Forget Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Flip 5 — I'm waiting on Samsung's cheaper foldable

Samsung Galaxy Fold 5
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Like many of you watching the livestream of Samsung’s Unpacked event, we were craving a lot more from Samsung and its new foldable phones. Instead, it turned out to be predictable and a snoozer

There were some longshot Unpacked rumors we hoped to be true, like perhaps seeing a reduction in their price, but Samsung kept a steady course. However, it sounds like the company’s working on a totally different, but cheaper foldable phone — and if it pans out — could be the foldable I’ve been waiting for.

There’s no denying Samsung’s expertise around developing foldable devices. In order to help spur the adoption rate of its foldables, the company is thinking about adding a more affordable option to the fold, which could further extend its market share.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Samsung’s mobile chief TM Roh revealed this possibility. “We are trying to make a leap in our price positioning,” explained Roh. “We are seriously considering the timing, but it is surely a difficult task.” It’s hard to say if Samsung could line up the necessary supply partners for this, but you can’t count out this possibility given how its phones cover the price gamut.

So far, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Z Fold 5 haven’t deviated from their predecessors’ pricing at $999 and $1,799 respectively. Roh’s comments, however, would make me exuberant about a cheaper Samsung foldable, but it needs to take into consideration a bunch of other factors before it reels me in.

Not the only one making a cheaper foldable

Motorola Razr 2023 front and back

(Image credit: Future)

We’ve already seen Samsung’s once invincible hold in the market tested most recently by competing devices like the Motorola Razr+ and Google Pixel Fold, with even more in the near future with the rumors heating up about the OnePlus Open. While it’s anyone’s guess what pricing Samsung will end up settling on with this foldable, they need to remember they’re not the only ones pursuing a lower cost alternative.

We’ve already spent time checking out the Motorola Razr (2023), which unlike its sibling in the Razr+, has a smaller outer screen with limited functionality — mainly notifications and a few widgets. What’s nice is that it’s being positioned as a lower cost option to the Razr+. Motorola hasn’t revealed its price yet, but it could possibly land somewhere in between the $750 and $800 range.

Samsung needs to be mindful here because this cheaper Moto is an opportunity to steal the spotlight. And other foldables could come out at around that price in the foreseeable future.

Whenever a new gadget is released, the previous version always gets an appropriate discount. Looking around, I’ve seen prices for the Galaxy Z Flip 4 for as low as $650. That’s the kind of discount that could lure me into buying one, but Samsung would need to dial down the specs in order to make whatever affordable foldable that it intends to release become a reality.

I'm willing to make some trade-offs

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 versus Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 comparison faceoff.

(Image credit: Future)

A truly affordable new Samsung foldable would require keeping things as simple as possible. I’m willing to compromise on the specs if a $500 foldable is in the pipeline. Perhaps a smaller foldable clamshell with a 1080p 60Hz display? It’d be nice to have a tiny outer screen for simple notifications, but it wouldn’t need to be fancy.

I’m willing to compromise on the specs if a $500 foldable is in the pipeline.

With a smaller footprint, too, it would naturally mean a smaller battery — resulting in a shorter battery life. Meanwhile, I can surely bet at least a dual-camera setup, but with reduced performance. I’d be forgiving if a Galaxy Z Flip FE's low-light performance were impacted heavily in order to meet its price point. These are huge shortcomings for anyone used to buying the best smartphones out there, but I'm acquainted with it as an iPhone SE owner.

Whatever Samsung decides, this foldable needs to have enough separation from the current option and last year’s version. By introducing a lower cost foldable, it could continue to grow its market share by reaching more consumers. I don’t think it would be available before the end of this year, but this could be a key initiative for next year.

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John Velasco
Senior Channel Editor for Phones

John’s a senior editor covering phones for Tom’s Guide. He’s no stranger in this area having covered mobile phones and gadgets since 2008 when he started his career. On top of his editor duties, he’s a seasoned videographer being in front and behind the camera producing YouTube videos. Previously, he held editor roles with PhoneArena, Android Authority, Digital Trends, and SPY. Outside of tech, he enjoys producing mini documentaries and fun social clips for small businesses, enjoying the beach life at the Jersey Shore, and recently becoming a first time homeowner.

  • baino
    Trade in deals were great for the zflip4, I traded in a zflip3 that I bought from eBay for $285 and trade in value was $900 for the zflip 4. I am trading in the zflip4 for trade in value of $900 on the zflip5.