MWC (Mobile World Congress) is back with an in-person event this year, but Samsung kept things virtual with its Galaxy session event.
We were hoping to see the new Galaxy Watch specifically, with the official announcement (opens in new tab) of the event alluding to a possible reveal. But our hopes were dashed; the event had a huge software focus, and hinted at just some of the things we can look forward to with future Samsung devices.
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Opting to hold a virtual event rather than traipse to Barcelona for MWC 2021, Samsung held its Galaxy session event on June 28. You can catch up with the presentation above if you want to watch it yourself.
Samsung MWC event 2021: Galaxy experience and S-Pen
Samsung skipped over hardware debuts at MWC 2021, and dove straight into the 'Galaxy experience' and connectivity the ecosystem of devices offers. Multitasking is already available on foldables and tablets, thanks to working with Google and Microsoft, and the S-Pen makes it even easier. Samsung says that productivity is only going to increase with the stylus getting support across more Samsung devices – but there's no more hints as to which devices will be included in that list for now.
Samsung MWC event 2021: Galaxy Watch One UI
The merger between Wear OS and Tizen will deliver better performance, longer battery life, and a large ecosytem of apps to the Galaxy Watch. It also means that you'll be able to use all of your favorite Google apps on your wearble. The Galaxy Watch face design tool is also going to be available to Android developers, which you'll be able to see in action on the upcoming Galaxy Watch.
Android-based tools and APIs will expand developer's reach across the wearables ecosystem. That means seamless integration with all android smartphones, so you won't need to limit yourself to a Samsung smartphone. However, there is a benefit to owning a Samsung device, in terms of stronger integration between Galaxy smartphones and watches.
For example, if you install a 'watch equipped app' on your Galaxy smartphone, it'll automatically download to your Galaxy Watch. You'll also find that the layout of your settings more closely mirrors the settings menu on your phone. Another sync-up you'll find super useful is that if you've got a couple of customised time zones active on your phone, it'll sync to your watch. One UI also has another nifty function that will sync any blocked contacts on your watch across to your smartphone.
Meanwhile, users with Tizen-based Galaxy smartwatches will get at least three years of software support (from the product launch date).
Samsung MWC event 2021: what we didn't see
Samsung had whet our appetites somewhat by teasing what was in store in its blog post, but anyone expecting to see any hardware was in for a rude awakening. We did indeed get some info on the "Galaxy ecosystem of connected devices" along with all the benefits that brings to its customers.
But we didn't see (or hear anything about) the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3. The foldables are expected to debut at Galaxy Unpacked in July/ August, so while we all wanted a sneak peek it didn't happen.
But with the possibility of a 20% price cut on its foldables this year (via SamMobile (opens in new tab)) Samsung could seduce a lot more people into switching over from their bland, candy bar smartphones now that it's got a handle on the hardware. It needs to pull something out of the bag if reports of a Pixel Fold are true, which could throw up a serious challenge to the Galaxy Z Fold 3. But we won't get more on that for a month or two.
Another no show was the upcoming Galaxy Watch 4. Samsung said it would be "unveiling its vision for the future of smartwatches" at the Galaxy session event, adding that there will be "new opportunities for both developers and users designed to deliver a new era of smartwatch experiences."
Samsung dropped its own Tizen OS and has been working with Google to essentially combine Tizen and Google's Wear OS with the pair working on a "unified wearable platform". The transition will allow for a wider range of apps, and accessibility to a much wider ecosystem. Google tweeted (opens in new tab) out a few specifics to give us a taste of what's in store, including improved battery life, and faster performance.
We didn't see the actual hardware at the event as it turns out, as the Galaxy session event was solely software focused. But images of the new Galaxy Watch have reportedly leaked, with 91Mobiles (opens in new tab) sharing renders of the device as well as some specs.
We'll have to sit tight for official hardware news, and make do with the jazzy-sounding software updates we know that the Galaxy Watches are in for.