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Now that we’re over the hype – let’s see what Samsung really launched!

Now that we’re over the hype – let’s see what Samsung really launched!

Let’s be honest, the initial version 1 of the Samsung Galaxy Flip and Galaxy Fold devices were akin to a mobile equivalent of concept cars in the motoring world. They were cool, exciting even, but more of a marketing ploy than real world devices. Well at least that was my initial take. 

Luckily, I enjoy a slice or two of humble pie, so I was happy to be invited to the launch of the latest range of Samsung Galaxy devices, here in Cracker Zac’s, Rosebank, Johannesburg. 

The launch showcased the Galaxy Watch6 and Watch6 Classic, Galaxy Flip5, Galaxy Fold5 and the Galaxy Tab9. 

So, lets dive in. The Samsung Galaxy range is undoubtedly the Android leader, especially since the loss of Google services for Huawei. In fact, other than the catastrophic launch of the Galaxy Note 7 and the resulting recall, Samsung have released hit after hit and have amassed an army of dedicated fans across the globe.  

Generation MZ

I must admit this term is one I wasn’t aware of (the collective term for both Millennials and Gen Z commonly used in Korea) but the Samsung marketing team explained this is the demographic target for their latest Galaxy devices. The colour schemes and accessories are clearly targeted at a younger audience. 

Before I go into detail about the individual devices let me first discuss my overall impressions. Firstly, as has been the theme for several years, Samsung are clearly working hard to create an eco-system of products that work together to improve the overall user experience an area where Apple has excelled, and some would argue the main reason for choosing Apple products over Android. 

Galaxy Watch6 and Watch6 Classic

The Watch6 is not a huge leap from the Watch5 although it is in fact 30% slimmer with a 20% larger display and comes in two formats the Watch6 and the Watch6 Classic with rotating bezel. The Watch6 will be available in 40 and 44mm sizes with the classic being slightly larger at 43 and 47mm. The Watch6 has an aluminium casing, while the Classic is stainless steel with both having sapphire crystal displays. 

Both watches will have the same functionality as the previous Watch5 with ECG, blood pressure and heart rate monitoring, skin temperature monitoring and sleep tracking. The ability to control your phone cameras zoom function and remotely take pictures is also still present. 

Samsung says we can expect better battery performance, but I really need to spend some time with the watches to confirm that, although the batteries are slightly larger than previous models, so I am hopeful that that is actually the case. 

Both watches will be sold with the latest Wear OS 4 and both will have Samsungs One UI 5 user interface which should in itself bring better battery performance along with a new graphical interface.  

Samsung are pitching the Watch6 as a more well-rounded health interface with an emphasis on sleep and fitness with more detailed sleep tracking, increased fitness personalisation with menstrual cycle prediction and built in fall detection. The latter enabling you to input emergency contacts who will be called should the watch detect that you have fallen. 

Fast charging should allow the watch to be charged much more quickly with a reported fast charge providing 8 hours of battery life after just 8 minutes of charging. 

The Watch6 will also benefit from new one-click watch straps which makes changing straps a much easier process. The one click straps are reportedly also backwards compatible with the Watch5 which is a nice touch. 

The Watch6 may not have been the highlight of the launch, but I still expect this to be the best smart watch on the market, especially when used as part of the Samsung Galaxy ecosystem. 

ZFlip5 

The ZFlip phones have always been regarded as phones for female users with Samsung themselves acknowledging that their own sales data backs this, showing 55% of users of the ZFlip series do indeed identify as female. That said though, I really believe the latest additions could make this phone bridge the gender divide. 

The ZFlip5 sees a remarkable improvement in its cover screen which Samsung prefers to call the Flex Window. With a 180% increase in size the Flex Window is now 3.4 inches corner to corner, enabling you to make use of widgets to do more than ever before without even having to open the device. You can check the weather, control music playback, access the google finance widget and view notifications. You are also able to scroll through call history and return missed calls as well as directly respond to text messages using a full QWERTY keyboard all from within the Flex window, all without opening the phone.  

