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Samsung Unpacked 2023: Random thoughts from a foldable and smartwatch fantatic
Samsung announced a new Z Fold 5, Flip 5, and Watch 6. I'm buying one of these, but skipping the rest
I’m just about to finish my first month of writing back over at ZDNET so this Substack site has not been given much attention. I’ll try to post once a week here, but all of you paying customers shouldn’t hold your breath on that promise ;) (FYI, there are no paying customers).
Regular ZDNET readers may recall the eight hour drive I took to purchase a first generation Galaxy Fold and then have Max Weinbach help me unlock it to use with my T-Mobile SIM. As an engineer with a heavy mechanical engineering background, I was fascinated by the innovative engineering that was achieved by Samsung and was hooked on foldable phones since then.
As a person who commutes more than two hours a day on a train, a device like the Samsung Fold is perfect for getting work done and reading with my aging 54-year old eyes. I’ve since traded in and then purchased every generation of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold with the Z Fold 4 currently in my foldable collection. The support for the S Pen and the improvements in that model over the Z Fold 3 swayed me, along with the $1,000 trade-in offer.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
I have to admit to being jealous of all of my mobile tech buddies who were able to make the trip over to South Korea this week for the launch of the new Samsung gear. I’m not sure if that forced IRS break screwed me out of the trip or if I have just fallen out of favor with Samsung, but it was a real bummer not to be able to see where the Samsung phones I love are created.
Back to the hardware. Samsung announced the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and there are really only two reasons to consider it over the Z Fold 4, the new processor and the hinge design that removes the small gap when closed. Frankly, I don’t care about the gap as I have lived with it for a few years and it has not once been a concern for me as there are too many other amazing innovations in the phone to worry about such an insignificant element. It’s great that the company has solved this challenge, but not enough for me to justify spending $1,000.
I understand that the latest Qualcomm processor may offer slight battery life improvements and slight camera performance improvements, but I’ve been perfectly happy with the camera and the battery gets me through a full day of work.
In order to convince me to spend $1,000 for an upgrade, I’m assuming I could get $1,000 in trade-in credit for my Z Fold 4, I would have to see the following:
Flagship level cameras to rival the S series Ultra device
Integrated S Pen silo so I didn’t have to wrap a case around the phone
I would also love to see support for the S Pen on the outside display, but that can come in a year or two.
I DO NOT want to see Samsung copy Google with a big, wide front display. I LOVE the narrow form factor that makes it easy to use the outside display with one hand and Samsung has come a long way since that first generation phone in this area. The outside display is intended for quick tasks while a foldable buyer should spend a majority of their time using the phone in the open, large display position. Otherwise, just buy a regular slab phone.
Z Flip 5
The new Samsung Z Flip 5 was the phone that saw the significant upgrade with the outside display now matching what we have seen with several other flip phones. I recently purchased a new Viva Magenta Motorola Razr+ phone from T-Mobile (stay tuned for a written and video review here soon) and given what I’ve seen from the Samsung coverage, the Razr+ is the better phone in 2023. Samsung set the bar with the first Flip, but others have caught up and are now offering compelling options in this space.
The Z Flip 5 looks great, but I would like to see Samsung DeX support, better cameras, and a lower starting price.
Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
Last year I bought the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and that watch will still be sold along with the new Watch 6 and Watch 6 Classic. The Watch 5 Pro is still the Samsung battery champ and it offers outdoor adventure functionality that cannot be found in any other Galaxy Watch.
That said, I have another watch that I can trade in so I’m going to order the Watch 6 Classic because it has that cool mechanical rotating bezel I used to love on older Galaxy watches. Given that I should be able to pick it up for less than $200 after trade-in, it’s an easy purchase to test out the latest Samsung wearable innovations and evaluate the hardware against my Watch 5 Pro.
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