Samsung’s new foldable devices are set to attract more users to embrace the format as well as to the Samsung brand. However, on top of glitzy adverts and detailed reviews, it plans to get as many people to try the products for themselves. Ahead of the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Z flip 4 and Galaxy Z fold 4, I got the chance to tour its new Experiential Space in London’s Piccadilly Circus and have an exclusive chat with Samsung’s Vice President of Product Management and Commercial Operations, Nick Porter.
This is Samsung’s fourth generation of foldable devices but feels like a turning point for the segment. Early flip and fold models have been the currency of early adopters but Samsung sees foldables playing a bigger role.
“We started our development of foldables back in 2011 and over that time we’ve really listened to consumers. I’m really excited about launching these products to the market and seeing what the reaction is,” says Porter.
Samsung believes that the best way to convince consumers of the benefits of these devices is to give them a hands-on experience and the temporary space in London (and second space in New York) goes way beyond just a touch and try. The experience is made up of multiple rooms, all showing different aspects of the design and use of the devices. In one space, a machine allows you to customise the panels of a new Galaxy Z Flip 4 before a machine creates the model in front of you. In another, a wall of Galaxy Z Fold 4 devices fold and unfold as if on a testing bench.
There are more practical displays, such as a tabletop touchscreen that guides you through the connected home abilities of the Samsung ecosystem and a chance to try out the latest Buds 2 Pro earbuds. Visitors will be guided around the exhibition in groups to ensure they get the full experience.
“Having this fantastic space and fantastic location to invite consumers to come and experience ‘why Samsung?’ and ‘why foldable?’ is really important to us,” says Porter.
It’s not just here in London though. Samsung plans to have foldable devices in 80% of all mobile phone stores across the country from launch to allow customers to try the products. “They can experience how it can fit in the pocket, how it can fit in the bag, how the beautiful design enables them to express themselves,” Porter adds.
The two ‘foldable’ devices on offer are very different beasts. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a similar size to a premium smartphone but folds out to reveal a 7.6-inch tablet-like display inside. The Galaxy Z Flip meanwhile is a pocketable fashion phone that flips out to reveal a 6.7-inch screen that would challenge most large premium devices – in fact, it’s the same size as that on the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
While Samsung’s previous Flip and Fold models have shown a natural demographic split between men and women, Porter tells me it’s more about the use case. “The Z Fold 4 is the most powerful smartphone that Samsung has ever made. It’s a PC-like multi-tasking experience with an immersive screen that allows you to use multiple applications at the same time. The Flip 4 is the most compact camera smartphone on the market. It fits in the pocket, with fantastic features and an iconic design,” says Porter.
Having the chance to touch and try these devices – whether at the space in Piccadilly or their local mobile store – gives customers the chance to really see what all those specs translate to in use.
“Consumers want to see the screens in the flesh, because seeing is believing,” says Porter. “The Z fold 4 is our brightest ever screen on a foldable, at 1000 nits, so seeing what it’s like is really important.”
Alongside the two foldables, there’s also the new Galaxy Watch 5, and the rugged Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. This is now the second generation to run the new Wear OS in partnership with Google and has seen a faster upgrade cycle than on smartphones as customers demand the new improved features.
Smartwatches may be growing into a fairly established sector but what people are looking for in their watches hasn’t changed. “Battery life is one of the core pieces of feedback we get from consumers on watches,” says Porter. “So with the Galaxy watch 5 we’ve focused not only on how do we improve the battery life, which is about 13% bigger battery, but also with 30% faster charging, which is clearly important to consumers, particularly with the health features that we’ve been developing.”
Health is a key part of the new Galaxy Watch 5 models, with a new bio-active sensor for heart rate, skin temperature, body composition, sleep tracking and more. All of which rely on the watch staying on your wrist, not on the charger, so that extra battery life and faster charging is vital.
The third big ask of smartwatches is durability and the new models both sport Sapphire Crystal glass, which is 60% stronger than that on the Galaxy Watch 4. “They want that confidence that if they bang the table as they walk out the door, the watch isn’t going to scratch, particularly as it’s a touchscreen display,” says Porter.
Smartwatches are definitely getting more impressive but as to whether they could ever truly replace our smartphones, Porter thinks not. “What the consumer wants and demands is changing so fast. Above all though, they want that seamless experience that helps enrich their lives,” says Porter. “I think the smartphone will continue to be the centrepiece of your mobile experience, like the TV is the centrepiece of your home experience, certainly for the foreseeable future.”
Galaxy Experiential Space opens on Thursday 11th August 2022 at 55 Regent Street, London W1B 4DY.