The new hinge design means a much tidier profile and a 2mm reduction in gap when the device is closed. The hinge retains the stiffness of previous models allowing the camera to be angled between 75 and 115 degrees and directed without the need of a stand or tripod for creating content, taking calls etc 

The customisation options point firmly to Samsungs demographic target and include Flipsuit cases with drop in cards to add colour and texture to the phone. These cards contain NFC chips that instantly switch the Flex window design to match the inserted card.  

Cameras

The Galaxy ZFlip5 will have a similar setup to the ZFlip 4 with a 12MP f1.8 main camera a 12MP f2.2 ultrawide angle camera and a 10 MP selfie camera with an improved f2.2 aperture although software improvements from Samsung should show improved performance particularly with night shots and the larger flex window should make selfies much easier to set up and take. 

Performance 

The new Galaxy ZFlip5 promises to be quite the powerhouse. Built around the new modified Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset used in the S23 with 8GB of RAM and either 256GB or 512GB of on-board storage.  

Display 

The flex window as mentioned is a huge improvement over the ZFlip4 but the main screen remains pretty much the same at 6.7” with a 120Hz refresh rate although the refresh rate is now adaptive which should increase battery life and with a decent brightness of 1504 nits. 

Battery and charging 

The battery in the ZFlip5 is unchanged from the ZFlip4 and incorporates the same 25W wired charging with wireless charging support and should give a similar full day charge to the ZFlip4. 

All in all…

The Samsung Galaxy ZFlip5 was definitely the star of the show and certainly the product that saw the most improvement from previous models. Samsung definitely lead the category but challenges from Oppo and Motorolla will definitely keep them on their toes. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 
Display  6.7” Dynamic AMOLED 2X, adaptive refresh rate (1-120Hz), 2640 x 1080 resolution, 22:9 aspect ratio, 1,750 nits peak brightness 
Cover display  3.4” AMOLED, 60Hz, 720 x 748 
Chipset  Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy 
Protection  Armor Aluminum frame, Gorilla Glass Victus 2 (cover display), PET screen protector (inner display), IPX8 water and dust resistance 
Memory  8GB 
Storage  256GB or 512GB 
Rear Camera 1 (main camera)  REAR1: 12MP, ƒ/1.8, 1.8μm, 83-degree FoV, OIS, Dual Pixel AF 

REAR2: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.12μm, 123-degree FoV (ultra-wide) 

Inner camera: 10MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.22μm, 85-degree FOV 

Battery  3,700mAh (dual 1,850mAh batteries) 
Charging  25W wired charging, 10-15W fast wireless charging 2.0, 4.5W reverse wireless charging 
Weight  187 grams 
Dimensions  FOLDED: 3.35-inches tall x 2.83-inches wide x 0.59-inches thin 

UNFOLDED: 6.5-inches tall x 2.83-inches wide x 0.27-inches thin 

Colours  Mint, Graphite, Cream, Lavender 
Samsung.com exclusive colours  Gray, Blue, Green, Yellow 

ZFold5 

The Samsung Galaxy Fold5 may not have improvements as exciting as the ZFlip5 but that doesn’t mean that nothing has changed. 

First impressions 

It would be very easy to see the latest iteration of the Samsung Fold as version 4.1 upon first glance but let’s take a closer look. 

The Galaxy ZFold5 is a marked improvement over the ZFold4 with changes starting at the hinge. The new hinge means a slightly smaller profile and means the fold is now completely flat when fully open and closes with no gap between panels. This gives the phone a markedly different hand feel and a more premium look. The screen fold I must admit is not something that has ever been a particular problem for me but is noticeably improved although Samsung were at pains to point out that the devices, we were shown at the launch event were marketing devices, and the actual release devices would be even better with almost zero screen fold. 

Display 

Other than an increase in brightness to 1750 nits on the inside panel, the ZFold5 displays are exactly the same as those on the ZFold4 with a 6.2” Dynamic AMOLED 2X HD+ screen on the outer display and a 7.6” Dynamic AMOLED QXGA+ screen on the inner display both having 120Hz refresh rate. Doesn’t sound great, does it? But wait 1750 nits will make this technically one of the brightest phone displays on the market and something I am keen to test in full sunlight. I say “technically” the brightest because I do have some concerns that the plastic coating over the inner screen, which still seems very reflective, may hamper viewing the display in direct sunlight even with such a bright screen. 

