As promised, Samsung ushered in a new wave of foldable phones today (August 11) during its fourth Galaxy Unpacked event of the year. But the new handsets had some company on stage, as we also saw the latest Galaxy Watch plus an addition to the Galaxy Buds line of wireless earbuds.
Those are four big product announcements, making for a pretty packed day of news. Speaking of packed days, the next one to circle on your calendar is August 27, as that's when the Galaxy Z Fold 3, Galaxy Z Flip 3, Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Buds 2 hit retail shelves.
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 hands-on review: The best foldable phone just got better
- Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 hands-on review: The first foldable phone under $1,000
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 hands-on review: The first Wear OS smartwatch worth your money
- Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review: More affordable noise cancelling earbuds (edited)
Are these latest Samsung offerings worth your time and money? You can read more about each product at the linked hands-on reviews above, but here's a quick recap o everything Samsung announced during Galaxy Unpacked today.
Galaxy Z Fold 3: The third version of Samsung's initial foldable device looks a lot like its predecessors, with a phone-sized device unfolding to reveal a tablet-style 7.6-inch screen. But Samsung made some critical changes to the Galaxy Z Fold 3 — both the interior and exterior displays have a faster 120Hz refresh rate, and the foldable adds support for Samsung's S Pen. The camera on the interior display is an under-display shooter, meaning it disappears from view when not in use. And Samsung looks to make its foldable phone more durable with an IPX8 water resistance rating.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 costs $1,799 — a lower price than last year's model — and Galaxy Z Fold 3 pre-orders are now underway.
Galaxy Z Flip 3: Like the Galaxy Z Fold 3, Samsung's foldable flip phone should be more durable, thanks to its iPX8 water resistance rating. (We've got a look at how the new foldables match up in our Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs. Galaxy Z Flip 3 comparison.) The big change here is outer display on the Galaxy Z Flip 3 — unlike the 1.1-inch strip on the original phone, the new screen is now 1.9 inches, making it easier to handle notifications without having to open the phone. Otherwise, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 looks a lot like its predecessor, though with new colors and a more powerful processor than before.
Samsung has dropped the price on the Galaxy Z Flip 3 to $999 — the first time you can get a foldable for less than $1,000. Galaxy Z Flip 3 pre-orders are underway.
Galaxy Watch 4: Samsung is combining its own Tizen software with Google's Wear OS for an entirely new platform for smartwatches. The focus with the Galaxy Watch 4 is on health-tracking features, highlighted by the ability to measure body composition. You can choose between two versions — the $249 Galaxy Watch 4 and the fancier $349 Galaxy Watch 4 Classic.
Galaxy Buds 2: The latest wireless earbuds from Samsung offer active noise cancellation in a more affordable $149 package.
Here's a blow-by-blow account of the Galaxy Unpacked event as it happened.
Today's the big day, Samsung is set to unveil a brace of foldables, a new smartwatch and new wireless earbuds. We have a good idea of what to expect thanks to all the rumors and leaks, but there could be a few surprises to come.
Speaking of leaks, a hands-on video seemingly including the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 was posed online then taken down, but not before Slashgear (opens in new tab) spotted it. If legit, the video seems to show a lot of the rumors so far, including an under-display camera are on the money.
And such an under-display camera would likely come to the Samsung Galaxy S22 next year, if it's indeed in the works. We guess a lot will depend on how good such a camera is.
And now Samsung has officially announced the Exynos W920 chipset, a new 5-nanometer chipset designed for wearable devices. We'd bet a lot of money it'll be what powers the Galaxy Watch 4 series. Expect better performance, connectivity and smart features.
“Wearables like smartwatches are no longer just a cool gadget to have. They’re now a growing part of our lifestyles to keep you fit, safe and alert,” said Harry Cho, vice president of System LSI marketing at Samsung Electronics. “With the Exynos W920, future wearables will be able to run applications with visually appealing user interfaces and more responsive user experiences while keeping you connected on the go with fast LTE.”
Samsung has now got a full YouTube holding video for Galaxy Unpacked August 2021, meaning you can now set reminders to ping you when the event kicks off.
We've taken a closer look at the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 alleged hands-on video to see how it holds up to the rumors thus far. Spoiler: quite well.
If you want an in-depth look at what to expect from Samsung Galaxy Unpacked August 2021, we have you covered. While foldables will likely take center stage, we're rather curious about the Galaxy Watch 4 and whether the Galaxy Buds 2 can challenge some of the best wireless earbuds.
Do you have a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2? Then you might be wondering how the third iteration could measure up against its predecessor. Well, based on the rumors so far, here's how we see the battle between the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 2 playing out.
Check out our Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs. Galaxy S21 Ultra preview, especially if you're considering going down the foldable phone route for your next Android flagship. The rumored specs of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 so far make it a rather compelling foldable phone in our opinion.
OnePlus just decided to crash the Samsung Unpacked party by teasing a new OnePlus foldable phone it plans to unveil today. What timing!
