The Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Flip 4 will be niche devices again — and this is why

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
(Image credit: Future)

We're currently in the third generation of foldable phones from Samsung with the fourth right around the corner. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 shows what's possible with the form factor — though you will pay a pretty penny for the privilege — while the Galaxy Z Flip 3 brought things down to a more manageable level.

However, the best foldable phones are still expensive products that, like it or not, remain inferior to their less flexible cousins in most areas. Take the Galaxy Z Flip 3 for example. It clocks in at the same $999 as the Galaxy S22 Plus, but wholly lacks a telephoto lens versus the S22's 3x one. There's also the matter of battery life. The foldable handsets we have now do not last nearly as long as their traditional counterparts.

As the technology improves, we're likely to see costs come down. That is how foldables will succeed. It's how the smartphone as we know it today took off, by becoming more attainable for the common person. But a rumor last weekend left me discouraged.

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According to @chunvn8888 (opens in new tab), a leaker with a decent track record, Samsung might have a foldable phone in the works akin to the Galaxy A series. Phones in that lineup offer budget-friendly options that have more premium features, such as high refresh rate screens. While we doubt that Samsung would continue to use the A moniker with these hypothetical foldables, the point is that we could see folding phone tech come down to the mid-range market.

But the leaker followed up their tweet with the claim that Samsung won't release such a device or devices until at least 2024, or perhaps 2025. The Galaxy Z series will be in their sixth generation by that point and will have hopefully matured to a point where they make more sense.

But skepticism towards foldables stems from a cost-benefit analysis. Given the inherent weaknesses with today's folding phones, like battery life or durability, it makes sense why many people look the other way when they see the price points. I certainly would.

If Samsung and others like Oppo want to see higher adoption rates with their foldables, the prices need to come down. Granted, Samsung reported that it saw a massive uptick in demand for its third-generation foldables last year, but I think that the true market demand remains low.

Whatever Samsung ends up naming these affordable foldables, we need them sooner rather than later if the product category wants to see further growth. Even the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a hard sell at $999 when you look at what else you can get for that money — unless you're really into the idea of folding phones, the Flip 3 is not the best use of your money.

In the end, we have naught to do but wait for the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 to arrive later this summer (we think). 

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.