Initial durability qualms about the original Galaxy Fold aside, Samsung is making excellent foldable phones now. But foldables' biggest problem — and what stands in the way of their mainstream adoption — is that they're still just too expensive.
Thankfully, the technology used to make phone screens fold into compact designs is becoming more reliable and less costly to manufacture all the time, and a new story from Samsung-focused blog SamMobile (opens in new tab) suggests the tech giant may soon unveil a reasonably affordable spin on its foldable phones.
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SamMobile reports that it's heard Samsung "has a new device in the pipeline and it might be a foldable smartphone," based on the model number tied to the mystery handset. The designation — SM-F415 — aligns with the numbers assigned to the Galaxy Fold and Galaxy Z series, all of which bore "F" in Samsung's internal naming structure.
The report doesn't have much else to share on SM-F415, except for the fact it'll come with either 64GB or 128GB of built-in storage and be offered in black, green and blue colors.
The 64GB configuration is especially telling here; modern high-end phones (and even made mid-range devices) pack at least 128GB of storage standard, so offering 64GB at the base level fuels the theory that this could be a cheaper alternative to Samsung's pricey foldables.
Indeed, if Samsung wants to offer an affordable folding phone, there's a lot of expensive hardware inside the Galaxy Z Flip the company can cut to pursue a lower price. All Galaxy Z models release thus far feature Snapdragon 8-series chipsets, which are the fastest and most powerful Qualcomm manufactures. However, there are cheaper 6- and 7- series options available, and they're not slouches, either. Some even make provisions for 5G connectivity.
Samsung could also repurpose camera technology from its midrange Galaxy A series, rather than porting over the highly complex and sophisticated imaging technology current offered in the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy S20 lines.
Keep the RAM and storage to a minimum, perhaps use materials like plastic instead of metal and glass, and build in a lower-resolution screen, and one would imagine Samsung could sell such a device with a foldable screen at or around the $1,000 mark, considering the $1,380 starting price of the Galaxy Z Flip. That could just be cheap enough to earn mainstream interest, while also pulling the rug out from under the Motorola Razr 2.
The first-generation Razr cost $1,500, but offered underwhelming hardware and questionable build quality that contradicted its extremely high price. Samsung's take on a similarly-specced phone, however, coupled with the company's industry-leading foldable technology, would ideally strike the ideal balance of price, performance and design for the masses.
Or at least, that's what we'd like to see. Devices like the Galaxy Z Fold 2 are surely exciting, but they won't accelerate the rise of foldables until they slide in at prices people are willing to pay. Let's hope Samsung intends to pull that off with this unnamed device.