After a seemingly endless string of leaks and rumors, Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event is finally here. It’s shaping up to be quite a doozy, so to keep up with all the latest news and info, we’re going to be liveblogging the entire event right here.
On the phone side, we’re expecting to see new entries in both the Galaxy Z Flip and Z Fold lines, with Samsung including a number of design changes, durability upgrades, and possibly even a price drop or two. And while Samsung has already confirmed there won’t be a new Galaxy Note this year, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 could soon fill the Note’s shoes with new stylus support.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy Watch 4 is going through some major changes of its own with the addition of One UI Watch, which is based on Google’s Wear OS instead of Tizen. Thankfully, it seems like a lot of Samsung’s signature features are still getting carried forward, like a physical rotating bezel which looks to be returning on the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. And when it comes to health-tracking, we’re expecting to see a new body composition feature arrive on the Galaxy Watch 4 line.
Even Samsung’s wireless audio lineup is getting a new addition with the arrival of the Galaxy Buds 2. We won’t see new Galaxy S and Galaxy A phones, but aside from those omissions, it looks like Samsung’s entire mobile lineup is basically getting revamp.
So come grab a seat, pull up the livestream, or just follow along with us as we cover everything Samsung has planned for today. The show starts at 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT.
Update, 8/11/21, 9:55 a.m. ET: Our liveblog module is on the fritz, so welcome to a stream of consciousness as I watch the Samsung event!
I wanted to talk about the soothing intro music, but no time for that, the show is starting.
This is going to be a big day. Not only is Samsung really pushing foldables for the mainstream, we’re also getting a big update to Samsung’s watch line, with Samsung switching over to a Wear OS-based platform.
And we’re just getting right into it: Here’s the Galaxy Watch 4.
For the Galaxy Watch 4, Samsung teamed up with Google to create a new Galaxy Watch platform called Wear OS 3. Samsung layered One UI Watch over top.
One of the big advantages of the new platform is wider support for apps, with Samsung even adding the ability to auto install companion apps on your watch based on the apps you already have on your phone.
Another big update to the Watch 4 series is new health metrics, like snoring detection.
And just like before, any metrics that get recorded by the watch can be easily viewed on your phone.
But for real health nuts, Samsung is also introducing a new BIA sensor on the Galaxy Watch 4 that can measure your body composition, telling you things like how much muscle you have versus fat.
Samsung says one of the big challenges with adding BIA sensors was making them small enough to fit in a watch. But it seems they managed to pull it off.
And by measuring the speed of electricity as it passes through your body, in just 15 seconds, you can get an idea of your body composition.
Samsung even says its body composition scans are 98% accurate, which Samsung claims is as good as some professional scanning equipment.
And just like previous models, the new Galaxy Watch 4 is going to be available with bluetooth and wifi, or with an optional 4G LTE connection.
OK, now we’re getting into the two different models, which is getting a bit of remix from previous generations.
The standard Galaxy Watch 4 is a bit sleeker, and instead of a physical bezel, it has a virtual bezel that you can use by tracing your finger around the edge of the screen.
However, for people who like the physical bezel (I’m one of them), there’s the Watch 4 Classic, which looks a bit more rugged, but aside from the bezel, has the same features as the regular Galaxy Watch 4.
Aaaaand here’s the pricing.
Now here’s Samsung president TM Roh to talk about innovation.
Roh says Samsung not only wants to focus on new form factors (foldables, anyone?), but it knows how important things like security and privacy are.
Roh says Samsung is also partnering with big corps like Google and Microsoft to help optimize apps on foldable devices.
So here are Samsung’s new Z series phones.
First up, the new Galaxy Z Fold 3!
One interesting thing is that Samsung says it noticed Z Fold owners used the exterior cover screen just as much as the flexible main display.
So this year, the Z Fold 3's cover screen is getting a boost to 120Hz.
On the inside, the Z Fold 3's screen is still 7.6 inches across. But to help remove any distractions, Samsung is adding a new under-display camera (UDC), which Samsung says is the first for any foldable phone.
Samsung is also showing off some of the Z Fold 3's app optimizations, showing how a dynamic menu is used to take up less space on the screen with UI elements, letting you better focus on the content you care about.
And depending on the app, the Z Fold 3 will even let you drag and drop certain files and elements.
To start, Samsung says there will be more than 50 apps optimized to work on Samsung’s foldables.
But wait, there’s more (I’ve always wanted to steal this line).
Now, for the first time, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is getting IPX8 water resistance, which is no small feat on a phone with a hinge and a flexible screen.
And it’s not just the Fold 3, the other new member of the Z series is getting water resistance too.
The other big new feature is STYLUS SUPPORT (but only for the Z Fold 3)!
This is really big, especially since Samsung has already confirmed there won’t be a new Galaxy Note this year.
To add stylus support, Samsung teamed up with Wacom to make a custom digitizer specifically for the Z Fold 3.
Of course just adding stylus support isn’t enough, because the Z Fold 3's screen still isn’t as strong as regular glass.
So Samsung also made a pair of new styluses that have the ability to automatically retract the stylus nib if the stylus detects that you’re pressing too hard.
Samsung didn’t forget about improving durability.
The company created a new type of aluminum called Armor Aluminum, while also switching to a more durable PET factory-installed screen protector, that’s stronger and stickier than before.
Hopefully that last part prevents the screen protector from peeling away, which is an issue I’ve been dealing with on my Galaxy Fold 2.
Next up, the Z Flip 3!
I gotta admit, even though I like the big screen on the Z Fold 3, the Flip is super stylish.
For this year’s Flip, Samsung has made the outside cover screen a little bigger, so it’s easier to capture selfies or simply check notifications.
And if you’re trying to record a video by yourself, you can even prop the Z Flip 3 half open, and use it as a sort of tripod to record a vlog or selfie.
Samsung is even making slick cases with a built-in hook and a stretchy band that gives you a better grip, and looks way better than a PopSocket IMO.
Now Samsung is back talking about One UI 3, which, like apps, has been tweaked to deliver a better experience on Samsung’s foldables.
OK, here comes the pricing, which is really gonna decide how popular these things become.
And like last year, there’s also a special Thom Browne edition with a custom paint job, but it’s going to be extra expensive.
Wait, you thought we were done? Nope, Samsung’s got a new pair of Galaxy Buds too.
And they’re call the Galaxy Buds 2.
The new Buds 2 feature a super streamlined design, but the real upgrade is the addition of ANC.
Battery life is rated at five hours with ANC on, or around 7.5 hours with ANC off.
And like previous Galaxy Buds, Samsung still included its Ambient Sound amplification feature, now with three levels of sound boost.
Here are the new Buds 2 colors.
The other big thing to note is that the Galaxy Buds 2 will cost $150.
So in a lot of ways they are slightly cheaper versions of the Galaxy Buds Pro, with almost the same set of features but for $50 less.
Aaaaand now we’ve launched in a musical number?
And now it’s time for the wrap-up.
As usual, Samsung is talking about its sustainability goals and promising even more new innovations to come in the future.
But today, the overarching message is a new fitness tracking and a new platform for the Galaxy Watch 4, and a big push for foldables into the mainstream market.
Well, that’s all folks!
Thanks everyone for tuning in, and once again apologies for the technical difficulties.
We’re doing our best over here!