By TechThop Team
Posted on: 20 Aug, 2022
The company will be the first to point to the original Note as the ultimate expression of this trend. A decade after its release, pundits wondered whether Samsung had utterly lost its way after the line was absorbed into the flagship Galaxy S product.
The Note also gave rise to Samsung's foldable ambitions, it could be argued. The company has done a good job at shrinking the screen-to-body ratio, but smartphone screen sizes have a practical limit. It might just be 6.8 inches before one runs out of pockets.
As the first Galaxy Fold arrived in late 2019, it promised a 7.3-inch, pocketable screen. Despite its shortcomings, the first device cracked the code. That alone made it feel like the future. A stagnant market can be revived by foldable displays, at the very least.
In its turn, Samsung was ready to call the Fold its new flagship almost immediately. Simply put, the company jumped the gun. The adoption of a new form factor doesn't happen overnight, especially when it costs almost twice as much as an existing flagship phone.
The adoption rate has been faster than many anticipated, to the company's credit. Samsung estimates that around 10 million foldable will be shipped in 2022. While we're not talking Galaxy S or iPhone numbers here, the momentum is undeniable.
The situation remains unclear, of course. Sales are driven by novelty versus practicality. If figures plateau or drop, that question will be answered. The form factor is likely to grow in popularity in the short term.
The wild card here is a potentially folding Apple device. It's bound to be a seismic shift if the company feels confident enough about the tech to bring a product to market. The Galaxy Fold wasn't the first foldable announced, but it provided the template for the form factor.
As it unfolds, it becomes bigger and thinner. However, as I noted in the recent Galaxy Flip review, large-phone fatigue is a real phenomenon - not enough to catapult the Small Android Phone to 50,000 responses. It would be nice to have less pocket space devoted to a giant device.
The bigger screen is hard to give up once you've lived with it. Consumers have thus far overwhelmingly gravitated toward the Flip form factor because of this. Most people don't need or expect to carry around a 7.6-inch screen in their pockets, so this is a more compact way to carry around a big screen.
The Flip has won the battle, but not the war. As of now, the Fold is hindered by the bulky, large phone surrounding its screen. Currently, it's simply too much phone for too much money for most users. This is more of a device devoted to the 'can' of foldable than to the 'why'.
With Samsung continuously improving foldable phone screens, it's easy to imagine this narrative shifting. As with previous generations, I've enjoyed using the Fold, but I can't imagine buying one for myself. The Flip, however, had plenty of moments when it made sense.
Though I'm not rushing out to switch my existing phone for the product, it's not as farfetched as it might have seemed a few years ago. When or if Samsung starts to see some serious competition in this category, these larger issues will likely remain with the device.
The Z Fold 4 looks like its predecessor, perhaps because the company has resolved the small front-facing display issue. However, Samsung continues to advance the device in some meaningful ways with this product.
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