Samsung has had a busy year on the foldable phone front, but rumors of a Galaxy Fold Lite suggest that the phone making giant may have another handset up its sleeve.
The foldable phone lineup at Samsung is already filling up quite rapidly. Earlier this year, Samsung introduced the Galaxy Z Flip which adds a foldable screen to the classic flip phone design. The Z Flip joined the Galaxy Fold introduced last year, and Samsung reportedly has a Galaxy Fold 2 follow-up in the works for later this summer.
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Into the mix comes rumors of a Galaxy Fold Lite, a foldable phone that will reportedly feature stripped-down specs in the name of delivering a more affordable device. That's been a big hurdle for foldable phones to overcome, as the least expensive models still start at around $1,400. The Galaxy Fold Lite may not boast all the features of those fancier foldables, but if it can get the price down by a few hundred dollars more, perhaps it could help foldable phones become more mainstream.
Or it could, if the Galaxy Fold Lite actually exists. Read on to find out more about this rumored phone, including its reported release date, price and specs as well as whether it may arrive in a different form with a completely different name.
Samsung Galaxy Fold Lite release date
The Galaxy Fold Lite release could be as soon as this summer. All eyes are on Samsung for later this summer, when the company is expected to host an online-only event to showcase its fall releases. The Galaxy Note 20 will likely headline this event, and several rumors point to the Galaxy Fold 2 debuting alongside Samsung's latest phablet. If Samsung has any desire to release a Lite version of its foldable during 2020, then this is the event where it's likely to happen.
So when might that be? Past Unpacked events for the Galaxy Note series have been held in August, and while some rumors suggest a July release for Samsung's fall lineup, we'd expect the company to stick to its usual script. Whether the Galaxy Fold Lite comes along for the ride is anyone's guess at this point.
Samsung Galaxy Fold Lite price
Price is at the heart of the Galaxy Fold Lite rumors. The Galaxy Fold debuted last year with a price of $1,980. Even with the Galaxy Z Flip undercutting that price by $600, that's still a lot to pay for a phone. If foldable devices are to become more widely acceptable, the theory goes, then the price will need to come down even further.
And that's why a lot of Galaxy Fold Lite rumors focus heavily on just how much the phone will cost. When rumors of this device first started percolating in mid-May — back when the phone was being touted as the Galaxy Fold e — rumors suggested Samsung was looking to take $900 off the Galaxy Fold's original price.
A subsequent Galaxy Fold Lite rumor floated by phone leaker Max Weinbach puts the cost of the new foldable device at $1,099. That's still pricier than a lot of flagships, but it's cheaper than both the Galaxy S20 Plus and Galaxy S20 Ultra.
Samsung Galaxy Fold Lite design
With Galaxy Fold Lite using the Galaxy Fold name, you'd expect a similar design — that is a phone with an exterior screen that opens up like a book to reveal a larger display inside. There's no word at this point whether Samsung's rumored Lite version would retain the same dimensions as the 6.3 x 2.5 x 0.66-inch unfolded Galaxy Fold or match its 7.3-inch interior display. Weinbach thinks that the exterior display you look at when the phone is folded shut could shrink on the Galaxy Fold Lite — "more like the Z Flip," he tweeted instead of 4.6-inch screen on outside of the Galaxy Fold.
But even that exterior display on the Galaxy Fold Lite could look quite a bit different from the Galaxy Z Flip's external 1.1-inch notification panel. That's based on a Samsung patent spotted by Let's Go Digital that shows off a foldable phone with an elongated notification panel on the outside. In other words, think of a display that's not too tall but stretches nearly the length of the phone's exterior to show you notifications and alerts without requiring you to open up the phone.
That same patent application addresses one other feature that could potentially find its way to the Galaxy Fold Lite (and other Samsung foldables for that matter). The patent describes a waterproof phone.
Weinbach expects the Galaxy Fold Lite to come in Mirror Black and Mirror Purple versions. Those are colors that Samsung introduced with the Galaxy Z Flip.
Samsung Galaxy Fold Lite specs
Nearly everything we know about potential Galaxy Fold Lite specs comes from a series of Max Weinbach tweets. According to the phone leaker, the phone will feature 256GB of storage — the same capacity as the Z Flip, but half of the onboard storage in the original Galaxy Fold. You'll get a plastic display that lacks the Ultra Thin Glass layer that Samsung includes with the Galaxy Z Flip — an understandable omission if Samsung is truly looking to keep the cost of this phone down.
-Available internationally-No 5G support -Snapdragon 865-Built out of Aluminium and Glass on outside-$1099-Winner2This could change as this info tends to change quickly, especially when it's the first you're hearing about a device.May 12, 2020
In one of the more puzzling specs, Weinbach forecasts the Galaxy Fold Lite will feature a Snapdragon 865 system-on-chip but that it won't offer 5G connectivity. That runs counter to how Qualcomm sells the Snapdragon 865: while the chipset doesn't have a built-in 5G modem like the Snapdragon 765, it is paired with an X55 5G modem.
So in this scenario, Samsung would be paying up for a 5G-capable chip but not enabling the 5G features. That scenario seems dubious, especially when last year's Snapdragon 855 — found in both the Galaxy Fold and Galaxy Z Flip — can deliver lots of power without the extra 5G component.
There's no information on the Galaxy Fold Lite's cameras, so it's unclear if the lower-cost phone would repeat the original Fold's multitude of lenses — three rear cameras, a selfie cam when the phone is folded up, and an inside camera with time-of-flight sensor once you open the device. We also don't know whether Samsung would re-use the same 4,380 mAh battery in the Lite version of the Fold as it included in the original.
Samsung Galaxy Fold Lite or Galaxy Fold Special Edition?
There's another possibility for the Galaxy Fold Lite — one where it's not a new phone at all. Instead, the Fold Lite would actually be a repackaged version of the Galaxy Fold that features the same specs as Samsung's original foldable.
That's the theory of Ross Young, a display analyst, who suggested in a since-deleted tweet that Samsung would look to clear out inventory of older Galaxy Fold models by rebranding them as the Galaxy Fold Special Edition. The Special Edition wouldn't offer any new features; rather, the idea would be that Samsung would clear out old Galaxy Fold inventory to make way for the Galaxy Fold 2 when that phone reportedly arrives around August.
The cost of the Galaxy Fold Special Edition certainly sounds appealing, with Young suggesting a $1,099 price. Samsung certainly wouldn't be the first phone maker to keep around an older model at a reduced price — Apple does it all the time with its iPhone launches and Samsung followed suit this spring when it cut prices on the Galaxy S10 lineup after the Galaxy S20's debut.
Still, if you're looking to get people more interested in foldable phones, coming out with a new model boasting new features seems like a sounder strategy than simply rebranding a promising-if-flawed phone that already exists. That, plus the disappearance of the original tweet about the Galaxy Fold Special Edition makes us think this is one rumor that won't pan out.
Samsung Galaxy Fold Lite outlook
Right now, there's a lot that's up in the air about the Galaxy Fold Lite, including whether the phone is more than just a rumor. More concrete details will need to emerge about this alleged phone, if Samsung was planning on announcing it alongside the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Fold 2, you would think we would have heard more about it by now. So the release date may be after this summer.
That said, it's easy to understand the rationale behind a Galaxy Fold Lite, given how expensive current foldable devices are. Samsung has certainly indicated it's willing to try out different types of foldables, as evidenced by the Galaxy Z Flip's release. We'd bet that a lower-cost foldable device is certainly in the cards — the only question is when it might appear.