Can A Folding Smartphone Be The Answer To Samsung’s Mobile Woes?

by Trefis Team
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Samsung Electronics (OTC:SSNLF) introduced its first foldable phone in an event conducted last week, noting that the device could go on sale sometime in 2019. The device is essentially a smartphone that can be opened like a book to reveal a larger, tablet-sized screen. While Samsung didn’t provide many details during this early preview, the company is likely counting on innovations such as these to turn around its smartphone business, which has been facing headwinds over the last few quarters. Below, we take a look at what the device could mean for Samsung, and what lies ahead for its smartphone business.

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Device Will Play Well With Current Trends In Smartphone Market

The foldable device is built largely based on Samsung’s technology leadership in the OLED space. The display, which is called Infinity Flex, uses a new adhesive that Samsung developed to laminate the display layers so that they are flexible and foldable. The external display of the new device will come in at 4.5 inches, while the larger foldable screen measures 7.3 inches. The foldable phone could play well with the current trends in the smartphone market, where screen sizes are getting increasingly large as users carry out more productivity-focused tasks and multitasking. Samsung could hit a sweet spot with the device, essentially allowing users to carry a large screen device in a small form factor, reducing the need for users to also carry a laptop or tablet. While Samsung’s other large rivals such as Huawei and  LG – which is a leader in display technology in its own right – also have foldable phones in the works, it’s possible that Samsung will be the first manufacturer to sell these devices commercially at scale.

Some Questions Still Remain 

Samsung showcased the device via a short video and briefly displayed a working prototype on stage. While reviewers and the public haven’t been able to test the device yet, it’s possible that Samsung may have had to cut some corners in terms of overall display quality or battery life with the new device. Samsung’s checkered history of providing software could also be an issue, as the software will play a key role in the user experience given the device’s large screen and productivity focus. Although Google has announced official Android support for foldable devices, it’s likely that Samsung will have to do much of the initial heavy lifting.

Price is also likely to be a factor that could hurt the uptake of the new device. For instance, Chinese smartphone company Royole unveiled a foldable device with pricing starting at a little over $1,300, and it’s possible that Samsung’s device could be pricier considering that its latest Note 9 lineup starts at about $1,000.

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