HS analysis Are folding phones more harm than good to Samsung? The biggest challenge is to hide embarrassing mistakes

The first reactions to the new phone models are certainly a relief for Samsung, as the road to foldable phones has been rocky, writes HS journalist Juho-Pekka Pekonen.

World Samsung, the largest mobile phone retailer, unveiled new versions of its fold-out phones at a virtual news conference on Wednesday. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 phones offer better display technology than previous models, as well as a more advanced processor.

Like the models from previous years, the new Fold model is essentially a 7.6-inch mini-tablet that can also be folded up, making it work like traditional smartphones. The flip phone, on the other hand, is more reminiscent of early 2000s folding clamshell phones.

Equipped with a price tag of almost 2,000 euros, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is one of Samsung’s most expensive phones.

South Korean the technology giant now showed that it was ready to invest in the development of its folding phones and market them furiously.

Despite improved water resistance, a refresh rate of 120 Hz, and support for a touchscreen pen, Samsung lowered the high starting price of its Fold to 1,900 euros. The starting price of the Galaxy Flip 3 in Finland is more than a thousand euros.

Phones running Google’s Android operating system are scheduled to hit stores on August 27th.

The Galaxy Flip 3 has a small screen where you can check, for example, instant messages without opening the phone.

Samsung is by far the largest manufacturer of folding display smart devices in the world: According to the Counterpoint Research Institute the market share is estimated to be 88 percent this year, and equipment sales are estimated to be less than 9 million worldwide.

On the other hand, there is hardly any competition at all.

For example, the American Apple has reportedly been designing a folding Iphone for several years, but it has not launched similar products.

Based on pre-tests released online, testers are praising the more streamlined look of Samsung’s new phones and the more durable display of Fold models, for example. The reactions are certainly a relief for Samsung, as the sky for foldable phones has been rocky.

Following in the footsteps of its competitors, Apple has probably been pleased with the delay: foldable phones have been an unprecedented ordeal for Samsung, and the company’s biggest goal is to make consumers forget past mistakes.

The hype subsided with a rumble.

Korean company unveiled its Galaxy Fold smartphone, fueled by high expectations, in February 2019. The company advertised it as the first mass-produced folding display phone.

Fold was like a breeze from the future: a smartphone that magically opened into a small tablet machine with a 7.3-inch screen.

However, the hype subsided with a rumble when test users said the phone breaks down easily. The problem was, among other things, the middle hinge, under which dirt could break the screen.

For example, the display of a test piece from a Bloomberg technology vendor was ruined after a couple of days:

It was only later revealed to the reporter and other testers that the protective film on the phone could not be removed. Tearing off the easily detachable plastic made the phone unusable. The device’s soft plastic screen was also easily scratched.

Everything echoed that Samsung had to make a lot of compromises to get the device to market quickly.

Dirt under the screen hinge caused problems, especially in the test versions of the Galaxy Fold. The picture shows a version for sale in which the hinge mechanics had been improved.

The Galaxy Fold’s arrival at stores was delayed by several months due to the uproar.

Eventually, the company launched an improved model that smoothed out the biggest flaws. However, the product with the price tag of EUR 2 100 was clearly aimed at consumers enthusiastic about the new technology, who could afford to invest in a mediocre product.

Samsung however, did not allow setbacks to slow down product development: the following year the company announced an updated Galaxy Fold model as well as a smaller Galaxy Z Flip folding phone. It was already more like the size of a traditional smartphone when opened. The one and a half cent thick phone already easily pocketed in its pocket, unlike its predecessor. In addition, its screen was glass.

Flip’s price tag of about 1,500 euros was no longer as salty as its predecessor. The price was already in line with the prices of the most expensive flagship models from other mobile phone manufacturers.

Samsung unveiled the first Galaxy Z Flip in February 2020.

Fight however, against folding phone failures did not end.

Initial tests revealed that Flip’s screen was still not glass, or at least it was coated with easily scratched plastic.

And while Samsung promised the hinge would take about 200,000 to open, appeared on social media a few months later, pictures of screens scattered just at the hinge. This time, the cause of the problem was suspected to be cold weather, and the defective products were reportedly only single pieces.

However, those disappointed with Samsung’s promises received confirmation from the news of their prejudices: is it worth buying a phone worth more than a thousand euros that breaks down in less than a year?

At least the protective film of the phones can no longer be torn off, at least accidentally.

From the setbacks despite folding phones have probably come to stay. The company apparently has enough credit for their success despite numerous problems.

And after all, Samsung has also learned from its mistakes: at least the protective film of the phones can no longer be accidentally torn off.

However, as a mere echo of the mistakes of the past, Samsung reminds us that the new Galaxy Z Fold 3 should only be used with stylus pens made for it – pens from other manufacturers when they may scratch the sensitive screen.

No one can deny that Samsung’s new phones at least stand out from the lineup of smartphones that look like copies of each other, and that alone is an important market asset for the company.

As display technology improves and becomes cheaper, modern clamshells will inevitably eventually become available to the mass consumer as well. Long product development also gives Samsung another year ahead of other mobile phone manufacturers.

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