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Samsung kicked off the foldable smartphone market years ago and has been the market leader — and the new fifth generations of the Galaxy Z Fold and Galaxy Z Flip make some minor but welcome improvements.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
The bigger of Samsung's two foldable phones, the Galaxy Z Fold 5, is facing its first real competition in the United States for the first time. The arrival of the Google Pixel Fold might just shake things up in a market that Samsung has enjoyed basically unchallenged dominance. While it's obvious Samsung's been working on the updates to the Galaxy Z Fold for a while, it's hard to deny that the minor but welcome changes aren't in response to the competition Samsung saw coming.
At first glance, not much has really changed. While Samsung updated some of the internal components to the latest versions (hello, Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor), significantly upped the brightness of the screen, and trimmed off some mass and thickness, it's largely still the same Fold experience as before.
The most significant change was a reworking of the hinge to allow the phone to fold flat when closed instead of having a trapezoidal profile with a small gap near the hinge. This necessitated changing how the screen folds, since the old gap was to avoid having too tight of a bend. Now the Galaxy Z Fold 5 follows the same pattern as every competing foldable: a tear-drop style fold that collapses a bit into the case to keep a wider radius while closing the gap.
But as Michael Fisher pointed out in his hands-on with the Fold 5, the tear-drop fold doesn't seem to make much of a difference at all in how pronounced the crease is in the flexible screen. There are also some minor software improvements to improve multitasking, and a slimmed-down S-Pen stylus that clicks into the back of a snap-on phone case — yeah, still no silo for storing the pen inside the phone.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 keeps the same eye-popping price as its predecessor at $1799.99, with availability starting on August 11th.
Samsung's latest flagship foldable has a new trick up its sleeve: this time it actually folds flat. Otherwise, it's a minor improvement on its predecessors, with modest spec bumps to the screens, processor, and more. The starting price is $1799.99 with availability on August 11.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
The story is largely the same with the more compact clamshell-style Galaxy Z Flip 5. It's an evolution of what Samsung did on the previous four iterations. It has the same improved fold-flat hinge and minor spec bumps. The biggest change here is on the outside, with a finally larger 3.4-inch cover screen that Samsung has named the "Flex Window".
Like the improved hinge design, it's hard not to see this as a response to what competing clamshell foldables have done. Almost every other phone in this segment has sported a larger cover screen on the lid, and in particular Motorola's Razr. The latest version of Razr has a screen that fills the entire outside (apart from some big cutouts for the dual camera lenses) and can run basically any Android app that's installed on the phone. The Samsung Fold 5 can run some apps as widgets on the Flip 5's cover screen and you can also fire up other apps, but… you have to enable it through Samsung customizations that might not yet be available at launch. Still, it's a marked improvement.
Like the Fold 5, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 keeps the same pricing as last year, starting at $999.99 and hitting shelves on August 11.
The compact clamshell Galaxy Z Flip 5 has a few minor improvements, but the biggest difference is in the flat-folding hinge and the new extra-large cover screen on the lid. On that external screen you can run several widgets, or almost any Android app just like you can inside. The starting price is $999.99 with availability on August 11.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9
While the Flip 5 and Fold 5 were the stars of the show, they weren't the only toys that Samsung brought to the party. Also announced was the Galaxy Tab S9 line-up, which goes all-in on OLED screens in an attempt to dethrone Apple's iPad line. The trio of tablets includes the 11-inch Galaxy Tab S9 (starting at $799.99), a 12.4-inch Galaxy Tab S9 Plus at $999.99 (this is the only size that offers a cellular upgrade for $150), and a monster 14.6-inch Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra that will set up back $1199.99. Samsung is offering aggressive trade-ins pricing though that could cut up to $650 off the price of a Tab S9.
If you want to go all-out, a Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra with 1TB of storage and a keyboard case will hit more than $1800.
iPad? Pfft, whatever. Get the biggest and boldest Android tablets out there, from the $799.99 11-inch Tab S9 to the positively enormous 14.6-inch Tab S9 Ultra — all with crisp and bright OLED displays.