We are just days away from Samsung Galaxy Unpacked July 2023 on July 26, as this article is published I'm en route to the event in Seoul, South Korea and eagerly anticipating the latest new devices from Samsung.
While I've been thoroughly impressed with the latest foldable competitors like the Google Pixel Fold and the Moto Razr+ (Razr 40 Ultra for those outside the U.S.), there's no denying that Samsung remains the dominant presence. While this generation of foldables from Samsung arrives too soon to be a direct response to the increasing competition, it will be interesting to see if the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Flip 5 can maintain their market dominance.
Foldables are the clear focus of the event (Samsung didn't leave much to the imagination with its invite seen above), but based on all of the latest rumors we may also see the Galaxy Tab S9 series and new wearables. In both of these arenas, Apple remains the juggernaut, but Samsung has claimed the pole position on the Android side. However, just as with foldables, there is increasing competition with Google's Pixel Tablet and the OnePlus Pad on the tablet side and the Pixel Watch in wearables.
Alright, so we've set the stage for what things look like heading into Galaxy Unpacked, but here's what we actually want to see from Samsung.
1. Samsung Galaxy Ring
This could absolutely be recency bias, but one of the late-breaking rumors ahead of Galaxy Unpacked is the potential for a new wearable from Samsung called either the Galaxy Ring or Galaxy Pulse. Rather than a smartwatch, this would be a smart ring, offering presumably health and fitness functionality and possibly some control over your other Samsung devices.
While I have no doubt that the Galaxy Watch 6 will be one of the best smartwatches of 2023, I find the Galaxy Ring to be an incredibly compelling concept. It wouldn't be the first such wearable by any means, companies like Oura and Circular already offer solid options. However, we haven't seen a major player like Samsung take it on with the potential for tighter integration with the rest of its lineup.
I wear a smartwatch most days, but there are times when I wouldn't mind leaving it behind and it would be great to be able to do that without losing my fitness tracking in the process.
I should stress that regardless of how much I would like to see this product at Galaxy Unpacked, most of what we have seen so far has been based on trademarks and patents, so it may still be in the development stages.
2. Return of the rotating bezel
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 did away with a fan-favorite feature of the Galaxy Watch: the rotating bezel. Sure the touch bezel worked, but there was something so satisfying and tactile about the physical rotating bezel that I hope Samsung listened and brought it back.
This isn't just wistful thinking, back in May a reliable Korean tipster and YouTuber known as Super Roader reported that the rotating bezel would make a triumphant return on the Galaxy Watch 6 Pro. I think its uniqueness combined with the reliability of a physical dial compared to the touch variant is an advantage that Samsung should reclaim, so here's hoping the rumor holds true.
3. A compelling Tab S9 story
The Galaxy Tab S8 debuted back in February of 2022, so it would be surprising if Samsung's refreshed tablet lineup doesn't make an appearance at Unpacked. But rather than just hoping to see the tablets or any specific hardware upgrades, what I really want is a story to sell us on the Galaxy Tab S9.
Google has finally been pouring some more resources into the Android tablet ecosystem after nearly a decade of basically leaving it out to rot unattended. Samsung was forced to keep it alive throughout that period with its own software touches on top of Android and partnerships with developers to produce at least some useful Android tablet apps.
Can Samsung now leverage what Google has done to make the Galaxy Tab S9 series a bigger mainstream success to truly rival the iPad? Samsung won't catch Apple when it comes to performance, but that isn't really what this is about. Presumably the Tab S9 will feature the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and that chipset is sufficiently powerful for any task the vast majority of tablet users would care to undertake.
Samsung needs its software and ecosystem story to explain why a Samsung Galaxy S23 or Galaxy Z Flip 5 owner shouldn't jump ship when it comes to their tablet purchase and go with an iPad. To date this has been entirely on Samsung's back with features like DeX, but now perhaps bolstered by Google's renewed tablet efforts it can find a satisfying conclusion to what always felt like an unfinished tale.
4. Galaxy Z Flip 5 cover display features
The Motorola Razr+ threw down the gauntlet for the Galaxy Z Flip 5 last month with its massive cover display dominating the exterior of the phone making the Galaxy Z Flip 4 cover display feel paltry by comparison. From a hardware standpoint the leaks suggest that the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is ready for the challenger with its own cover display makeover bringing it in line with the upstart.
The question is how will Samsung let you make use of all that new screen real estate. A leaked set of images showed off 7 potential use cases for the Galaxy Z Flip 5 cover display, but it still looks far more restrictive than what Motorola is doing. On the Razr+ you can fire up any app you want on that exterior display, saving you from opening the phone for quick tasks. Based on those leaked images the Galaxy Z Flip 5 still seems to be treating its cover display as a widget wonderland.
We saw an on-screen keyboard and interactivity, but it's a much more curated experience. Now that could be the right answer, not everything plays well at the size of these cover displays, but I'm hoping Samsung has robust plans to expand it beyond what we've glimpsed in the leaks.
5. Foldable durability
While our own review unit remains in perfect shape, the Google Pixel Fold's durability concerns have been covered extensively. Some of this is attributed to the fold-flat design, something that Samsung had avoided with the Galaxy Z Fold, but rumors point to the Galaxy Z Fold 5 moving to a new hinge design that allows it to close fully as well.
While foldables are going to be dogged by some durability concerns for the foreseeable future, Samsung had at least reduced these concerns over the last couple of generations. Given the attention that Google just drew to potential fragility in this new design, Samsung needs to make sure it can explain why its fold-flat design will remain highly durable.
If you're as excited to find out the answer to these questions as I am then make sure to stick with us this week for our coverage of Samsung Galaxy Unpacked July 2023.
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Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more. Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.