Phone sales

Samsung cuts prices to boost foldable phone sales

Samsung hopes cheaper but more durable versions of its foldable phones will broaden the appeal of a high-profile design that has so far fizzled with consumers.

The electronics giant kicked off its effort to change things up on Wednesday with two new products designed to work both as a phone and, when folded outward on a hinge, like a tablet.

The larger Galaxy Fold3 has a 7.6-inch screen when unfolded and will sell for $1,800, a 10% drop from last year’s model. The other device, the Galaxy Flip3, looks more like a flip phone, but can still be opened from its flip position on a 6.7-inch screen. It will sell for $1,000, more than 25% less than the price of last year’s original model.

Along with the new phones, Samsung has unveiled its first smartwatches powered by software designed in tandem with Google as the two companies try to catch up with Apple in this part of the wearable technology market.

Since releasing its first foldable phones in 2019, Samsung has touted the technology as a breakthrough that will entice more consumers to splurge on new phones instead of keeping older devices until they wear out. or upgrade to new models that have most of the same features.

But foldable phones have barely made a ripple in the smartphone market, with around 2 million devices shipping last year, according to research firm International Data Corp. That’s a tiny fraction of the nearly 1.3 billion smartphones shipped globally last year, IDC said. .

The larger Galaxy Fold3 will sell for $1,800, down 10% from last year’s model. The smaller Galaxy Flip3 will sell for $1,000, more than 25% less than the price of the original model last year.

“What has really held back the mass consumption of these foldable devices is the high price,” said IDC analyst Nabila Popal. “Most people really don’t see the need for it. At least nothing that justifies shelling out an extra thousand dollars.

Popal thinks Samsung’s lower prices for its latest foldable phones are still too much above what most consumers are willing to pay for the phones. That’s one of the reasons why IDC is only predicting a slight increase in foldable phone shipments this year, to around 6-7 million devices.

Along with high prices, sales have been held back by doubts about the foldable devices’ ability to withstand the wear and tear that traditional smartphones typically experience. Those concerns have clouded Samsung’s foldable lineup since it delayed the release of the first models in 2019 to address issues of bulging screens and flickering displays.

A person is holding a Samsung Galaxy Fold 3 displaying two apps at once.
Samsung’s new foldable phones are now compatible with its S Pen stylus.

Samsung has equipped its latest foldable phones with more durable glass and water resistance to reduce the risk of device damage. It made foldable phones compatible with its popular S Pen stylus for the first time to appeal to customers accustomed to using the digital writing tool on traditional Samsung Note and Galaxy phones.

In another sign of foldable phone progress, nearly 50 of the top 100 mobile apps are now available for its unique form factor, said Drew Blackard, vice president of product management for the South Korean company.

These improvements have encouraged Samsung to make foldable phones its flagship products in the second half of the year, backed by a marketing campaign that will tout their benefits.

A person takes a selfie with a Samsung Galaxy Flip 3 phone.
Samsung’s foldable phones haven’t garnered consumer interest so far, and some analysts say the price cuts don’t go far enough to entice buyers.

Blackard compared Samsung’s third-generation foldable phones to the company’s third-generation Note phones released in 2013 and changed perceptions of a product line initially mocked for introducing smartphones with 5-inch screens. Over the next year, Apple released the first model of its cutting-edge iPhones with larger screens that now became a standard feature.

But Apple still didn’t feel compelled to create an iPhone with a foldable screen.