Samsung held its annual Galaxy Unpacked event today, where it announced its next generation of Galaxy devices. What always excites me about the Galaxy Unpacked Event is Samsung almost always announces something big and innovative that paves the way for new technologies and smart companion interactions. And for its competition to follow it. The Galaxy Unpacked event is usually vibrant and full of excitement as anticipation for these new technologies is right around the corner, delivering before the holidays.
This year, Samsung announced four new devices to update its Galaxy ecosystem—Samsung's new Galaxy buds 2, Galaxy Watch 4, Galaxy Z Fold3 5G, and the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G. All of these devices have exciting new improvements and features that I think keep Samsung as the leader in smartphone ecosystem innovators. I don't use that label lightly. Let's dive into Samsung's new and exciting folding devices and accessories.
But first, who really needs a foldable?
So who needs a foldable?
I have used all three versions of the Fold and have learned a lot. My company has also researched foldables. Here's who I think needs a foldable.
Generally, anything you can do better with a larger display and can deal with the thicker form factor is best done on a foldable. It's as simple as that.
Heavy-duty multitasking on a foldable is better than a standard phone when you don't want to pull out the notebook. With a foldable, users can look at multiple applications simultaneously and are more productive for it. The alternative is task switching that can take workers out of the flow. I like the idea of a browser in one window and a productivity app like Word or PowerPoint or a messenger like Teams in another window.
I believe that video collaboration while people are on the road will be more popular post-pandemic. We used to be happy when on the road "dialing" in via audio and not using video. With a foldable, you have more display area, leading to a better experience and better collaboration as the standard phone is suboptimal. And, of course, a larger display makes all video consumption better. I don’t think that needs an explanation.
Not everybody needs a notebook PC. With enough add-on peripherals, you can turn a foldable into truly a pocket computer. With a keyboard, stand, mouse (or hand mouse), and an external display connection, you can have your cake and eat it, too. DeX can make this experience better. When on the airplane, why pull out the entire notebook to watch a movie when you can simply do this on a foldable with a stand? If you get bored of watching every moment of that basketball game, why not tweet at the same time? With one connection, you can watch and tweet simultaneously, which is a lot more fun.
Galaxy Z Series Specifications
The Galaxy Z Fold3 and the Galaxy Z Flip3 are both Samsung's third iteration of its foldable smartphones in the hotdog folding style and the hamburger folding style. Not only was Samsung the first OEM to bring a foldable smartphone to market, but since its release, its foldable lineup has been practically unmatched:
Galaxy Z Fold3 5G:
- Main Display: 7.6-inch QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex Display, 2208 x 1768, 374ppi
- Cover Display: 6.2-inch HD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display, 2268 x 832, 387ppi
- SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
- Memory: 12GB
- Storage: 256GB UFS3.1 or 512GB UFS3.1 internal storage
- Cover Camera: 10MP
- UDC: 4MP
- Rear Camera: 12MP Ultra-Wide, 12MP Wide-angle, 12MP Telephoto
- Battery: 4,400mAh dual battery
Galaxy Z Flip3 5G:
- Main Display: 6.7-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex Display, 2640 x 1080, 425ppi
- Cover Display: 1.9-inch Super AMOLED Display, 260 x 512, 302ppi
- SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
- Memory: 8GB
- Storage: 128GB or 256GB UFS3.1 internal storage
- Front Camera: 10MP
- Rear Camera: 12MP Ultra-Wide, 12MP Wide-angle
- Battery: 3,300 mAh dual battery
The Z Series uses Corning Gorilla Glass Victus with a new protective film made from stretchable PET or Polyethylene terephthalate, making the display 80% more durable without compromising the need to fold. Both foldable devices have Samsung's new Eco display technology that Samsung says makes the display 29% brighter while consuming less energy with an increased viewable area. The inside and outside display for the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G support a 120Hz refresh rate. Both devices have a thinner hinge, are now IPX8 water-resistant, and have Samsung's Armor Aluminum technology which Samsung says is its strongest aluminum technology. All of these hardware improvements make for what I consider to be the most durable foldable smartphones on the market.
Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
I believe Samsung shocked many last year with the improvements of its second generation of the Galaxy Z Fold 2, bringing a larger outer display and a new plastic-glass hybrid screen. Those improvements were the ones that many didn't expect, and the company did it quickly. Samsung also took away the camera hump on the inside of the display and added 5G. It has so many refreshing improvements to the second generation that it becomes difficult to see what needs improvement apart from the typical better battery life, memory, storage, camera, and SoC. OK, maybe the thickness.
The Galaxy Z Fold3 continues to play top dog as Samsung found a way to give people a reason to upgrade from the Galaxy Z Fold2. Samsung added S Pen functionality to the Galaxy Z Fold, undoubtedly making many Note fans happy. It has fully optimized S Pen features and supports two different types of pens, the S Pen Fold Edition and the S Pen Pro, that is slightly larger. S Pen support is something we saw on the Galaxy S21 earlier this year, and I think bringing S Pen support will be refreshing for those who will miss the Note Series. The Galaxy Z Fold3 5G also has an under-display camera (UDC), eliminating the hole-punch camera design meaning users won't have a black dot to wade through when consuming content. The immersive experience of the inside display should make the S Pen experience even more appealing with the full un-hindered 7.6-inch display.
