Looks like the Apple Card has a strong, encrypted rival! Samsung is hoping to revolutionize the payments space with its Biometric Card which has a unique combination of a fingerprint sensor, Security Element (SE), and Secure Processor (SP) on a single chip. This is further backed by Samsung’s proprietary fingerprint authentication algorithm and anti-spoofing technology built right into the card, making it more secure than most others on the market.
“It is the cybersecurity industry’s first all-in-one security chip that reads biometric information through a fingerprint sensor, stores and authenticates encrypted data in a tamper-proof way, and processes data securely”, the Korean tech giant mentions.
To use the card, all you have to do is place your thumb on the sensor while a POS device reads the chip. If the card authenticates your fingerprint, the payment is confirmed. Companies like MasterCard have announced similar biometric cards that default to a PIN number if the fingerprint isn’t matched. It isn’t clear yet whether Samsung will opt for the same strategy.
Dubbed the Samsung S3B512C, the biometric card is also designed for contactless use (which means it comes with NFC and RFID capabilities) and is already being mass-produced with a public rollout hopefully next year. Your move, Tim Cook…!
Companies continue to find new ways to impress with true wireless earbuds. There’s no doubt the popularity of Apple’s AirPods helped make them a mainstay, but plenty of others offer reliable connectivity, great sound and active noise cancellation (ANC) in increasingly smaller form factors. You can also get features that used to be reserved for premium models on mid-range devices. Of course, the popularity means that new earbuds are popping up all the time and the list of options is longer than ever. To help, we’ve compiled the best wireless earbuds you can buy right now, including noteworthy features for each selection.
Sony keeps its top spot on our list for its combination of great sound, powerful active noise cancellation and a long list of features no other company can compete with. Just like its headphones, Sony manages to pack a ton of handy tools into its flagship true wireless model. The basics like wireless charging and battery life improvements are covered, but company-specific features like Speak-to-Chat automatic pausing, Adaptive Sound Control adjustments based on movement or location, 360 Reality Audio and a customizable EQ are icing on the cake. Plus, DSEE Extreme upscaling helps improve compressed tunes over Bluetooth.
Runner up: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3
If sound quality is your primary concern, the Momentum True Wireless 3 is your best bet. You won’t get the truckload of features that Sony offers, but Sennheiser does the basics well at a lower price than the previous Momentum earbuds. A new Adaptive Noise Cancellation setup continuously monitors ambient sounds to suppress them in real time. Inside, the company’s True Response transducer is paired with 7mm dynamic drivers for top-notch audio.
Best noise cancellation: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
When it comes to blocking out the world, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are the best at the task. Bose introduced a redesigned set earlier this year and the smaller buds deliver a more comfy fit. The company also managed to improve ambient sound and maintain its track record of solid audio quality. However, the real star here is the ANC performance which is hands-down the best you can get right now. The QC Earbuds II don’t have some basic features like multipoint connectivity and wireless charging, so that might factor into your decision.
Best budget pick: Jabra Elite 3
Jabra packs a lot into a set of earbuds for under $100. The Elite 3 don’t have ANC, automatic pausing or wireless charging, and the EQ changes are limited to presets. However, these affordable buds have impressive sound quality, good battery life, reliable on-board controls and a very comfy fit. If you’re looking for something that just gets the job done, the Elite 3 is more than capable.
Best for iOS: Apple Airpods Pro (2nd-gen)
Apple’s latest AirPods Pro are a huge improvement over the 2019 model. The company managed to improve the sound quality and ANC performance while keeping all of the conveniences that make AirPods the best option for iOS and Mac. To me, the most impressive feature is the transparency mode, which is more natural sounding than any other earbuds by a mile. You can leave these in during a conversation and it’s like you’re not even wearing them. Of course, fast pairing, hands-free Siri and wireless charging (MagSafe or Apple Watch chargers) will also come in handy.
Best for Android: Google Pixel Buds Pro
Google has hit its stride when it comes to true wireless earbuds. Every new model the company introduces is an improvement after its first attempt failed to impress. With the Pixel Buds Pro, Google offers deep, punchy bass, solid ANC performance, reliable touch controls and wireless charging. Plus, there are added convenience features for Android and Pixel devices including Google Translate Conversation Mode.
Best for workouts: Beats Fit Pro
Most of the best AirPods features in a set of workout earbuds? That’s the Beats Fit Pro. Thanks to Apple’s H1 chip, these buds offer one-touch quick pairing, hands-free Siri and Find My tools. They’ll also allow you to use Audio Sharing with an Apple device and another set of AirPods or Beats headphones for tandem listening or viewing. Balanced and punchy bass will keep the energy up during workouts while good noise cancellation and a comfy fit make these a solid option outside of the gym too. And there’s plenty of support for Android, so these aren’t just a good buy for iOS users either.
