It's finally here! Samsung's folding screen phone, the Next Big Thing that will ignite the imagination and empty wallets in the world of smartphones! Or more likely not.
the Galaxy Fold is an ambitious device, like a flagship supercar or an ultra-rare luxury watch. This is the phone on which you drool, but not the one you buy. Samsung knows it well. It is hard to imagine that this is not the case, with a price that makes even the most expensive Apple iPhone cheaper in comparison. And they are fine with that. Because the Galaxy Fold is a gigantic gamble of one of the only phone makers that can make it. And whatever the cycle of this product, Samsung wins.
Buy the Mustang
Samsung gave Galaxy Fold the place of choice in its press event preceding the World Mobile Congress, with both the event's slogan and the leadership position of the bold new design. But this is not the one Samsung actually invests in: it's obviously the Galaxy S10. Look no further than presenters if you need proof.
The Galaxy Fold was introduced by a vice president of the marketing department. But when Samsung's CEO, DJ Koh, came to present a brief demonstration of Galaxy Fold hardware, he launched the Galaxy S10 +.
The CEO of Samsung has personally introduced the Galaxy S10 +, not the Galaxy Fold. Samsung
This is because, this year as every year, Samsung will sell an incredible amount of Galaxy S phones. Even with the alarming price increases (roughly parallel to Samsung's only big competitor, Apple), the operators' promotions and the financing options will alleviate the financial difficulties of this new model. But even those who could justify a budget of $ 1,000 would be reluctant to double it for the Fold.
Do you want more evidence? The Fold uses a small 4.6-inch front panel (by modern standards), probably so small on a device of this size, because Samsung needed every cubic millimeter to store hardware around this inner hinge and screen massif. And even so, the Galaxy Fold does not make the most of Samsung's latest doohickeys, apart from its massive interior screen.
Ultrasonic fingerprint reader built-in screen? No, he has a side drive, like a phone eight years ago. The reverse wireless charging that can give a boost to your Galaxy Buds? No, not mentioned at all. While the S10 has a maximum of terabytes of on-board storage, the Galaxy Fold is limited to 512GB, despite a whopping 12GB of RAM. The phone does not even have the new feature of the Galaxy S10, the "perforation" of the camera: the inner screen simply uses a massive cut for its two cameras.
So what does all this mean? This means that Samsung does not want the Galaxy Fold to become the most complete smartphone in every possible area. Because it is not necessary. The S10 + is the phone they market to fans, people who want something equal (or better than) the latest iPhone or Pixel. On the other hand, the Galaxy Fold is an ambitious classic product: the one you want to worry about, even if nobody can afford it. Or even justify it.
Think of it in terms of cars. If you are a car enthusiast, you know the Ford GT, the Dodge Viper, the Nissan "Skyline" GT-R. These are the cars on which you drool, maybe even make a concession loan trial if you feel bold. But even if you could collect the monthly payments, you know you'd regret it the first time you tried to place a full load of groceries in the trunk or the third time you filled the tank with water. 39, gasoline in one week.
If you want something fun but at least a bit sane in mind, you buy the Mustang, or the Challenger, or (perish the thought) Maxima sedan. The supercar is that of the dealer window that allows you to enter the building. But it's not the one you're going to buy.
Ford wants you to drool on this GT … but he knows you're going to buy the Mustang instead. Ford Performance
It's the same with the Galaxy Fold. This is the main device of Samsung in 2019, the one you will see in several commercials in September and October to make you think about the innovation and futurism of the brand. And it will work: you will not see anything like this for a long time. But with a price two times lower than that of a standard high-end phone, a thick that will barely slip into your pocket and the dubious utility side of a small Android-powered tablet, Samsung knows you're not sure Do not go buy one. .
The Galaxy Fold is for bragging rights
With the shrinking smartphone market and declining profits as users are reluctant to pay high prices or simply keep their older phones longer, only two companies can offer phones as outrageous and as advanced as the Fold. Apple did not do it, because that's not how Apple works. Apple, despite all its innovations and genius, is conservative: its material evolution is soft and stable. And Samsung created the Fold, because that's not how Apple works.
Samsung, with its leading market position in terms of volume and relative security, can afford to build the Fold, even knowing that it will not be the fund creator that the S10 will be. And this is the only player in the Android game to be able to do it. OnePlus can not spend hundreds of millions of dollars on research and development for a new form factor. US rival Samsung, LG, and even Chinese high-growth brands such as Huawei and Xiaomi can not make huge profits in a growing market. Google could probably afford it, but like Apple, they are relatively conservative in terms of pure material.