One potential fly in the ointment with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is that it might not have a charger in the box, much like the Samsung Galaxy S21. But then Samsung is reportedly going to offer a optional "Note Pack" that'll not only include a charger but also an S Pen for $89.
This is the "Note Pack" you get when pre-ordering the Z Fold3. Case + Pen and the 25W Charger. It's worth 89€ (says Samsung). #SamsungEvent pic.twitter.com/3mijlkzq4QAugust 9, 2021
Samsung's hype machine is ramping up in advance of Unpacked later today. The Samsung Indonesia Twitter account posted a short teaser video (opens in new tab) featuring members of K-pop band BTS among others (Millie Bobby Brown, for example) hyping today's unveilings.
The question is, are YOU ready? Today is the day to unfold new possibilities. Get ready to unfold TONIGHT at 9 PM! Tune in at https://t.co/IjHW8Tgr1A! #SamsungUnpacked pic.twitter.com/rWRgxjjdtEAugust 11, 2021
"Get ready to unfold" appears to be the theme of this Galaxy Unpacked in case you needed more evidence that foldable phones were the main item on the agenda.
As leaker Evan Blass notes on Twitter (opens in new tab), this will be the fourth Unpacked event this year. Can you name all the products Samsung has launched at its assorted Unpacked get-togethers? It's a fun way to pass the the time at t-minus one hour. (We'll post the answer in a few minutes...)
Did you have a chance to write down your answers for what Samsung has announced at this year's three previous Galaxy Unpacked events? Good, because we're going to tell you whether you got them all correct or not.
- January Unpacked: This is where we saw the new Galaxy S phones — the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus and Galaxy S21 Ultra. Samsung also unveiled an S Pen to go with the S21 Ultra, and promised an S Pen Pro that's not been released yet. (That probably gets rectified today.) And we also saw the Galaxy SmartTag key finder and Galaxy Buds Pro.
- March Unpacked: Unpacked events aren't just for flagship phones. In March, Samsung showed off the Galaxy A52 and Galaxy A72. (The latter phone never made it to the U.S.)
- April Unpacked: This was all about laptops as Samsung showed off the Galaxy Book Pro and Galaxy Book Pro 360.
Did you get them all? Please collect your prize at the window. (There is no prize.)
We already mentioned OnePlus trying to steal some of Samsung's Unpacked thunder by teasing a new foldable device of its own at the same time that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 are expected to debut. But Xiaomi has gotten the jump on Samsung by announcing a phone that includes one of the big improvements rumored for the new Z Fold — an under-display camera.
The Xiaomi Mi Mix 4 features what the Chinese phone maker bills as "camera-under panel (CUP) technology." What's more, the front camera uses a 20MP sensor, which is much sharper than the 4MP sensor that Samsung will reportedly feature in the Galaxy Z Fold 3's under-display camera. Other sources report that Samsung's sensor is expected to let in more light, so the extra megapixels may not matter as much.
We'll find out for certain what Samsung is planning in a little more than 20 minutes.
The pre-show on Samsung's Galaxy Unpacked live stream is underway, and it's the usual mix of soothing music and images that surely mean something. In this case, it's a cube from past Galaxy Unpacked events that evolves into the logo for today's foldable phone unveiling.
Don't make me tap the sign again.
By the way, in case your phone starts buzzing at around 2:20 p.m. ET today, it's not because your handset suddenly fears getting replaced by a Galaxy Z Fold 3. In reality, it's a FEMA emergency test, and you can get all the details about it on Tom's Guide — including how to turn the alert off.
And away we go...
Samsung's starting off with a countdown on a watch that looks suspiciously like what we're expecting to see from the Galaxy Watch 4, so you have to figure that smartwatch will be joining the foldable phones on stage at some point today.
And, in fact, the Galaxy Watch 4 is coming up first. There are two models, both feature a strong, sweat-resistant strap. The watch is customizable with different straps and 40 unique watch faces.
And yes, Samsung has worked with Google to create a Wear OS powered by Samsung platform that combines Wear OS and Tizen. The Galaxy Watch 4 will be the first watch to run on this platform. Samsung is promising a better experience for Android phone owners.
But don't take my word for it. Here's what you need to know about the Galaxy Watch 4.
Sleep tracking features are front and center in the Galaxy Watch 4, which is going to integrate with the Health app on Samsung phones to show you the quality of your sleep.
There's also a body composition measurement feature included with the new watch. Basically, the watch uses an electrical current to measure the amount of water in your body, which can help determine how much muscle you have. This helps you adjust diet and activity level over time.
The body composition measurement sounds very fascinating, particularly with how Samsung managed to shrink down the electrodes so that they could fit on the Galaxy Watch 4 without sacrificing accuracy.
To use the feature, just hold two fingers against the electrodes on the side of the Galaxy Watch 4, and the sensors on your wrist do the rest.
That's not the end of the health-tracking features on the Galaxy Watch 4. Blood pressure and ECG monitoring is included, too, and it will be supported in more countries, too.