Honorable mention: Sony LinkBuds S
One of the biggest surprises this year wasn’t Sony’s unique open-wear LinkBuds, it was the more mainstream follow-up. With the LinkBuds S, the company debuted a more “traditional” design akin to its premium WF-1000XM4, only this model is much smaller and lighter which leads to a much more comfy fit. These tiny buds muster some punch when it comes to sound quality too and support for high-res listening (LDAC and DSEE Extreme) are both onboard. Capable ANC lends a hand with environmental noise and transparency mode can keep you tuned in when needed. What’s more, handy Speak-to-Chat is here and Adaptive Sound Control can automatically change settings based on activity or location. That’s a lot of premium for features at a mid-range price.
It seems like China is the place to be if you’re a fan of foldables. While the flexible smartphone trend hasn’t really caught fire globally, it looks like the Asians have an affinity for bending electronics. Samsung just announced two foldables that will be exclusive to their Chinese audience. Dubbed the W23 and the W23 Flip, the smartphones are ‘high-end’ versions of the Galaxy Z Fold4 and Z Flip4. Priced at 9,999 yuan (US$1,386) and 15,999 yuan (US$2,217), respectively, the models have higher specs than their global counterparts and come with a modified design that showcases golden accents, a China-specific theme, and even a redesigned S-Pen with black and gold highlights.
The Samsung W23 and W23 Flip are the results of a collaboration with China Telecom, offering unique premium versions of Samsung’s flagship foldables. Both phones sport rose-gold-tinted metal frames, with ceramic backs instead of the traditional glass ones. There’s also a “Heart of the World” logo emblazoned on the back of each phone, and themes and wallpapers that celebrate the porcelain work of the Song Dynasty in China.
In their new avatar, the W23 and W23 Flip have a few distinct visual and hardware differences. While the phones are essentially the same as far as dimensions go, Samsung gave the upgraded models a few design tweaks, including textured spines with a diamond pattern, and ceramic backs instead of glass panels. The Samsung W23 and W23 Flip both sport 16GB of RAM (an upgrade over the 12Gb in the Z Fold4 and 8GB in the Z Flip4), along with 512GB of internal storage.
It isn’t new for smartphones to create high-end luxury models of their popular smartphones. While most phone companies go down the themed limited edition route (like the Realme GT Neo 3 Naruto Edition), companies like Huawei have also doubled down on the luxury aesthetic with their P50 Pocket foldable.
The Red Dot Design Concept Award-winning case for the Galaxy Z Flip4 takes the folding phone and turns it into the world’s first gaming foldable. Cleverly designed with joysticks and controls that tuck within each other when folded, this Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 accessory still lets you use the phone as is, retaining all its smartphone functionality, albeit with a rather sizeable gaming upgrade!
Designers: Park Sungsu & Jeong Hyeonsook
Designed to turn your folding phone into a console when opened, the ‘Gaming Flex’ is a nifty piece of hardware that also doubles as a smartphone case. Just snap it on and you’ve got what one can only describe as the world’s first folding Nintendo Switch Lite. In its now-folded avatar, the Gaming Flex also becomes the most compact gaming console of its kind… offering the ability to play AAA titles on your phone while being smaller than any official Game Boy ever made.
Perhaps my favorite detail on the Gaming Flex is its yin-yang joystick design. The joysticks protrude outwards for better tactile control, but to make up for the fact that the device needs to fold shut, the D-Pad comes with a hollow design, allowing the joystick to dock right in when shut. It’s a clever detail that isn’t just functional, it’s ergonomic too, offering the perfect concavity for your thumb to rest in as you game!
Some smartphone manufacturers have started paying more attention to the design and aesthetics of their products, but the majority still seem to be content with portraying smartphones as advanced gadgets and nothing more. Although there are a few exceptions, most of Samsung’s smartphones, even in the higher ranges, look more technical and, to some extent, distant. Make no mistake, they do look sleek and refined from a certain point of view, but they feel more like a smorgasbord of different features rather than a more organic whole. Fortunately, these companies have wised up to design trends, and even Samsung is slowly moving in that direction. An example can be seen in what could be the design for next year’s Galaxy S23, which seems to be shedding off some extra baggage and aiming for a more minimalist aesthetic.
Cameras have been an important part of the smartphone industry, and many manufacturers have chosen to highlight that through their designs. Because of the larger hardware needed to support these advanced imaging technologies, many designs have opted to use bumps or islands to mask how much space they actually occupy inside. It’s a hit or miss, though, with some designs ending up being tasteful while others tend to be obnoxious and distracting.
For some people, however, the ideal would be to not have these cameras attract too much attention. It seems that Samsung is leaning towards that kind of thinking with the upcoming Galaxy S23 series. According to renders based on unofficial information, a.k.a. leaks, the base Galaxy S23 model (via Digit) and Galaxy S23+ (via Smartprix), will finally get rid of that camera bump altogether. It’s actually not a totally new design since it was used on the Galaxy S22 Ultra earlier this year, but this will be the first time it comes to the base and “plus” models.
