While the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 are likely to arrive later this year, Samsung's foldable phone plans don't end with those two high-end handsets. A new report claims the phone maker is planning on cheaper options as well, as it looks to expand its dominance in the foldable phones market.
The report from Korea's ETNews (opens in new tab) claims that Samsung wants to develop foldables that drop some of the premium features found on the Fold and Flip models in favor of a lower price tag. Samsung is reportedly targeting foldable devices with a price tag that's under 1 million won — that would be less than $800 in the U.S.
Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 3 is currently the cheapest foldable phone available at $999. But that still places the phone among high-end smartphones like the iPhone 13 Pro and Samsung's own Galaxy S22 Plus.
While Samsung currently dominates the best foldable phones market, it does so only with very expensive devices. That's contrary to the strategy that has helped Samsung rise to the top of the overall smartphone market — it offers the Galaxy S flagships, but there are less expensive Samsung phones as well. In fact, as the ETNews article notes Samsung's midrange Galaxy A phones outsell the Galaxy S flagships.
And so, Samsung reportedly wants to make the equivalent of the Galaxy A lineup for the Galaxy Z Fold and Galaxy Z Flip. A series phones, such as this year's Galaxy A53 offer less powerful processors and scaled-back camera hardware so that they can go on sale for hundreds of dollars less than the phone maker's flagships. The A53 costs $449, for example, which is a a $350 discount from the Galaxy S22.
The ETNews report is in line with previous comments Samsung has made about expanding its foldable phone lineup. At the start of 2021, Samsung Electronics president TM Roh outlined the company's goals for its phone business, which included expanding its presence in foldable phones. To that end, Roh said Samsung wanted to make foldables that were more "accessible" to a wider audience — which many people took to mean more affordable.
So how does Samsung get there? If the idea is to follow the Galaxy A playbook, turning to less expensive components for a lower-cost foldable would definitely be in order. Both the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 are expected to feature Qualcomm's top-of-the-line Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 system-on-chip. A more affordable foldable would likely turn to a less powerful chipset.
But producing an affordable foldable phone that's also appealing to a broader audience also means addressing two of the biggest concerns surrounding foldables — durability and battery life. Samsung appears to be tackling the former with a new hinge design on its upcoming foldables that supposedly helps the phones weigh less and leaves less of a visible crease on the part of the screen where the devices folds in two. Improvements in the design of Samsung's foldables could work their way down to cheaper devices.
Battery life is more of a lingering problem. Neither the Galaxy Z Fold 3 or Galaxy Z Flip 3 impressed us with their ability to last a long time on a charge. The Z Flip 3's battery life was so poor, in fact, that it was easily our least favorite thing about an otherwise solid phone. Samsung is rumored to be addressing that in the upcoming versions with the more power-efficient Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset. But it would have to come up with a different solution for any cheaper foldables it wants to produce.
The company has some time to sort all this out. The ETNews report claims that Samsung won't ship any of its lower-priced foldable models until 2024. In the meantime, keep an eye out for the Galaxy Z Fold 4/Galaxy Z Flip 4 launch that's tipped to be set for this August.