Can foldable smartphones become mainstream?

Samsung wants to make the foldable smartphone “maintsream” in the coming year. A major challenge for a product category that is still clearly in its infancy, at Samsung as with others.

Samsung is doing pretty well. The Korean manufacturer posted encouraging quarterly results with revenues up 20%. To maintain this dynamism, the company has ambitious plans for the mobile sector since it wishes to ” consolidate its leadership in the high-end segment by making the foldable product category mainstream “. A major mission.

The foldable does not yet have a killer-app

Arrived on the market with the Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate X, foldable smartphones are for the moment still curiosities of technophiles. Sold very expensive, not always very well optimized, these phones and those that followed (the Razr, the Galaxy Flip or the Surface Duo to a lesser extent) have not yet made their way into the market. Faced with the Galaxy S or iPhone 12 (which you can find in our guide to buying the best smartphones of 2021), foldable phones do not offer much except the appeal of novelty. Can Samsung Really Make Foldable Mainstream?

The answer is no. In any case, not alone. The Korean manufacturer may well put all its strength behind this new category of products (to the detriment of the Galaxy Note for that matter), the foldable is not going to impose itself like that.

The first reason is quite simple, the foldable does not yet have its killer-app. The interest of a smartphone capable of transforming into a tablet is obvious at first glance, more room for its content, but the use is not there yet. The Android ecosystem is still in its infancy regarding foldable mobile support, and software experiences vary widely.

The battle of formats

The foldable smartphone has not yet found its raison d’être. Is it a hybrid device between phone and tablet? A super large format phone? A device designed for work and multitasking? All of this at the same time ? No application or service has yet demonstrated why we must move to the foldable format at all costs.

The Samsung Galaxy Flip has a different approach to the Fold // Source: Omar Belkaab for Frandroid

Moreover, this foldable “format” is still debated since a Galaxy Flip or a Galaxy Fold do not have the same approach at all. The first opens vertically (like a flip phone from the 2000s), the other opens horizontally (like a book). These various attempts show that the foldable smartphone is still thinking about its way of approaching the market.

The foldable OK, but probably not right away

This does not mean, however, that the future is gloomy for this category of products. First of all because Samsung is not alone in the adventure as we have seen. In a hurry to stand out from the countless black rectangles that flood the market, manufacturers like Motorola, Microsoft or even LG are trying to release products in innovative formats. Even Apple is gearing up, with a foldable iPhone slated for 2023.

Rarely first in the use of new technologies, Apple has the habit of waiting for its competitors to wipe the plasters before launching. But the brand’s interest in this foldable sector clearly shows that this market is not a fad. With the support of a large community of developers, with improvements in software and hardware, and above all with much needed lower prices, the foldable smartphone can become mainstream. But it is not for now.

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