The foldable phone craze shows no sign of abating — if not from the public, then at least among some device makers. Samsung, one of the larger proponents of bendable gadgets, revealed details of its upcoming Galaxy Z Fold 2 on Tuesday.
The company introduced its new Galaxy line-up earlier this month, including a limited-edition Thom Browne collection, but it’s now offering more information on the device.
The $2,000 device isn’t just two phones sandwiched together, but like the first Z Fold, it’s a marvel of engineering. The new version, which launches Sept. 18, offers a folding glass display, an updated flexible hinge and five embedded cameras.
But beyond those specs, its most notable characteristic is its high price point.
Today, the consumer electronics business may find that it’s facing a similar dilemma as luxury fashion, with current events weakening appetite for premium goods.
Still, for fashion companies — plenty of which have side hustles as phone accessory makers — it makes sense to keep an eye on emerging phone designs. And if there are some lessons that can be gleaned along the way, even better.
In pricing the Z Fold 2, Samsung exceeded its Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, a $1,300 device criticized for its steep price. Not that the latter phone isn’t a high-ticket item, with its beautiful screen, camera and 5x optical zoom, upgraded S-Pen stylus and sleeker design. But the specs are overshadowed by the fact that it’s courting affluent power users during a time of global recession and skyrocketing unemployment.
In other words, if the Note 20 Ultra appears blissfully unaware of its context, the Z Fold 2 is even more expensive, although the new foldable phone is an improvement over its predecessor, especially for screen real estate.
The Z Fold 2 expands on the first version’s bezel-heavy 4.6-inch exterior display, which now goes up to 6.2 inches. Inside, the users see 7.6 inches of screen, also with reduced bezels. The size beats Samsung’s other bendy phone, the Z Flip, a “pocketable” gizmo that somewhat resembles a makeup compact.
The new foldable enters an increasingly crowded field, primarily from China. Huawei, Xiaomi and Motorola, which is owned by Lenovo, have all produced their own versions, with the latter expected to introduce its latest folding Razr next week.
The appeal of such devices, or at least the one most makers tend to highlight, is that they can sit up on their own at different angles like a laptop. It’s a new paradigm for smartphone viewing that’s also selfie-friendly. These cameras don’t need a tripod or phone stand, and that could be appealing in these social media-crazed times.
The technology is a culmination of years of research and development into flexible screens and hinge mechanics, with 2019 popping as debuts from major tech brands entered the market. But the jury is still out on whether consumers will flock to this relatively new hardware design, even if they can afford its high price.