Posts with «handheld & connected devices» label

Here’s everything Samsung announced at its August Unpacked event

On Wednesday, Samsung held its latest Unpacked showcase. As expected, the event saw the company show off its newest foldable devices, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4, but Samsung also devoted part of the proceedings to new wearables. Here’s everything the company announced during the show.

Galaxy Z Fold 4

Samsung

No surprise here, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 was the star of the show. In terms of hardware, Samsung’s latest flagship foldable adds a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, an enhanced 50-megapixel main camera and a more capable telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom. The main display is also brighter. That said, the main story of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 are all the software improvements Samsung has added. The foldable is one of the first devices to ship with Android 12L, the new tablet-focused version of Google’s mobile OS. It also features a redesigned taskbar for more efficient multitasking. Critically, more apps from Google and Microsoft now support the Z Fold form factor.

Pre-orders for the Galaxy Z Fold 4 open today ahead of the phone’s August 26th release date. Pricing starts at $1,800 for the 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage model.

Galaxy Z Flip 4

Samsung

Samsung didn’t forget about its more affordable foldable. The Galaxy Z Flip 4’s most notable hardware upgrades are a larger 3,700mAh battery, the addition of a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor and a primary camera Samsung claims is 65 percent brighter than the one found on its predecessor. The company has also tweaked the design of the Z Flip 4 to incorporate a slimmer hinge and add new software customization options for the front screen. Like its sibling, the Galaxy Z Fold goes on sale on August 26th, with pre-orders open today. However, no price cut this time around: the Galaxy Z Flip 4 starts at $1,000.

Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro

Samsung

After Samsung adopted WearOS with the Galaxy Watch 4, the Galaxy Watch 5 is a more iterative update. The company has reshaped the back of the wearable to create more surface area for it to make contact with your wrist. In conjunction with a new infrared sensor, Samsung says the Galaxy Watch 5 provides far smarter health data than its predecessor. It also has a more durable glass exterior and both the 40mm and 44mm models come with bigger batteries. Samsung will also once again offer a Pro model of the Galaxy Watch. The latest one features a titanium case, a bigger 45mm display and a large 590mAh battery. The Galaxy Watch 5 line will start at $280 when it hits store shelves on August 26th. However, you can preorder the wearables today

Galaxy Buds 2 Pro

Cherlynn Low/Engadget

The Galaxy Buds Pro were among the best true wireless earbuds you could buy last year. The new Galaxy Buds 2 Pro Samsung showed off at Unpacked looks like a promising upgrade. To start, there’s the addition of Bluetooth 5.3, 24-bit audio support and better noise cancelation performance. Together, those features should improve audio quality and make it easier to tune out ambient noises. Thanks to a 15 percent smaller design, Samsung says they should also fit better. But the most intriguing addition is a feature called Intelligent Voice Detect. When you start speaking to someone, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro will automatically turn off ANC and lower the volume of your music. The new earbuds are available to preorder today for $230, making them $30 more than their predecessor.

Follow all of the news from Samsung's Unpacked event right here!

How to pre-order the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and everything else announced at Unpacked 2022

Samsung's Unpacked event today was chock full of new product announcements, and fans of the companies foldables have a lot to check out. The company showed off the new Galaxy Z Fold 4, its new flagship folding smartphone that starts at a whopping $1,799, as well as the Galaxy Z Flip 4, the successor to last year's Z Flip 3. Samsung's wearable lineup has a couple new members as well — the Galaxy Watch 5 is the company's newest smartphone, and it's complemented by the rugged, outdoor-ready Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. And to round things out, Samsung introduces a new pair of wireless earbuds in the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. Here's how you can pre-order the Samsun Galaxy Z Fold 4 as well as everything else announced at Unpacked 2022.

Galaxy Z Fold 4

Samsung

Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 4 is available for pre-order today with starting price of $1,799. It will be more widely available on August 26th. Those who pre-order through August 25th will receive a free storage upgrade, a Standing Cover with Pen case and a $100 Samsung credit.

Pre-order Galaxy Z Fold 4 at Samsung - $1,799

While Samsung didn't reinvent its flagship foldable for 2022, it did make some meaningful updates to the Z Fold 4. It has a more refined design with slimmer bezels and a thinner hinge, plus its more lightweight than last year's model. All of this should make the Z Fold 4 easier to use with one hand.

