The Galaxy Z Flip 4 and the Galaxy Z Fold 4 are the latest additions to Samsung’s foldable lineup. The Galaxy Z Folds continue to remain the premium, flagship-grade phones in Samsung’s foldable lineup, whereas the Galaxy Z Flips have established themselves as supremely fun phones for those who are dipping their toes into the world of foldables. The $999 price tag — compared to an eye-watering $1,800 for the Galaxy Z Fold 4 — also makes them more accessible. Add some kick-ass deals on top to make it significantly easy to purchase the new flipping phone compared to a lot of other foldables on the market right now.
But that’s not to say the Galaxy Z Flip 4 isn’t expensive (unless you opt for the wonderful trade-in deals that Samsung offers during pre-orders). Standalone, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 still starts at $999 which may be affordable by foldable standards but it very much belongs to the upper echelons of smartphone pricing. The company may not have an option but to keep its prices static. A “Fan Edition” phone with a relatively affordable price tag, however, would turn more buyers into foldable lifers. Hear me out on this one!
Samsung’s “entry-device” to foldables needs to be cheaper
Samsung’s Galaxy S20 “Fan Edition” phone arrived during the unfortunate times of a global pandemic. But it was arguably the right time for a phone with differentiated features for the price people were looking to pay during a pandemic with less purchasing power. None of Samsung’s “Fan Edition” phones established themselves as one of the best phones to buy, but they offered a lot of bang for the buck. A similar approach in the foldable space might just turn the tide for Samsung and attract a lot of new customers.
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 carries a sky-high $1,800 price tag, making it one of the most expensive smartphones you can buy right now. Only those with deep pockets can afford the Galaxy Z Fold 4, an exclusivity that makes it more exciting in the smartphone space. It essentially generates a lot of buzz and attracts eyeballs toward its foldable lineup, which can then be converted into potential customers. So what Samsung is cooking behind the scenes right now seems to be perfect — use the more expensive and niche device that’s out of reach for all but the deep-pocketed consumers to spur interest and sell the exciting proposition of using a unique device to make people buy the entry-level foldable.
Getting an “entry-level device” at the hands of consumers now will potentially turn them into foldable stans who would eventually upgrade to more premium options in the lineup. Samsung is dominating the foldable space right now, and getting as many people into its ecosystem will only help it cement itself in a category that others will find difficult to break into. But this “entry device” needs to be something a bit more attainable than the Galaxy Z Flip 4, especially in markets where Chinese phone makers are delivering excellent phones at a significantly lower price.
This is why a Galaxy Z Flip FE makes more sense to enter the foldable scene with cheaper parts. A more affordable Galaxy A series foldable would mean the world to economical shoppers, but it seems too early to expect an “affordable” foldable as most OEMs are still playing catch up to Samsung’s dominance in this space. But how do you go from a $1,000 Flip to, say, a $600 or even a $700 Flip FE?
Cutting the right corners on foldables
The supply chain plays a big role in adding numbers to a price tag. You can’t make a cheaper phone if the parts that go into making that phone aren’t cheaper themselves. If you know anything about supply chains then you probably already know that the parts can’t get cheaper until they’re made at scale. Samsung is selling more foldables than it used to but they definitely don’t sell nearly as many foldables as, say, a normal Galaxy S series flagship. That’s one of the reasons why it can’t cut down the price of its existing foldables.
Samsung can, however, build a new foldable by cutting the right corners. It’s one of those things that is easier said than done, but I’d only rely on a big player like Samsung to get the job done. A lot of Android OEMs lead by example when it comes to making quality phones without demanding a lot of money. This includes almost all the Chinese smartphone manufacturers with a laundry list of phones capable of delivering an incredible experience for a fraction of the price. Samsung itself makes a lot of great phones that don’t cost you an arm and a leg, so it’s no stranger to cutting corners when the product demands for it.
Reuse old smartphone chips
Judging by what Samsung has managed to achieve with its “Fan Edition” phones, they don’t necessarily have to compromise with the chipset. All the “Fan Edition” phones in the past drew power from the same chipset used in their flagship counterpart. That being said, there’s no shortage of reliable chipsets in 2022. Older chipsets may not get the same attention as the new Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 or the latest Exynos processors, but there’s still plenty of value to be found in those chips.
A Snapdragon 778G or the slightly altered version of it powering the Nothing Phone 1 is a great example to consider. Qualcomm has also repurposed many of its older chips in the past. The Snapdragon 870 SoC, for instance, is really just a better-optimized version of the Snapdragon 865 SoC. Many of these chips are at the forefront, powering some solid devices in the Android space in 2022. Samsung can also turn to some of its older Exynos chipsets to clear its inventory, something which we’ve already seen a lot of manufacturers do.
Cheaper build materials
The rumors about Samsung making a cheaper foldable can be dated back to 2020 when the company was said to be working on a Galaxy Fold Lite. It was said to have a non-UTG folding display, which costs less. This cheaper foldable never became a reality but Samsung can always use cheaper materials for the other parts of its phone. The Galaxy S20 FE’s plastic back with the matte finish mimicked the look and feel of premium devices, and the same playbook can be applied here too.
The Galaxy S21 is also an excellent phone to mention here which I think looks just as good as its siblings with a glass back. There’s also the Pixel 6a which easily ranks among the best-looking phones of 2022 in my books. There are so many other phones I can think of with a plastic back that looks more expensive than what their price tag may suggest.
Ditch the less important features
Ditching the less important features like wireless charging to cut down the price is a textbook move that Samsung has used in the past. It’s a trade-off that I think a lot of users would be willing to take in exchange for more important features. Samsung hasn’t made any strides in the battery department, so it’s not like they have some huge expectations to meet, especially on a cheaper phone. In fact, I don’t mind going back to the 15W charging speeds of the Galaxy Z Flip 3 if I don’t have to spend that much money. It’ll become an easier pill to swallow in the case of a relatively cheaper phone.
While this doesn’t look like an exhaustive list of changes to make to the existing foldables to make them more affordable, it’s enough for Samsung to set things in motion. The truth is — Samsung doesn’t really have to put a lot of effort to make a great affordable foldable. They already have some solid budget phones and affordable flagships, and it’s only a matter of time till we see something similar in the foldable space. Perhaps global competition in the foldable space is what they need to make some moves. Not only will it allow Samsung to acquire a bigger piece of the pie, but it might just help generate more demand and make more expensive parts for the foldables at scale.
What are your thoughts on Samsung potentially making a cheaper foldable? Let us know by dropping a line in the comments below.