Cameras 

The cameras also remain unchanged from the ZFold4 with a 50MP main camera, a 12MP ultrawide and a 10Mp 3 x optical zoom and the underwhelming 4MP inside camera. Again initially disappointing but the ZFold4 cameras were overall pretty good and the software improvements along with the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor seem on initial testing to give decent results although further testing will be needed to confirm image quality in different environments. 

S-Pen 

Many users flock to foldable phones to bridge the gap between phones and tablets and therefore the use of a stylus is deemed important especially for users in the art and design space. Personally I am not a huge fan and wouldn’t generally use the S-Pen for anything more than signing documents.

Multitasking 

Multitasking is where the ZFold5 shines. Flagship Samsung phones have always handled multitasking well but the advent of the ZFold series with their larger screen real estate took multitasking to the next level. The Galaxy ZFold5 takes those previous capabilities and has added a few crucial new upgrades. 

The first of these is the upgraded taskbar holds up to twelve apps at once with up to four of your most recent. With the taskbar you are then able to switch between apps or split the screen. On top of this you are now able to drag and drop content between apps. This requires you to use both hands which to be honest is the only way to navigate around the 7.6” display anyway, you simply long press the content you would like to copy using one hand while opening the second app in the taskbar using your other hand. You then drop the content over the second app and drop it by releasing. It’s simple but incredibly useful. 

Battery life 

The Galaxy ZFold5 has the same 4400mAh battery as the ZFold4 and the same 25w wired charging. Let’s be straight, this is a disappointment. Super-fast charging is arguably needed on a device like this more than on any other as I would expect this to be a heavily used device, switching between gaming, note taking, business and personal use. 

All in all…

I think most people in the market for a device like the ZFold5 would agree that this phone is outstanding and almost certainly the best phone of its kind on the market today. The improvements over the ZFold4 are welcome and needed. However, I think most of those people would also agree that the Galaxy ZFold5 launch was more than a little underwhelming. Yes, the phone is an amazing feat of engineering, well executed, looks amazing, performs well, great features etc etc but it is also largely. The cameras are the same, in particular the under screen camera which is well, not great. The battery is the same and the phone still doesn’t have super-fast charging. Yes, the hinge is better and stronger, and the hinge gap is smaller (did anyone ever complain about the hinge gap?). Please don’t get me wrong, I’ll say it again “this phone is outstanding”, “the best phone of its kind on the market today”, I’m just saying I wasn’t blown away and the competition are watching! Samsung may have missed an opportunity to pull further into the lead. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 
OS  OneUI 5.1.1 on Android 13 
Display  Main(Inner): 7.6” QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED with adaptive 120Hz refresh rate
Outer: 6.2” Dynamic AMOLED 2X with adaptive 120Hz refresh rate 
CPU  Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 
RAM  12GB 
Storage  256GB | 512GB | 1TB 
Cameras  REAR: 50MP, 12MP, 10MP FRONT: 4MP, 10MP 
Ports  USB-C 3.2 
Biometrics  Side-mounted fingerprint reader 
Battery and charging  4,400mAh
25W wired charging
15W wireless charging
4.5W reverse wireless charging 
Colours  Phantom Black, Cream, Icy Blue, Cream, Grey, Blue 
Dimensions  Unfolded: 129.9 x 154.9 x 6.1mm
Folded: 67.1 x 154.9 x 13.4mm
253g 
Protection  IPX8 

Galaxy TabS9 series 

Okay I’m gonna say it! I don’t understand why anyone outside of a few niche areas would want to buy a tablet. I’m sorry.  

If you’re still reading, then let’s talk about the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 series. As previously mentioned, other than the ZFlip5, this launch event was not really an event of oohs and aahs it was about solid products at the top of their perch and a manufacturer who knows it! 

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 series are the latest range of Samsung tablets with the Galaxy Tab S9, Galaxy Tab S9+ and the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra all being showcased. 

Size is everything 

The first and most obvious difference across the range is size, beginning with the S9 base model you get a screen size of 11” followed by a 12.4” screen on the S9+ and the 14.6” monster on the Ultra. Other than size the display spec is the same for each model with all having AMOLED 2X with adaptive refresh rates of up to 120Hz and HDR10+ support. 

Processor

The Samsung Tab S9 series will feature the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 across the range which third party bench testing appears to confirm is a significant improvement over the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 used in the S8.  

