I have not owned a flip phone in well over a decade, but I’m generally interested in these new form factors. In the world of mobile technology, I look at foldables as the missing link that sits somewhere between your typical smartphone of today and the types of devices that will populate the future. Many skeptics will take one look at these devices and say, “What would I ever use that for?” And that viewpoint is justifiable. These devices are expensive, and for many a folding device is nothing more than a gimmick with no useful applications.
Without risk there is no reward. In a world of flat phones these are bold chances that Samsung is taking. If Samsung doesn’t make these phones, we may never see new form factors from competitors. Here’s everything you need to know about the Galaxy Z Flip4, The Galaxy Z Fold4, the Galaxy Watch5 Pro, and Galaxy Buds Pro2.
Galaxy Z Flip4
The Galaxy Z Flip4 is a smartphone that folds in half. When it’s fully opened it is a 1080 x 2640 (426 PPI), 120 Hz screen with an adaptive refresh rate. What that equates to is a phone that feels similar in size to a Nintendo Gameboy SP when it is folded, and a bit taller than you may be used to when it is opened up. It isn’t a bad thing to be tall and narrow. I am used to using very large phones. My daily driver is an iPhone 13 Pro Max. The Flip4 is a tad bit taller than an iPhone 13 Pro Max, but it being narrower meant my thumb was able to stretch to hit most parts of the phone when using it with one hand.
Where the phone folds there is a noticeable crease. As you are using your device, that crease is less noticeable than say a camera “notch.” When turned on max brightness or while watching video content the crease seems to melt away. In 90 degree modes, the fold acts as an intentional divider used to separate elements for multi-tasking. Not all apps are optimized for the fold, but the ones that are, such as YouTube, make the phone feel like a tiny laptop. The crease eliminates the need for a stand or tripod in most cases. This is a great feature for video calls and TikToks.
The phone comes in four colors (Graphite, Pink Gold, Bora Purple, and Blue). If you order directly from Samsung, you have the option of getting a “bespoke edition,” which is a version of the phone where you pick the front panel and back panel (yellow, white, navy, khaki, red) and metal finish (gold, silver, black). This will tack on three to four weeks to your delivery, but will result in one of 75 color combinations. The phone comes with 128 gigs of memory, but can be upgraded to 512 gigs. If that seems too limiting, subscribing to Google Drive can help alleviate some of that squeeze via cloud storage.
The Flip4 has three cameras. Two which make up the main camera (a 12MP wide, 12MP Ultra-wide), and a selfie camera that is 10MP. When the Flip4 is closed, there is a second smaller screen on the outside. This allows you to use the “main cameras” in selfie mode, which allows you to get more clarity during a selfie. The tiny screen also allows you to check the time or notifications with a closed phone. While these cameras are good, I’d still say they are on the high-end of mid-range. Overall, for most users the cameras will be beyond fine, but when compared to the higher end Galaxy Ultra and Flip4, they come across as mid-tier.
Overall this is a decent phone, but I could see why it may get labeled as more of a gimmick. The camera is fine, and the battery-life is good. When I took out the flip at a party, it did get some looks and there was a general curiosity from partygoers, getting comparisons to the Motorola Razr and other favorable and stylish flip phones from the early 2000s. This phone starts at $999 but currently Samsung and many phone retailers are running a number of discounts and upgrades with the trade-in option, so it’s unlikely that $999 will be your final price if you decide to go with the Galaxy Z Flip4.
Galaxy Z Fold4
I’m an iPhone user, typically from a perspective standpoint that has me constantly comparing products to Apple’s products in the back of my mind. I’m usually annoyed with the software of Androids that are the direct result of user error. Usually after two days, the muscle memory kicks in, and I’m used to a new device. With that being said, I didn’t feel that way about the Galaxy Z Fold4 at all. It was a device that I could jump right into.
I can honestly say I have spent a lot of time grabbing for the Fold4, and enjoying every minute of it. If a smartphone and a tablet had a baby, that baby would be the Galaxy Z fold4. If you’ve been on the fence because you weren’t sure whether a foldable device would feel more like a prototype or device from the future, you can feel confident about getting off the fence for this one. The Galaxy Z Fold4 is a flagship phone that is ready for primetime. This is a device built for productivity, whose fold feels like form following function as opposed to a gimmick.
The Fold4 has five cameras total. The main camera on the back is made up of a three-camera array, (a 50MP camera, a 3x telephoto camera, and a 12 MP Ultra-Wide Camera). In addition to that, the front facing selfie camera is 10MP and the under-display selfie camera is 4MP.
The main cameras are crispy and are very similar to the ones in the Samsung Galaxy Ultra s22. This device can even shoot in 8K at 24 frames per second. The web standard for most social platforms has become 30 frames per second, for cinema it is 24 frames per second. If it were an 8K 30fps it’d be a much more interesting package for mobile content creators. This additional resolution does present multiple options on frame stabilization that are very attractive at 4K. Is it still cool that you can shoot in 8K on a phone? Yes. Will most people (including professionals) need or use that resolution? Probably not.
