As expected, Samsung held its first-ever virtual Unpacked event and, as usual, it was packed with lots of announcements, none of them unexpected, of course.
Here is a quick round-up of all the announcements as well as their local availability and pricing:
1. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra
The Unpacked event during the second half of the year has existed solely as an avenue to unveil the latest member(s) of the Samsung Galaxy Note series. This year, things weren’t any different.
In fact, the only difference is that this year, unlike last year, there won’t be a “Plus” model. Instead, we are getting an “Ultra” variant, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. As the name suggests, it is every bit “extra”. It is larger than the standard variant, has better features and specifications but keeps itself grounded by offering users an almost similar experience as the one on its smaller sibling.
Between themselves, the two devices feature improved performance, more productivity features and a brand new S Pen that is now more precise, more responsive and has more options for remote device control. What more could you ask for?
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra go on sale in Kenya in early September while pre-orders open on Friday next week. Catch all the details, including their pricing, here.
2. Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and Tab S7 Plus
Samsung’s flagship tablet series, the Tab S, received a much-awaited update today with the unveiling of the Galaxy Tab S7 and Tab S7 Plus.
As earlier noted, Samsung is offering high refresh rates on both tablets, something that is missing on the smartphones above. The only difference is that Samsung is offering a Super AMOLED display panel on the larger (12.4-inch) Tab S7 Plus and an LCD panel on the Tab S7 (11-inch).
Samsung is advertising the Galaxy Tab S7 as the “first 5G tablet” and pitching it to users as the device they’ll be able to live their “new normal” lives whether on Wi-Fi or not by being able to take advantage of its expanded network options to make and receive video calls anywhere.
They also have under-display fingerprint sensors, something that is still rare in tablet-land, the same S Pen as the Galaxy Note 20 series, 45W fast-charging, excellent sound and an optional keyboard attachment that doesn’t get to Apple Magic Keyboard territory but comes close. With Apple taking up about the same market share as its next three rivals combined with the iPad, will these high-end tablets be Samsung’s parachute to the top of the charts?
At this moment, we have no details about the tablets’ pricing and availability locally but we have reached out to Samsung and will update this article with the same if and when we get the information.
3. Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
The bean-shaped little things have kept the internet abuzz for weeks now and they are finally here. With larger drivers and the addition of active noise cancellation, Samsung is diversifying its already impressive portfolio of wireless earbuds which includes the Galaxy Buds+ the Galaxy Buds Live are joining in the market.
The easiest way to get the Galaxy Buds Live is by placing an order for the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra since Samsung Mobile Kenya is offering them for free with all pre-orders. That is also the costliest route since that device will set you back an arm and a leg. The less costly route might be to buy them standalone. That will cost Kshs 15,000.
4. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
The interesting bit about the Galaxy Watch 3 is that as far as the naming scheme goes, it has no predecessor. It is the long-awaited update to the much-loved Samsung Galaxy Watch which kept the rotating bezel Samsung had unveiled years earlier and updated it with then in-demand features. The Watch has since been overtaken by events and Samsung kept us busy with Active variants, which aren’t the same thing.
Now that the real deal is back, users can expect the same rotating bezel they loved – and which had a poor software-based imitation on the Active watches – as well as new features, like blood oxygen level detection, blood pressure readings as well as ECG readings.
While those new features are exciting, because they’re medical in nature and lives are involved, regulatory approval is required and, chances, are, it might be a while before we get to see them in action here in Kenya which is rather sad. Still, the feature-packed watch makes it easy when debating what smartwatch to get for Android device users (and iOS users as well but hey, what’s the reason to ditch the excellent Apple Watch?) since there are several in the market and, if we are being honest, beyond visual appeal (excellent designs), their feature set is pretty meh.
A feature that won’t require regulatory approval, but will require the integration of local emergency services where possible, is the automatic fall detection which can come in handy should the fall be an accident.
When it becomes available early next month, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 will go for Kshs 37,000, at least Kshs 10,000 higher than the cost of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 and its closest rival. The best assumption to make here with regards to that price are that you’re looking for a Wi-Fi-only model even though an LTE model is available. We are also not sure if there will be a difference in pricing between the 41 and 45 mm options that are available as has been the case previously (and isn’t the case for rivals like Huawei).
5. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
This came as no surprise but it is also the device that anyone eyeing it in Kenya (tip: deep pockets required) will have to wait a little longer to know when it will become available and how much it will cost.
The Galaxy Z Fold 2, ignore the long name (even longer for those in 5G markets), is the second direct iteration of the Samsung Galaxy Fold from last year. That device, unveiled earlier in the year, was plagued by lots of issues that necessitated a recall of early review units, something Samsung acknowledged during the Unpacked event, and a return to the drawing board before it was eventually released.
According to Samsung, it has learned from all that and, as a result, we have an updated device featuring the same Ultra-Thin Glass (UTG) that was found in the first generation but also several other protective layers that make it safe to bend many times over and even have the Galaxy Z Fold 2 able to sit on a desk just like the Galaxy Z Flip (another foldable) does.
At 6.2-inches, the outer display no longer plays second fiddle to the expansive 7.6-inch main display (when the device is unfolded) complete with a crazy 25:9 aspect ratio. It is still tall and skinny owing to the folding mechanism of the device but it finally looks like a smartphone display all on its own and not an afterthought or a placeholder-style added display. Unfolded, the second-generation Fold sheds the weird corner notch for a punch-hole that is more in line with the other smartphones Samsung announced today.
September 1st, when more details about the device become available (and it goes on pre-order in other markets), isn’t far away.