This means that instead of a raised structure that will encompass all the cameras, each camera lens on the back of the phone will be on its own, surrounded by a ring that will help protect the lens when the phone is placed on a flat surface. This simplifies manufacturing a bit by reducing unnecessary parts or surfaces. It also makes the phone’s rear visually quieter, leaving what’s necessary only and nothing more.
The rest of the Galaxy S23’s design won’t differ much from this year’s models. Both the back and the screen on the front are flat, again getting rid of extraneous curves. That said, the sides of the phone are still slightly rounded, unlike the current trend that seems to be returning to the flatter edges from the early days of smartphones. Regardless, the Galaxy S23 seems to look cleaner and less noisy, which can be a breath of fresh air for Samsung’s flagship series that has always been burdened by extraneous elements and embellishments.
Just a few years ago, the case for smartwatches wasn’t clear. Today, the wearable world is filled with various high-quality options, and a few key players have muscled their way to the front of the pack. Chances are, if you’re reading this guide, you’ve probably already decided that it’s time to upgrade from a standard timepiece to a smartwatch. Maybe you want to reach for your phone less throughout the day, or maybe you want to stay connected in a more discrete way. The list of reasons why you may want a smartwatch is long, as is the list of factors you’ll want to consider before deciding which to buy.
Apple Watches only work with iPhones, while Wear OS devices play nice with both iOS and Android. Smartwatches made by Samsung, Garmin, Fitbit and others are also compatible with Android and iOS, but you’ll need to install a companion app.
The smartwatch OS will also dictate the type and number of on-watch apps you’ll have access to. Many of these aren’t useful, though, making this factor a fairy minor one in the grand scheme of things.
The best smartwatches generally cost between $300 and $400. Compared to budget smartwatches, which cost between $100 and $250, these pricier devices have advanced fitness, music and communications features. They also often include perks like onboard GPS, music storage and NFC, which budget devices generally don’t.
Some companies make specialized fitness watches: Those can easily run north of $500, and we’d only recommend them to serious athletes. Luxury smartwatches from brands like TAG Heuer and Hublot can also reach sky-high prices, but we wouldn’t endorse any of them. These devices can cost more than $1,000, and you’re usually paying for little more than a brand name and some needlessly exotic selection of build materials.
Battery life remains one of our biggest complaints about smartwatches, but there’s hope as of late. You can expect two full days from Apple Watches and most Wear OS devices. Watches using the Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor support extended battery modes that promise up to five days on a charge — if you’re willing to shut off most features aside from, you know, displaying the time. Snapdragon’s next-gen Wear 4100 and 4100+ processors were announced in 2020, but only a handful of devices – some of which aren’t even available yet – are using them so far. Other models can last five to seven days, but they usually have fewer features and lower-quality displays. Meanwhile, some fitness watches can last weeks on a single charge.
A few smartwatches now support faster charging, too. For example, Apple promises the Series 7 can go from zero to 80 percent power in only 45 minutes, and get to full charge in 75 minutes. The OnePlus Watch is even speedier, powering up from zero to 43 percent in just 10 minutes. (Mind you that turned out to be one of the only good things about that device.)
Any smartwatch worth considering delivers call, text and app alerts to your wrist. Call and text alerts are self explanatory, but if those mean a lot to you, consider a watch with LTE. They’re more expensive than their WiFi-only counterparts, but data connectivity allows the smartwatch to take and receive calls, and do the same with text messages, without your phone nearby. As far as app alerts go, getting them delivered to your wrist will let you glance down and see if you absolutely need to check your phone right now.
Activity tracking is a big reason why people turn to smartwatches. An all-purpose timepiece should log your steps, calories and workouts, and most of today’s wearables have a heart rate monitor as well.
Many smartwatches also have onboard GPS, which is useful for tracking distance for runs and bike rides. Swimmers will want something water resistant, and thankfully most all-purpose devices now can withstand at least a dunk in the pool. Some smartwatches from companies like Garmin are more fitness focused than others and tend to offer more advanced features like heart-rate-variance tracking, recovery time estimation, onboard maps and more.
Health tracking on smartwatches has also seen advances over the years. Both Apple and Fitbit devices can estimate blood oxygen levels and measure ECGs. But the more affordable the smartwatch, the less likely it is that it has these kinds of health tracking features; if collecting that type of data is important to you, you’ll have to pay for the privilege.
Your watch can not only track your morning runs but also play music while you’re exercising. Many smartwatches let you save your music locally, so you can connect wireless earbuds and listen to tunes without bringing your phone. Those that don’t have onboard storage for music usually have on-watch music controls, so you can control playback without whipping out your phone. And if your watch has LTE, local saving isn’t required — you’ll be able to stream music directly from the watch to your paired earbuds.
