While Samsung may be gearing up for the upcoming release of the Galaxy Z Fold 3, the company apparently has plans for a new foldable in 2022.
Twitter tipster Yogesh has informed GizmoChina that Samsung’s previously leaked tri-folding design may emerge as a foldable tablet. Set for release in Q1 2022, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold Tab will feature S Pen support, and come with the same reinforced UTG (ultra-thin glass) that’s set to debut on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3.
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These are the only details Yogesh has at the moment, but the tipster says that Samsung may offer a teaser of the device at the launch of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3. This is apparently something still being debated internally at Samsung.
It’s not the first time we’ve heard about Samsung’s plans for a foldable tablet. Earlier this month, a patent for a more conventional clamshell tablet design was uncovered, which Samsung may decide is more practical in the end.
Meanwhile, Apple is about to launch the iPad Pro 2021, which is expected to use a similar design to the existing model while adding an improved mini-LED display and faster A series chip built on Apple Silicon. Apple is reportedly working on an iPhone Flip foldable phone, but we haven't heard any rumors about a foldable iPad.
Samsung's foldable cannibalization dilemma
Whichever design ends up winning, it sounds like you can think of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold Tab as the tablet equivalent of the Galaxy Z Flip – a device that folds up for easy portability, rather than to be used in a whole new way, like the Galaxy Z Fold 2. After all, there’s no indication here that the Galaxy Z Fold Tab will have an external screen for use when closed. If there were, that would make it barely distinguishable from the existing Galaxy Z Fold line, unless it were significantly larger when open.
If that’s correct, then the million-dollar question is whether there’s a market for this. That, to my mind, comes down to two things: how much people actually travel with their tablets, and how expensive the Galaxy Z Fold Tab ends up being when it’s unveiled next year.
To the first point, if people mostly use their tablets around the house, then being able to dramatically reduce their size simply isn’t that useful. A tablet’s footprint only really becomes an issue if you routinely toss it in your bag when commuting or travelling. If that describes you, then the less space it takes up the better, especially if the screen is no longer exposed to scratches thanks to the fold.
Then there’s the issue of price. Samsung foldables haven’t exactly proved cheap thus far, with the Galaxy Z Flip 5G starting at $1,449 and the Z Fold 2 coming in at $1,999. While a foldable tablet won’t need the same cellular internals (though a LTE model would almost certainly be available), the screen is the expensive part of foldables, and something of tablet proportions would have more display.
If the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold Tab comes close to, or even breaks, the four-figure mark, then it becomes a very tough sell indeed. If the Galaxy Z Fold 3 offers both a tablet and a phone for $1,999, then why would anyone feel the need to buy a foldable tablet and phone separately?
There are a lot of unknowns here, and it would be very surprising if Samsung weren’t grappling with the same questions internally. Given that we’re not looking at a product that will launch this year, it’s possible that the technology will start to become more affordable before the Galaxy Z Fold Tab is ready for show time.
Samsung clearly believes the future is in foldables. The success or otherwise of the Galaxy Z Fold Tab will go a long way to showing whether or not the market agrees.
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