Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2021: New foldable 5G smartphones, watches and earbuds

On tap this year are the new Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G and Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G foldable phones, Galaxy Watch 4 and the Galaxy Buds. 2.

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Image: Samsung

At this year's virtual flavor of its annual Unpacked event, Samsung unveiled new and improved editions of some key products designed for consumers and business users alike. The latest Galaxy Z smartphones continue with the foldable concept introduced in 2019 but add 5G to spice things up. The Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic are Samsung's first smartwatches to sport the new Wear OS built jointly with Google. And the Galaxy Buds 2 are Samsung's smallest and lightest earbuds to date.

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Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G

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Image: Samsung

The foldable Galaxy Z Fold 3 takes advantage of 5G for higher speeds and lower latency, at least in areas where the latest wireless standard is supported. Outfitted with a 7.6" Infinity Flex QXGA+ edge-to-edge display, the Z Fold 3 is equipped with a triple rear camera setup as well as a cover camera and an under display camera.

The Z Fold 3 is also Samsung's first foldable phone to support the S Pen for writing notes and drawing directly on the screen. The S Pen for the Z Fold 3 comes in two options: The S Pen Fold Edition and the S Pen Pro.

But it's the foldability that sets the Z Fold apart from most other phones. By opening the phone at its hinge, you can use the two screens to work, play, view photos and watch videos. The Hideaway Hinge introduced with the original Galaxy Z Flip lets the phone stay in place at any angle. Samsung promises that the hinge on the Z Fold 3 is thinner than on its predecessors. A Sweeper feature uses bristles to repel dust and dirt to keep the device clean and durable.

Starting at $1,800 and now up for preorder, the Z Fold 3 comes in three different colors: Phantom Black, Phantom Green and Phantom Silver.

Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G

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Image: Samsung

Designed for more budget-conscious buyers, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G offers a 6.7-inch FHD+ display with a dual rear camera system and a front camera. With its foldable design, the Flip 3 5G comes with a cover screen four times larger than with previous versions, so users will be able to view notifications and messages, check their calendar, tap into Samsung Pay and take care of other tasks without having to open the phone.

As part of its foldability, the Z Flip 3 5G offers some cool innovations. If you partially open the phone to watch a video, for example, a Flex Mode panel kicks in to display the video on the top half of the screen and controls to play the video in the bottom half.

Starting at $1,000, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G comes in gray, white and pink colors. The Flip 3 5G is now available for preorder.

Common features

Both the Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 come with IPX8 water resistance to protect it from immersion in more than one meter (3.3 feet) of water. Both phones are designed with Armor Aluminum, which Samsung touts as the strongest aluminum ever found on a Galaxy smartphone. The screens use Corning Gorilla Glass Victus to protect them against scratches and drops.

Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic

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Image: Samsung

The first Galaxy watches to use the new Wear OS jointly designed by Samsung and Google, the Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic place a focus on health and wellness. The Watch 4 is outfitted with Samsung's BioActive Sensor, which uses a smaller design that still allows for accurate measurements.

A new 3-in-1 sensor is powered by a single chip for Optical Heart Rate, Electrical Heart and Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis. Using the sensor, users can check their blood pressure, detect an AFib irregular heartbeat, measure their blood oxygen level and calculate body composition. That last feature analyzes your skeletal muscle mass, metabolic rate, body water and body fat percentage.

To use the Galaxy Watch 4 to help you stay in shape, you can choose from different guided workouts and group challenges as well as connect the watch to a compatible Samsung Smart TV to monitor your metrics. And for anyone who has trouble sleeping at night, the new smartphone can monitor your sleep patterns, including your blood oxygen level and any snoring sounds you make.

Samsung's One UI Watch system automatically installs apps from your Galaxy phone to the Watch 4. Key settings such as Do Not Disturb and Blocked Callers are synced between the two. An Auto Switch feature tries to switch your earbuds between your phone and watch depending on which one you're using.

The Watch 4 sports a more "modern" design, while the classic edition resembles a traditional watch. Now available for preorder, the Galaxy Watch 4 starts at $250, while the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic starts at $350.

Galaxy Buds 2

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Image: Samsung

The latest addition to Samsung's line of earbuds, the Galaxy Buds 2 boasts of being smaller and lighter than its Galaxy Buds Live and Galaxy Buds Pro cousins. An iconic curved shape improves the audio quality, according to Samsung. To help you find the right fit for your ears, the Galaxy Wearable app provides an earbud fit test.

The Galaxy Buds 2 uses dynamic two-way speakers for crisper and clearer sound with a deep base. An Active Noise Cancellation feature tries to block unwanted noise, though you can adjust this setting if you need to hear the sounds around you. And when you're on a phone call, a new machine learning technology filters out background noises.

Now available for preorder at $150, the Galaxy Buds 2 comes in graphite, white, olive and lavender colors.

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By Lance Whitney

Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.