Samsung upped the durability of the main 7.6-inch, 120Hz screen, and it now has an updated taskbar which should make it easier to drag and drop apps to different parts of the display. The company also made it easier to swipe and navigate, so you could treat the Z Fold 4 like a touchscreen PC or tablet. The main screen also now supports Samsung's S Pen, so you can take notes, doodle and mark up documents more easily on the go.

You'll also find S-series cameras on the Z fold 4 now, too. The new foldable has a 10-megapixel telephoto lens, a 50MP wide shooter and a 12MP ultrawide camera, with all three collected vertically on the top-left corner of the phone's back. Inside the Z Fold 4 is a 4,400 mAh battery that supports fast charging, so you'll get up to a 50 percent increase in just 30 minutes of charge time. The 5G-capable phone runs on Snapdragon's 8+ Gen1 chip and it'll come with 12GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage.

Galaxy Z Flip 4

Samsung

Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 4 is available for pre-order today with a starting price of $999. It will be more widely available on August 26th. Those who pre-order through August 25th will get a free storage upgrade and a Silicone Ring Case or Strap Case.

Pre-order Galaxy Z Flip 4 at Samsung - $999

Similarly to the Z Fold 4, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 has been refined with a slimmer design overall and a 45 percent stronger main screen. Samsung seems to want to address the questions many users have about the durability of foldable phones by focusing on making its new devices this year as strong as possible (but we'll have to put them through their paces to see how successful the company was).

Samsung claims to have made the cover screen, the narrow display on the Z Flip 4 that's visible when the handset is folded, more useful this year. It supports quick replies, setting changes, Samsung Pay, a new SmartThings widget and custom clock designs. It also has an updated Quick Shot feature, which lets you take photos and start shoot videos directly from the cover screen. The company also upgraded the Z Flip 4's cameras: you're now getting a 12MP ultrawide lens along with a 12MP wide shooter with improved stabilization, tracking and nighttime photography.

The Z Flip 4 runs on a 4nm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset and it has a 3,700 mAh battery inside that supports fast charging just like the Z fold 4 does. Along with 5G support, it'll come with 8GB of RAM and up to 512GB of storage.

Galaxy Watch 5

Samsung

The Galaxy Watch 5 is available for pre-order today with starting price of $279. It'll be widely available on August 26th. It will come in two sizes, 40mm and 44mm, with Bluetooth and LTE versions of each. Those who pre-order through August 25th are eligible to receive a free wireless charger duo.

Pre-order Galaxy Watch 5 at Samsung - $279

Samsung's latest wearable looks a little sleeker than the Galaxy Watch 4, plus it has a reshaped back portion that allows for greater skin contact. This means wearers will get better results when taking things like heart rate measurements, blood oxygen readings, ECGs and more. Along with an IP68 durability rating and 5ATM of water resistance, the Watch 5 series uses sapphire crystal glass on its display, which will better protect it against scratches.

In addition to making some subtle exterior changes, Samsung upgraded some of the features of the Galaxy Watch 5. Key among them is the wearable's sleep tracking capabilities — now, the Watch 5 has a more advanced sleep coach, which uses breathing and heart rate data to provide you more information about how you slept in any given night. You'll learn not only how much time you spent asleep, but also sleep stages, blood oxygen levels, time spent snoring and more. And since the watch runs on Google's WearOS, you'll get all of the existing features you'd expect, including voice navigation with Google Maps and more.

Samsung hasn't provided an estimated battery life for the Galaxy Watch 5 yet, but it did share that it increased the battery capacity by 15 percent in these new models. The Watch 5 also has built-in GPS and NFC for Samsung Pay.

Galaxy Watch 5 Pro

Samsung

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is available for pre-order today with starting price of $449. It'll be widely available on August 26th. It's only available in the 45mm size, with Bluetooth and LTE versions available. Those who pre-order through August 25th are eligible to receive a free wireless charger duo.