Most flagship smartwatches today have some sort of always-on display, be it a default feature or a setting you can enable. It allows you to glance down at your watch to check the time and any other information you’ve set it to show on its watchface without lifting your wrist. This will no doubt affect your device’s battery life, but thankfully most always-on modes dim the display’s brightness so it’s not running at its peak unnecessarily. Cheaper devices won’t have this feature; instead, their screens will automatically turn off to conserve battery and you’ll have to intentionally check your watch to turn on the display again.
Many smartwatches have NFC, letting you pay for things without your wallet. After saving your credit or debit card information, you can hold your smartwatch up to an NFC reader to pay for a cup of coffee on your way home from a run. Keep in mind that different watches use different payment systems: Apple Watches use Apple Pay, Wear OS devices use Google Pay, Samsung devices use Samsung Pay and so forth.
Apple Pay is one of the most popular NFC payment systems, with support for multiple banks and credit cards in 72 different countries, while Samsung and Google Pay work in fewer regions. It’s also important to note that both NFC payment support varies by device as well for both Samsung and Google’s systems.
Best overall: Apple Watch
The Apple Watch has evolved into the most robust smartwatch since its debut in 2015. It’s the no-brainer pick for iPhone users, and we wouldn’t judge you for switching to an iPhone just to be able to use an Apple Watch. The latest model, Apple Watch Series 8, has solid fitness-tracking features that will satisfy the needs of beginners and serious athletes alike. It also detects if you’ve been in a car crash, can carry out ECG tests and measures blood oxygen levels. Plus, it offers NFC, onboard music storage and many useful apps as well as a variety of ways to respond to messages.
There aren't a ton of differences between the Series 8 and the Series 7 that came before it. The design is largely unchanged, and while the Series 8 runs on a newer S8 SiP, it didn't feel dramatically faster in our testing. It lasted a little bit longer, and we were impressed by Apple's new low-power mode, which kept the watch going for an additional two hours after already being down to 20 percent battery life.
There are two other options now at the opposite ends of the spectrum. The new Apple Watch Ultra is probably overkill for most people, but it has a ton of extra features like extra waterproofing to track diving, an even more accurate GPS and the biggest battery of any Apple Watch to date. Apple designed it for the most outdoorsy among us, but for your average person, it likely has more features than they'd ever need.
The $250 Apple Watch SE, on the other hand, is less feature-rich than the Series 8, but it will probably suffice for most people. We actually regard the Watch SE as the best option for first-time smartwatch buyers, or people on stricter budgets. You’ll get all the core Apple Watch features as well as things like fall and crash detection, noise monitoring and emergency SOS, but you’ll have to do without more advanced hardware perks like an always-on display, a blood oxygen sensor, an ECG monitor and a skin temperature sensor.
Dropping $400 on a smartwatch isn’t feasible for everyone, which is why we recommend the Fitbit Versa 2 as the best sub-$200 option. It’s our favorite budget watch because it offers a bunch of features at a great price. You get all of these essentials: Fitbit’s solid exercise-tracking abilities (including auto-workout detection), sleep tracking, water resistance, connected GPS, blood oxygen tracking and a six-day battery life. It also supports Fitbit Pay using NFC and it has built-in Amazon Alexa for voice commands. While the Versa 2 typically costs $150, we’ve seen it for as low as $100.
Samsung may not have brought many upgrades to the latest version of its popular Galaxy Watch, but that doesn't mean the Watch 5 isn't still the best smartwatch for Android users. Improvements like a more durable screen and refined curvature don't sound exciting, but they make the Watch 5 more resilient and reliable. Plus, the Galaxy Watch offers the most comprehensive health and fitness tracking on Wear OS, and the company added a sleep coaching feature this year that is meant to help guide you towards better rest.
If you don't mind oversized watches, consider the Watch 5 Pro. It's more expensive at $450, but comes with a larger 45mm titanium case, a more durable screen and a larger battery. Though Samsung markets it as an outdoor-oriented device, you're better off thinking of it as a big timepiece that lasts longer than the standard model. It has all the same features as the 40mm and 44mm versions, except it supports the GPX route format for workouts so you can get turn-by-turn directions while you hike and bike.
All three watches are also water-resistant so they can track swims or survive a sudden storm, and last more than a day (without the Always On Display enabled). They also run Wear OS 3.5, which is so similar to Samsung's previous Tizen OS that longtime wearers won't need to worry about adjusting to a new system. Ultimately, the Galaxy Watch 5 series is a capable, well-rounded set of smartwatches that will serve most Android users well.
Yes, there are still companies out there trying to make “fashionable” smartwatches. Back when wearables were novel and generally ugly, brands like Fossil, Michael Kors and Skagen found their niche in stylish smartwatches that took cues from analog timepieces. You also have the option to pick up a “hybrid” smartwatch from companies like Withings and Garmin – these devices look like standard wrist watches but incorporate some limited functionality like activity tracking and heart rate monitoring. They remain good options if you prefer that look, but thankfully, wearables made by Apple, Samsung, Fitbit and others have gotten much more attractive over the past few years.
