June 17, 2024

Samsung’s Foldable Line Gets Two Major Improvements

Today, Samsung showcased updates to its iconic foldable smartphone line and refreshed its smartwatch and tablet product during its Unpacked event in Seoul, Korea. In some ways, smartphone launches have become incredibly predictable. Typically, Samsung would announce improved displays, better cameras, and enhanced durability. What were some of the best enhancements this time?

The hinge you’ve been waiting for

By the time you reach your fifth iteration of a product line, a company should have fixed any annoyance that existed in the earlier generations. A company’s also expected to find a way to surprise and delight with each iteration. Samsung gathered insights from its existing customers to create refinements that matter to many customers. One of the most significant advances was the creation of a flattened hinge called the Flex Hinge. Google’s Pixel Fold caused quite a stir in the smartphone marketplace this year when it launched with a new hinge allowing the phone to close without any gaps. At unpacked, Samsung announced the long-awaited zero gap hinge. The result is the phone feels thinner and is less likely to collect dust on the inside. The hinge should also help with durability.

Finally, a useable screen on the Z Flip5

The new Flex Window on the Galaxy Z Flip5 is now 3.78 times larger than the previous generation. Size truly matters because it makes everything more readable and glanceable. In my opinion, the larger display makes the screen usable for the first time, enabling more text and larger images to be displayed on the front of the device. It is now a suitable screen size to run widgets allowing users to check the weather, control music playback, and change settings quickly from the front screen. There’s also the ability to pinch the screen to activate Multi Widget View. Of course, once it’s unfolded, the device sports a full-sized smartphone screen that’s great for video and app use.

Durability for longer contract durations

Foldable durability was always a concern for consumers, especially since they keep their smartphones for 30 months or longer. In its fifth foldable generation, Samsung’s addressed any lingering consumers by equipping the main screen with a shock dispersion layer, a redesigned back for a more solid display, and Corning Gorilla Glass Victus2 to the front and rear screens. These smartphones can survive drops and offer better scratch resistance with Victus 2 fitted to the front and rear surfaces. The smartphones provide IPX82 support which means your device will function properly even after being submerged in fresh water for up to 30 minutes under specific conditions. In 2022, Samsung announced Armor Aluminum frames in its Galaxy S22 and today, this material is also in the foldable line.

Unlike the days of rugged smartphones and bulky Otterbox cases, business users can opt for a foldable product that combines durability with a cool factor. While the price tag is too steep for a company to outfit its entire office with foldable smartphones, these devices should be on the shortlist of executives and for consideration of the flagship smartphone offering in both corporate-owned and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs. And if you’re still worried about durability, you can always purchase Samsung Care+. Samsung shared that consumers that purchase a Galaxy Z Flip5 or Galaxy Z Fold5 Scan get Samsung Care+ for a 30% discount.

It’s a better processor, but it’s the same battery and still expensive.

Samsung now uses the Snapdragon® 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy, the same processor as the S23. It kept the same battery which is a bit disappointing. Durability and price were crucial concerns for the earlier versions of the product. Samsung’s addressed durability but at $999 and $1,799 price is still a concern for many. However, given that Google’s Pixel Fold entered the foldable market at the same price point, we won’t see much movement on the list price in the United States. A bendy phone with hardened materials and a solid chipset is still expensive to manufacture. However, this is where U.S. carrier promotions enter to assist consumers with getting over the price hurdle.

U.S. carriers are offering big incentives on foldable

AT&T announced that new & existing AT&T customers can get a free Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 or up to $1,000 off the Galaxy Z Fold5 with a Galaxy phone trade-in from any year that is in any condition. T-Mobile, not one to be outdone in the promotions category, offered a free Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 (or up to $1,000 off the Galaxy Z Fold5) when adding a line or with an eligible trade-in on Go5G Plus, Magenta MAX, or Go5G Business Plus. It also offered a 50% discount on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 (or up to $500 off the Galaxy Z Fold5) with eligible trade-in or $600 off when adding a line on T-Mobile’s most popular plans.

Verizon also met the ante with a Switcher Offer that said if you trade-in select phones and get a Galaxy Z Flip5 for free or $1,000 towards a new Galaxy Z Fold5. A new line on an Unlimited Plus plan is required. For those looking to upgrade, Verizon said you can trade-in select phones on qualified 5G Unlimited plans and receive up to $1,000 off the new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 or Z Fold5. So, if you’re looking to save $1,000, there are several ways to do so.

My take

For years, the Galaxy Note line was my go-to flagship Samsung smartphone for productivity. Today, it’s the Galaxy Z Fold. The Galaxy Z Fold5 feels lighter, which helps with one-hand use and makes it easier to carry in your pocket. The new hinge eliminates what was admittedly a minor annoyance, and the camera now matches that of Samsung’s flagship S22 line. The Galaxy Z Fold blends a tablet’s features with a smartphone’s portability. It has a screen that’s larger enough to edit documents and spreadsheets. It also provides a big screen to view a presentation in a web conference while you take notes in a split screen view. The new enhanced screen has up to 1750 nits of brightness, making it easier to use in multiple environments.

The S-Pen is 40% thinner in size, and its functionality allows you to do fine-grained control in apps such as Adobe Creative Suite and sign contracts while on the go. I still wish it could be carried within the smartphone, but it’s already difficult enough to make it thin and light. Samsung continues to work with companies like Google, Microsoft and TikTok to offer optimized software experiences. This is a journey and it would be great to see more foldable-optimized apps.

The screen size hasn’t really changed, but the tablet-like size makes reading a book, playing a game, or shopping online work seamlessly. The Google Pixel Fold has a different take on the screen’s shape with a slightly squarer design. Both are interesting. In this case, you must feel both devices and decide how you’d carry them. For example, do they fit in your pocket, bag, etc? With tablets ranging from $500 to $1000, the Z Fold5 punches above its weight by combining functionality.

Now if you want a sexy, portable smartphone that, when unfolded, touts the screen size of the iPhone, then the Z Flip5 is for you. It fits in any pocket or bag. Between the Bespoke editions and a color palette that picks up on the latest fashion trends, consumers get compact designs and customization options that combine style, functionality, and durability. The Z Flip5 was already touted as a device designed to support selfies and simplify image capture. Samsung continues to refine this in the Z Flip 5 with features like Dual Preview8 that lets the user see themselves in the Flex Window so they can adjust the shot in real-time.

The launch highlighted a mixture of incremental changes and delightful updates which speaks to Samsung’s maturing of the foldable market.

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