This morning, Samsung held its Unpacked event, announcing its next-generation Z Fold4, Z Flip3, GalaGALA +3.5%xy Buds2 Pro, and Galaxy Watch5. Samsung announced its S series of flagship devices earlier this year, including the new Galaxy S22 Ultra, which picks up where the Note left off.
In previous years, this Galaxy Unpacked was held for Samsung to announce its new Note device earlier in the year. Since Samsung has integrated its Note features into its S Series and into its Z Series, the Samsung Unpacked event that happens later in the year is derived around the Z Series.
One trend I see more often in mobile device reveals, especially Apple's iPhone, is that a lot of the time is focused on the camera. For the Samsung Z Flip devices, Samsung does not need to spend a whole lot of time on the camera because the unique positioning and capabilities of the Z Series devices is not boring. Every year Samsung packs its devices with exciting improvements that reveal how it is a leader in smartphone technology.
While Samsung is improving the cameras of the Z Series devices, which ironically are on par with some of the best flagships, Samsung is innovating and improving its position as a leader in the smartphone market. Even more impressive is that Samsung is innovating in a space with very little competition, at least in North America.
Galaxy Z Series Specifications
Internal improvements are almost always a given for a next-generation device. We should expect the best display from Samsung with its foldable technology, Armour Aluminum, the best Snapdragon SoC from QualcommQCOM 0.0%, and if we are lucky, a bigger battery. People who fail to look at the importance do not realize that spec improvements usually come with design improvements as well. Somehow Samsung figures out how to make the device slimmer with smaller bezels with rarely any thermal issues and without compromising integrity—actually for Samsung improving the durability. Let's take a look at how Samsung's Z Fold Series is practically unmatched for yet another year:
Galaxy Z Fold4
- Main Display: 7.6-inch QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex Display, 2176 x 1812, 372ppi
- Cover Display: 6.2-inch HD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display, 2316 x 904, 401ppi
- SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
- Memory: 12GB
- Storage: 256GB, 512GB, or 1Tb
- Cover Camera: 10MP
- UDC: 4MP
- Rear Camera: 12MP Ultra-Wide, 50MP Wide Angle, 10Mp Telephoto
- Battery: 4,400mAh dual battery
Galaxy Z Flip4
- Main Display: 6.7-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Felx Display, 2640 x 1080, 425ppi
- Cover Display: 1.9-inch Super AMOLED, 260 x 512, 302ppi
- SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
- Memory: 8GB
- Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
- Front Camera: 10MP
- Rear Camera: 12MP Ultra-Wide, 12MP Wide-angle
- Battery: 3,700mAh
The foldable displays on the Z Fold4 and Z Flip4 are 45% stronger than the main screen panel on the Z Fold3 and Z Flip3. I believe display durability is one of the main concerns for new fold users. Samsung has improved the durability of the display every generation, which is no longer a concern for me. I was an early user of the first generation and have gotten my hands on every generation of both the Z Fold and Z Flip. Last year it was an 80% improvement, and this year it is a 45% improvement in the durability of the folding display. Samsung is quickly leaving people without a reason to skip foldables.
The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is a considerable upgrade to the previous generation. The Snapdragon 8+ gen 1 is in both the Z Fold4 and Z Flip4 globally and enables the Z Series to be flagship powerhouses in performance, connectivity, and camera capabilities. Samsung rarely utters the word “Qualcomm” in its launches, but the company was front and center. This is because 100% of the foldable line are based on Qualcomm SoCs.
The Z Fold4 and Z Flip4 feature 5G mmWave and for the first time Wi-Fi 6E thanks to Qualcomm’s FastConnect 6900 Mobile Connectivity System. The support of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is a result of the growing relationship between Samsung and Qualcomm. Snapdragon’s share of Galaxy devices jumped considerably from 40% to 74% and I expect a similar jump with the Z Series devices.