Ultimately, the only thing you can’t change after you buy a smartwatch is its case design. If you’re not into the Apple Watch’s squared-off corners, all of Samsung’s smartwatches have round cases that look a little more like a traditional watch. Most wearables are offered in a choice of colors and you can pay extra for premium materials like stainless steel. Once you decide on a case, your band options are endless – there are dozens of first- and third-party watch straps available for most major smartwatches, allowing you to change up your look whenever you please.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 on its own is already a pretty cool device on its own, if you like the good ole days when flip phones were cool. There are several official (and unofficial) phone cases that make the flip phone even more interesting. Samsung Vietnam actually announced a contest a few months ago for designers to create “your Z style phone case” and one of the entrants decided to bring a bit of “vintage” design to the stylish Samsung smartphone.
Designer: Kaisou D
If you’re of the age where the Gameboy Advance is already a classic kind of game console, then this phone case design will bring back some childhood (or adulthood) memories. The design makes your Galaxy Z Flip 3 look like a gaming brick, complete with the controls like the A B buttons and the cursor buttons, although this time around they’re just part of the design and not to be used on any kind of game. The case is made from translucent plastic so you can see the “circuit board” of your faux Gameboy.
The case has an LED string at the bottom and you can change the color and replace it according to your preference. It is powered by a double A battery. You can change the “cartridge” with your favorite Gameboy game like Tetris, Super Mario 3, Sonic the Hedgehog, etc. The design has some “childhood toys” that add to the nostalgic feel of the phone case. It would be nicer though if you can actually play those games using the control buttons, but there are some simulators available for mobile devices anyway.
If you’re into the whole nostalgic game console feel, this Galaxy Z Flip 3 phone case design would be right up your alley. As for me the fact that something like the Gameboy is already considered a classic makes me feel really old.
Smartphones are one of the most ubiquitous pieces of consumer electronics in the world today. An overwhelming number of people have one, some might even have two, and millions of phones are shipped every quarter. In fact, there might be too many smartphones out there in the world, and not all of them are actually in use or even in one piece. As wonderful as smartphones are, their production and disposal contribute to the worsening state of our environment, especially because of how many they are. Smartphone manufacturers have thankfully started to be more aware of their critical role in this broken ecosystem and, even better, are starting to take action. As one of the world’s biggest smartphone makers, Samsung is thankfully taking that responsibility seriously and is boasting the achievements that take it closer to its grand goal in 2025.
From the cradle to the grave, a smartphone’s life is filled with materials and processes that harm the environment or even people. From the plastics used in electronics to the chemicals for treating different parts to the materials used in packaging, these powerful computers in our pockets and hands are almost like death traps for the planet. It’s too late to turn back, of course, so smartphone manufacturers are instead trying to reduce their negative impact little by little on all fronts. Samsung’s “Galaxy for the Planet” initiative tries to cover those different fronts, and the newest batch of devices it just announced demonstrates the progress it has made since the program was announced last year.
Samsung started with the Galaxy S22 earlier this year by using plastics made from recycled fishing nets that would have otherwise ruined our oceans and aquatic life. Since then, Samsung has expanded the use of that material to other Galaxy devices, including the Galaxy Book 2 Pro laptop and the Galaxy Tab S8 tablets. The new Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 continue that tradition and are even joined by the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. In fact, Samsung boasts that 90% of its new pro earbuds are made using recycled materials. Given its smaller size and fewer components, that is admittedly not that hard to pull off.
The company has also been trying to improve its packaging, and no, it’s not just about removing the charger. The company now uses 100% recycled paper for the packaging of its flagship phones, which does raise questions about the state of its non-flagship phone packaging. Samsung is also trying to reduce how much single-use plastic it puts inside the box, though it’s not yet ready to get rid of them entirely. Both the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Galaxy Z Flip 4 boxes are less than half the size of their original models, which results in more efficient transport and reduced carbon emissions overall.
Sooner or later, phones do reach their end of life, mostly because they no longer meet the needs of their owners. That doesn’t mean they’re completely useless, though, especially if they’re actually still functional. Rather than simply breaking these down and having them undergo recycling processes that consume a lot of water and energy, Samsung is proposing upcycling phones to serve other needs, like acting as smart home hubs or cameras. In one specific case, old Galaxy devices even become eye diagnostic tools used in underserved communities.
These small steps forward take Samsung closer to its ambitious goal for 2025, but it might still be quite a ways away from that milestone. In three years, Samsung envisions itself as having eliminated all plastics in packaging, achieved zero waste to landfill, and used recycled materials on all mobile products, not just the flagship ones. Those are lofty goals, indeed, and some might say almost impossible to reach by 2025. When it comes to sustainability, however, every step, no matter how small, counts toward healing the planet and making sure there will still be people around to buy those fancy smartphones in the future.