So cool 

There were a number of complaints from users of the Samsung Tab S8 (particularly the Ultra models) regarding overheating. Whether this was due to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor or issues with the Tab S8’s cooling system (spoiler…… it’s the Snapdragon) it looks like these problems should be a thing of the past. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 series tablets now have enhanced cooling that disperses heat away from the processor into the body of the laptop and subsequently through whatever surface the laptop is placed on. On top of this the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 will incorporate a vapour chamber. Commonly used in cell phones and PC’s, vapour chambers make use of a small container with a liquid inside. As the liquid heats up, it becomes a vapour which can then travel to cooler parts of the container or chamber and then condenses and releases the heat. This repeating pattern results in cooling. 

Singing in the rain

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 will for the first time give water and dust protection with an IP68 rating across all models. Now this is a big deal, I have always felt that tablets came in 2 varieties, the ones that can do everything you need and the ones that can survive the journey. To get a tablet that is rugged and capable there is nearly always significant compromise, be that with features or capabilities but now with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 series you really just need a decent case and while that obviously doesn’t make it a match for a Getac or a Crosscall in the rugged tablet world it will certainly provide a robust alternative that’s at a high spec. 

Display

All models of the Galaxy Tab S9 share the same AMOLED 2X display which is a big improvement from the LCD display in the Tab S8 and meaning that now the only difference across the range is the overall display size.  

Overall impressions

As you can see from the listed specs, the Galaxy Tab S9 range is largely similar across all iterations with obvious exceptions on screen size, Ram, and storage. In all honesty if you are looking for a truly portable tablet then the base S9 is the only model to consider. The storage can be expanded (although using an SD card as permanent storage would be a concern for me) and I personally believe 8GB of RAM should be more than sufficient for 99% of people especially looking at the capabilities of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.  

I haven’t mentioned cameras, but they should be fine (it’s a tablet people). In fact, the cameras should be removed from all tablets just because of those of you who insist on taking tablets to concerts and holding them in front of my face filming a grainy Beyonce while I sniff your pits! 

For those of you who need the larger screen real estate then the right model for you is really gonna depend on either you desperately wanting the larger screen or a specific need for more storage or RAM which is entirely dependent on your use case. 

Category  Galaxy Tab S9  Galaxy Tab S9+  Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra 
OS  OneUI 5.1.1 on Android 13  OneUI 5.1.1 on Android 13  OneUI 5.1.1 on Android 13 
Display  11-inch AMOLED 2X(120Hz)  12.4-inch AMOLED 2X(120Hz)  14.6-inch AMOLED 2X(120Hz) 
Processor  Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy  Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy  Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy 
Audio  Quad Dolby Atmos Speakers  Quad Dolby Atmos Speakers  Quad Dolby Atmos Speakers 
Memory and storage  8GB, 128–256GB; 1TB microSD  12GB, 256–512GB; 1TB microSD  12GB/ 16GB, 256/512GB/1TB; 1TB microSD 
Battery  8,400mAh  10,090mAh  11,200mAh 
Front camera/s  12MP UltraWide  12MP UltraWide  12MP + 12MP UltraWide 
Rear camera/s  13MP AF 26mm f/2.0  13MP AF + 8MP UW  13MP AF + 8MP UW 
Connectivity  USB Type C, Wi-Fi 6E; Bluetooth v5.3  USB Type C, 5G (optional); Wi-Fi 6E; Bluetooth v5.3  USB Type C, Wi-Fi 6E; Bluetooth v5.3 
IP rating /   IP68; Armor Aluminium  IP68; Armor Aluminium  IP68; Armor Aluminium 
Dimensions  165.8 x 254.3 x 5.9mm  185.4 x 285.4 x 5.7mm  208.6 x 326.4 x 5.5mm 
Weight  498g   Wi-Fi: 581g; 5G: 586g  732g 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clare Petra Matthes

Hi, I'm Clare and I am a freelance writer and Tech journalist as well as the owner and founder of gadget-gal.com where I review tech devices and also cover emerging technology news. Outside of gadget-gal.com I write for a number of publications and have regular tech slots on chaiFM radio station and eNCA's Tech Matters national breakfast TV news show.

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