Samsung is not conservative. As highlighted by yesterday's presentation, they were betting heavily on the big phones with the original Galaxy Note and had started a trend that even Apple had followed too long ago. They pushed standard features such as AMOLED displays, wireless charging, and water-resistant enclosures long before it became clear that there would be a demand for them. Samsung takes the risk. And although that does not always happen – how long did it take for society to finally admit that Android premium tablets would not come back to life? – That means they deserved this merit.
So imagine that the Fold collapses, and that Samsung is aware that this is a strong possibility. Say the Fold does not sell a tenth of the units sold by this year's Galaxy S and Note models. It's good. Even if the Fold is a critical and commercial failure, it is worth it to maintain Samsung's position as a supplier of bold designs (at least by the standards of its closest competitors). Having this dazzling picture of the phone taking place during a season of NFL advertising will be worth every penny spent to put the product on the market.
This will go in one of two ways
But suppose for a moment that the Galaxy Fold succeeds. If this is the case, a remarkable conjunction of circumstances will have to occur.
First, Samsung must absolutely master the equipment. This seems unlikely for a first generation product in a brand new form factor. Although Samsung was boasting about the "ten years of Galaxy S" at the presentation, the first two generations of Galaxy S phones were at best unforgettable, and just terrible at worst.
Do you remember Google's first forays into Android phones, the original surface of Microsoft or even the first iPhone with its 2G connection? Big changes mean big risks and usually big mistakes. With this huge polymer-based screen and AMOLED screens with strange shapes, I doubt that Samsung produces these things even if their volume is close to its normal volume. Note that he came out six weeks after the trio of the Galaxy S10.
If Samsung manages to get a rabbit out of a hat, he will also have to attack the software. This seems a little more likely because they have the help of Google and the latest versions of Android to manage multiple screens and fold the screens gracefully. The demonstrations were certainly impressive, with applications seamlessly passing between two screens and operating in a multi-panel interface. But do not forget that they will also need developers, major applications such as Facebook and Spotify, as well as smaller and more personal applications that users rely on to get to know them.
Finally, Samsung would need that consumers are very excited. With a starting price of $ 1980 or more for the promised 5G version, Samsung's marketing department would need a miracle worthy of an Old Testament prophet so shoppers can line up around the Galaxy Fold .
Nothing in yesterday's demo showed why a very big but somewhat awkward screen, combined with a much smaller and less attractive screen than you would often use, would be worth two or three times the price of phones. we are already comfortable with it. Hey, Samsung: My phone is already using Netflix and works with Google Maps. Using three apps at a time instead of "two" alone is not worth a down payment on a car.
Even in the Unpacked presentation, the company has positioned the Galaxy Fold as a "luxury" device without any hesitation. And that could win some fans: some who can afford it will certainly want the factor "wow" that allowed phones like the original Motorola RAZR to stand out. With its free features and unique design, it certainly has a better claim to luxury status than the gaudy monsters of Vertu and Goldvish. But can you see the average buyer who has four phones to buy on a family package for a single customer? No chance.
But again, suppose all these unlikely stars line up and Samsung fails to make Galaxy Folds fast enough to satisfy consumer demand. If this actually happens, Samsung will know that it has a winner and will spend money to make folding technology more affordable and more affordable. In two or three years, you'll see Galaxy brand folding phones available at more affordable prices, and competitors will try to reverse engineer this hinge and polymer screen for even less design. Dear.
It would be good. I think I'd love a world where phones worthy of a science fiction house were commonplace. But like Dick Tracy's radio watch and the transparent computer screens of all sci-fi movies, reality seems far less practical than more conventional designs. The much more likely scenario is that Samsung sells a few thousand of these phones to people with enough curiosity and disposable income to consult them, then marvel us with another interesting feature in a year or two.
The "Samsung" logo on the hinge is the most important feature of the Galaxy Fold. Samsung
And that's fine! If the Galaxy Fold finds itself in the trash of the phone's history alongside models such as the Nokia N-Gage or the Kyocera Echo, it has always fulfilled its current function: to give Samsung a casual appearance. And whatever the purpose of the Galaxy Fold – status symbol, chimera, business madness – it's really cool. In a smartphone market where phones are beginning to become indistinguishable in an ocean of glass tiles, the fact that the Galaxy Fold is wearing the Samsung logo makes it worthwhile to spend every penny spent to make it real.