Samsung’s cat is finally out of the bag. That cat has actually been out of the bag for a long while now, thanks to the almost merciless flood of leaks and unofficial information. Needless to say, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4, the company’s latest generation of foldable phones, turned out to be exactly what those rumors made them out to be, which is a mixed bag for many Samsung fans. Given the fast-paced dynamics of the smartphone market, it’s not surprising that some already set their expectations low that these two would knock anyone’s socks off. At the same time, however, the two surpass their predecessors in more than just specs but also as an assurance of a more reliable future.
In the smartphone industry, if you’re not putting out a sensational new phone every year or even every six months, you’re seen as stagnating and on the way out. That may have been true for the first decade of smartphones, but keeping up that pace without pause is becoming more of a liability than an asset. Smartphone demand and sales have slowed down, and people are now looking for long-term reliability more than fancy gimmicks and new features. While that doesn’t exactly mean that smartphone makers have to put innovation on hold, it does tell them to take a deep breath and focus on refining what already works to perfection instead, which is what Samsung seems to have done this year.
Galaxy Z Fold 4: Iteration Wins the Day
If taken in isolation, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 looks no different than the Galaxy Z Fold 3 last year. It’s only when you put the two side-by-side will you notice any difference, but even then, those differences are subtle. The hinge is slightly smaller, and the bezels around the displays are narrower. Numbers alone, however, won’t do it justice, and you need to take those changes into context to appreciate the refinements that Samsung has made.
In a nutshell, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is easier to use in so many ways. It is a bit lighter and easier to hold in one’s hand, and the external Cover Screen is wider, so it doesn’t feel that cramped anymore. Parts of the user interface have been revised to make the phone easier to use as a tablet, thanks in part to the Android 12L update. There are no groundbreaking changes in design, just fixes that address some of the biggest pain points of this kind of smartphone.
One can’t ignore the massive changes inside as well, and not just the latest Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor. At long last, the cameras have been given an upgrade, with a 50MP main camera leading the fray alongside a 10MP telephoto with a longer 3x zoom reach. As a tool for creativity and for keeping memories, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 steps up to the challenge, even though it might still disappoint serious mobile photographers. The 4MP camera that hides under the display is now less visible, but its ghost is still there. It remains to be seen whether it has significantly improved this year.
Galaxy Z Flip 4: Smartphones are Lifestyle Choices
Samsung’s more affordable foldable clamshell also has its share of incremental improvements. Some of the changes are more pronounced, the light flatter edges and hazed back glass cover. The outer Cover Screen is also now larger, which means you can do more with it or at least see more information from it. With this more stylish phone, however, Samsung has given the Galaxy Z Flip 4 a different flavor, making it a vehicle of self-expression that smartphones have become in the past few years.
Clamshell phones, though now archaic, were once considered to be stylish and posh. The crisp clicking sound they make when you open or close them really calls attention, and the way you can do that with a single hand sends a message of sophistication and class. While the latter might not be easily doable with these foldable phones, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 still has that air luxury carried over from the old days. Fortunately, Samsung knows well to play up that image.
In addition to the design and hardware improvements that it made, Samsung is spinning the Galaxy Z Flip 4 as something made to be personalized and personal, from the available color choices to the customization options in terms of themes. New camera features are also geared towards people who love to show off and express themselves on social media, no matter their age. More than just a refinement in design, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is a refinement in purpose, sending a clear message that it isn’t just for people who want the latest and greatest smartphone technologies but also for those who view phones as a part of their personality.
Galaxy Watch5 Pro and Galaxy Buds2 Pro: Pint-sized Improvements
Samsung also announced devices other than foldable phones at its unpacked event, and they might ironically be more interesting as far as significant upgrades go. The Galaxy Watch 5, for example, introduces a new “Pro” model for people who like to live life to the extreme. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, on the other hand, introduces a slightly different design as well as new features. Neither, however, changes the formula completely in ways so different from their predecessors.
The Galaxy Watch 5 admittedly deviates a bit from previous Samsung smartwatches by ditching the rotating bezel that was once a staple of this line. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro takes the game to a new level with a protruding bezel that is almost nonexistent among most smartwatches, even the sportier ones. At the end of the day, however, these are just variations of the existing Galaxy Watch design language, providing a product that is new yet also familiar, inspiring confidence that most things are still the same.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro also changes the design a bit, embracing a smaller form that is promised to actually provide a more secure fit. Its headlining features, however, include support for Hi-Fi 24-bit audio and high-quality music. It doesn’t stray too far from the first Galaxy Buds Pro’s form, though, which is a bit of a surprise since Samsung has changed its design for almost every new earbuds. It finally seems that it has found a winning design formula and is sticking to it, at least for now.