While the camera systems are largely the same as last year's, the ISP on the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 should improve the camera quality and processing. Both the Z Fold4 and Z Flip4 have brighter sensors for improved night shots. The Z Fold4 has a larger 50MP wide lens and 30xZRX +2.9% Space Zoom lens, while the Z Flip4 has the same camera system as the Z Flip3. Samsun has also improved the under-display camera (UDC) so that it is less pixelated. While I did not mind the pixelation of the UDC, I believe the quality of the camera was sub-par. Hopefully, with the improved pixelation, improved camera quality should follow with it, especially in our age of video calls.
Galaxy Z Fold4
The design aesthetics of the Z Fold4 has not changed very much, but Samsung has managed to make the chassis and the design slimmer and sleeker. It has Samsung's Armour Aluminum frame and hinge cover with an exclusive Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+ on the cover display and rear glass. The hinge of the Z Fold4 is noticeably tighter as part of the slimmer form factor. While these design improvements may not seem important, keep in mind that the more compact Samsung makes the Z Fold4, the more features it can pack into the device.
If we look at how Samsung has taken the Note series and integrated it into the Z and S series devices, I would not be surprised to see a Z Fold with a built-in S pen in the coming years. The path towards a built-in S Pen starts with slimming down the design and then building it up to support the S Pen while implementing S Pen features into the software.
The Galaxy Z Fold4 will be the first device to support Android 12L, a version of Android 12 that is specific to foldable and dual display devices. While I have few complaints about the software of the Galaxy Z Fold3, I believe this jump to Android 12L should improve the experience of the Galaxy Z Fold4 considerably. It should improve multitasking, application interactions, and the device's overall functionality.
Samsung has also been working with GoogleGOOG +1.2% and MicrosoftMSFT 0.0% to improve the experience of the Galaxy Z Fold4 by implementing quick features. Google apps like Chrome and Gmail support drag and drop, copy, and paste links, photos, and other content between apps. Microsoft Office apps have also been designed to take advantage of the full tablet-like experience. With its new Taskbar, Samsung is also making the tablet feel more versatile and tablet/PC-like. Samsung has a Taskbar feature on the Z Fold3 that could pin to the side or bottom of the display, and I am glad to see it more integrated into the multitasking of the device.
Galaxy Z Flip4
The Z Flip4 has a slimmer design and more compact hinge like the Z Fold4 and has redesigned the edges, which are now straight. Although I have not gotten my hands on a Z Flip4 yet, I believe the new straight edge gives familiarity to those who are coming from an iPhone.
Samsung included features in the Z Flip4 that emphasized its hands-free capabilities in Flex mode. Samsung partnered with Meta to optimize FlexCam on social platforms like Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook.
Samsung also gave the Z Flip4 a battery upgrade with 400mAh more battery and Super Fast charging 2.0. One of my biggest concerns for the Z Flip3 was the battery life, where I averaged around five to six hours a day. The more compact Samsung makes its next generation of devices, the more it can improve on things like the battery. I believe the switch to a straight edge design also gave Samsung a little more room to at 400mAh more of battery. Samsung reports that you could get from 0% to 50% in around 30 minutes with a 25W adapter. I would prefer to see how long it takes for the Z Flip4 to charge from 0% to 85%, considering Samsung's Protective battery feature stops the charge at 85% to ensure battery longevity.
I want to preface my coverage of the Galaxy Watch5 with the fact that I drive the Apple Watch daily. What kept me from daily driving the Watch4 was that there was some hiccups with the blood pressure features and the design. You can read about my experience in my review here. I preface with this experience because, as an Android user, I do want to make the switch from Apple.
Over the past couple of generations, Samsung smartwatches have focused on improving health and wellness features. Last year it introduced the 3-in-3 BioActive Sensor, and this year it is improving the accuracy and adding on a temperature sensor for a more in-depth understanding of wellness. Hopefully, these improvements and added sensors address my concerns so that I can look to daily driving the Galaxy Watch5.