I think the Galaxy Z Fold3 will capture the hearts of many Note fans who have been left Note-less this year. For those who cannot come around, it will most likely be because of the lack of in-device pen storage that made the Note so iconic. The Galaxy Z Fold3 will capture even more of a following because of how practical the device is becoming to consumers. It is no longer an enthusiast device but one that is worth the large price tag. The price of the Galaxy Z Fold3 testifies this as well, it being $200 cheaper when it goes on sale this August at $1,799. Although the price is still steep, I still think it is justified.
As successful companies that are first in a category, Samsung keeps removing objections to the form factor.
Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
The Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is Samsungs second design of the "hamburger-style" foldable smartphone, but this is the third iteration of the Flip series since Samsung released a Z Flip and a Z Flip 5G. The design of the Galaxy Z Flip has improved with a larger outside display that is four times larger than its predecessor. It also uses Samsung's Armor Aluminum technology and the smaller hinge design, and I think the device looks even for fashionable with a two-tone design and multiple colors. The Galaxy Z Flip3 5G also has a 120Hz panel with Eco display technology, but it does not have a UDC. It is also IPX8 water-resistant and Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, and Samsung stretchable PET protective film.
After looking at the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G, my first thought was that it could be a Samsung bestseller if Samsung can price it right. It has all the right specs it a foldable design that easily fits into people's pockets. It takes on the nostalgic flip that classic phone users remember and, in many circles, are missing. It is not an over-the-top phone in terms of an immersive experience and functionality. And, I think it is the most fashionable device on the market with multiple color options and a pocketable size with an outside screen. Samsung is pricing the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G at $999.99, which puts it in the range of most flagship devices. For those choosing an upgrade, there would have to be some underlying reason against a foldable device that keeps you from choosing this device
In addition to the two new foldables, Samsung also announced two new Galaxy Smartwatches, the Galaxy Watch 4 and the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic.
The Galaxy Watch 4 takes over the name of the Galaxy Watch Active, and the Galaxy Watch Classic is the classic stainless steel watch with an iconic rotating bezel. The name changes for Samsung's Watch series derive from its new OS and UX changes. The Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic will be running Samsungs new One UI OS. One UI is Wear OS powered by Samsung and co-built by Google to bring Google apps like Maps to the Samsung Watch ecosystem. The new OS automatically installs apps if a smartphone app has a counterpart. Samsung says its CPU is 20% faster with 50% more ram and a ten times faster GPU.
It has a new Body composition measurement tool and BioActive Sensor that includes blood pressure and ECG for select countries. Although, the US was not on that list of countries. The health sensors include Optical Heart rate, Electrical Heart, and Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis for blood pressure, heartbeat irregularities, and blood oxygen levels. Samsung says the sensors capture about 2,400 data points in about 15 seconds. It even has a sensor to detect the sound of snores.
I've tried nearly every Galaxy Watch and do appreciate the prior watch's health innovativeness and price, but I always found myself moving back to the Apple Watch as it ran "apps". The Watch 4 could be the device that pulls me back into the Samsung Watch camp. With the new snore sensor I am even more intrigued. I can't tell you that yet, as I haven't tried it out yet. It will come in 40mm and 44mm sizes starting at $249.99 for Bluetooth versions and $299.99 for LTE models.
Samsung also announced its new Galaxy Buds2 to join the Galaxy Buds Live and Galaxy Buds Pro. Samsung says its Galaxy Buds2 is its smallest and lightest pair of earbuds. It has ANC with three adjustable Ambient Sound Levels. The earbuds come in four colors, with the outside of all the cases being white. The four colors are graphite, white, olive, and lavender. Personally, I don't particularly like how the outside of the case is a different color, and the white makes it look somewhat washed out. I think Samsung was going for a contemporary look, but there is no option to match the classic all-black smartphone look.
I think Samsung has done a great job of making its foldable series more appealing and practical for the typical premium smartphone user. Both devices have well-needed durability improvements with an 80% increase in foldable screen durability, IPX8 water resistance, smaller hinge, and Armor aluminum design. When considering a device, durability is a serious factor, and many people were hesitant after the first Galaxy Z Fold. Seeing that the Samsung's Z series are more mature devices, I think it takes much worry to buy a foldable.
Samsung has also reduced the prices a little bit. Although the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G still has a fairly steep price, you get what you pay for. The price reduction should have a greater effect on the Z Flip3 5G, putting it in line with most flagship devices. I think it could be a Samsung bestseller consider its fashionable design and more affordable price. On the fold side (as opposed to the flip side), the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G should capture the hearts of many Note fans who look for the biggest and baddest devices.
Finally, it also appears that Samsung opted globally for the Qualcomm processors for each foldable, worldwide. I think that’s a plus as consumers know they will get the best of the best performance and battery life.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.