Stability almost has a negative connotation in the smartphone industry, at least when it comes to design and appearances. If you’re not showing off something entirely new and head-turning, you’re as good as dead. That’s no longer the case these days, though, as more and more smartphone manufacturers stick to a design for another generation or two. Rather than seeing it as a sign of stagnation, however, it should be taken as evidence of maturity.
Living things tend to slow down their rapid growth rate once they hit an age of maturity, and products also start to change less once people stumble upon the perfect combination. While the doors are still wide open for innovation in smartphones, they no longer need to happen every six months. People are now looking for products and designs that they can rely on, not one that changes drastically every year. Smartphones still need to improve, but they don’t need to make leaps with every new model.
This doesn’t mean that Samsung’s job is done. Far from it, the Galaxy Z Fold, in particular, still has a long way to go toward perfection. It still needs to be able to fold flat, its crease needs to be less visible, the S Pen needs a silo inside, and the cameras have yet to reach the same level as Samsung’s own Galaxy S flagship line. It could have brought all of that this year, presuming it already had the pieces ready, but it chose to create a calmer and more sensible atmosphere with the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s and Galaxy Z Flip 4’s launch. Armed with incremental refinements and a clearer direction, Samsung is trying to send a message that its foldable phones aren’t just a passing fad and that it’s here for the long haul.
Your college years can be some of the best of your life, but we know it can be tough to enjoy them when you’re scrounging every dollar for textbooks, food and (if you’re lucky) the occasional outing with friends. Money is tight when you’re a student, and that financial stress can be compounded by the reality of having to stay on top of your studies.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s student discounts. Many companies offer their products and apps for less to those struggling through lectures, writing term papers and studying for finals. We’ve compiled a list of the best deals you can get on useful services, along with some things you’ll enjoy in your down time. Just keep in mind that most of these offers require you to prove your status as a student either by signing up with your .edu email address or providing some form of student identification.
Amazon Prime Student
If you’re not piggybacking off of your parents’ Amazon Prime account, you can have the subscription for less while you’re in school. College students can get Prime Student for free for six months, then it costs only $7.49 per month after that. That comes out to about $90 per year, and the membership includes the same perks as regular Prime does, including free two-day shipping, free same-day delivery in select areas, and access to the entire Prime Video library.
While it doesn’t offer a specific student discount, Best Buy has Student Deals that you can sign up to receive. Aside from proving your student status, the only requirement is for you to be a My Best Buy member; that program is free to enroll in. We actually recommend that most people sign up for My Best Buy because some items, especially during site-wide sales, will be even cheaper for members. All student deals will appear in the Member Offers page in your account.
Apple offers some deals to students and educators in the form of knocking down the prices of its most popular laptops and tablets. There isn’t a flat percentage rate across all products; the discounts vary by device. For example, right now students can get a MacBook Air M1 starting at $899, which is $100 less than the normal starting price, and the iPad Pros start at $749, which represents a $50 discount. These are decent savings if you must have a brand new Apple product, but those with tighter budgets should also consider Apple’s refurb program. Also for 2022, students can get up to a $150 gift card and 20 percent off AppleCare when they purchase a qualifying Mac or iPad.
Much like Apple, Samsung doesn't offer a blanket discount across all of its products for students. But you can save depending on what you're looking to buy. For example, you can save hundreds on the latest Galaxy S22 smartphones, and the discount will be deeper if you have a handset to trade in. On the laptop-and-tablet side of things, you can get a Galaxy Chromebook 2 for as low as $350 or a Galaxy Tab S8+ for. as low as $200.
Microsoft also provides students and educators with up to 10 percent off its gadgets, including the already affordable Surface Go 2 and the Surface Headphones 2. And Microsoft’s online store doesn’t only sell Surface devices: You can also find Windows PCs from Lenovo, HP, Acer and others there at discounted prices.
Spotify Premium’s student plan gives you a lot for only $5 per month. Besides access to millions of songs, it also includes Hulu’s ad-supported tier and Showtime’s ad-free service. You’d spend roughly $27 a month if you paid for all three separately at their full prices, making this student offer one of the best you can get.
Pandora also offers students its Premium membership for $5 per month. Pandora’s offering doesn’t include any additional services, but you do get an ad-free experience, personalized music, unlimited skips and unlimited offline play. Plus, you’ll get 60 days of free use before your payments kick in.
Apple also slashes 50 percent off its Apple Music subscription for students, bringing it down to $5 per month. The offer is available for up to 48 months so you can enjoy the rate for the entirety of your college experience. What’s more, the company bundles Apple TV+ in this student offer, so you can watch Apple originals like Ted Lasso and Severance.
Paramount+’s student discount knocks 25 percent off the Essentials monthly plan, so you’ll end up paying around $3.75 per month for access to the service’s content with limited commercials. With this subscription, you can watch shows like Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, South Park, RuPaul’s Drag Race and more, but just keep in mind that this particular plan doesn’t include access to your local CBS station.
