Samsung’s new “Galaxy Fold” is both a phone and a tablet in one. The foldable phone features a special screen, which can either be folded in half for use as a phone or extended outwards in a larger tablet mode. This is expected to be an interesting new evolution of smartphone and tablet devices, providing the functionality of both—but at a hefty price tag.
For years, it seemed as though phones were just steadily getting larger, but a backlash towards these super-large, cumbersome devices has led some companies to explore new options. While many consumers are interested in larger screens, they aren’t interested in larger devices. The Galaxy Fold seeks to solve this problem, with a small, sleek device that can extend out as desired. According to Samsung, the foldable screen technology is long-lasting enough to last throughout the device’s life without any visible wear-and-tear.
According to Samsung, the Galaxy Fold is going to start at a hefty $1,980. When you consider that the device is intended to supplant both a smartphone and a tablet, and that it’s still a brand new technology, that may not be an unreasonable fee for early adoption. At the same time, many consumers are worried that this is going to anchor price points even higher. In the past, whenever a company has pushed forward with a more expensive phone, this has given other smartphone companies the freedom to also increase their own price points.
The market has given some indication that consumers are getting tired of phones costing $1,000 or more, so it should be interesting to see whether the Galaxy Fold is a hit. While many consumers never see the actual sticker price of their phone, they still do see a payment on their phone bill every month. Increasingly more expensive phones are going to lead to increasingly expensive bills, especially as consumers worry about an upcoming recession.
In general, when the smartphone industry starts experimenting rapidly, it’s usually because they have reached some form of stopping point. In the past few years, phones have remained somewhat the same. This is largely because all cellphone companies have been butting up against the same problem: they can’t extend battery life without extending the size of their phones.
Batteries have been holding the smartphone industry back for some time. It’s not possible to get lighter, thinner, smaller phones with the same battery capacity. And as phones are increasingly drawing more from their battery, their battery life is decreasing industry-wide. But battery technology has not advanced in some time, which has made it difficult for any company to gain a foothold.
Indeed, the most recent technology simply provides an extremely large battery that can be used with the phone to increase its battery life. Due to our current understanding of technology and physics, the only way to extend battery life currently is to reduce the amount of energy used and to make the batteries physically larger.
These new phones are experimental in nature, and may be ushering in a new wave of highly differentiated smart devices. Companies may be looking into new areas in which to innovate now that the smartphone market appears to have largely stagnated, even as they continue to look into the problem of smartphone battery technology. In the next couple of years, it’s likely that smartphones are going to start looking very different from each other, rather than the classic featureless black blocks they are today.
In technology, innovation is always a positive thing. Even if the Galaxy Fold doesn’t necessarily sell many units, it’s at least progress towards something more interesting and unique. The Galaxy Fold has generated an exceptional amount of buzz for the company, which means even if it isn’t individually successful, it has positioned Samsung as a technology leader. Still, the smartphone market itself may be due for a small collapse, as consumers are becoming fatigued by the ever-increasing price points.