At the damned inconsiderate time of 1am in Auckland, Samsung unveiled the world’s worst-kept secrets at an event broadcast around the world.
Introducing the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, Galaxy Z Flip 4, Galaxy Watch 5, Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro — the most awkward branding since 2 Fast 2 Furious was released.
Foldables, watches and Buds, oh my
The phones: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4
Starting with the phones, these are an evolution of last year’s models. Both come with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset — a minor upgrade on the regular Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor in the S22 range — and improve on the foldable formula with a more compact hinge mechanism and a less visible screen crease.
That’s where the similarity between the handsets ends, of course. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is essentially a 2-in-1 tablet and phone, with a thin, phone-like 2,316 x 904 screen on the outside, and a comparatively giant 2,176 x 1,812 tablet display on the inside waiting to be unfolded. Both are AMOLED and both support the 120Hz refresh rate.
In terms of differences from last year, chipset aside, it comes down to the aspect ratio (which is more square) and the camera array. The Z Fold 4 now has a 50MP main camera, backed up by a 12MP ultra-wide sensor and 10MP telephoto lens. It’s essentially the same setup as the Galaxy S22 range (barring the Ultra, which goes all the way up to 108MP).
Then there’s the Galaxy Z Flip 4. The camera array is also upgraded here, but only slightly. It’s still a 12MP affair, but it has 1.8μm pixels compared to 1.4μm on its predecessor, which should make your photography that bit better.
It shaves off a couple of millimetres in width and height, which may not sound like much, but is quite impressive when you consider that Samsung has added an extra 400mAh to the battery, taking it to 3,700mAh. Given battery life was a weak spot in last year’s model, this should be celebrated.
The watches: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro
Speaking of weak battery life, that’s a beautiful segway considering the poor stamina of last year’s Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. Given Samsung isn’t planning on abandoning the power-hungry Wear OS, the company has done the next best thing and improved the battery life on its wearables.
Gone is the Galaxy Watch Classic range with its rotating bezel, replaced with a basic Galaxy Watch 5 and the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. The former, as predicted, comes in 40- and 44mm sizes, while the latter only comes in a chunky 45mm version.
The regular models pack 284mAh and 410mAh cells respectively, for around 40 hours on a single charge, while the Pro goes a bit crazy with a 590mAh battery — enough for 80 hours, or 20 hours of GPS if you’re the kind of loon that enjoys ultramarathons.
All are powered by the same 1.18GHz processor as the last generation, but boost an improved 3-in-1 BioActrive sensor for measuring ECG, heart rate and body composition on the go. There’s also a body temperature sensor, which is handy if you need to know if you’ve got a fever coming on (could have done with that in 2020, but hey: beggars, choosers, etc.).
The regular model is somewhat steady-as-she-goes, with Samsung reserving the eye-catching features for the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. Alongside that monster battery, it’s got a titanium case with a 29GPa sapphire crystal display for ruggedness. It also has GPX routes for adventurers, complete with turn-by-turn navigation instructions.
The audio: Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
Another incremental update, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are about 15% smaller than the previous generation and support 24-bit hi-fi audio playback… with a couple of caveats.
The first is that this only works on phones running One UI 4.0 — Samsung’s own flavour of Android. The second is that not all apps output 24-bit audio, and that includes the most popular streaming app around: Spotify.
The earbuds are IPX 7 protected for water and sweat resistance, and give you a total of 20 hours’ battery life with noise cancellation enabled (or 30 without).
What’s the damage?
If all that sounds appealing… well, you might want to cover your wallet’s ears at this point.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 starts at NZ$2,849 for the 256GB version, rising to NZ$3,099 for the 512GB model. The 1TB edition is blanked out on the New Zealand site, which is probably a mercy for your credit rating.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 is a bit more wallet-friendly, starting at NZ$1,699 for the 128GB version and reaching NZ$1,849 for the 256GB model. Once again, the top-tier model — a 512GB edition in this case — doesn’t seem to be available to Kiwis.
The Galaxy Watch 5 ranges from NZ$449 for a Bluetooth 40mm edition to NZ$599 for the 44mm version with LTE. The Watch 5 Pro, meanwhile, starts at NZ$749 for the Bluetooth version, and jumps to NZ$849 if you want LTE. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro will cost NZ$379.
All are available to pre-order now and will ship on August 26. If you pre-order, you’ll get a NZ$250 evoucher, so think fast if you’re tempted.