and other features, one addition coming to Android 15 that I’m excited about aims to give more flip phones the cover screen experience they deserve.

According to Google, a new property in Android 15 will allow developers to declare that their app can be used on smaller displays like those used for cover screens on flip phones. Google says this must measure at least 1.5 inches for the shorter dimension and at least 2.4 inches for the longer dimension.

“These screens are too small to be considered as compatible targets for Android apps to run on, but your app can opt-in to supporting them, making your app available in more places,” says Dave Burke, Google’s VR of engineering. This means more flip phones should potentially be able to run full apps on their cover screens, a function that is fairly limited on most flippables outside of the Motorola Razr Plus.

If you’re a fan of flip phones, as I am, it’s not hard to see why this is exciting for the immediate future of the form factor.

Samsung dropped the ball

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

I’ve been using the Motorola Razr Plus as my daily driver ever since the phone launched in June 2023. There’s a lot to like about the phone, but the biggest appeal for me is the fact that I can run almost any app on the large 3.6-inch cover screen. This means I can spend less time on the more power-hungry main display as I respond to texts, watch videos, and even play games without needing to open my phone. It’s a great experience and one I hoped Samsung would lean into when it launched the Galaxy Z Flip 5 a month later. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

I’ve written before about my disappointment with the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and why I chose to stick with the Motorola Razr Plus despite Samsung’s phone having a better chipset, better battery life, and better cameras. It’s no secret to those who know me that I love One UI, and I would much rather be using the Z Flip 5 for that very reason. However, the cover screen experience is quite lacking, and the Razr Plus far surpasses other flip phones I’ve used like the rather impressive OPPO Find N3 Flip. The Razr Plus may not be perfect, but this is the one thing that it gets right, and to me, it’s the most important thing. It just works.

App continuity button on the Razr+

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

Meanwhile, Samsung makes users go through hoops to get apps working on the cover screen, and even then, the experience still feels lacking. Out of the box, there are only a handful of unofficially supported apps that you can access via the somewhat hidden Labs setting and have apparently been optimized for the cover screen.

However, if you want to use more apps, you’ll have to download Good Lock, install a module, enable a feature within that module, and then select which apps you want to appear. It’s a bit much, and I’ve had to explain this process to some friends who ended up buying the phone and had no idea this was possible.

Samsung has apparently worked with some developers to bring optimized versions of apps to the cover screen, which explains why the selection is pretty limited. Samsung has also suggested that more apps may be available in the future through Labs.

The problem is that Samsung is hindering its large cover screen by failing to really take advantage of it like Motorola is. It’s not entirely clear why the company has opted to only allow select apps on the cover screen outside of trying to offer a so-called “curated” experience, but with this new capability in Android 15, Google is removing one potential barrier, and Samsung—and other OEMs—have an opportunity to give us the cover screen experience we deserve.

After all, while having apps optimized for the cover screen is nice, I would much prefer to have them available than not or avoid having to dig into apps and menus to make it happen. The optimization can happen later.

Opening the floodgates

The Galaxy Z Flip 5, Find N3 Flip, and Razr Plus side by side

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

Right now, the Razr Plus is really the only flip phone I know that is taking full advantage of its cover screen this way. However, this new capability in Android 15 has the potential to open the floodgates for more OEMs to offer a similar experience. That’s great for me as a lover of modern flip phones, but that also means Motorola would lose one of its main advantages over other devices.

After all, if I can get a Galaxy Z Flip 6 or 7 with Android 15, a decent camera, and a better cover screen experience, then I’m sold. Of course, app developers and OEMs like Samsung still have to opt-in to support the feature, but I can’t imagine companies not wanting to when Google is practically handing it to them.

This change in Android 15 may also give us a glimpse into Google’s plans for a potential Pixel Flip. The company hasn’t been forthcoming about its plans regarding a flip phone to follow the Pixel Fold, but given how popular the form factor is compared to the larger foldable phones, it’s likely Google is considering building one in the future. That said, if it does, I imagine Google will want to offer a similar cover screen experience to the Razr Plus and may even work with developers to further optimize apps for the smaller displays.

The global foldable market is growing, and the latest numbers show that Motorola is steadily catching up to Samsung, thanks to its new Razr models and stiffer competition in the space. However, it’s only a matter of time before even more companies like Google and even OnePlus introduce their own flip phones, meaning Motorola will need to give me another reason to continue using the Razr if it wants to remain competitive.

Via: Androidcentral

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