Samsung has also changed the naming schema of its Galaxy Watch series again. The Galaxy Watch4 is the active and sporty version, and the Galaxy Watch4 Classic is the more formal model. Samsung now has the Galaxy Watch5 and Galaxy Watch5 Pro, most likely replacing the "Classic" name. The Galaxy Watch5 has a 13% larger battery and charges to 30% in eight minutes. It also has a sapphire crystal display for a 60% harder layer compared to the Galaxy Watch4. I believe the Galaxy Watch5 is the more active watch out of the two, and I am glad that Samsung has improved its durability and battery life, two aspects that increase the longevity of the device.
The Galaxy Watch5 Pro, which seems to adopt the naming schema of the Galaxy Buds is even more durable than the Galaxy Watch5. It has a sapphire crystal display and titanium casing. It also has a 60% larger battery than the Galaxy Watch4. Although I would like to see that percentage against the Galaxy Watch4 Classic, I believe the Galaxy Watch5 Pro's battery should be more favorable to those with the LTE version.
The Galaxy Watch5 Pro has the first of its kind on a Galaxy watch GPX features for hiking and biking. It is capable of downloading cycling and hiking routes from the Samsung app with turn-by-turn directions. I am interested in trying this feature, as it allows users who don't have the LTE variant to leave their smartphones in the car and enjoy the activity.
Galaxy Buds2 Pro
Samsung has released its next-generation pro earbuds, the Galaxy Buds2 Pro. Samsung says it packed studio-worthy sound quality with 24-bit Hi-Fi audio and intelligent, active noise canceling features. The Galaxy Buds2 Pro includes Bixby as a voice control but I wish there were more voice control options with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. Samsung is usually good about keeping its ecosystem friendly.
My experience with past Galaxy Buds has always been great and easy to pair. The Galaxy Buds2 Pro features perfect sync capabilities between tablet, watch, PC or phone. Keep in mind, that this sync support is only between One UI1.0 devices and Galaxy Book series PCs launched in 2020. Again, a little disappointed these are limited to the Samsung ecosystem.
Pricing and availability
Samsung has kept the Galaxy Z Fold4 at the same launch price of $1,799.99. While this price is still only for those who desire the bleeding edge, I believe it is all worth it for productivity power users.
The price of the Galaxy Z Flip3 was more favorable for the everyday smartphone user and was even in the same price range as an iPhone. I believe this strategic pricing is what led many people I have met to switch from an iPhone to the Z Flip. This year is no different with the Galaxy Z Flip4 starting at $999.99. With its new straight-edge design, I believe many people switching from an iPhone will find familiarity with the Galaxy Z Fold4 at roughly the same price.
Last year I found that Samsung's pre-order pricing of its foldable devices was fairly affordable compared to Apple. With inflation being a low point of 2022, I am glad that Samsung did not decide to raise its prices.
The Galaxy Watch5 will start at $279.99 for Bluetooth and $329.99 for LTE, and the Galaxy Watch5 Pro will start at $449.99 for Bluetooth and $499.99 for LTE. These prices are slightly higher than the last generation, but I am willing to pay an extra $30 for a sapphire display, regardless of which model.
Samsung is in a league of its own with its foldables. It has little competition in North America and has a full ecosystem for foldable that is unmatched globally. Yet, every year Samsung continues to show why it is a leader in smartphones.
The Galaxy Z Fold4 and Z Flip4 have sleeker and more compact designs while improving overall device durability. The Z Fold4 is still unmatched in terms of productivity and multitasking. The Z Flip4 has many great improvements that I believe should put a dent in the smartphone market share, especially when looking at its price and value compared to an Apple iPhone. Overall, I'm excited to get my hands on these new devices, and hopefully, I can switch my daily smartwatch over to the new Galaxy Watch5 or Watch5 Pro but that’ll be a hard one.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.