Discovery+ knocks 40 percent off monthly plans for students, so you can get access for only $3 per month. You’ll pay for the Ad-Lite plan, so there will still be commercials to sit through, but you can get that discounted rate for as long as you are an enrolled student.
Tidal provides student discounts on both of its streaming services: Premium and Hi-Fi. Premium drops to $5 per month, down from $10, while Hi-Fi costs $10 per month, down from $20. Tidal is still often overshadowed by Spotify and Apple Music, but these discounts are a good way to give it a try without spending too much money.
College students can sign up for Hulu’s ad-supported plan for only $2 per month. That’s $4 less than the normal price and a great deal considering all of the content that Hulu has to offer (think: The Handmaid’s Tale, Grey’s Anatomy, Rick & Morty and more). Yes, you have to deal with commercials, but it’s a small price to pay to binge-watch shows like Brooklyn Nine Nine, which can provide a much-needed laugh when you’re drowning in coursework.
If you’re already spending a lot of time watching YouTube, you may have a better experience with YouTube Premium. The Student plan cuts nearly 50 percent off the price so you’ll pay $7 per month for ad-free video viewing, background play, video downloads and access to YouTube Premium Music. The latter is YouTube’s attempt at a Spotify/Apple Music competitor, but it has a long way to go before it can really hold a candle to those services. However, if you listen to most of your music via YouTube already, Premium could be your one-stop-shop for music and video streaming.
Being a student is stressful even in the best of times, but now it’s even more difficult to concentrate and find peace. Headspace is just one of many meditation and mindfulness apps available that can help with that, but it stands apart with an excellent student discount: $10 for the entire year, or $60 less than a normal annual membership. In addition to a large library of meditation lessons and routines to follow, Headspace recently added SleepCasts, a collection of soothing voices reading bedtime stories to help you fall asleep, as well as “mindful” workout routines.
You’re probably using Adobe products if you’re studying anything related to digital art or design. Adobe Creative Cloud is the industry standard in this space but the entire suite of programs is quite expensive at $53 per month. Thankfully, Adobe has education pricing for students that drops the entire creative suite to $20 per month for the first year. That includes the big programs like Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC along with Lightroom CC, Premiere Pro CC, Adobe XD and more.
After your first year, the monthly cost increases to $30 per month. While not ideal, it’s still more affordable for students than it is for industry professionals. If you’re not tied to Adobe programs, you might also consider Affinity Photo, Designer and Publisher apps from Serif ($50 each for the Mac or Windows versions), which compete with Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, respectively.
Regardless of whether you’re studying music production, students can get 40 percent off Ableton Live Standard or Suite for as long as they are enrolled full-time. That brings Live 11 Standard down to $269 and Suite down to $449 — great discounts on some of the best music software available right now.
Many students have to use Microsoft 365 tools on the regular. If your college or university doesn’t provide you with an account, you can still get Microsoft 365 for free by taking advantage of the company’s student and educator discount. This gives you access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and even Microsoft Teams free of charge, which is a solid deal considering an annual subscription costs $100.
Spending all day and night writing papers is even more frustrating when you don’t have all your writing organized in one place. Ulysses is a popular writing app for mac/iOS that can be used for note taking as well as thesis writing, with features like auto-save and auto-backup, word-count writing goals, markup, plain text support and DropBox integration. Normally, Ulysses costs $40 per year but students can get it for only $12 every six months, or $24 per year. There isn’t a direct alternative for Windows users, but you do have options including Scrivener (a one-time student price of $41.65), IA Writer (a $20 one-time price) and FocusWriter (free and open-source).
Evernote can be an indispensable tool if you like to keep all of your thoughts in one place — everything from class notes to web clippings to to-do lists. Students can get half off one year of Evernote Premium, which brings the price down to $4 per month or $48 for the year. Premium is the way to go if you’re investing in Evernote because it syncs your notes across unlimited devices, gives you offline access, lets you annotate PDFs and search saved documents.
Notion provides students and educators its Personal Pro plan for free just by signing up with a valid .edu email address. While the free version of the service has a ton of features, the Pro plan adds unlimited pages and blocks, file uploads and version history. That means you won’t be restricted if you want to collect your entire academic life in Notion, along with your personal to-do lists, agendas, notes and more.
Aspiring developers can sign up for Github’s Student Developer Pack, which includes discounts and resources that developers can use to learn, create projects and more. Github partnered with a bunch of companies including Educative, Canva, Namecheap, Bootstrap Studio and others to offer students access to many of the services they’ll need as the expand their skills.
You shouldn’t rely on Twitter to be your sole source of news. With foreign wars, new viruses, Supreme Court decisions and upcoming elections making headlines daily, it’s important to get your news from reliable sources. Yes, it’s daunting to get into the news on a regular basis, but it’s crucial to know what’s going on in the country and the world as a whole. Here are some reputable news organizations that offer student discounts on their monthly or annual subscription plans.
The Atlantic: Starts at $35 per year for digital-only access.