Samsung introduced a set of devices live from its Unpacked event in Seoul, led by the Galaxy Z Fold5, Galaxy Z Flip5, Galaxy Watch6 and new Tab S9 tablets. All of them represent incremental upgrades over their predecessors rather than radical redesigns, pushing the needle slightly forward.
The new foldables were the main focus, but the Galaxy Watch6 Classic and Watch6 represent a return to the past, much like the new Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra, S9+ and S9 fall in line together. Consistency is definitely part of this launch, and it shows beyond just the spec sheets.
Looking at the Galaxy Z Fold5
The Galaxy Z Fold5 is a little thinner and lighter than its predecessor, and sports a durable hinge that is not only a little smoother when opening and closing the phone, but also reduces the gap between the two ends when folded shut.
The two screens maintain the same sizes from past Folds. You get the same 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x for the Cover Screen, plus the 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x for the Main Screen. Samsung hasn’t been able to completely remove the crease from the main display, though we could expect to see that eventually in a future iteration. Not that it necessarily gets in the way of what the phone can do when folded open.
Samsung is looking to improve multitasking by bringing in widgets that allow apps to “float” so that you can move their small windows anywhere onscreen. This is different from the Multi Window feature that lets you use up to three apps simultaneously in split-screen view.
Specs inside don’t take any big turns, save for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, which speeds things up. There is 12GB of RAM and either 256GB or 512GB of internal storage. The battery is the same size as the Fold4. As for the cameras, the main 50-megapixel image sensor shoots at a pixel binned 12.5-megapixels. The rear array also has a 12-megapixel ultra-wide and 10-megapixel telephoto, while the Cover Screen has a 10-megapixel front camera, and the Main Screen has a modest 4-megapixel camera.
Samsung won’t be bundling the Fold5 with the S Pen, but it is compatible with it, so long as it’s the Fold Edition or S Pen Pro. Samsung is making cases with built-in holsters as a way to get around that.
The Galaxy Z Fold5 will be available on August 11. It will come in phantom black, cream and icy blue, and you can pre-order yours now.
Checking out the Galaxy Z Flip5
The Galaxy Z Flip5 is noticeably different from the outside because of the larger 3.4-inch Cover Screen. This ultimately changes the device’s usability when clamped shut because apps and notifications are easier to see and manage. It will be possible to respond to text messages using a keyboard appearing on the Cover Screen rather than flipping the phone open to deal with it that way.
On top of open widgets for things like weather, calendar, audio recording and Samsung Health tracking, other apps will also be readily accessible. Some, like YouTube, Netflix and Google Maps will run straight from the Cover Screen. The camera app also runs well there, making it way easier to frame yourself and take a selfie with either of the 12-megapixel main and ultra-wide cameras in the rear. You can even try it hands-free by doing the correct gesture to take the photo or video while situated away from the phone.
Flip the phone open and it has the same 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x as before, including the 10-megapixel front camera. It runs on the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, with internal storage now starting at 256GB (instead of 128GB) and 8GB of RAM.
Samsung will release the Galaxy Z Flip5 on August 11. It will come in graphite, cream, lavender, and mint, and you can pre-order yours now.
Galaxy Watch6 Classic and Watch6
The biggest thing here is Samsung returning to the Classic. The Watch6 Classic brings back the physical rotating bezel that made the company’s smartwatches so unique. It makes navigating the interface faster and more intuitive. It’s also the largest smartwatch Samsung made to date with the 47mm variant, though there’s also a 43mm as well. They’re made of a stainless steel body and feature sapphire crystal glass to protect the screen.
The Galaxy Watch6 follows the more active-focused watches with 40mm and 44mm variants. There’s no physical bezel, though there is a touch-sensitive one. It’s made of an aluminum body with the same screen protection.
Both watches introduce a new one-click band system to more easily swap them out, which means bands from previous Galaxy Watches won’t be compatible with the Watch6 series. They also introduce improved sleep tracking and are built to look for potential signs for atrial fibrillation (AFib) via the new Continuous Irregular Heart Rhythm Notification (IHRN). It’s exclusive to Samsung phones through the Health Monitor and ECG apps, and requires Health Canada approval, so may not be ready at launch.
Both run on Wear OS, featuring various different modes, apps and functions, like Google Maps, Samsung Wallet, Body Composition and more. You can still see notifications and make or take phone calls directly from the watch. There will be LTE and Wi-Fi versions for both, though there are no exclusive features between them.
The Galaxy Watch6 Classic and Watch6 will be available August 11. The Watch6 Classic will come in graphite and silver, whereas the Watch6 will come in graphite, gold (40mm) and silver (44mm). You can pre-order your own Galaxy Watch6 now.
Checking out the Galaxy Tab S9 series
Samsung’s newest tablets also undergo some changes, namely the fact all three models will use Dynamic AMOLED 2x screens. All three also come with an S Pen, which has IP68 protection and magnetically attaches to the back through a ridge in either orientation. Samsung is also introducing a new S Pen Creator Edition with a textured grip and wider tilt angle, including two types of pen-tips. The hard type is for natural drawing and a soft type for paper-like writing.
A new Vision Booster technology adapts to brighter lighting conditions to maintain vivid colours, The quad AKG speakers are 20% larger for bigger sound and Dolby Atmos support. New additions to the software will let you use widgets in a similar fashion to the foldables as a means to increase multitasking. Standard features like DeX mode and Second Screen with Windows PCs address the tablets’ productivity. Keyboard cases also make it possible to turn these devices into laptop alternatives.