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This Galaxy Z Fold 4 leak gives me hope about the price of foldables

A render of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, showing two Z Folds partially open and arranged in an X pattern
(Image credit: Smartprix/OnLeaks)

Usually, when a phone maker decides to dial back the base storage capacity in one of its devices, it's not the sort of thing you greet with cheers. Yet, when word leaked out this week that Samsung might offer a version of its upcoming Galaxy Z Fold 4 with less storage than its predecessor, I was happy to hear about this possible direction for the upcoming foldable.

Why? Because it paves the way to making the Galaxy Z Fold 4 a more affordable option for shoppers. And that's good news for the future of foldable phones as a whole.

Word of the Galaxy Z Fold 4's potential storage options came from Evan Blass, a generally reliable leaker who's especially adept at teasing out details of Samsung phones. According to Blass, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 will start with 128GB of storage; it should also have 256GB and 512GB options.

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On paper, that's a step back from the Galaxy Z Fold 3, which offered 256GB of storage in its base configuration. Shoppers could also upgrade to a 512GB Z Fold 3.

The trend with smartphones is generally to add storage with successive versions. Think Apple's iPhone 13, which finally saw its base storage bumped to 128GB after years of Apple offering 64GB models. Giving shoppers less storage than before is generally frowned upon — unless there's also a corresponding drop in price.

And that's I think the Galaxy Z Fold 4 storage rumor is great news, if true. It suggests that Samsung is serious about turning foldable phones from niche devices to viable options for mainstream users. One way you do that is by offering more competitive pricing.

And make no mistake, pricing for the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is not the least bit competitive. That phone starts at $1,799. Even with the best Galaxy Z Fold 3 deals lowering the price, that's a lot to pay for a phone, especially with prices on more essential items on the rise.

Samsung's desire to offer a less expensive version of its foldables isn't just a reflection of the current pricing climate, though. The company is clearly banking on taking the Galaxy Z lineup mainstream, particularly among smartphone shoppers who want to boost their productivity with devices that offer more screen real estate for getting things done. Otherwise, the phone maker wouldn't have retired the Galaxy Note lineup to sharpen its focus on foldables.

You just have to look at what's happening with Samsung's other foldable device, the Galaxy Z Flip series, to see how lower prices can spark more interest in a phone. The original Galaxy Z Flip debuted at $1,380 in 2020 before a subsequent price cut. A year later, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 became the first foldable to break the $1,000 barrier, with a $999 starting price.

galaxy z flip 3 vs galaxy s21 plus

Cutting the Galaxy Z Flip 3 price to $999 certainly made that phone more popular. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

It's probably not a coincidence that Galaxy Z Flip sales took off after the phone dipped below $1,000. Last fall, Samsung reported that sales for the Galaxy Z Flip 3 were 40 times greater than its predecessor.

There's no way on earth we're going to see a sub-$1,000 Fold, but even shaving just a few hundred dollars off that $,1799 price for the Galaxy Z Fold would be a step in the right direction. A lower starting price combined with all the other rumored Galaxy Z Fold 4 improvements — the phone is expected to feature a powerful Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset, a less bulky hinge and a less visible crease across its unfolded display — will go along way to easing any complaints people might have about a device with just 128GB of storage.

There are reports that Samsung is looking at other ways to deliver more affordable foldables, including coming up with a midrange foldable lineup that scales back on some features, similar to how the Galaxy A phones are lower-cost alternatives to the Galaxy S flagships. But that's further down the line. Making the Galaxy Z Fold more appealing right now means finding a way to lower its overall cost. This new storage rumor makes me think Samsung has found  way to do just that.

We should find out very soon. Rumors suggest the next Galaxy Unpacked event where the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is likely to debut is a month or so away.

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.