Pre-order Galaxy Watch 5 Pro at Samsung - $449

As the name suggests, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is a step up from the standard model. Samsung designed this to be a more rugged smartwatch, capable of keeping up with hikers, mountain bikers, adventurers and the like. It has most of the same features as the regular Watch 5, but it adds a titanium case and a massive 590 mAh battery, which is a 60-percent larger cell than the one in the Galaxy Watch 4. Otherwise, it has s sapphire crystal glass display, IP68 and 5ATM durability ratings,built-in GPS and NFC and more.

Galaxy Buds 2 Pro

Samsung

Samsung's Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are available for pre-order today and will cost $229. They will be more widely available on August 26th. Those who pre-order can receive a free wireless charger.

Pre-order Galaxy Buds 2 Pro at Samsung - $229

The successors to last year's Galaxy Buds Pro now support 24bit hi-fi audio, and they have a 15-percent smaller design. These ANC wireless earbuds now support auto switch, which lets you swap between Galaxy devices and even Samsung TVs while using the buds, and SmartThings Find, which will help you find them if you misplace them. There's also a new "voice detect" feature which will sense when you're speaking and automatically switch into ambient sound mode and lower the volume so you can hear whomever you're talking to.

Follow all of the news from Samsung's Unpacked event right here!

Samsung's more refined Galaxy Z Fold 4 goes on sale August 26th starting at $1,800

While many other smartphone makers have yet to even attempt selling a foldable device, Samsung is already four generations deep. And on the new Galaxy Z Fold 4, instead of redesigning the entire device, Samsung is tweaking its formula to create a faster, more powerful and slightly sleeker phablet for all your multitasking needs. There's also a newly redesigned taskbar, revamped cameras, and perhaps most importantly, even more apps have been optimized to take better advantage of the phone's flexible display. 

In terms of hardware, new components on the Z Fold 4 include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip, an upgraded 50MP main camera, a longer telephoto cam with a 3x optical zoom (up from 2x on the previous model) and a brighter 7.6-inch flexible display with a 120Hz refresh rate. The Z Fold 4's durability has also improved, with Samsung using its Armor Aluminum alloy on the phone's hinge and frame and moving up to Gorilla Glass Victus+ on both its front and rear panels. And just like you got on the previous model, the Z Fold 4 features IPX8 water resistance that can withstand submersion of up to 5 feet for 30 minutes. 

Samsung

Meanwhile, even though the Z Fold 4 will still be a somewhat bulky device compared to more traditional handsets, Samsung says it has slimmed down its dimensions with thinner bezels and a slightly smaller hinge. And all this comes in a body that's just a touch wider than before, which is meant to make stuff like typing on the exterior Cover Screen a bit easier while also improving one-hand usability. 

That said, the biggest change on the Z Fold 4 may be its software. Not only does Samsung claim the phone is the first device to ship with Android 12L, the company also redesigned the Z Fold's taskbar for enhanced multitasking. Now, instead of being positioned to the the side, the taskbar spans the bottom of the phone which provides more room for apps while new swipe gestures help you quickly switch between full-screen, windowed and split-screen views. And for those who like drawing or taking handwritten notes, the Z Fold 4 still supports stylus input and has a new Standing Case with built-in S Pen storage.

Samsung

Additionally, Samsung has continued its partnership with Google and Microsoft to expand the number of apps that support Flex Mode, which are special functions that are available when phone is half open. On top of that, both Chrome and Gmail now support drag-and-drop functionality for sharing things like files and links, while Outlook has gotten a more tablet-like UI to better utilize the phone's large main display. 

Finally, other tweaks include an updated UDC (under display camera) that features a new "scatter-type sub-pixel arrangement" that should make it a bit less noticeable. There's even a new virtual touchpad that works with apps that haven't been fully optimized for the Z Fold 4's screen that's intended to make it easier to zoom in and out of media or control playback while watching videos. And you're the type of person who always needs more room for apps and media, a 1TB model is available exclusively from Samsung. 

Samsung

The one downside is that with a starting price of $1,800 for 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, the Z Fold 4 is still expensive and has not received a price drop compared from last year's Z Fold 3. The phone will be available in four colors: "Graygreen," Phantom Black, beige and burgundy, the latter of which is exclusive to Samsung.com. Pre-orders start today ahead of the phone's official release on August 26th and will include free upgrade to 16GB of RAM, $100 of Samsung store credit, a Standing Cover case and a discount of up to $1,000 with eligible trade-ins. 