Like Apple and its Apple Watch, Samsung has seemed to figure out that health-tracking is the killer app for smartwatches. It will be interesting to get our hands on the Galaxy Watch 4 and see how it compares with Apple's industry-leading watches.
Samsung also touts an intuitive user interface for the Galaxy Watch 4, so that all those complex health-tracking features are easy to access. You can also use gestures, answering a call by waving your hand over your head or dismissing calls by shaking your wrist.
The Galaxy Watch 4 starts at $249. A Galaxy Watch 4 Classic costs $349. (The main difference between the two models boils down to design — the Classic features more luxurious materials, stainless steel casing, leather straps and physical rotating bezel, hence the higher price.) The watches will be available August 27.
And now, here's TM Roh, the head of Samsung's mobile business, clearly on hand to talk about new phones. "We want everyone to have access to the very best features," he says.
"This is the new mainstream for smartphones," Roh says of the Galaxy Z series — another sign that Samsung wants to broaden the appeal of its foldable phones.
Let's start with the Galaxy Z Fold 3.
As has been rumored, both the cover display and interior display of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 will have a 120Hz refresh rate. That means smoother scrolling and more immersive experiences. You'll get a 7.6-inch display when you unfold the phone, for a more tablet-like experience when it's time to really focus on your work.
And yes, that camera on the interior screen is an under-display shooter — there's no cutout to interrupt the screen. When you're watching videos and whatnot, the camera is essentially invisible, only appearing when it's time to take a photo or join a video chat.
One of the complaints of previous iterations of Samsung's foldables is that not enough apps have been reconfigured to make the most of foldable screens. Samsung says it's working closely with partners to change that.
Multitasking features include the ability to split your web browser into two windows for side-by-side browsing. You can also drag-and-drop between apps for what Samsung bills as a "PC-like experience that fits in your pocket."
Samsung says it's working with partners like Microsoft, Google, Spotify and TikTok for apps that work better on its foldables.
Let's talk durability. Water resistance has been missing from the Galaxy Z Fold up until now, but that's changing with the Z Fold 3. That's a bit of a challenge, thanks to the hinge, as water can seep in as the phone is opened and closed. Samsung says it figured out a way to shield critical parts from water for an IPX8 water resistance rating.
We can also confirm that the rumors of S Pen support for the Galaxy Z Fold 3 are true. Samsung has built a digitizer for the stylus that works with the foldable screen on its new phone.
There's a new rubber nib on the S Pen for the Galaxy Z Fold 3, so that it's safe to use with the phone's screen.
Going back to Samsung's work with Microsoft for a second, there's a digital whiteboard feature in Microsoft Teams that's designed for the S Pen.
It's Galaxy Z Flip 3 time. This is the new version of Samsung's foldable flip phone. Samsung's emphasizing the look and colors on this phone, as opposed to the productivity features for the Galaxy Z Fold 3.
That cover screen on the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is four times larger than the 1.1-inch sliver Samsung included on the first Z Flip models. That should make it easier to field things like notifications. You can also preview photos and videos before you take them on the larger cover display.
Flex mode is back on the Galaxy Z Flip 3, which is good because it was one of the better features on the original Flip. In particular, Samsung is touting the hands-free video experience on video chats where you partially open your Z Flip to turn the upper half of the screen into a viewing area, while the bottom of the phone acts as a kind of base. (Chat controls also appear on the bottom of the screen.)
Samsung is taking the opportunity to talk about its One UI 3 interface, which has been tailored for the company's Z series phones. That includes the taskbar on the Galaxy Z Fold 3 for pinning favorite apps and other interface elements designed for a foldable screen.
Like the Galaxy Watch 4, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 are available on August 27, though pre-orders start today. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 will start at $1,799 — that's $200 less than the Galaxy Z Fold's 2 starting price, though it's still the most expensive phone Samsung offers.
The news is better for the Galaxy Z Flip 3. It starts at $999. That's the first foldable to break the $1,000-barrier, which fits in with Samsung's pledge to bring foldables to a wider audience.
Pre-order either phone from Samsung and you can get an extra year of Samsung Care support when you sign up for three years.
But wait — there's more. The Galaxy Buds 2 are debuting at Unpacked as well. (Here's a look at our Galaxy Buds 2 impressions.) They adopt some of the premium elements from the Galaxy Buds Pro introduced earlier this year.
Samsung is promising improved audio and a secure fit for the Galaxy Buds 2. You'll get active noise cancelling on the new earbuds as well. Samsung promises 7.5 hours of battery life (when cancellation is turned off); ANC on cuts the battery life to 5 hours.
Galaxy Buds 2 will cost $149. They'll be available on August 27 — there's that date again — in select countries.
A musical number seems to have broken out. Let's just pretend it's not happening or some sort of shared delusion.
And that's it. In a little over an hour, Samsung showed us two new foldable phones — the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 — along with the Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Buds 2.
Of the product announcements, the Galaxy Fold 3 seems to introduce the more significant changes, while the big story with the Z Flip 3 is its lower price. Don't overlook the Galaxy Watch's move to Wear OS or its health-tracking features either.
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