Samsung’s Galaxy series is back, and while the early months of the year are all for its flagship phone and tablet line, the second half is dedicated to its foldable devices. Samsung’s recent August Galaxy Unpacked was exactly this case, headlining the newest additions to the Fold and Flip series, the Galaxy Z Fold4 and Galaxy Z Flip4.
But that’s not all! Samsung also had time to introduce the new lineups for their smartwatch and wireless earbuds accessories. For example, the new Galaxy Watch5 series consists of two models for users to choose from, a regular and a pro version. Meanwhile, the popular Galaxy Buds2 gets an upgrade in the form of the Galaxy Buds2 Pro.
It’s an exciting line of products unveiled, and we were fortunate enough to get some hands-on time with all of them for Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked 2022 event. Check it out!
Galaxy Z Fold4
It seems like an age since the first Galaxy Z Fold was released, even though it was only three years ago. Part of that can be attributed to the strides that Samsung has made for the device — it has improved tremendously since the first version was launched.
Last year’s Galaxy Z Fold was all about refinement, which is the same for the Galaxy Z Fold4, just minor improvements. Physically, the Galaxy Z Fold4 is smaller than its predecessor, but that does not mean the display experience is compromised. It retains the 7.6-inch folding display and 6.2-inch cover screen size by reducing the phone’s bezels. However, there is a change in aspect ratio. Compared to the Fold3’s 5:4 aspect ratio, the Fold4’s display will use a wider 21.6:18 aspect ratio.
In general, the display remains excellent. You still have the large screen to view stuff on, and the 120Hz refresh rate is kept for both the full display and the cover screen. One thing to note is that it still uses an in-display camera. While it hasn’t detracted my experience from my limited use, I did notice that it does stick out when looking for it, particularly against white backgrounds.
Unfortunately, creases are still one caveat that companies have been unable to eradicate from folding devices, and the same goes for the Galaxy Z Fold4. Still, as long as you are not viewing the phone at an off-angle, it shouldn’t be too distracting when using it.
Multi-tasking is still a prominent feature of the Galaxy Z Fold4. Users can have up to 3 apps on the fully unfolded screen — one in a regular 9:16 vertical format while the other two appear as two separate squared windows, which you can adjust in size. You can also have a fourth app open as a pop-up window, but the screen gets very busy.
There’s a new taskbar feature for the Galaxy Z Fold4 that mimics the one seen for desktop computers. With it, users get quicker access to their recent and favourite apps. New swipe gestures have also been added to give a more intuitive multi-tasking experience.
The company has also said that more apps have been optimised to take advantage of the big screen. A rep was on hand to showcase how YouTube worked on the Galaxy Z Fold4, allowing you to enjoy a video on one half of the screen while using another app seamlessly. For something more work-based, users can take advantage of the drag and drop feature for Google apps — copy and pasting links, photos, and more from Chrome to Gmail for instance.
On the cameras, the Galaxy Z Fold4 has received a significant upgrade. The primary camera will have 50MP, while the ultrawide and telephoto cameras will be 12MP and 10MP, respectively. That is the same specs as what the Galaxy S22 has, and they are excellent cameras; the Fold4 should perform similarly. Night photography is also a feature that comes along with the improved cameras.
Otherwise, the perks from the previous Fold phone remain. For example, within the camera app, users can still immediately see the photo they just took on one side of the screen, leaving the app like with regular smartphones. Flex mode for the camera also returns, letting you prop up the phone and easily stage a shot as you view the preview on one side while the other shows the camera controls.
For the phone’s innards, Samsung is equipping the Galaxy Z Fold4 with the latest Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor to run the phone, along with the included 12GB of RAM. It should be enough power to satiate even the most hardcore of multi-taskers.
Lastly, S Pen support is back. It’ll support the regular version and the Pro model, which contains Bluetooth functionality. That functionality mainly helps with doing tasks remotely, like taking pictures or changing slides during a PowerPoint presentation. If that’s not something you need, the regular version should suffice, and it’ll help with some of the features implemented, such as text extraction, which lets users do stuff with text, like create events using dates listed on a website.
You’ll have to buy a case to carry it around. Samsung has several variations to choose from but note that the cases are specific to the model of the S Pen. For instance, the S Pen Pro is a little thicker than the regular and would not fit in a case for that.
Galaxy Z Flip4
Like the Galaxy Z Fold4, the new Galaxy Z Flip4 is only receiving minor improvements from its predecessor.
In terms of design, the Galaxy Z Flip4 looks almost identical to the Flip3, but that is no slight against it. It is still a stylish-looking piece of tech, with the two-tone finish at the back combining well with the phone’s slim profile to exude a sense of sleekness.
While the phone comes in four colour options for its launch— purple, light blue, rose pink, and black — Samsung also offers a special Bespoke Edition. The Bespoke Edition allows you to customise the colour variations available on the phone. You can choose different colours like red or white, and can even opt to give a three-tone finish for the final product.
