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Commentary: The Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Fold 4 may be just around the corner. But I’m hoping to see new foldables and a cheaper version of the Galaxy S22, too.
Lisa Eadicicco is a senior editor for CNET covering mobile devices. Prior to joining CNET, Lisa served as a senior tech correspondent at Insider covering Apple and the broader consumer tech industry. She was also previously a tech columnist for Time Magazine and got her start as a staff writer for Laptop Mag and Tom’s Guide.
With the launch of the Galaxy S22 lineup, new Galaxy A series phones and tablets, it’s been a busy year for Samsung. But the company isn’t done yet. It’s holding another Unpacked event on Aug. 10, where it’s rumored to release new foldable phones and more.
I’m hoping Samsung doesn’t stop there. With such a broad lineup, there’s plenty of opportunity for Samsung to update and improve lesser-known products — like its “Fan Edition” Galaxy phones. I’m also hoping to get an indication of where Samsung plans to take its foldables next beyond the Z Flip and Z Fold.
Here’s a look at the other Samsung products I’m hoping to see in 2022 and beyond.
The Galaxy Watch 4, which debuted last August, marked an important milestone for Samsung’s smartwatches. It’s the first model to ship with the new version of Google’s Wear OS software that was created in partnership with Samsung. Some of the benefits of that partnership are already evident in the Galaxy Watch 4, particularly its compatibility with the wide selection of apps available in the Google Play store.
The Galaxy Watch 4.
But we were hoping to see more Google-inspired features, as my colleague Scott Stein wrote in his Galaxy Watch 4 review. For example, the Galaxy Watch 4 didn’t even come with Google Assistant at launch, although that’s changed. Hopefully the next model will maintain the features we already love — like its wide variety of health tracking features and excellent display — while also infusing more of the Google experience in the software. It would also be great to see longer battery life, considering the Galaxy Watch 4 only lasted between one and two days during CNET’s testing.
As for what we’re expecting to see in the Galaxy Watch 5, the addition of a temperature sensor is expected to be the biggest addition, according to Korean tech site ETNews. Reports from the blog Sam Mobile also indicate a bigger battery could be in store, as well as a new “Pro” model that would replace the current Galaxy Watch 4 Classic.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2.
Samsung has released new earbuds in August for the past two years, so there’s a chance it could do the same in 2022. The question, however, is whether the company may launch a new version of the high-end Galaxy Buds Pro, the standard Galaxy Buds 2 or the bean-shaped Galaxy Buds Live.
Regardless of the model, a new pair of earbuds could be in the works, according to Galaxy Club. The Netherlands-based blog speculated in December that a recent battery entry on Korea’s product safety certification website could belong to the charging case for a new pair of Samsung earbuds.
We won’t know for sure until Samsung makes an announcement. But if Samsung does launch a new version of the Galaxy Buds Pro, we’d love to see a design with a tighter fit for better noise cancellation.
Products like Samsung’s Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Watch are becoming an increasingly important part of the smartphone experience, which makes me think Samsung will continue to release new earbuds on a regular basis. A device’s appeal isn’t just about the phone itself, but how well it works with other products we often use in conjunction with our phones — like headphones, fitness trackers and smartwatches.
It’s a strategy that’s worked well for Apple, which has become a top player in the wearables market thanks to the Apple Watch and AirPods. I’m sure Samsung will continue to compete in that regard.
The Galaxy Z Flip 3.
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the most practical foldable phone available right now. But it comes with some important compromises when compared to Samsung’s nonfolding Galaxy phones, particularly around the camera and battery life.
If Samsung keeps with its current pattern, we could see another Z Flip 4 in August that will hopefully address those shortcomings. Rumors from well-known Twitter leaker Ice Universe suggests Samsung’s next flip phone will have a narrower hinge and Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, while a report from Korean news outlet The Elec says it could have a slightly larger cover screen.
Such a change would make it even easier to see notifications without opening the device, which was one of the original Z Flip’s biggest flaws. Samsung fixed that on the Z Flip 3 by making the cover screen four times bigger. But making the display even slightly larger could go a long way in making the Z Flip’s front display even more useful for reading notifications. I’m also hoping Samsung will continue to add new software features that take advantage of the Flip’s bendable screen, like Flex Mode.
A Samsung patent covered by the tech blog Lets Go Digital showing a device that looks like the Z Flip, but with a rotating camera located inside the hinge, has also caused some speculation. But a move like this seems far off, especially since Samsung’s design changes on the Z Flip have mostly been incremental so far.
