A pretty gutsy move on their part…..
Samsung just held its August Unpacked event, aka the unpacked event that it usually unveils it’s newest Galaxy Note devices. Yet this year, we didn’t get a Galaxy Note. This isn’t news, we wrote about it last year and said the Note 20 Ultra was a worthy sendoff, but to still even say it is…odd to say the least. But despite taking this riskier move , Samsung seems content with dropping the Note this year, and is making consumers almost forget about it with by far the two most compelling foldables it’s ever made: The Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3.
Now the video above has probably given you a brief overview of the whole event, but let’s just break it down a little: Samsung unveiled two new foldables yesterday. The Z Fold 3 continues the formula of the first Galaxy Fold , being a folding tablet style device with an outer display that can be used like a regular smartphone, with the Z Flip 3 being Samsung using the utility of folding screens to bring back fashion friendly flip phones. Both these phones have predecessors, after all there’s the number 3 in both of them. However they are both by far the most compelling argument Samsung has made for foldable devices to date.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3: I’m (almost) sold
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 could be defined in one single word: arrival. Samsung has been trying to put the vision of this phone into reality since at least 2012 and they’ve had two (technically three) prior attempts at making this: a foldable tablet with a phone screen on the outside that can be used as reliably as any of their flagships (and hopefully selling as much too). On paper, they’ve finally reached this goal. The Z Fold 3 has every great feature the Z Fold 2 had: The large expansive screen, the same back camera array, a refined design, and the premium finish that’s made Samsung foldables premium devices. However it also adds IPX8 Water resistance, an under display camera on the main display, and even S-Pen support (making it the sort-of Note stand-in this year).
Basically, it’s everything I’ve personally been waiting for in Samsung’s biggest foldable, and while the Zimbabwean in me still laments just how much of a utility it will be and wondering if it’s really as durable as Samsung says, I can’t help but finally wanting one, something I didn’t feel with the two previous folds. Samsung has my attention here, and I can’t help but feel they’ve definitely earned. The jury is still out of course if they have (all the videos here are hands-on impressions and no one has completely reviewed them) , but if these new devices truly are 80% more durable than their predecessors, then chances are we’re getting closer to foldables actually being reliable enough to be used almost regularly . Now that’s not any promise on my part, but if the general progression of tech is to be followed, the Z Fold 3’s Durability after 3 generations is probably worth being optimistic about. I again can’t rush to verify this, but I do have confidence in it more so than I did the other 2 phones. As for the internals, well we’ll put Samsung’s official spec sheet picture below, but the gist is simple: it probably has every other mainline feature you can think of. Except a charger. Somehow that curse has joined the foldables as well, and I still don’t get why no one has revolted yet.
The Galaxy Z Flip 3: The new flagship.
So when the first Galaxy Z Flip was introduced, we basically summed it up as a cheaper, more fashion forward foldable based on form over function. It looked good, but probably didn’t offer much over regular Samsung flagships beyond being able to fold in half and fit in small jean pockets. This year’s Z Flip 3 however is arguably Samsung stating that you can buy foldables as your main phone now, because it’s essentially and S21 that folds in half and comes with the price point to support it. In fact, not counting a heavily discounted Microsoft Surface Duo, the Z Flip 3 is the cheapest foldable ever released at USD $1000. That’s not exactly cheap, but if you were to walk into a store selling the S21+ , OnePlus 9 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro and this, wouldn’t you be even a little tempted to stand out from the pack and buy the foldable instead?
I mean if you’re buying a flagship for the status it brings (especially in this day and age when $500 phones are just as good) chances are this phone will give you more pizzazz than any other flagship on the market. Samsung knows this, and that’s why price-wise this phone is arguably the direct replacement for the Note line more than the Z Fold. It’s for those buyers who tend to not like the Galaxy S line but want something just as capable but different. That’s what this little flip phone is. And again that price(next to the water resistance, increased durability, outer display and cameras) is probably the biggest head turner here, and it will be interesting to see if it pays off the way Samsung wants it to.
So will these bets work?
Samsung is basically going all in on these devices, treating them as full-fledged flagship devices for almost everyone as opposed to specialized cutting-edge devices made for only the most devout of Samsung loyalists. They basically believe that their foldables are durable, reliable and acceptable enough to become people’s daily devices, and whether they’re right or not, taking that stance in the first place is a huge risk that Samsung definitely has to be sure about. After all, making these phones 80% more durable and water resistant is a very large step forward for foldables , and their prices are a huge indicator that Samsung wants as many people to have them as possible. The Z Fold 3 is $1800 , $200 less than last year’s device , while the aforementioned $1000 price tag of the Z Flip 3 might just make it the first mainstream foldable for most people. The confidence Samsung has in these phones is intense, almost contagious even as you can tell most people want these phones to be as successful as Samsung thinks they will be. We’ll have to wait until the reviews are done to confirm that of course, and arguably will have to wait for even longer after that to see if they can even be lived with the way Samsung claims they can. But in the end, these phones are definitely a step forward in foldables, and at least in part distracting enough for you to not completely miss the Note this year. Don’t get me wrong, I still want it back, but I can stare at the Fold 3 and dream for now. Chances are you can too.