Samsung Unveils Its Latest Folding Phones, Earbuds, Watch

Samsung believes foldable phones will play a key role in the future of mobile, and the company has unveiled two high-end models, available later this month. The $1,800 Galaxy Z Fold4 becomes the equivalent of a small tablet, opening like a book to a 7.6-inch diagonal internal display with a 6.2-inch outer screen. The $1,000 Galaxy Z Flip4 has a main display measuring 6.7 inches when opened vertically. It closes to about half the size of the average smartphone, with a mini exterior screen on which text messages and alerts can be viewed. Samsung also unveiled its Galaxy Watch5 Pro and Galaxy Buds2 Pro this week,

Each model is waterproof and available in the U.S. as of August 26. The Galaxy Z Fold4 becomes the first device to come to market with Android 12L, an operating system Google created for tablets and foldable phones.

In addition to an improved camera, the Galaxy Z Fold4 also offers “immersive displays and PC-like multitasking features,” according to Samsung. “Flex mode, which splits an app between the top and bottom portions of the screen when the Z Fold is propped open, is getting a new feature. You’ll be able to use the bottom half of the screen as a trackpad to control content on the top half, similar to the touchpad on a laptop,” writes CNET.

The Galaxy Z Flip4 updates the model that was Samsung’s best-selling foldable phone last year. The company, which supplies the majority of the world’s smartphones, says it expects shipments to stay flat or grow minimally this year.

Reflecting broader consumer trends, the South Korea firm expects higher-priced phones to continue selling well throughout 2022. While overall smartphone sales fell by 8 percent compared to the same period in 2021, the drops were steepest for the least expensive devices, according to Counterpoint Research, which says shipments of “ultra-premium” phones (of $900 or more) increased by more than 20 percent.

“The resilience of the phone industry’s upper class mirrors that of the luxury-goods business, as wealthier consumers show a willingness to keep spending on clothing, handbags and jewelry despite economic rockiness,” writes The Wall Street Journal, noting “brands including LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, Ralph Lauren Corp. and Gucci owner Kering SA have reported robust growth this year.”

Industrywide, the costliest smartphones represent only 10 percent of annual shipments but roughly 70 percent of the profits, according to Counterpoint. “It’s clear that the affluent consumers are not affected by current economic headwinds,” Counterpoint analyst Tom Kang told WSJ.

During its Unpacked event in New York City this week, Samsung also introduced new versions of its Galaxy Watch5 as well as a new edition of its Galaxy Buds wireless earbuds, the Galaxy Buds2 Pro, as detailed by The Verge.

Samsung’s Z Fold 3 Durability One Year In: Tougher Than You Might Think, But with One Big Caveat, Engadget, 8/5/22
Samsung’s All Alone at the Foldable Party, The Verge, 8/9/22
Samsung’s Foldables Are a Smartphone Next Step. But Competitors Are Coming, The Wall Street Journal, 8/10/22
Xiaomi’s New Foldable Is Thinner Than Samsung’s and Only Available in China, TechCrunch, 8/11/22
Samsung Sees Galaxy Z Flip 4, Fold 4 as Edge in Smartphone Wars, The Wall Street Journal, 8/11/22

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