I have written a fair amount on Samsung's Business to Business (B2B) offerings, and one of those offerings includes its mobile lineup of business smartphones. You can read here how Samsung equipped Walmart workers with personal work devices with its XCover Pro. The Note Series has been the best lineup of B2B smartphones because of its all-around premium hardware and business-like features like the S Pen. Samsung Knoxis considered one of the leading security frameworks for the mobile enterprise. The Note8, Note9, Note10+, and Note20 were all at the top of my list for enterprise mobile devices. The Note line excelled in productivity, modularity, and features that set it apart from other devices. I say all this not to reminisce about how great the Note series was but to make the point that Samsung's Z series is enabling Samsung to bring more innovation, modularity, and mobile productivity. It is not simply replacing the Note series but manifesting its decade-old Note experience into other devices. The Note series passes on the baton to Samsung's Galaxy Z Series of devices, and I think Samsung is running an exciting race in the mobile enterprise space.
Samsung's solution in the era of hybrid work
In the past year and a half, there have been extraordinary changes in the way we work. The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted where we work, how we work, and even when we work. More companies are opting to let employees work from home (WFH) alongside the office, and many people have even decided to work from home full-time. My oldest daughter has even decided to move out of Austin because of the opportunity to WFH. This new era of WFH is the era of hybrid work, and I was able to talk with John Curtis, Vice President and General manager of B2B Mobile at Samsung, who described this era as the "And Era". It's not either the office or WFH, it's both.
In accommodating the new hybrid work era, Samsung envisions providing its suite of solutions, technologies, and devices to enable the worker to experience this hybrid workflow. Flexibility is going to be a key player in tackling our hybrid workflows. Understanding that we are no longer tied to the office and need services and devices that can be flexible wherever we work. I think these reasons are why the Note series was great for business and why Samsung is expanding its Note experience to other devices. It is because it brought modularity that allowed workflows to be flexible. Continuing in this direction of modularity is going to be critical in managing hybrid workflows. Enterprises need a device that can communicate on multiple levels and knock out content with the proper I/O. Businesses are going to need flexible devices that can handle an all-day out of the office as well as the proper space(specifically the display) to multitask between software. Inherent to modularity is flexibility, so Samsung needs flexible devices, and this is where the flexible display fits into Samsung's vision.
The Z Fold3 and Z Flip3 both have their place in B2B
I have seen the value of having a flexible, foldable display on the road and in the office. In my conversation with John Curtis, he mentioned how the Galaxy Z Flip3 is a mobile workhorse in a tight form factor in the business workflow. It is a foldable device that fits within the palm and has all the integration tools of a traditional smartphone. The Z Flip3 has Samsung's high-quality cameras with flagship internals. Its foldable modes allow it to adapt to different use-cases, including a heavy video call workflow out of the office. The flexible hinge allows users to go hands-free without a stand, which you would most likely have at a stationary home or work office. The biggest factor that makes the Z Flip3 practical in the business workflow space is its price. Samsung reduced the price over last year to $999.99, putting it within the same price range as other flagships. This factor is big in making the Z Flip3 a viable choice and getting on the corporate approved device lists (ADL).
The Z Fold3 is a similar story, but one that I think is more obvious. It has more modes, with more real estate at the cost of being a larger device. But, nothing smartphone users are not already familiar with. The Galaxy Z Fold3 is for the corporate user who wants modularity. The Z Fold3 can be a smartphone, tablet, and desktop in DeX mode, all consolidated into one device. It can be seamlessly in all these different modes with the flip of the screen and the connecting of peripherals. Modularity is something that happens overnight, and the smartphone is a great example of this modularity experience. The smartphone began as a phone and became a calculator, a GPS, a music and movie player, etc. The modularity of the Z Fold3 is successful because it consolidates all its modes—the smartphone, the tablet, and the desktop. Having all of these different devices consolidated into one makes the Z Fold3 successful in the era of hybrid workflow.
Applications and S Pen support
One of the difficulties in having foldable hardware is also having software that can handle the foldable hardware. One of Samsung's initiatives to optimize and compatibility of apps on its foldables is optimizing the top 100 apps in the Google Play Store. It has been working on this initiative since 2018, and it says it is about 50% of the way there. This is incredible progress considering it is a fairly new concept; Samsung is one of the only foldable device OEMs. It is also considering that most traditional apps like Microsoft Teams or Zoom have already been optimized. Foldable devices require optimized software to work on its unorthodox hardware. Understandably, it can be worrisome for businesses that rely heavily on their devices and can't afford great hardware with failing software. John Curtis says businesses should expect Samsung to continue to work with partners like Google to optimize apps for its foldable devices.
Another concerning component the folds run into is the new S Pen support on a delicate screen. The Galaxy devices don't use a traditional glass display since glass can't do what is needed to fold. I think Samsung did a great job of making the new Z Series devices durable to allow for S Pen support. The protective layer on the Z Fold3 and Z Flip3 is 80% more durable than last year's foldable glass technology. It uses Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, which Samsung says is the strongest glass on any Samsung device. The Z Series of devices are also IPX8 for water resistance and use Samsung's Armor Aluminum. Samsung's implementation of durability into its Z Fold3 and Z Flip3 brings longevity to foldable business devices and removes many objections to having a foldable device in the workplace.
John Curtis says that Samsung is bullish on its Z Flip3 and Z Fold3 for business users. By expanding the Note experience to other devices like the Galaxy S Series earlier this year and now the Galaxy Z Series, Samsung is enabling more productivity and modularity choices to be present, and business greatly benefits from that. The Galaxy Z Flip3 makes for a compact device at a reasonable price point with some of the best specs on the market. It meets the demand of a business workflow while having a foldable form factor. Likewise, the Z Fold3 takes modularity to a how knew level in consolidating a smartphone, a tablet, and a desktop into one device. I can see both being a disruptive play in the mobile business space.
The most impressive aspect of Samsung's new Z series is that it has gotten rid of many objections that people have had with foldables. It has implemented many durability features, including water resistance, strong aluminum, and enough durability in its protective film to support the S Pen. I am very bullish on Samsung's line of foldable devices in its B2B market.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.