Follow all of the news from Samsung's Unpacked event right here!

Apple's 256GB iPad drops to a new low of $399

Apple's base iPad is the most cost-effective way to get an iOS device, and now you can pick one up for even less than usual. In a rare sale, most models are down to record-low prices at Amazon right now. Key among them are the 256GB iPad for $399, which is $80 less than usual, and the base, 64GB version remains on sale for $299 as well. As for cellular models, you can pick up the 64GB tablet for $400 thanks to an extra $30 coupon that's automatically applied at checkout, or the 256GB version for $550.

Buy iPad (64GB, WiFi) at Amazon - $299Buy iPad (256GB, WiFi) at Amazon - $399Buy iPad (64GB, Cellular) at Amazon - $400Buy iPad (256GB, Cellular) at Amazon - $550

It may not look as slick as the iPad Air or the latest iPad Pros, but it's hard to argue the utility of Apple's most affordable tablet. We gave it a score of 86 when the latest model came out last year, and we consider it to be the best budget tablet you can get. It has solid performance and an excellent, 14-hour battery life, and since Apple upped the base amount of storage to 64GB from 32GB, you'll have a good amount of space even if you pick the cheapest option. That's important for those who download tons of apps and games, or those who plan on using the iPad to hold all of their personal, work or school documents. While we think some of the more advanced iPads make better laptop replacements, the base tablet would make a good on-the-go device if you pair it with accessories like the Smart Keyboard or the first-generation Apple Pencil.

The most dated things about the iPad are its chunkier bezels and the physical Home button that supports TouchID, although some may prefer the latter to FaceID. Otherwise, the slab has a 2,160 x 1,620 resolution Retina display with True Tone, an 8-megapixel rear camera and an updated 12MP front-facing camera with support for Center Stage, which will come in handy if you FaceTime a lot with friends and family. While it doesn't have many of the extra features you'll find on the iPad Air, those are fair trade-offs considering its low starting price.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

iOS 16 beta brings back the battery percentage icon

Earlier today, Apple released the fifth iOS 16 developer beta. It adds a handful of changes, but if you’ve spent any time on Twitter, you know there’s only one thing everyone wants to talk about: the return of the battery percentage indicator. For the first time since Apple removed the icon in 2017 to accommodate the iPhone X’s notch, it’s possible to see exactly how much battery your iPhone has left without pulling down the Control Center shade.

ITS REAL pic.twitter.com/RKf2zkFS7i

— Ian Zelbo (@ianzelbo) August 8, 2022

If you’re enrolled in the developer beta, you can add the indicator to your status bar by opening the Settings menu and navigating to the Battery section. Once there, you’ll see a new toggle labeled “Battery Percentage.” The resulting icon is slightly larger than the one you’re probably used to seeing. Additionally, if you plug your iPhone into a charger, the icon will turn green and display a lightning symbol next to the battery percentage. Conversely, it's yellow when your iPhone is in low power mode.

The option to see battery percentage is not available on the iPhone XR, iPhone 11, iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 mini. We’ll also note it’s possible the feature may not make it into the final release of iOS 16. The next version of Apple’s mobile operating system will arrive later this year. Some of the more notable features Apple announced at WWDC 2022 include new lock screen customization options, the ability to edit and recall texts in iMessage and real-time notifications called Live Activities.

Anker charging gadgets are up to 40 percent off for Prime members

Now's a good time to pick up a new charger for your phone, tablet and other devices while a number of Anker's charging accessories are down to record-low prices for Amazon Prime members. Standouts among the discounts are Anker's 521 magnetic battery pack for MagSafe-compatible iPhones, which is 40 percent off and on sale for $30, and Anker's 511 2-in-1 power bank, which is 30 percent off and down to $35.

Shop Anker deals at AmazonBuy Anker 521 magnetic battery pack at Amazon - $30Buy Anker 511 2-in-1 power bank at Amazon - $35

Both portable batteries have a 5,000 mAh capacity, but they're each versatile in their own ways. The 521 magnetic power pack will snap onto the backs of the latest iPhones, charging them up wirelessly. It'll provide almost a full extra charge for your iPhone, depending on the model you have, and it'll even snap on and power up the handset when it has a MagSafe case on it.

