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The Foldable Phone: Is It About to Make a Spectacular Comeback?

The Foldable Phone: Is It About to Make a Spectacular Comeback?

Published by Programme B

Remember the days when you could flip shut your cell phone after making a call?

If not, then congratulations, you’re young. But if you do, then you might be excited by the latest niche segment that’s hit the smartphone market. 

The foldable phone is making waves in the tech world, promising a spectacular comeback that’s far from the simple devices of the early 2000s. With a whole universe of gaming options and countless other possibilities, these cutting-edge devices are set to revolutionize how we interact with our smartphones.  

The rise of the flip phone 2.0 

It would be wrong to say that the flip phone disappeared completely since its early-2000s heyday. There have been several models on the market in recent years, most notably from Samsung with its Z Flip model.

However, the recent rise in foldable devices has taken things to a whole new level.

Powered by huge consumer interest in Asia, this new generation of foldable phone will be a world apart from the early 2000s versions that limited us to games of Snake. Nowadays, we have a whole universe of games available, ranging from Playstation 4 titles to online casino games. And that’s not to mention the galaxy of other possibilities. 

According to research firm IDC, foldable phone shipments are expected to increase by 50% this year, while the overall smartphone market is projected to contract by 3.2%. 

The most notable model is a new offering, also from Samsung, that’s about to hit the South Korean market. In an effort to lure consumers away from the Apple ecosystem, the company held its prestigious “Unpacked” international product launch in its home country for the first time. The event, held in the glitzy Gangnam district of Seoul, featured an appearance from K-pop sensation BTS’s Suga, adding to the excitement surrounding the launch.

Scheduled to hit the shelves on August 11, the new foldable phones are priced at the same level as their predecessors: $999 for the Flip and $1,799 for the Fold. 

Samsung pioneered the niche market of phones with bendable screens four years ago, and this segment remains the only bright spot in an otherwise slowing smartphone market.

With replacement cycles getting longer and fewer groundbreaking features to entice consumers, the foldable format presents a unique opportunity for the company to show its innovative side.

Samsung rivals

Far from being the only horse in the race, Samsung faces stiff competition within the foldable segment.

Rivals such as Google and Motorola have recently entered the market, and Chinese companies have been expanding their range to include foldable models. Apple’s rumored entry into the foldable market by 2025 could further intensify the competition.

To maintain its edge, Samsung is launching its 2023 versions of the Galaxy Z Flip and Z Fold phones, making them thinner and lighter. 

The Z Flip 5 comes with a significantly larger cover screen. It can also be transformed from a pocketable smartphone to a widescreen tablet, boasting an improved fold-flat hinge.

Samsung’s move to launch in South Korea ahead of its usual schedule is strategic, aiming to increase its premium market share before Apple’s next iPhone launch. With foldable phones becoming more popular, Samsung’s head of mobile business, TM Roh, believes that they are no longer limited to niche markets but will soon become mainstream globally.

Roh’s confidence comes from Samsung’s impressive flip phone results. It currently dominates the foldable market with a commanding 79% share, while the company aims to make foldable phones half of its premium smartphone sales by 2025. 


A foldable future


Although analysts predict a promising future for foldables, challenges in hardware reliability and app optimization still need to be addressed.


If these hurdles are overcome, then China could become the largest market for the phones. Companies like Oppo and Huawei have the advantage of optimizing apps with local developers, bypassing the need for Google services. 

While Samsung has experience in creating more durable foldable devices, this alone may not be enough to compete with the appeal of homegrown Chinese brands.

That said, Samsung’s latest foldable phones represent the company’s efforts to maintain its leadership in this niche market and attract consumers away from Apple. 


To succeed, the company will be hoping that this particular retro trend captures the heart of its audience and turn into a long-term consumer segment.