Samsung’s recent Unpacked event was its busiest ever – we should know, we’ve been to them all – and it introduced two foldable phones, two watches, and new earphones, all of which are unquestionably the best in their industries.
Let’s draw some early conclusions from the event now that the dust has fallen.
The standard-bearers are Samsung’s Galaxy Z series
The Galaxy Fold 2019 was a remarkable marvel when it originally came out. We’d never seen anything like it before. However, it was a first-generation device that wasn’t up to the task. The Galaxy Z Fold2 5G was the first folding phone to support 5G, and Samsung’s achievement in only the second generation of its foldable device is no small feat.
The Galaxy Z Fold3 5G and Z Flip3 5G, on the other hand, are refined, durable, premium, and fully ready to be carried and used on a daily basis in 2021.
They’re also the world’s most rounded foldable phones. They feature the most advanced screens, capable and diverse cameras, mature and dependable software, and competent build quality, so we’re convinced they won’t let us down throughout their time with us.
Although the water resistance is remarkable, the S Pen is the most notable feature
The improved water resistance is a big aspect of making the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G and Z Flip3 5G ready for broad adoption. Waterproofing a gadget with two independent bodies and a moving hinge between them is difficult. In the video below, Samsung explains how it was able to accomplish this feat. Keep in mind that the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G and Z Flip3 5G aren’t dust-proof, so you’ll need to be extra cautious with them.
But the real win for Samsung’s laudable engineer team is the S Pen support on the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G. It took making a special S Pen with a softer, retractable tip, two individual digitizers and a lot of work to achieve the S Pen support and that’s as impressive as it gets.
It also softens the blow from not having a Galaxy Note series this year. Even better, Samsung is bundling a flip cover case and the S Pen Fold Edition with pre-orders in many regions, which would put an S Pen into many new Galaxy Z Fold3 5G owners’ hands.
The Galaxy Z Fold3 5G launches at $200/€150 cheaper than its predecessor, while the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is a whole $450 cheaper. That brings the pair of foldables as close as Samsung could muster to the mainstream-acceptable price limit. But that required some cost-cutting.
The cameras are the main victim. Taken mostly unchanged from the 2020 Galaxy Z Fold2 5G and Flip 5G, saying that the cameras are nothing special is an understatement. The Galaxy Z Fold3 5G’s main 12MP camera has a f/1.8 lens, 1/1.76″ sensor and 1.8µm pixels, which is decent by 2021 standards, but far from what flagships offer these days. But its fixed-focus 12MP ultrawide with 1.12µm pixels and 12MP f/2.4 2x zoom with tiny 1.0µm pixels are straight out of 2018.
The Galaxy Z Flip3 5G has the same non-autofocusing ultrawide sensor as the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G, but with a smaller primary sensor.
Sure, given Samsung’s processing prowess, we expect both phones to perform admirably in terms of photography, but they remain the two foldables’ fundamental flaws. Especially since the Huawei Mate X2 demonstrated that foldable phones and flagship cameras aren’t mutually exclusive.
The under-display camera allows for a continuous primary display
On the inner display of the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G, Samsung installed a 4MP f/1.8 2.0m under display camera. This imager appears to be inferior to the original Fold2’s ordinary 10MP punch-hole selfie, which may appear to be a downgrade.
If you search for the odd pixel pattern over the ‘hidden’ camera, you’ll notice it, but it won’t bother you as much as the crease that was meant to be a major concern but never bothered any of the early adopters.
All of the displays have improved
All of the displays on the new Galaxy Z series cellphones have been updated by Samsung. The cover display of the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G has been quadrupled in size and can now be used for more than just turning off alarms, while the interior display has been upgraded to a 120Hz refresh rate.
The cover display on the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G now has a quicker 120Hz refresh rate, and while the inner display’s specs haven’t changed, it has become brighter. Given that displays are the most essential element of these foldables, we’d say they’ve definitely stepped up their game in this area.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G looks to be the better of the two
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G features a dual-tone design with seven accent colors that catch the eye right away. The Flip’s matte texture is pleasant to the touch, and when folded, it becomes a little and easily-pocketable item.
It’s unquestionably the best-looking Galaxy on the market, and there’s a color scheme for everyone.
We expect it to do exceptionally well on the market because it is the world’s cheapest folding phone.
Foldables are being embraced by one user interface
One UI has evolved into a more smarter OS for the form factor, from the option to pin a taskbar of favorite apps on the side of the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G’s 7.6-inch screen to the ability to make any program Multi window compatible.
Samsung has streamlined several of its menus to display more information in a dual-pane design, and it has collaborated with partners like Google and Spotify to deliver additional information to apps on the Fold’s large screen.
All of this, in addition to Samsung’s DeX PC simulation and the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G’s inherent design advantages for multitasking mean you’ll be able to do more with One UI and the Fold.
Right now, the best Wear OS watches are the Galaxy Watch4 and Watch4 Classic
The Galaxy Watch4 and Watch4 Classic will have an advantage over competing Wear OS watches thanks to Samsung’s vast experience in health monitoring.
The Exynos W920 chipset, though, is the major advance in these new wearables. This new 5nm chip, which is specifically built for wearables, features two Cortex-A55 cores and a Mali-G68 GPU, which should result in a 20 percent increase in performance and a significant increase in efficiency. The latter is exactly what Google’s smartwatch ecosystem required, and it has the potential to be a game-changer.
The Galaxy Buds2 are a no-brainer
They’re sweat-resistant, feature a vibrant design, offer wired and wireless charging, active noise cancelling, and have a longer battery life than most competitors, all for €149. That may not appear to be a bargain, but consider Apple’s €279 (€200 at the time of this publication) AirPods Pro and come back to us.