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Hands-on with Samsung's latest folding smartphones

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New York: The overwhelming majority of Australians don't own nor have probably seen a folding smartphone apart from some TV ads and billboards.

But Samsung's aggressive ownership of this new smartphone generation continues in 2022 with the fourth-generation Samsung Galaxy Z Fold and Z Flip and I've gone hands on in New York to get a look at these just-launched devices.

Personally, I was expecting something vastly different from Samsung this year.

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From the first to third generation, there are some big changes but none of them are fundamental to the device's overall form factor.

In 2022, the fourth generation at a glance could easily be confused for a generation two.

But in the hand, the difference is immediately evident.

It's ever-so-slightly lighter, and the new front and back glass does have a different feel – almost a matte finish feel.

Edges are squared off somewhat and the hinge doesn't protrude as much – all simple refinements to an overall well-put-together design.

What is less obvious is the wider but not as tall front screen and the same on the inside – it's just incrementally bigger.

On the inside, the pixels that cover the front-facing camera are now more dense, making it a touch harder to spot.

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Of course, there are new colour options too and under the hood, it's more powerful and the software is dramatically improved for the larger inside screen – with a PC-like app dock on the bottom of the screen.

Around the back is the biggest change.

The triple-lens camera array stands out – as it should.

It was perhaps the biggest area of consumer feedback and for a company with outstanding smartphone cameras already in the market, it seemed an easy win.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 gets the same camera as the Samsung Galaxy S22, complete with "Space Zoom" up to 30 times, which looks fantastic.

Of the two smartphones launched and available for pre-order today, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is the most expensive, though it maintains last year's $2499 price tag.

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Likewise, the smaller Galaxy Z Flip 4 comes in again at $1499 and while it looks remarkably similar, it's gained some width – a much wider shape which still feels comfortable in the hand, and ever-so-slightly thinner too.

Some tweaks on the front cover screen on the Flip 4 allow for photos, videos and even animated GIFs to be used as your cover screen.

Neither phone folds "flat" with a more wedge-like shape to the gap in the screen when closed – no change there.

A tougher screen technology is on board, though you're noticing that on your first look in-store.

Importantly, bespoke colours are available from Samsung, while a huge range of accessories for both phones seem to be ready for launch.

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Samsung and the big telcos in Australia are pushing for trade-ins on old phones as an incentive for new buyers, with the somewhat trendy-looking Galaxy Z Flip 4 – looking like a normal smartphone but folding shut like an old-school flip phone – being the one that is most likely to attract users from other phone brands over to Samsung.

The two new smartwatches launched today look great in-person, with the Galaxy Watch 5 appearing to be a well-refined update on the previous generation, while the Watch 5 Pro is much larger – a big change – and aims at the Garmin and Suunto active watches of the world.

Samsung's new Galaxy Buds Pro 2 look smaller, but I'll have to test them out over a longer period before I share my thoughts.

All the new devices are available to pre-order from today, and go on sale September 2.

Trevor Long travelled to New York as a guest of Samsung Australia.



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