Samsung unveils new foldable smartphones in bid to challenge Apple

Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker, has introduced its foldable smartphones, maintaining a consistent pricing strategy for the third consecutive year.
Price of Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5The move is aimed at competing head-to-head with Apple in the premium smartphone market segment. Samsung’s new foldable phones are set to hit select markets on August 11, 2023.

“The challenge is getting users to upgrade, with what they perceive to be incremental improvements on previous models, particularly when most are tightening their belts,” Paolo Pescatore, PP Foresight, said.

“It will be a challenge for Samsung to articulate the merits of the new Fold when the updates are hardly noticeable to users, that’s why it is increasingly being positioned as a productivity device.”

Samsung first ventured into the foldable smartphone segment in 2019, anticipating that consumers would be drawn to larger screens for content consumption while maintaining a compact phone size with its foldable display technology.

Although foldable phones have gained popularity, they still remain a niche product, accounting for only 5 percent of the global premium smartphone market. However, this sector has seen substantial growth since its inception, growing from a mere 0.3 percent in 2019, research firm Counterpoint said.

Samsung, a leader in the foldable phone market with an impressive 63 percent market share in the first quarter, aims to accelerate its growth trajectory through aggressive pricing and a faster product rollout, according to industry analysts.

The latest Samsung models, the Galaxy Z Flip5 and the Galaxy Z Fold5, have been priced at $999.99 and $1,799.99 respectively in the United States. These prices mirror the launch prices of their predecessors from the last two years.

The Galaxy Z Flip5 boasts a thinner form factor compared to its previous iteration, achieved by improving the hinge mechanism. Additionally, the cover screen has been enlarged to 3.4 inches (8.64 cm), allowing for better interactions and an improved ability to take selfies with the main camera.

On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 features a 7.6-inch screen that is lighter and thinner than its predecessor. This model includes a larger vapour chamber, optimizing heat management during gaming or multitasking, and a 41 percent thinner stylus. Both models are equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipsets.

One notable strategy this time is that Samsung unveiled its latest models earlier in the year, likely to keep the spotlight on its products for a longer duration before Apple’s next iPhone release.

Jene Park, senior analyst at Counterpoint, highlighted that competition with Apple’s iPhone 15 series is inevitable. The market for foldable products has expanded beyond early adopters to general users, especially in regions like China and Western Europe.

The advanced technology involved in creating foldable displays and hinges contributes to higher production costs, making these phones more expensive than regular smartphones. This pricing aspect has been a significant obstacle for consumers, according to Jene Park.

Counterpoint forecasts that global foldable smartphone shipments will reach 19 million units in 2023, a 45 percent increase from 13.1 million units in 2022.

As of 2022, Apple held a commanding 75 percent share of the premium smartphone market for devices priced $600 or above, while Samsung trailed with a 16 percent share.

Gartner research showed Samsung held the No.2 spot in the tablet market with a 21.6 percent market share in the first quarter of 2023. Apple held the No. 1 position with a 45.9 percent market share. In the mobile phone market, Samsung maintained the leading position with a 19.9 percent market share. Apple held the No. 2 with an 18.7 percent market share. Additional relevant data points can be found in the Security tab of the Gartner Market Databook.