Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event is set for August 11 and while a steady flow of leaks gives us a good idea of what to expect, there can always be surprises.
Rumors are fun but ultimately meaningless unless confirmed by the company itself. Fortunately, that's what happened today when Dr. TM Roh, President & Head of Mobile Communications Business at Samsung, publishing an editorial on the company’s blog outlining the vision for these devices and confirming a number of leaks along the way (via SamMobile).
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Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: there will be no Galaxy Note in 2021. This won’t come as a shock to anyone who has been paying attention to the Note rumor cycle over the last several months, but it will still be a disappointment to Note fans who held onto a sliver of hope. Dr. Roh doesn't declare the Note officially dead, so it could be back next year, but for now, Note fans will need to take solace in some of the other news.
What will likely cheer them up is the introduction of an "S Pen designed specifically for foldable phones." This was first rumored last year and the new S Pen even made an appearance in a leaked image with the Galaxy Z Fold 3. Now it's official. Dr. Roh's comments make it unclear whether the Galaxy Z Fold 3 will get S Pen support; he says, "we will further broaden beloved Note features to more Samsung Galaxy devices." That could simply be referring to the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the existing Galaxy S21 Ultra support, but it's possible Note fans could have even more options soon.
Dr. Roh never addresses pricing, which is our biggest concern when it comes to foldables. However, he tackled two other primary complaints about these types of devices.
The first of these is durability. Foldables are less sturdy than a standard flagship phone (no thanks to the original Galaxy Fold) and lack any IP rating. Rumors suggest the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 will change that. Dr. Roh doesn't get that specific, but he offers that these devices will get "enhanced durability." We know that, at a minimum, the screen must be tougher than previous models due to the S Pen support, which would have been disastrous on the Galaxy Fold or Galaxy Z Fold 2 screens.
The other complaint with foldables is the lack of software customized for the folding screens. I was blown away by the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Galaxy Z Flip 5G hardware, but there's no denying that the software experience isn't quite there yet. Samsung has put in a strong effort with excellent multitasking and Flex mode, but it needs more. Dr. Roh confirmed that Samsung has "lined up even more partner apps" for this year. We will hopefully see buy-in from other developers as foldables go more mainstream with devices outside of Samsung, like the Pixel Fold and Microsoft Surface Duo 2 likely arriving this fall.
Samsung has our attention with not just the foldables, but the Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic and potentially the Galaxy S21 FE expected at the August 11 Galaxy Unpacked event. Now let's see if it can deliver.