Samsung launched the original Galaxy Z Flip in February 2020, while the 5G version came just a few months later in August. It also announced the Galaxy Z Flip 3 in August 2021. Samsung’s timing has varied, but the fact that it’s already launched three versions of this phone in two years makes me believe it could be a regular part of Samsung’s annual upgrade cycle.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3.
While the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is designed for people who want to make their phone more compact, the Galaxy Z Fold takes the opposite approach. Open it up, and you’ll find a 7.6-inch tablet-size display on the inside. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the third iteration of Samsung’s large-format foldable phone, and it’s by far the most polished.
But it still feels awkward to use as a regular phone when closed, which remains its biggest drawback. Samsung already tried to address this by making the Z Fold 3 thinner and lighter than the Z Fold 2, and I’m hoping it continues in this direction.
Based on the improvements between the second and third generations of the Z Fold, I’d expect to see a new processor, some design refinements and hopefully better battery life on the next version. It would also be great to see software improvements that make better use of that large internal screen.
Rumors suggest at least some of those wish list items might be in the cards for Samsung’s next large-screened foldable. Leaker Ice Universe claims to have published a list of specifications for the Z Fold 4 on Twitter. According to the leaked specs, the Z Fold 4 could have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, the same screen size as the Z Fold 3 inside and outside, a triple camera system with a 50-megapixel main lens like the Galaxy S22 and the same 4,400-mAh battery.
Samsung launched the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Fold 2 in August 2021 and 2020, respectively, while the first Galaxy Z Fold was released in September 2019. With that in mind, it seems likely that we’ll see the next Z Fold at Samsung’s Aug. 10 Unpacked event.
Samsung’s Flex S concept
Foldable phones like the Galaxy Z Fold and Z Flip are still relatively new to most people. But Samsung is already thinking about what might come next, as the company proved at CES 2022 when it showcased several new foldable concepts. If recent leaks hold true, one of those gadgets could become more than a concept soon enough.
In what seems to be a since-deleted tweet, Ice Universe previously said Samsung was planning to launch a “mysterious” third foldable device this year. But Ross Young, analyst and CEO of Supply Chain Consultants, replied that it may have been pushed back to 2023.
Of the concepts Samsung demonstrated recently, I’m most excited about the Flex S. This concept folds like an accordion and has two hinges, resulting in what looks like three display panels joined together. It can be used as a regular phone when completely folded, but unravels to become a tablet-sized display that looks larger than the Galaxy Z Fold 3.
When it comes to foldables, I typically prefer devices that offer more screen space — like the Galaxy Z Fold 3 — over flip-phone-style devices. Regular phones are already compact enough, so I see more value in having a phone that can provide more screen space for reading and watching videos when I need it. The Flex S concept from CES 2022 seems like an evolution of the Galaxy Z Fold in that regard.
Only Samsung knows what’s next in its pipeline. But considering competitors like TCL are also publicly experimenting with new foldable designs, it wouldn’t be surprising to see another idea from Samsung in the near future. Aside from remaining competitive, market research indicates that sales of foldables are starting to accelerate, giving Samsung more incentive to remain a forerunner in this space.
The Galaxy S21 FE.
Samsung’s “Fan Edition” smartphones are a more affordable alternative to its Galaxy S series devices. The Galaxy S20 FE launched in 2020 as a cheaper version of the Galaxy S20, but the Galaxy S21 FE didn’t arrive until early 2022 — just ahead of the Galaxy S22’s debut.
That makes it difficult to know when Samsung could release the Galaxy S22 FE, if it does so at all. A rumor from the blog Sam Mobile indicates Samsung may have scrapped the Galaxy S22 FE. Doing so would be a smart move for Samsung, mostly because the Galaxy S21 FE felt lost in the company’s lineup between the Galaxy S22 and budget-friendly Galaxy A series.
That said, I do think there’s an opportunity for Samsung to release a phone that’s a step up from the $450 Galaxy A53 but isn’t quite as expensive as its next flagship Galaxy S phone. A Galaxy S22 FE priced at $600 with a slightly larger screen and longer battery life than the Galaxy S22 could be a really compelling option. The problem with the $700 Galaxy S21 FE, in my opinion, was that the price gap between the FE and S22 may not have been big enough to make it stand out.
Samsung may be best known for its Galaxy smartphones when it comes to mobile devices. But products like the Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Buds prove the company has been putting more of a focus on smartphone-adjacent devices, too. As for what’s next after smartwatches and earbuds, that’s a question only Samsung can answer. But I’m still hoping to see a pair of smart glasses one day.