T3 interview: Nick Porter
Nick Porter is Vice-President – Product Management & Commercial Operations, SEU.
Samsung has confirmed that it is not abandoning Galaxy Note users. In fact, speaking to T3, Nick Porter of Samsung said that the Galaxy Z Fold phone was created with Note users in mind, and the Note’s legacy will live on.
“While we will not be launching new Samsung Galaxy Note devices this year, we are committed to expanding the Galaxy Note experience across our wider Galaxy ecosystem – starting with the Galaxy Z Fold3 – and bringing many of the Galaxy Note’s popular productivity and creativity features to the portfolio’s loyal fanbase,” he said.
T3 reviewed both the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3, and as we documented in those reviews, as well as in opinion pieces, we really dug the pair of foldables.
Indeed, for our money these phones are now the out-and-out best folding phones in the world, and if you’re interesting in making the jump to a foldable then they have to be considered.
As a result of this, T3 got in touch with Samsung to see if it could shed some more light on just how these game-changing folding phones were created, what their receptions has been like, and where the future of foldable lies.
Nick Porter, Vice-President – Product Management & Commercial Operations, SEU, got back in touch and this is what he had to say.
T3: The Galaxy Z Fold 3 has S Pen support. Do you see it as a successor device to the Samsung Galaxy Note range?
Nick Porter: While we will not be launching new Samsung Galaxy Note devices this year, we are committed to expanding the Galaxy Note experience across our wider Galaxy ecosystem – starting with the Galaxy Z Fold3 – and bringing many of the Galaxy Note’s popular productivity and creativity features to the portfolio’s loyal fanbase.
For example, we have brought S Pen capability to the Galaxy Z Fold3. To create an S Pen that works with Galaxy Z Fold3’s Ultra-Thin Glass, we have spent the last few years completely re-engineering the S Pen with new technologies.
Additionally, the Galaxy Z Fold3 – like our much-loved Note Series – is a productivity master and enjoys much of the same features that built such a loyal fanbase for the Note. We’ve improved Z Series compatibility with hundreds of leading apps, for example, so foldable users can enjoy the same levels of performance from productivity apps such as Microsoft Office and Zoom.
With this innovative form factor giving users more screen space and multi-tasking than ever before, we truly believe that foldable is the future of smartphone productivity.
T3: Have Samsung’s sales of folding phones increased over the last year? If so, what do you feel is the cause of that?
NP: The reception to our foldable devices has been really strong – we are seeing that we are attracting previous Galaxy Note loyalists, but also switching over customers who did not previously use an Android device. As the pioneers of this category, it’s been really exciting to see how foldables have grown in ability and popularity since we first launched the Galaxy Fold in 2019.
The reality is that, now, more people are realising that the foldable form factor can meet the ever-increasing demands of modern life. With the advent of festivals, we are seeing a rise in social activity which when balanced with a job and family life – has put a huge focus on our devices as an enabler of communication, organisation, and productivity.
For the latest additions to the Galaxy Z Series, we have focused on addressing the key barriers to entry for prospective customers considering moving to a foldable device. Feedback has been a huge part of our foldable journey and – through comments and stories from our customers’ Galaxy Z Series experiences – we have identified some key challenges that have been holding some people back from the Galaxy Fold and Flip, including affordability, assurance of durability, awareness, and accessibility, and looked to address them.
For example, we’ve made the Galaxy Z Fold3 and Z Flip3 the most affordable foldables to date, with competitive pricing and trade-in deals, and we’ve boosted them with durability that matches the high standards set by traditional smartphones. Both devices are protected by Armor Aluminium and Gorilla Glass, with an IP6X rating for water resistance which means they can be submerged in 1.5 metres of water for 30 minutes.
We acknowledged that – while product innovation is always our priority – we needed to put a focus on awareness and accessibility to ensure we’re getting the Galaxy Z Series story out there and into the hands of our customers. As such, we launched our biggest ever marketing campaign for a foldable product – Unfold Your World – supported with pop-up stores so our customers can touch and feel the product.
T3: Do you have specific phone users in mind for the Fold and Flip? Who would you say these devices are for?
NP: Ultimately, we want these devices to be for everyone and we’ve taken this launch as an opportunity to bring foldable to the mainstream. When developing a new category, it is important to provide choice so people can try the form factor on their terms, and we think we’ve done a good job at doing so.
Since launching the Galaxy Z Series, we have carefully profiled our audiences for both the Fold and Flip to best develop devices that suit their lifestyles. The Galaxy Z Fold3 user, for example, tends to want their tech to help drive their productivity so they can optimise both their work and leisure time. Whereas Galaxy Z Flip3 users tend to primarily use their tech for entertainment, to share moments of their life via social media, and to connect to others all while using a stylish device.
We have improved our latest Galaxy Z series devices to address the biggest consumer needs and wants. Consumers told us that they were looking for increased durability, new and improved displays, S Pen functionality, and more apps tailored specifically to the foldable experience. With our latest Galaxy Z series devices, we’re delivering all that and more in sleeker devices – at lower price points.
T3: I thought I’d prefer the dual phone-tablet functionality of the Fold but ended up gravitating towards the phone-only Flip due to its style and compact form factor. Which has been the more popular device for you?
NP: The real beauty of the Galaxy Z Series is that we can provide devices for all occasions and purposes, and your own experience is exactly why we encourage people to come and experience these devices in-store – which almost feels like a luxury after the last 18 months – and work out which is best for them.