The 511 battery pack is essentially a wall charger and a portable battery in one. If you're near an AC outlet, it can act as a USB-C adapter for all of your mobile devices — provided you have a USB-C charging cable with you. And when you're not near a power source, you can use its built-in battery to charge up your gadgets. Unlike the 512 magnetic pack, the 511 battery will work with iPhones as well as Google Pixel smartphones, Samsung devices and others.

Prime members can also get the Anker Nano Pro 20W charger with a USB-C to Lightning cable for $28, which is 30 percent off its usual rate. The bundle gives you everything you need to charge your iPhone as quickly as possible, and we like that Anker's 20W adapter is more compact than Apple's version. Other accessories on sale include the 623 MagGo 2-in-1 wireless charging station, which you can pick up for a record low of $70, and a two-pack of wireless charging stands, which is on sale for $35.

Anker Nano Pro 20W charger bundle at Amazon - $28Buy Anker 623 MagGo charging station at Amazon - $70Buy Anker wireless charging stands (2 pack) at Amazon - $35

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Samsung rolls out Android 13-based One UI 5 beta on Galaxy S22 smartphones

Samsung has launched its Android 13-flavored One UI 5 OS in beta for Galaxy S22 smartphones, the company announced. Much like Android 13 itself, most of the changes are minor, with some cosmetic improvements along with enhancements for security, notifications, the camera and more. However, Android 13 may offer significant improvements for foldable phones like the Galaxy Fold 4 set to arrive at Samsung's August 10th Unpacked event. 

One UI 5 takes advantage of Android 13's theme makeover with 12 new color options for the home screen, icons and quick panels. It also lets you save a bit of space by stacking widgets, while adding accessibility options like a Magnifier tool to zoom in on texts and objects. It also adds a system that can read your keyboard entry out loud. 

Samsung

You'll also see Android 13 updates like new notification settings that require apps to request permission before sending notifications. A new security dashboard can check perform a security and privacy check, and you'll be able to setting your preferred language on an app-by-app basis. 

Android 13's foldable enhancements appear designed for devices like the Fold 3 that have different sizes, resolutions and pixel densities on the inner and outer displays. Samsung already offers that feature for the Fold 3, but native Android 13 support might open up more options like enhanced productivity tools.

We'll find out more in a few days at Unpacked, set for August 10th at 9am ET. Meanwhile, if you live in the US, South Korea or German and have a Galaxy S22, you can try out the One UI 5 update using the Samsung Members app — just bear in mind the usual risks of using beta software.

Apple could be developing a smart display

Apple could significantly expand its smart home product line within the next two years, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. In his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman reports the company has “at least four new smart home devices in its labs.”

Included in that list is the new HomePod model Gurman first wrote about back in June, in addition to a refreshed HomePod mini. The former will reportedly look and sound like the original 2018 model. Apple discontinued the HomePod in 2021 without announcing a direct replacement. The two other devices represent entirely new products for the company.

According to Gurman, one is a kitchen accessory that combines an iPad with a speaker. Meanwhile, the other reportedly brings together the functionality of an Apple TV, camera and HomePod into a living room device. He says Apple could release one of those two products by the end of next year or early 2024 but warns that “not all will see the light of the day.” 

A kitchen device would see Apple competing more closely with Amazon and Google. The two are most closely associated with the smart display category thanks to releases like the Nest Hub and Echo Show 15. It would be interesting to see what Apple thinks it can bring to the field since most smart displays don’t feel essential.

Samsung’s Z Fold 3 durability one year in: Tougher than you might think, but with one big caveat

Foldable phones are still kind of awkward, unproven devices. But over the last three generations (with a fourth presumably on the way), Samsung has made major strides with its designs, paving the way for innovative (though sometimes quite pricey) alternatives to the typical glass brick. And when you combine that with sales of nearing 10 million devices last year, it feels like Samsung's foldables are finally beginning to break into the mainstream.

But despite a number of improvements over the years, there's one aspect of Samsung's foldable that still needs a lot of work: durability. Last year, after purchasing my own Z Fold 2, I documented some of the issues I faced after owning it for 10 months. And after upgrading to the Z Fold 3 last fall, I'm here to report back on how Samsung's latest flagship foldable is holding up just shy of one year later.

