Foldables Are Still A Niche Product, But Samsung May Change That In 2024

Samsung Foldable

The “foldable phone” has been a concept within the tech world since the late 2000s, when then giant Nokia unveiled an animated concept of their tri-fold “Morph” foldable phone. Though it wouldn’t be until a decade later that the first commercially available foldable phone would be released to market from Chinese tech company Royole and their FlexPai. The reception to the FlexPai, however, was far from positive, and the idea of a foldable phone would still be looked at as a gimmick with an abundance of reliability concerns. That is, until Samsung would enter the fray in 2019 with their first Galaxy Z Fold, a product that is now in its fifth generation and has propelled Samsung into dominance with over 60% market share within the foldable space.

Though impressive, this dominance is still within a very niche market. According to the TrendForce report linked above, the global market share for foldables in 2024 sits at a meager 1.5%, with total sales expected to be around 17.7 million. This is a decent increase from 2023, where total sales were just over 15 million with a 1.4% share of the total smartphone market, but these numbers remain beneath market expectations.

As with many high-end products, the biggest barrier to entry for consumers, and one of the biggest hurdles to overcome a slow growth rate, is price. Ever since Apple made it normal for a smartphone to cost $1000 USD with the unveiling of their iPhone X back in 2017, it’s been down(up)hill since then. Foldables are even higher up on the echelon of price, with the latest models costing almost $2,000 USD upon release. Though other form factors exist that keep within that thousand dollars, such as Motorola’s Razr and Samsung’s Galaxy Flip 5–both of which don a “flip” mechanic reminiscent of old “dumb” flip phones–the “clamshell” mechanic seen in mainline foldable phones that essentially turn your phone into a small tablet are still difficult to find under $1,500 USD; even when buying used.

Google Pixel Fold
A great product from Google, at not a great price.

This could soon be changing, however. A leak reported by SamMobile suggests that Samsung may be releasing two entries within their Z Fold line in 2024. A premium, pricier “Z Fold 6” that will act as a flagship, as well as a cheaper “FE” model that comes fitted with more “basic” features in order to keep a more enticing price-tag. The leaked images suggest that this alleged “FE” model will come with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of memory, as well as an older Snapdragon/Exynos chip. Though leaks like this should be taken with a grain of salt, this would be a great way for Samsung to spearhead the trend of bringing more affordable foldables to the smartphone market. It would be great to have others like Google and OnePlus making their versions of budget-friendly foldables. Samsung are expected to host their “Galaxy Unpacked” event in the summer, so we’ll have to wait and see if such a product is indeed in line for the Korean tech giant.

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