Samsung has officially revealed its first market-ready screen-foldable smartphone, but the price tag it carries is sure to freeze consumer hype in its tracks.
Samsung might have just announced the next big game changer for smartphones at its Samsung Unpacked 2019 event in San Francisco.
As is the order of business every year, Samsung announced the latest models in their flagship S-series: three new S10 models. What stole the event, however, was their new Galaxy Fold smartphone – the market-ready iteration of their much-hyped foldable screen technology.
You will probably line up at the store to see this one – but not buy it.
Why? Well, that's a $2,000 question.
The details you need to know
Foldable smartphones already exist in the market, but they had been mostly relegated to niche developers. With Samsung entering the pitch, foldable smartphones could finally break into the mainstream.
The Samsung Fold screen sits at a decent 4.6 inches when folded, and 7.3 inches when unfolded into a pseudo-tablet. Samsung said the device will withstand more than 200,000 folds without fault. Once unfolded, you will also be able to run and use 3 apps at the same time.
As for internals, the Fold comes packed with a massive 12 GB of RAM, 512 GB memory, and a “7nm chipset” - the Snapdragon 855. It also comes with two batteries (total capacity of 4,380mAh) and 6 cameras (on the front, back and inside).
Rear: 12-megapixel wide-angle camera, a 12-megapixel telephoto camera and a 16-megapixel ultra wide camera.
Inside: 10-megapixel selfie camera and an 8-megapixel depth camera.
Front: 10-megapixel selfie camera.
The device will come with 4G and 5G variations.
The base 4G model will launch on April 26 in the US, and May 6th in Europe. No MENA release date has been yet announced. The 5G release is also slated, but with no solid date at the moment.
The massive paywall between you and Samsung’s shiny new toy
And now to the deal breaker. Samsung expects its consumers to shell out a massive stack of cash for their latest in smartphone innovation: $1,980, to be precise.
While it’s true that flagship smartphones have been leaning towards the higher end in recent years, with the iPhone XS Max hitting the $1,449 mark at max specs, and the S9+ releasing at $840, asking customers to cough up $1,980 is quite the stretch. While the device has the novelty factor backing it up, it’s likely that most consumers will opt for window viewing with this one.
First reactions were telling enough. According to the NYPost, the “$1,980 price tag drew audible gasps and laughs from the assembled audience in the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium” at the event.
People on Twitter were not that enthused either, similarly complaining about the hefty price tag. Others took to jokingly comparing its folded look to bulky phones from the 90s and early 2000s.
USA TODAY, via SurveyMonkey Audience, asked smartphone buyers which features would get them excited about buying a new phone. Only 19% of those with an Android device said a flexible or foldable design would fill the bill.
Meanwhile, in the same survey, only 3% of buyers said they were willing to spend more than $1,000 on any new smartphone, painting quite the dilemma for Samsung.
In truth, smartphone enthusiasts will likely have to wait for the novelty factor to wear out in a year or so before later models are tweaked specs-wise and price-wise. As it currently stands, the phone is quite bulky and not too pleasant on the eyes in its folded mode. Also, the price will most likely be the biggest turn off for consumers.
With research firm Gartner reporting weakened smartphone sales in Q4 2018, a wave of innovation is welcome – but at what cost?
Samsung might have beat its biggest rivals to the foldable smartphone race, but it hasn't got much of a headstart. Speaking to AMEinfo, Gene Jiao, MEA Region President of Huawei CBG, told us that Huawei will be sharing some updates on 5G and foldable smartphone technology during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona next week. The event will run from February 25-28.
Come April, we will see how sales of the Samsung Galaxy Fold perform.