Aside from one scratch at the bottom (which I take sole blame for), my Galaxy Z Fold 3's exterior Cover Screen is still almost pristine.
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Now at this point, some people might be wondering why I upgraded at all. The bubbles my Z Fold 2's screen suffered from were certainly annoying, but they weren't so bad I considered switching back to a standard candy bar handset. Instead, my main goal for buying the model (aside from professional curiosity) was to get a foldable that might better survive a newborn.

Compared to typical smartphones, the Z Fold 2's lack of water resistance was all but guaranteed to become a problem after my son was born. It felt like I would have to keep the phone in a separate room, lest I chance some small amount of spit up or drool ruining the device. And that simply wasn't something I wanted to do, which is what drew me to the Z Fold 3 and its IPX8 rating. I figured if a phone can withstand sitting in water for up to 30 minutes at a depth of up to five feet, it could handle anything a baby could throw (or spit) at it too.

The back of the phone has also held up very well, aside from one ding on the edge of the frame.
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Thankfully, I think my strategy worked, because even though it cost around $800 to upgrade after trading in my Z Fold 2, that money has already paid for itself. My Z Fold 3 has been peed on, it's been vomited on and it's had milk splashed all over it, and it's been totally fine. The phone has also been gnawed on more than a handful of times to no effect. So while the addition of water resistance to Samsung's foldables might not be all that exciting, considering regular phones that have had it for years, it's a huge enhancement to everyday usability.

The rest of the phone's body has held up pretty well too. There's a relatively large scratch on its frame and a couple of scuffs on its hinge, but those are all cosmetic dings. I should also mention I'm not someone who puts phones in skins or cases, this thing has lived naked since the day I got it. So while I haven't been traveling much, the sheer number of times this phone has endured being knocked out of my hand or fallen on the floor while rushing to grab my kid after a nap is kind of impressive. Even dust and crumbs have been handled by the extra bristles Samsung put inside its hinge.

There are also some small scuffs on the hinge, but that's sort of to be expected considering I never put the phone in a case.
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The big exception to the Z Fold 3's improved durability is once again its built-in screen protector. For this model, Samsung says it switched away from the TPU material it used on the Z Fold 2 to a new PET film while also using a stickier adhesive, which was designed to prevent bubbles from forming between the protector and the display itself. But in my experience, none of that helped.

For the first six months I had it, my Z Fold 3's screen was pristine. There were no blemishes, bubbles or anything. But then one winter day while I was walking down the street, I opened the phone and heard a crack. At first, I feared the worst, thinking its exterior cover screen had shattered or something important inside had broken. But upon closer inspection, I noticed there was a fine line running down the middle of the phone near the crease, as if the protector had been pulled or stretched.

This is what the bubbling looked like in June, when I first attempted to get it repaired.
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

And while I'm still not sure what the exact cause was, my theory is that after pulling the phone out of my pocket, the cold winter air made the screen protector unusually brittle, causing it to snap instead of bend when I opened the phone. This is an issue a number of other Z Fold owners have run into, and once you suffer that initial crack, it's only a matter of time until bubbles begin to form. Over the past few months, those bubbles have grown into an air gap that runs down the entire middle of the screen, and no amount of pressing or trying smoothing things out has much of an effect. Recently, some dust has gotten wedged between the protector and the screen itself, which is frankly kind of gross. And because I'm trying to abide by Samsung's insistence that the screen protector should only be replaced by certified technicians, I haven’t tried to fix it on my own.

Naturally, the next step was to take the phone to one of Samsung's retail locations to have it serviced, at which point I discovered I'm far from the only person dealing with this. When I arrived, there were three other people already on the waitlist — and all of them were waiting to get the screen protector on their Z Fold replaced. Admittedly, this is merely an anecdotal observation, and I'm sure my choice to go to Samsung's flagship 837 location in NYC had something to do with the unusually high concentration of $1,800 foldable phones.

