We just saw some of Samsung's most anticipated products for the year at the Unpacked 2023 event this week. The new Galaxy Z Fold hinge seems nice, the Z Flip has a great new front display, and there was a tablet and a watch, too, I think. Just kidding — the Galaxy Tab S9 and Galaxy Watch 6 continue the trend of being best-in-class devices.
And that's it. It's all you need to know about Samsung's latest products. They incorporate changes that are needed, are a little bit better than last year's models, and, aside from a new feature or two, aren't a big deal.
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So why did Samsung hold an hour-long stage presentation in Seoul, flying U.S. and European journalists across the globe? Because Samsung had to, that's why.
I'm a firm believer that tech events can all stop, and we could learn more about the actual products from a company's website. I don't get to make that kind of high-level decision, though.
Some products deserve a bit of grandstanding, too. Products like the first Z Fold or Z Flip come to mind, as well as older products like The HTC EVO 4G or the original Galaxy Note. They invented categories of smartphones, whether it be the era of the big display or the ones that fold in half. The combined level of innovation and coolness made the things we wanted to see on a stage, maybe even with fog machines and laser shows.
Too much? Ok, Ok, but if I could find the old clip of former Sprint CEO Dan Hesse strutting out on a stage to Led Zepplin's Immigrant Song, you might change your mind. Unfortunately, the internet has failed me.
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5 do not "redefine what is possible with a smartphone," even if Samsung CEO DJ Koh told us they do. They aren't amazing because a famous person is paid to follow a script and appear on camera during a tech presentation. Samsung must do the used car salesman pitch because everyone else does it.
You probably don't care about incremental gains in NPU performance or improvements to a vapor chamber. You probably do care about what those improvements can mean but would rather see those in action in the real world and not shown simulated on a giant screen behind a tech executive.
Again, it's not a Samsung thing. Samsung has to have overblown product presentations because that has become the industry norm. Apple, Google, NVIDIA, Intel, and everybody else does it, too. The company that doesn't do it would be criticized for it. Not by me, and maybe not by you, but by someone with a platform.
At least Samsung only spent an hour this time, giving us a short presentation for each of its new products. If you have had to sit through any recent Apple or Google events and experienced true long-windedness, you know what I mean.
I don't blame Samsung as much as I blame people like myself. Our response is why tech companies feel some need to have multi-million dollar events. While I might complain about them, plenty of other tech writers and enthusiasts love them. I dunno why, but I know I am really glad I no longer have to go to them. Stay at a job long enough and complain at every opportunity, and you, too, can get what you want.
I did like the products Samsung showed me, even if it could have been in a press release instead of a presentation that aired at a time when most people weren't going to watch it — nobody in San Francisco needed to wake up at 4 a.m. for this. Having it in Seoul meant it was either too early or too late for most of the world.
The Flip 5's cover display removes one of the reasons why I don't use one, and I'm glad Samsung is still perfecting the hinge for the Fold. They could be some of the best Android phones for a lot of people.
Soon enough, we'll have another unnecessary tech event from Samsung to see the Galaxy S24, and in the meantime, other companies will test my patience and attention span. Unfortunately, it's just how things work.