Samsung hints that its extensive range of foldable phones won’t be just for the 1 percent

Samsung is expanding its foldable lineup beyond the Z Fold 2 (shown here) and the Z Flip.

Angela Lang / CNET

Samsung has big plans in store for 2021. That includes expanding its foldable range and making the devices more “accessible” – likely code for lowering prices – and putting more emphasis on the camera and video capabilities in its appliances. And the company will bring features from its Galaxy Note devices to other phones in its portfolio that are likely to run out of S Pen support upcoming Galaxy S21 phones.

Tae-moon Roh, Samsung president and chief of mobile communications, published a blog post on Tuesday detailing the company’s plans for 2021. In addition to talking about possible new features on Samsung’s phones, he also said the company will be more will have to say. – which is in line with rumors that Samsung will introduce its Galaxy S21 in mid-January.

“We never believed in a one-size-fits-all mobile experience and we never will,” Roh wrote. He added that Samsung is “working towards revolutionary advancements in 5G,” artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things “that will redefine the parameters of what mobile can do and give consumers the freedom to tailor their mobile experiences to suit. their lives – not the other way around. “

Roh took over the head of Samsung’s mobile business from Dong-jin Koh, better known as DJ, nearly a year ago. Prior to his promotion, Roh oversaw the development of Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones, and at the time of his appointment as head of the mobile phone, he was the youngest president ever at 51.

The blog post comes as Samsung gears up for CES and its first Unpacked event in 2021. The company is rumored to be planning an event for January 14, an earlier than normal release for its Galaxy S lineup. In the past, it typically unveiled its latest flagship phone in February, either slightly before or during the Mobile World Congress trade show, and then released the device in March or even April. Instead, it may reveal this year his Galaxy S21 lineup at the end of Virtual CES, which will run January 11-14.

Samsung has announced this year’s Galaxy S20 line-up and Galaxy Z Flip foldable on February 11 in what was one of the tech industry’s last in-person events for the new coronavirus pandemic forced to close borders and order governments to stay at home. The Galaxy S20 devices, all of which shipped with 5G, began preorders on February 21 and hit stores March 6.

The day after Unpacked, organizers have canceled the Mobile World Congress trade fair in Barcelona, ​​which was planned later in February. At the time of that decision, COVID-19 had infected more than 42,000 people and claimed more than 1,000 lives. That number has risen to more than 73 million infections and about 1.6 million deaths on December 15 as the world grapples with a crippling second wave of the virus.

Samsung, like most tech companies, has struggled to sell its expensive smartphones during the pandemic. Although it was one of the first companies to release a phone with 5G, it was surpassed by Huawei at a time when it would normally have received a boost from Galaxy S sales. The Chinese mobile phone maker went into the second quarter. largest smartphone supplier in the world, the first time in nine years that Samsung or Apple did not have that title. And analysts expect Apple to become the world’s second largest supplier of 5G phones this year – with less than three months of sales. That puts Samsung, once the leader with the new connectivity, in third place.

The fear of losing its position at the top of the smartphone market may prompt Samsung to make changes, including keeping Unpacked about a month earlier than usual. Samsung has also shifted its plans to deal with changing consumer preferences during the pandemic. It was introduced in September introduced the Galaxy S20 FE, a cheaper model for its flagship line of smartphones. The phone started at $ 700 – or $ 300 less than the normal S20 cost – and came when the pandemic spurred demand for cheaper devices.

Samsung gained ground again in the third quarter become the best smartphone supplier again such as Huawei struggled to survive amid sanctions by the US. Samsung reported its highest-ever quarterly sales at the end of October, thanks to a “significant increase in consumer demand” for its smartphones, computers and other products.

Unpacked one before?

Samsung is expected to sell its latest Galaxy S devices in January. This time around, Samsung probably has three different models of the S21: the 6.2-inch S21, the 6.7-inch S21 Plus, and the 6.8-inch S21 Ultra. The devices are expected to look much the same, but have larger camera modules, increasing their photo and video capabilities.

And Samsung may discontinue its Galaxy Note line this year and replace it with S Pen support on its Galaxy S21 Ultra. With early renderings, there is no visible location for a stylus, which may mean it has to be housed separately from the phone when not in use. On Samsung’s popular – but niche – Note lineup, the stylus slides into the device for storage.

Samsung will also hold a press conference at CES in January. It is expected to focus on its TV and home appliances for that event, as it has done in recent years. Unpacked can come the last day of CES.

Extensive folding line-up

One of the biggest tidbits from Roh’s blog post was the plan to expand Samsung’s foldable range. Two years after Samsung teased its first foldable phone – which it was hoped would revive interest in mobile devices – folding gear remains pricey and inaccessible for most.

In 2019, the company introduced one of the world’s first foldables: the $ 1,980 Galaxy Fold. The device flipped from a phone to a tablet, and it surprised most of the people who tested early versions of the device.

The $ 1,980 price tag for the first Fold seemed unapproachable to anyone except supertech enthusiasts. CNET’s Jessica Dolcourt called it “too expensive” and “a status symbol that early adopters could casually unfold with a lot of money to impress their peers.” The main selling point of the Fold’s device was its novelty: it was the first foldable phone from a well-known electronics manufacturer.

Samsung followed suit Z Flip in February 2020. That device, which sold for $ 1,380, was a flip-out clamshell design, a kind of high-tech flip phone. Samsung has updated it with 5G connectivity as well raised the price to $ 1,450 in July.

Samsung’s latest device, the Z Fold 2, solved the problems of the original Fold and packs in larger screens and 5G connectivity. Priced at $ 2,000, it became the company’s most expensive phone.

“The Z Fold2 has been hailed as a smartphone that redefines what’s possible with mobile technology, and I’m pleased to say it’s just an indication of what’s to come as we continue to explore this category-changing space, develop and expand, ”Roh wrote Tuesday.

Other claims

Samsung hinted that foldable devices aren’t the only devices that will make headway in 2021. Roh noted that the cameras in Samsung’s Galaxy devices will be more than ready to meet the demands of the video-obsessed by 2021. When it comes to advancement in this space, it’s going to be an epic new year. “

And the company has “worked hard to expand highly advanced on-device AI capabilities within the Galaxy family, allowing our devices to continuously learn from daily activities and routines to take better photos and videos, extending battery life and maximize storage space, monitors and much more. ”

While Samsung excels in areas like camera hardware, it has problems with software. The Bixby the company’s virtual assistant has been surpassed in skill and usage by Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant and Apple’s Siri. Samsung hasn’t talked much about Bixby’s claims at recent Unpacked events, and Roh didn’t mention Bixby in his blog post.


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But he said Samsung plans to expand its personalized AI capabilities “every facet of Galaxy’s product portfolio to enable people to be productive and do whatever they love.” That may not be Bixby outwardly, but behind-the-scenes AI that makes devices work better.

Along with AI, Samsung will soon “introduce incredible connectivity capabilities that will transform the way you open doors and enable seamlessly integrated automotive experiences that make personalized car connectivity part of your digital life.”

And he said Samsung is “making it easier to quickly find the things that matter most, from your keys to your wallet – even your pet.” The company is expected introduce tile style physical smart trackers, possibly called Galaxy Smart Tags, to help people keep track of their belongings with BlueTooth. Apple has long it is rumored to be working on its own AirTags, but it hasn’t revealed anything in that arena yet.

“We believe everyone should have access to the latest mobile technologies and a variety of product options that provide barrier-free, personalized experiences,” said Roh. “In 2021, our diverse product portfolio will provide breakthrough capabilities that enable you and never hold you back.”

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