In total, there are 75 different permutations to come up with, so you likely won’t see another person with the same style as you make. Nevertheless, it’s a cool concept by Samsung, though you’ll only be able to get the Bespoke Edition through their online store.
If you’re familiar with the Galaxy Z Flip3 experience, it is much the same as the new one. You still get this extraordinarily compact phone when folded, but once you open it up, there’s a generous 6.7-inch display waiting for you to use, along with the silky smooth 120Hz refresh rate. It has been updated to the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor at least, so there is more power behind the running of the Flip4.
One thing different is how apps utilise the folding function of the phone. As with the Galaxy Z Fold4, more companies have worked with Samsung to integrate their apps better. Instagram is one particular app. When doing Stories, you can prop the Flip4 into an upright position, and it’ll move around the UI elements so that the preview stays on the top half of the screen while the bottom half shows the menu options like adding effects.
Another feature added is in regards to the cover screen. That tiny screen previously allowed you to take quick selfies — using the small screen as a small viewfinder. Now more functionality has been added. Swiping around the cover screen changes the picture type, so you can now directly change a regular picture into a portrait shot. Double tapping also brings up a preview of what the actual photo will look like rather than having to rely on the cover screen’s cropped viewfinder.
The camera system remains the same on the Flip4. The rear uses a dual camera system consisting of a 12MP primary camera and a 12MP ultrawide, while the hole-punch camera at the front has 10MP. The camera quality is fine but not out of this world. But now you can look forward to taking pictures at night with the new Night Mode feature.
Lastly, users can expect more use time with the Galaxy Z Flip4. The phone has received an improved battery capacity of 3700 mAh, and you’ll be able to fast charge it to 50% in just half an hour.
Galaxy Watch5 series
Like its predecessor, the Galaxy Watch4, the new Galaxy Watch5 series will have two models at launch. A name change has also been made; the Classic name has been replaced with the more easily understood Pro moniker.
Since we are on the topic of the Pro model, you might be sad to know that the fan-favourite metal rotator around the bezel is missing for this year’s smartwatch. So yes, while the Pro version will get a nice solid metal frame around the bezel, you won’t be able to enjoy the tactic feedback from rotating it. Frankly, it is a shame.
However, that doesn’t mean that the Galaxy Watch5 Pro won’t be a premium product. Samsung says the build will have materials like Sapphire Glass and Titanium, ensuring that it will be highly durable against scratches and impact. A new D-Buckle Sport Band is included as part of the Watch5 Pro to provide added durability.
The regular Galaxy Watch5’s design will align with what we are familiar with. The smartwatch will retain the ‘sporty’ look and will also be a little smaller compared to the Pro version, measuring 40mm and 44mm compared to the Pro’s 45mm size. The bands will also offer a variety of pastel colours, and the material for it is a soft rubber that feels comfortable on the wrist.
The battery is the biggest change for both smartwatches, having received a significant upgrade in capacity. As a result, both smartwatches are expected to last much longer, with the Pro version having a 592mAh battery estimated to last for over three days before needing to charge.
Features-wise, it will still be able to read the heart rate, blood oxygen level, and stress level, but the increased surface area of the smartwatch now ensures more accurate tracking of these health metrics.
Galaxy Buds2 Pro
If you love the original Galaxy Buds2 as I did, you’re likely to fancy the Pro version as well.
The design has been tweaked, with the earbuds being 15% smaller and slightly rounder in what Samsung says is an aerodynamic design. Trying it on; it fits snugly into my ear when wearing it. Gone is the glossy look as well. Now, the Galaxy Buds2 Pro is decked out in an all-matte finish, available in either Graphite (black), White, and Bora Purple colours, and that extends to the case as well. It gives it a premium look, if I say so myself.
One of the new features of the Buds2 Pro is the addition of 360-degree audio, bringing users deeper into the listening experience. I was treated to a demo of this feature with Coldplay, and I could hear the various instruments and sounds from all directions — a pretty unique experience.
The improved active noise cancellation backs up the new 360-degree audio feature. I could still make out what my colleague was saying when nothing was playing, but that was all I heard once the music started. It is a slight difference, but there is some improvement.
Other new perks for the earbuds include IPX7 water resistance and 8-hour battery life, which extends to 29 hours once you include the case. All in all, it seems Samsung has made another winner for its wireless earbuds.
Samsung Unpacked for August 2022 is all about tweaks. The foldables are as usable as ever, and their smartwatches now last longer with the new Galaxy Watch5 series. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Buds2 Pro adds ways for users to listen to their wireless earbuds. Overall, Samsung’s slate was already pretty good, and the minor changes are all about keeping the standards high.
For those interested in getting the new devices, the Galaxy Z Fold4, Galaxy Z Flip4, Galaxy Watch5 series, and Galaxy Buds2 Pro are available to pre-order starting 10 August and will officially launch in Singapore on 2 September 2022.
Photos by Sunny Low of the DANAMIC Team. Additional visuals courtesy of Samsung Singapore