Samsung's made its finest foldable yet with the Galaxy Z Fold 4. It's even won me over with new cameras that are worthy of a flagship Samsung phone. But the main thing that stops me from singing this phone's praises to anyone in need of a new phone is something Samsung didn't change from the Galaxy Z Fold 3: the price.
It's why in the next year or two, more than making some major upgrades to the existing premium Z Fold and Z Flip models, Samsung really needs to bring out a cheaper folding phone. This has been rumored before as a sub-$800 device, but rumors aren't enough. It needs to become reality, and fast.
Of course, if you want a cheaper Samsung foldable now, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is right there. Except not quite, since the Z Flip uses its folding powers to make a regular phone smaller, rather than expand on a phone's abilities like the Z Fold models do.
The Z Fold 4 does a much better job of showing off the foldable segment's potential than the Z Flip 4 does with its multi-window app interface, taskbar, stylus support, and fully functional outer display. They're the reasons I am still using the Z Fold 4, and I think also the things that would entice new users too if only the hardware wasn't so darn expensive.
The obvious way to make a cheaper foldable would be to trim off as many premium features as possible. Remove the under-display camera and rear telephoto camera, using lower resolution displays inside and out and making the overall phone smaller would be a good start.
While I wouldn't want Samsung to replace the cover display with a notification window like the Z Flip has, or to ditch the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 for a less powerful Exynos processor, they may be worthwhile sacrifices too since you'd still get the expansive inner display experience that defines the Z Fold.
A price drop for foldables is inevitable especially as more companies start making them, and the technology and parts required to build them fall in cost too. But Samsung needs to get ahead now while it can. It already has competitors like the Oppo Find N, which fortunately for Samsung, is stuck as a China-exclusive device for now. But rumored foldables like the Google Pixel Fold and iPhone Flip won't be rumors forever.
So the forward-thinking thing for Samsung to do would be to widen its foldable offerings, rather than stick to selling the Z Fold and Z Flip for as much as it can get away with.
Samsung can also easily take care of the branding of this new cheap foldable. Maybe stick an A or FE on the name like the Galaxy A53 or Galaxy S21 FE to make it clear that this won't be a full-fledged Galaxy Z experience. But I really hope we'll see a cheap full-size foldable from Samsung in the coming year that costs less than a grand.
We're living at a time where it's difficult to justify upgrading to regular flagship phones, so the only way we're going to have a mainstream foldables revolution is if Samsung quits resting on its ultra-premium laurels and provides shoppers with a well-priced folding phone.
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Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.