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It’s Apple, not Samsung, that will make the foldables segment really take off


Last updated: November 5th, 2022 at 03:52 UTC+01:00

It's often said that Apple is always late to the party. The Cupertino-based company takes years to bring over features that have been available on Android/Android devices for a long time to iPhones and iPads, and usually, the fanboy response is that Apple delays things because it wants to perfect those features before bringing them to the general public.

One of the biggest competitions in the mobile industry is that between Apple and Samsung. Samsung is currently trying to make foldables the next big thing (the “next big thing” phrase associated with Samsung is never going away, is it?). Samsung is also discreetly poking fun at Apple customers, telling them to stop waiting for Apple to hop on the foldable bandwagon and just switch to Samsung,

The ads might have an effect on some people (the Galaxy Z Flip certainly attracts a big enough audience thanks to how the vertical foldable form factor was immortalized by the Moto Razr nearly two decades ago). But I have an issue with Samsung's smug attitude about how it's making and selling more foldables than anyone else, because it no doubt knows full well that foldables will probably only truly take off once Apple joins the party.

Truth be told, Apple's brand power is a lot stronger than Samsung's

It's simple, really: Apple's clout and brand power make it impossible for developers and manufacturers (like those who make phone accessories) to ignore it. App developers, for example, always scramble to add features to their apps as quickly as possible every time a newer version of iOS gets released.

Take actionable notifications. They came to Android many years before Apple decided they're a good idea and copied the feature. And suddenly, actionable notifications were being looked into by big developers like Facebook, who had all but ignored them on Android before that.

But more important than software, it's Apple's hardware that sets the trends. All those Windows laptops with amazing battery life you get these days? It was only after seeing how long Apple's MacBooks can survive before other laptop manufacturers got interested, and now you have more than a dozen Windows laptops with 5+ hours of battery life (my Dell XPS 13 says it can last more than 15 hours if I only use Microsoft Word).

Then there's the headphone jack. Apple dropped the 3.5mm headphone port with the iPhone 7, and everyone else jumped at the opportunity to do so on their phones soon after. Samsung did the same, despite having taken multiple jabs at Apple for dumping the 3.5mm port in its marketing campaigns.

Coming back to the software side of things, can you tell me about some ground-breaking feature — other than Flex Mode and its related functionalities — on a Samsung foldable? Sure, you get a bigger screen to do stuff on a larger canvas, and there's even S Pen support, but have third-party app developers taken all the advantage they can to make their apps work better with the foldable form factor?

From what I've seen, most app developers couldn't care less about foldables right now. But once an Apple foldable comes out, things will change. Developers will want to customize their apps to run better on the iFold or whatever Apple decides to call the phone, and those features will then start trickling down to the Android versions of those apps.

Samsung, on its own, simply cannot push developers and other manufacturers to embrace the foldable concept. It needs Apple's help, and I wish Samsung would acknowledge that by not running those cringy iPhone attack ads and staying in its lane. Most Apple users are not going to switch to Samsung no matter how bad you make them feel in your ads; they are just going to wait for an Apple foldable instead.

Like so many other market segments, only Apple has the reach and popularity to make foldables a lot more interesting to the average customer compared to Samsung or any other Android manufacturer. This isn't a diss against Samsung but what I believe is the truth of the industry, and as a tech enthusiast, I have my fingers crossed Apple won't take too long to launch a foldable so the experience on Android foldables becomes even better.