This close-up shot shows how gross the display can get, because once bubbles start forming, there isn't much you can do to stop dust and first from getting beneath the screen protector.
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

But, this wasn't a coincidence either. After talking to two of the other customers, I learned that they were also running into issues with bubbles around the six to eight month mark. On top of that, one of the Samsung Care+ reps I talked to essentially confirmed that this was a somewhat widespread issue, saying that screen protector replacements are the most commonly requested repair for Samsung's foldables. Unfortunately, because it takes about an hour to have the screen protector replaced and I was fourth in line, I couldn't wait around to get my Z Fold fixed. So here's a pro tip, if your phone needs to be serviced, make sure to schedule your appointment online, so you can avoid the line.

In the end, while I plan on returning to have my screen protector replaced, my big take away after owning both a Z Fold 2 and a Z Fold 3 is that there's a good chance you're going to run into bubbles after half a year or so. And without some sort of radical upgrade to the screen construction, the company's next generation of Z devices will probably suffer the same fate. That's kind of a bummer, because having to sit around for hours to fix something that's probably going to happen again sucks. And that goes double or triple for anyone who has to mail in their device because they don't live near a certified repair location.

This is how my Z Fold 3's screen looks after one year. The bubble now covers the entire height of the display. And while its appearance is more tolerable indoors, it's still far from ideal.
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

As it stands, the bubbling is certainly annoying and not very pretty. Thankfully, the side effects are much less noticeable indoors or at night, so while it’s far from ideal, it’s tolerable. I will also admit that had I not been planning on writing this story, I would have gotten the screen protector replaced months ago. And if you’re running into a similar issue with your Z Flip or Z Fold, I’d highly suggest you address any bubbling as soon as possible, before any other related issues pop up.

But if Samsung ever wants its foldables to be as popular as the S or A-series phones, the screen protectors bubbling is an issue that needs to be solved sooner rather than later. As for me, while I haven't decided if I want to upgrade again or not, I'm just hoping that anyone on the fence will now have a slightly more realistic idea of what living with a foldable phone is actually like.

What to expect from Samsung's August 10th Unpacked event

Samsung is holding its next Unpacked livestream on August 10th, and expectations are running high. The company has used previous summer events to introduce new foldable phones, smartwatches and earbuds, and the company has effectively confirmed a repeat in 2022. Just what will appear this time around, though? Don’t worry — we’ll let you know what you’re likely to see when Samsung takes to the virtual stage.

How to watch Unpacked

Samsung

It will be easy to follow Samsung’s announcements. The company is streaming Unpacked live on August 10th at 9AM Eastern. You can watch on Samsung’s website, and you’ll usually find a broadcast on the brand’s YouTube channel. Naturally, you can expect event coverage from Engadget.

Galaxy Z Fold 4

Evan Blass/91Mobiles

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is nearly a year old, so it’s arguably due for an update — and Samsung’s own Unpacked teasers hint that one is coming. With that said, we wouldn’t expect a Z Fold 4 to represent a major overhaul. If leaks are correct, the new model will represent a refinement of the marquee foldable.

Rendered images shared by OnLeaks and Smartprix, as well as Evan Blass and 91Mobiles, suggest the Galaxy Z Fold 4 will mate the series’ phone-slash-tablet formula with design elements from the S22 Ultra. You’d get Ultra-like rear camera bumps and slightly tweaked dimensions, but it would otherwise be very familiar. Not that we’d rule out functional changes. Leaker Ice Universe claims the Z Fold 4 would have less prominent display creases, for example.

Performance upgrades could be more substantial, if predictable. Noted leaker Yogesh Brar says the Z Fold 4 would use the new Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip paired with 12GB or 16GB of RAM. You’d see an upgraded 50-megapixel main rear camera as well as a much sharper 16-megapixel under-display inside cam. You could expect familiar 12MP ultra-wide and 3X zoom sensors on the back, and a 10MP outer selfie shooter. There is a dispute over the storage, though. While Brar maintains that the Z Fold 4 would start with 256GB of space, Evan Blass has discovered references to a 128GB edition.

That storage question may affect the price. While YouTuber Jon Prosser and others believe the Galaxy Z Fold 4 will reach stores August 26th, it’s not clear how much the device will cost. A 128GB variant could lead to a lower starting price than the $1,800 of its predecessor. Just don’t expect higher capacities than last year when there hasn’t been a mention of storage options beyond 512GB.