The reality is, it depends on your lifestyle and what you want to use your device for. For those that want that extra screen real estate for entertainment, gaming, or productivity, the Galaxy Z Fold3 is the ideal choice. It benefits from a tablet-like screen that can then be folded into a slim, lightweight form that can slip into your jeans pocket. We’ve made the Z Fold3 11g lighter than its predecessor – just the weight of a coffee cup – and 0.5mm thinner to make it more portable than ever.
Equally, the Galaxy Z Flip3 epitomises smartphone style and is particularly popular for those that like their devices to make a statement. The colourways – Cream, Phantom Black, Green, and Lavender – all look great and allow our customers to reflect their personality and style with their smartphone. The clam-shell form has already received vast amounts of positive feedback, further highlighting the importance of a device that is portable and lightweight when using it in your day-to-day life.
When we look at how this translates to market performance, the Galaxy Z Fold has done excellently with our loyal fanbase of Note enthusiasts and has all the features ready to lead the market as a productivity-focused smartphone. However, we see the Galaxy Z Flip as our mass-market device, and it is already leading the path towards the mainstream.
T3: The hinge mechanisms on both folding Samsung phones are amazing, but there remains a noticeable crease in both phones’ screens. Is removing that crease now the focus for Samsung?
NP: We’re proud of the work we have done with the hinge on our latest devices and our R&D team have done an excellent job at achieving one of our main objectives for this set of devices: make foldables more durable.
As a normal characteristic of a device designed with a flexible display, some users do report a faint crease appearing on their Galaxy Z Series devices. We can confirm that this crease does not affect the display’s quality, lifespan, or performance, and will not impede the experience of using the device or viewing content.
Naturally, our team is always working on improving the foldable experience and they’re doing some phenomenal work when it comes to R&D for the Z Series devices. Two years ago, the concept of foldable glass alone seemed impossible for a consumer device, so we are excited to see the developments we can make with these devices over the coming years.
T3: The price of both Fold and Flip have reduced this year notably. Is that something we can expect now every year? How long do you feel it will be until the Fold drops under £1,000?
NP: We always want to offer the most competitive pricing and have demonstrated this with the Galaxy Z Fold3 and Z Flip3. Both devices are starting at a lower price point than any of their predecessors, and we worked with our partners to unveil competitive trade-in offers around our launch. Whilst I can’t comment on future devices, we have seen during the pandemic that our customers are willing to invest in future-proofed technology – as we move to a more hybrid way of working and living.
Ultimately, we aim to keep democratising foldable technology to enable our customers the opportunity to choose a form factor that works for their lifestyle and we will continue striving to bring the price down as this portfolio evolves.
T3: Samsung is best in class right now in having a UI that adapts to the mode the folding device is in – can you talk a little bit about the R&D that has gone into this?
NP: We’re excited to bring the One UI 3.1.1 to our latest foldables, which is the most intuitive UI for foldables to date. We’ve designed this with an onus on taking advantage of the larger screen real estate of the Galaxy Z Fold3 and Flip3 and making the devices as easy – if not easier – to use than the traditional flat form factor.
To achieve this, we’ve introduced a series of modes and features that enable users to take advantage of having two screens on one device. For example, Drag & Split mode means users no longer need to open up a new tab and switch back and forth constantly between windows, and Multi-Active Window mode on One UI 3.1.1 gives users the ability to use up to three apps simultaneously on their screen and adjust both the height and the width of the app windows to suit their needs.
These are just two of the series of features that we have developed to enhance the UI on the Galaxy Z Series. Of course, we also rely on our excellent industry partnerships and we now have enhanced compatibility with hundreds of leading apps including Microsoft Office, Zoom, and Disney+. This provides the ideal aspect ratio – and no black borders – when our customers want to use their favourite apps on their foldable device.
It is not only foldables where we have made significant progress with our UI. Our Galaxy Watch4 benefits from a revamped operating system – Wear OS – which we developed in partnership with Google. This is a momentous step forward for our collaborative relationship with Google and creates the most seamless smartwatch experience yet.
T3: Samsung now dominates the folding phone space, and some rivals seem to have fallen away. Are you expecting the foldable market to rapidly expand again shortly?
NP: The response to this launch has been second to none and it’s been great to see the excitement and enthusiasm for the new Galaxy Z Series devices. We’ve pioneered and innovated to build the foldable category from the ground up, and the rise it has been on since our first Galaxy Fold launch 2019 has been exponential.
We do believe more choice in the market is good for the customer, and we welcome our competitors to keep up with us. Ultimately our view is that we are approaching a new dividing line in the smartphone industry that will redefine the conversation for years to come. For too long the discussion has revolved around OS – iOS or Android – and we believe this will now evolve to ‘fold or flat?’
T3: Which folding phone do you use? Explain your choice.
NP: Fortunately, I am in the privileged position of owning both the Galaxy Z Fold3 and the Galaxy Z Flip3 – a perk of the job! – so I do switch between them depending on what I want to use my device for at that given time. When I’m working or commuting into the office, I tend to carry the Galaxy Z Fold3 around to make use of the productivity features. It’s also a great hit around my house for the large screen and the entertainment benefits that brings with it. I then use the Galaxy Z Flip3 for content capturing – the Flex Mode makes it a lot of fun for my kids to take hands-free videos and selfies around the house.