utg samsung

Samsung confirms Z Flip’s display uses 30 microns thin glass

A foldable glass screen is both something new and somewhat controversial for Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip smartphone. The Z Flip display has been praised for its uniqueness but has also been questioned for its durability.

Many have been wondering what company made the glass or if it’s even glass at all.

It turns out the display business of Samsung has “commercialized” the ultra-thin glass (UTG) for the “cover window” of the smartphone. But Samsung does not make the glass layer itself. Schott, a German company, said it manufactures the glass and Samsung embeds with other layers of the display.

Samsung Display spokesman said that Schott only supplies unprocessed raw materials to them. Samsung Display produces the display for the Galaxy Z Flip, the spokesman added.

Samsung Display announced on late Tuesday that the glass, which is 0.03mm (30 microns) thick, underwent an intensifying process to enhance its durability and flexibility. The company also claimed that the UTG was injected with a “special material up to an undisclosed depth to achieve a consistent hardness.”

samsung z flip on hand

It did not provide additional information about the “special material” or the process. It only said that the glass is “tough, yet tender.” Samsung stated the glass is designed with a highly flexible surface “a supple hardness, sleek texture, and uniform shape.”

On Wednesday, Schott confirmed it delivered ultra-thin glass to Samsung but could not comment on the display technology or any processing details of the raw glass material.

Samsung is very popular for its TVs and smartphones, but it also has massive operations making components, such as processors and displays. It uses the technologies in its devices and also sells them to customers. The flip or foldable screens in smartphones tend to show up first in Samsung products.

Samsung started selling the Galaxy Z Flip on Friday for $1380. Most companies don’t have a foldable phone, but Samsung now has two. More interestingly, the two Samsung’s foldable phones are very different from each other. The Flip is designed to be more like a smartphone that’s more pocketable when closed, while the Galaxy Fold, released last year, is a phone that becomes a bigger tablet when opened. The hope for the South Korean electronics giant is that the Flip avoids the many issues faced by its predecessors, including the lack of apps and high pricing.

Delicate Foldables?

The foldable glass in the Flip is the first on the market and is something that could give a boost to the sector. Glass is generally more durable than plastic because the former doesn’t scratch easily as the latter.  Moreover, the glass provides the Flip a more premium feel than other foldables on the market today.

However, the glass screen of the Flip already has seen some controversy. Tinkerer Zack Nelson of YouTube channel JerryRigEverything found that even his fingernail could leave scratches on the screen of the phone where a real glass would have usually resisted markings. While Samsung has maintained that the Z Flip’s screen is real glass, Nelson now questioned if it is indeed a glass.

It can be remembered that the Galaxy Fold also had screen problems. Samsung stood behind its device but warned buyers about the fragility of the foldable screens.

On Tuesday, Samsung Display said it has worked with France-based Bureau Veritas, an international certification agency, to test UTG’s durability. Samsung said the glass has lasted through 200,000 fold tests, “simulated extreme lifetime use reliability.”

Samsung Display noted that other foldable electronic devices are expected to adopt its UTG when the demand arises.

amp dac hifi

iFi Zen DAC comprehensive review

If you’re planning to get into hi-fi, one of the first things you’ll need to buy is a headphone amp and digital-to-analog converter (DAC) because audiophile headphones can be challenging to drive, needing more power than your phone or laptop can supply. A good headphone amp and a good DAC will drastically improve the sound quality of your connected device, whether it’s your phone, PC, laptop or even TV.

You don’t need to shell out much money to experience hi-fi sound on your first headphone setup. The iFi Zen DAC is the perfect starting point, which is a DAC and amp combo with enough power to drive power-hungry headphones while working with sensitive in-ear monitors, making the product extremely versatile. iFi Zen DAC offers more features than anybody would think at its price point. It supports for MQA, DSD256, PCM384, DXD384 with balanced inputs, and outputs. You can bypass the amp if you want to use it solely as a DAC. Starting in the hi-fi hobby may not need all of these features, but it’s a good future-proofing as you mature during your audio enthusiasm.

If you only look at the specs on paper, you would think the iFi Zen DAC to cost at least $500, but it only retails for $129, making it one of the best audio bargains on the market today. The iFi Zen DAC is perfect for users who either just dabbling in headphone audio or wanting a portable DAC/amp to take on the go.

Design

The iFi Zen DAC is entirely a metal in a trapezoidal layout. It looks like it can stand up to the abuse of being tossed into a backpack repeatedly as it is built like a tank. The unit may not be the most compact DAC/amp but it is undoubtedly still portable, measuring 117mm long, 100mm wide, and 30mm tall.

A beautiful, smooth-operating volume knob is located on the front of the unit.  The volume knob is backlighted with multiple color LEDs, depending on the sampling rate of the played file. It’s an awesome visual indicator without needing a screen. Also present are the buttons for Power Match (gain), TrueBass (bass boost), a 6.35mm single-ended output, and a 4.4mm balanced output.

digital to analog converter

At the back are a 4.4mm balanced input, variable and fixed options’ switch, single-ended RCA outputs, USB-A port and a DC 5V input for the optional power supply. The unit runs off of USB power only out of the box and if you want to help improve the sound, you need to purchase a wall-wart power supply. While the headphones sound good without the use of a wall-wart power supply, it’s a bit disappointing that it is not included out of the box.

One important thing to note is that no power switch to turn on or off the iFi Zen DAC. The unit powers up as soon as it is connected to a PC and remains on. The volume LED will always stay on, even if the computer is turned off, which is a bit annoying if you’re in your bedroom with the unit.

Performance

The unit handles all digital platforms from steaming to DSD256 to PCM without issue. The iFi’s driver and the control panel is needed on Windows but no need on Macs.

The sound from the unit is excellent, giving sufficient power for power-hungry headphones like the Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro and Sennheiser HD600. The DAC/amp is also good with low impedance headphones, such as Grado’s RS2i and different in-ear monitors. The unit supports headphones up to 300 ohms, providing enough volume without issues.

When it comes to tonal balance, the Zen DAC is neutral most of the time with a little warmth that helps tame the harsh highs of the headphones like the DT1990 Pro. While bass response is a bit insufficient, dynamics are generally good. Fortunately, the TrueBass option can add some mid to low-end punch without intruding on the mids. TrueBass comes handy when hopping between different genres of music.

The optional iFi power supply is worth purchasing to squeeze out a few extra drops of audio performance. There’s slightly more detail with the optional power supply at high volumes, though playing via USB still sounds excellent.

Conclusion

The iFi Zen DAC is a superb DAC and amp for the price. The unit has features that are rare for entry-level audio products. The Zen DAC has support for most major hi-fi audio formats and it has balanced connections. It elevates the music listening experience of someone new to hi-fi hobby.