I Tested Every New Samsung Product

Samsung has just launched a bucket load of new products. There’s new folding phones, new earphones, new watches, including, for the first time ever, a Watch Ultra. And the thing that I’ve been most excited about: the Galaxy Ring. I’ve just been hands-on with all of it, so here’s what’s good and what’s less good.

There are two new phones, the Z Flip 6 and the Z Fold 6. I have to say, I have a lot of respect for this Flip because it is a design improvement. Compared to the last Flip, it looks smarter from every angle, feels cleaner thanks to the matte finish on the sides, and the camera rings now match the color of the body. The hinge protrudes out less, and crucially, the display crease on the inside is less noticeable. The screen also has a new layer that makes it more impact-resistant, plus a new coating to reduce scratches and fingerprints. Major key feature if that works out over time. But the thing I’m really happy about is that the design is not the focus here—all the best improvements are under the hood.

It’s got the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip, now with, for the first time ever on a flip phone, a vapor chamber which gets heat away from that chip to keep it fast. It’s got improved speakers, 12GB of RAM by default instead of last year’s 8GB, a bigger 4,000 mAh battery instead of 3,700, and an inner screen that now goes up to 2,600 nits of brightness compared to 1,750. These are substantial jumps. The ultra-wide camera has been upgraded slightly with a bigger sensor, but the main camera has been upgraded majorly. It is now 50 megapixels after having been 12 for far too long, and it’s much better for it. It’s good enough now that even without any separate dedicated zoom camera, you can still zoom in 10 times and get a sharp output.

There are a couple of strange features that accompany those improvements, like a camcorder mode which nudges all the controls to the other side of the screen for your thumb. But I don’t understand why anyone would want to do this—this isn’t a 90s camcorder, and that’s a good thing. The cameras can now also auto-zoom while taking photos using your front screen, but the feature is a little bit slow to be useful. The important thing is that the cameras are finally not just passable on the Z Flips but actually good.

Another interesting tidbit I found out during my briefing was that Z Flip users change their wallpaper more times than any other type of phone user, which I guess is why Samsung is leaning into a few funky cosmetic extras too, like interactive wallpapers that you can tilt, flip, and touch. I don’t really see the appeal beyond the first 10 minutes, though. There are ambient photos, which means whatever wallpaper you apply to your cover screen, you can mirror the current time of day and weather conditions onto it. That I might actually use. They’re also introducing the Flip Suit 2.0 cases, which can have LEDs embedded inside the case that draw power from the phone to light up when notifications come in. I wouldn’t personally buy one, but I sure enjoyed seeing it.

The final thing though, and the thing that I wasn’t expecting to see coming into this, is that these folding phones are also where Samsung is showing off their next-gen Galaxy AI. It’s actually improving rather quickly. There are a couple of bits I’m not so sure about, like when someone messages you, now you get smart suggested replies on your cover screen. The phone looks at the last seven messages sent to understand the tone of the conversation and then serves you up your options. I need to test it more thoroughly to see if it actually nails human tone, because that’s typically a key failing point, but the idea is solid.

There’s portrait studio photo editing, which lets you use a photo that you’ve taken with a person in it, and then AI turns that person’s face into a highly stylized depiction. It does work quite well, but I don’t know what I would use it for. It would be cool if it applied the effect to the entire image and not just your face, but as it stands, all I can think of is you could maybe use it to generate some slightly uncanny valley alternative profile pictures of yourself. The live translation feature, you know, the one we saw earlier this year when Samsung announced Galaxy AI, that wasn’t very good—that is noticeably better here. These new phones are now starting with an AI that has access to an improved language pack, improved microphones that can pick up your voice better, and improved AI noise suppression that lets those microphones focus just on what you’re saying. I’m not sure which of these ingredients is making the most difference, but in my early testing, the feature does seem to work quite a bit better and faster than it did at launch. Oh yeah, and it also now works on third-party apps, so you can have a live translation call on WhatsApp. But there’s an extra twist now because you can also have that translation experience while in the same room as another person, thanks to an updated interpreter mode which lets you use both screens at the same time, so each person can only see their own language. It’s still not 100% there with the translation, but I can feel it creeping closer. Until ChatGPT’s real-time translation feature fully rolls out, this is probably the best implementation of it that I’ve ever seen.

And what I’m pretty happy about is that the Flip 6 is all of these things and, at least here in the UK, without going up in price. It’s still £1,149. There are actually a few more AI features, but I’ll show you the rest on the Fold 6, because this phone is interesting for the opposite reason—it’s much less about internal improvements but has had a lot more work done to the exterior, with sadly also a £50 price bump versus last year. So, it’s immediately noticeably lighter at 239g, and it comes with this new titanium frame which makes it only 7g heavier than the non-folding S24 Ultra. It’s thinner, 5.6mm when it’s open—the S24 Ultra is 8.6mm for context. They’ve made it shorter and wider, which in my books are actually both perks, so you can actually reach the top of the phone and also feel like you have a more natural ratio to type and scroll pages with on the cover screen. It just looks so much neater from the front—the squared edges, the slimmer even borders, the fact that those borders actually follow the natural curve of the device. And this Fold is actually where you particularly notice the more compact hinge. You could probably fool just about anyone at this point into thinking this is a normal non-folding flagship phone.

Now, there are also spec bumps here: again, the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip with a 1.6 times larger vapor chamber than the last gen. The screens are super bright, both inside and outside, going up to 2,600 nits. This phone gets the same slight upgrade to its ultra-wide camera. But the AI features are the most interesting actually, and almost all of these should come to most recent Samsung phones too. There’s a new smart select, which is kind of like taking a screenshot but a screenshot of the specific thing that you’re looking at without having to manually drag four corners and crop the screenshot yourself. You can instant copy just the thing you want on any page, and it is good. Do you remember the circle to search feature? That’s improving too. It now lets you circle QR codes to go straight to the link, or equations to get not just the answer actually but also the entire methodology. RIP college professors. Oh, and then sketch to image is really wacky. You scribble something down, you specify a style of finish, and it manages to produce a result that feels weirdly human-like. It does neaten up everything you do, it applies a really convincing artistic effect, but it also retains just enough of your base image to still make it feel like you made that. It’s one of those features that actually makes my head start to spin with all the possibilities. Like sometimes when we make videos, I have a really specific vision of the graphic that I want to show to visualize the point that I’m making. This could actually allow me to make that graphic myself. And you can also sketch to image on top of an existing image, and this, I think, has a very high ceiling. But I think the actual feature itself needs a little bit more cooking. The idea is that if you decide you want a pair of glasses, or a cool tie, or some devil horns in an image, you just sketch them in, and the phone then literally creates those objects within your scene using AI to factor in the lighting and the shadows and the objects in the real photo. Sometimes it was breathtaking, and I was so impressed how the objects don’t look like cheap little stickers slapped on top of your photo but full-resolution objects baked inside of them. But then other times it was fiddly and also produced some pretty weird-looking things that didn’t really make sense in the context of that image.

Aside from all that, Samsung have also said that the crease on the inside screen of both this and the Flip 6 is now down to just 100 microns instead of 240, but it doesn’t feel like that much of a difference to me. It’s definitely not the best phone for this that you can get right now, and it does bug me that the inner camera still looks like it’s genuinely VGA quality and that there’s still no way to store the S Pen inside of the phone like you can

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