Galaxy Z Flip 4

Evan Blass/91Mobiles

There’s even less mystery to the next Galaxy Z Flip. Samsung’s teaser video for the Unpacked event very clearly shows a new version of the clamshell phone, so it’s really just a question of what the Z Flip 4 will offer versus its predecessor.

Don’t expect a major redesign. If the OnLeaks and Evan Blass images (plus a removed TechTalkTV video) are accurate, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is virtually a carbon copy of the Flip 3 with similar rear cameras, a slightly larger external display and different colors. That isn’t necessarily a problem, but it might prove disappointing if you were looking for a brand new look. The less pronounced screen creasing of the Fold 4 might carry over, too.

The under-the-hood upgrades would be subtler than those of the Fold 4, according to rumors. Yogesh Brar claims the Z Flip 4 would make the leap to a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, but would still include 8GB of RAM, up to 256GB of non-expandable storage and a 6.7-inch 120Hz display. You’d get a larger 3,700mAh battery (versus 3,300mAh in the Flip 3) and 25W charging (versus 15W), though, so the Flip 4 might last longer. The previous phone’s dual 12MP rear cameras and 10MP selfie camera would carry over to the new model.

Samsung typically releases new Galaxy Z Flip and Z Fold models at the same time, and Prosser has heard that the Flip 4 will reach stores on August 26th like its higher-end counterpart. If so, the cost might be the only mystery left. There’s no certainty the Flip 4 will stick to its ancestor’s $999 price. If there is a 128GB model, though, we wouldn’t expect the latest device to be much more expensive, if at all.

Galaxy Watch 5 and 5 Pro

Evan Blass/91Mobiles

The Galaxy Watch 4 marked a revival of Samsung’s smartwatch strategy with its switch to Wear OS and a sleeker design. The company might be eager to preserve that momentum, as there are signs it’s readying a Galaxy Watch 5 family with a few notable twists.

If 91Mobilesshared renders are authentic, Samsung will drop its higher-end Classic model in favor of a more modern-looking (if still posh) Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. You might not get the knurled bezel of the previous smartwatch, but the Pro would upgrade from a steel case to light-but-strong titanium. Samsung inadvertently hinted at the Pro name in its Health app, although it didn’t provide further clues.

The regular Galaxy Watch 5 wouldn't be as big a departure. You could expect the same minimal, fitness-oriented design as before. SamMobilefloated a rumor that the wristwear would have a 10 percent larger battery than its year-old counterpart, but it’s unknown if that will translate to a longer-lasting timepiece. It’s still unclear if Samsung will implement a new processor or body sensor that could affect battery life.

You may have to pay more than you might expect. WinFuture’s Roland Quandt heard in June that the regular Galaxy Watch 5 would start around €300 (about $306) for a 40mm Bluetooth mode and top out at €400 ($409) for a 44mm LTE unit. Titanium is a historically expensive watch case material, and that would bump the price of the 5 Pro to about €490 ($502) for a 45mm Bluetooth model and €540 ($552) for its LTE equivalent.

New Galaxy Buds Pro

Evan Blass/91Mobiles

The basic Galaxy Buds 2 premiered at last year’s Unpacked, and Samsung might follow that up with a higher-end option. Evan Blass and 91Mobiles recently posted renderings of what they say are the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro.

Cosmetically, the true wireless earbuds would look nearly the same as the existing Galaxy Buds Pro introduced in January 2021. 9to5Googlesources claim you’d get questionably useful 24-bit audio support, and there have been murmurs of a larger battery. Otherwise, Samsung might play it safe with familiar active noise cancellation and multi-device pairing support.

Be ready to pay more. A 9to5 retail tipster maintains that the Buds 2 Pro will cost $230, or a significant $30 more. While that still makes them more affordable than rivals like the AirPods Pro (officially $249), you might not save much by springing for Samsung’s in-ears.

Wildcards

Billy Steele/Engadget

We wouldn’t rule out a surprise or two at the August Unpacked event, but don’t count on any either. There aren’t any signs of a replacement for the Galaxy Buds 2 or other earbuds. Similarly, Samsung updated the Galaxy A and S series earlier this year. The company’s next hardware updates are very predictable at this stage, and any unusual announcements will likely be reserved for follow-up presentations.