Designs and Folds
The magic really happens when the Fold4 is opened. There are many different ways of unlocking your phone. I find that the face scanner and fingerprint reader work as well as those features do on most smartphones. It sometimes takes another try or two to unlock the phone. I’ve tried recalibrating, and it has gotten better as my face and finger are scanned over and over again. Right now, I’d say facial recognition works around 75% of the time, which isn’t bad, but it gives me enough misses for me to notice. The inside camera being an under-display camera means it is far less noticeable than a notch or punch out, but that comes at the cost of fidelity and reliability when unlocking your phone.
When the Fold4 is folded, it feels thick, but that is understandable because it’s basically two phones stacked on top of each other in that mode. The form factor reminds me of a Nintendo DS. There are many use cases for using the phone folded. Standing in the subway, sending a text while walking, checking a notification, or snapping a quick picture are all reasons why having this “standard” smartphone experience is convenient. The face recognition in this mode is far more reliable for me, working around 90 percent of the time.
The Galaxy Z Fold4 helps bridge the gap between the productivity and multitasking of a laptop and the portability of a smartphone. The additional screen real estate also helps the device become an attractive way to view video content. I’ve found myself using this device over either my smartphone or tablet. The extra screen space makes it a strong contender on getting “real work” done. I didn’t get to test its capabilities with the Galaxy S Pen, but I’d assume if you are into using a stylus that’d be another reason to get this device. This device starts at $1,799, but there are a number of discounts and trade in offers currently that can drive that cost down.
Galaxy Watch5 Pro and Galaxy Buds2 Pro
Right off the bat I’ll say this: The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and Galaxy Buds2 Pro are terrific devices, but they are built to live in the Android/Galaxy ecosystem. For the most part, that is not a surprise. Most devices work best within their ecosystem whether it’s Windows, Mac, Linux or Android. This is how it’s been for a very long time. Both of these devices will work with other operating systems, there are just additional features that work better within the Galaxy ecosystem.
Galaxy Buds2 Pro
The Galaxy Buds2 Pro are small comfortable inner ear headphones that have three tip options to suit the inside of your ear. If you’ve never liked that type of headphone, you will not enjoy these, but I can say for people who love a nose canceling headphone like myself, it’s a great product. What I enjoy the most about the sound is that there’s a fullness to the bass that slaps but doesn’t rattle. These have a number of touch controls built into the earphones themselves that can be customized and programed via the Galaxy Wearable app on an Android device.
The Buds2 Pro has active noise canceling and ambient sound modes. The ambient sound mode passes ambient noise through, which is good for paying attention walking down the sidewalk. The noise canceling mode also works quite well, and is great for plane or train travel. There is also an “off” mode which is neither, but still blocks out noise like an earplug might. If you find yourself losing your things, there is a SmartThings find feature that allows you to be notified when you leave your Buds behind or allows you to track and find your devices. If these sound like they’d be perfect for you, then you can pick up a pair starting at $229.99, in graphite, white, or purple.
Galaxy Watch5 Pro
The Galaxy Watch5 Pro comes in one size, 45 mm. It is a noticeably large watch both in weight and size. If your wrist would look unnatural in a G-shock watch (purley because of sizing), then this watch may be too big for you. With that extra size comes a whole bunch of extra features including a larger 590mAh battery, a GPS, and a more durable body and screen.
The battery typically lasted me three days between charges. I’ve been using an Apple Watch for the last 5 years, so it took me a minute to get used to the UX/UI of the device, but once I did, I really enjoyed the experience. There isn’t a rotating bezel as seen in previous models, but you can still run your finger around the circumference of the watch in order to quickly switch between menus.
The biggest features for most smart watches are health and notification related. This watch does both of those things well. While you can track any type of workout, the GPS which is exclusive to the pro, excels in walking/hiking/running activities. You can either set a route and get turn by turn instructions from your phone, or you can go where your heart takes you and then use the “track back” feature to guide yourself back to where you started. This means that if you wanted to you could leave your phone at home and stream music via YouTube Music during your workout. There are also features like sleep tracking, heart monitoring, temperature sensor, and a number of settings that can help you track your workouts and fitness goals. If this sounds like something you’d like, you can get it in black or gray titanium starting at $449.99 (Wi-Fi only) and $499.99(LTE).
If a Samsung phone was my daily use phone, then the Galaxy Buds2 Pro and the Galaxy Watch5 Pro would be my go-to products, without question. However, since some of their features are locked into a Galaxy ecosystem, these are currently best suited for somebody that loves Galaxy products already.
This new lineup of Galaxy devices are all strong contenders in the smartphone, wearable, and earphone market. They work best together, and are filled with innovative ideas and features. Samsung should be applauded for taking risks with a form factor that they’ve been honing and perfecting over the last few years. That being said, the new Apple products are right around the corner. If you are an Android person, that may not factor into your decision making, but waiting a week or so will give you the time to make the right decision. This innovation comes at a premium price across the board, but if you look at carrier and trade-in deals you can bring down the price to a much more palatable price point.