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The pandemic stopped Samsung from becoming Apple’s worst nightmare

Opinion
By 

Last updated: January 19th, 2022 at 11:12 UTC+02:00

Apple and Samsung have been at the top of their game for years. Samsung remains the world’s leading smartphone vendor. Nobody sells as many devices as the Korean giant does. It’s an impressive achievement when you consider that there’s no shortage of Android manufacturers.

Apple has a unique advantage because of its OS and ecosystem. There are no other companies making iOS devices. The iPhone has little competition because those who want to stick with Apple’s ecosystem must buy Apple devices.

However, these companies have been taking on each other with their flagship smartphones. Some of the best Samsung phones humble even the greatest of iPhones when it comes to the specs. Then again, the iPhones have a lot going for them aside from the specs.

Samsung had to switch up how it competed with Apple in the high-end smartphone market. Simply launching phones that were packed to the gills with new technology wasn’t enough. There had to be a unique value proposition that could entice even iPhone owners to leave Apple’s walled garden.

The high-end smartphone market had also stagnated. Rising prices and lack of revolutionary changes resulted in people holding on to their expensive phones for longer. That pushed manufacturers like Samsung to find margins down the value chain. Something had to be done to improve its fortunes in this lucrative segment.

So Samsung went all-in on foldable smartphones. It was the first major smartphone company to launch a foldable smartphone at scale. It still faces little competition. While others have teased their models, Samsung’s foldables are already in their third generation. Apple is nowhere to be found in this market

The value proposition of foldable smartphones is incredible. Anybody who’s bored with how even the latest devices look and feel like phones have always done is instantly intrigued. Clamshell foldables like the Galaxy Z Flip are incredibly versatile and portable. The Galaxy Z Fold lineup provides massive screen real estate that effectively puts a tablet in your pocket.

Samsung’s foldable smartphones tick those boxes. They also boast flagship-level specifications for the most part. This was vital to ensure that these smartphones weren’t looked at as gimmicks. They can handle pretty much everything that any other high-end smartphone can while also folding in half.

The company kicked things up a notch last year with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3. Both are the world’s first water-resistant foldable smartphones. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 also supports the S Pen, cementing the device’s status as an asset for power users.

We’ve discussed before how Apple seems to have given up on innovation because the business case doesn’t seem to exist anymore. It has diversified its revenue streams enough that the company can still make record profits without having to push the envelope on hardware.

Had there not been a pandemic in the midst of what’s arguably one of Samsung’s most important product launches, its foldables would have caused Apple a lot of headaches. The economic uncertainty that followed has made a lot of people cut down on spending. When everything is closed down and there are questions about your job security, suddenly buying a $1000+ phone doesn’t seem like a good idea.

Despite the challenging circumstances, Samsung’s foldable sales have reached a record high. The newer models are flying off the shelves, particularly the $999 Galaxy Z Flip 3. People recognize the value proposition of these devices. They are excited to try out something that breaks the monotonous cycle that the smartphone industry has been stuck in for the better part of a decade.

Samsung’s foldables could have been an even bigger hit had the global economic conditions been a bit more conducive. Nevertheless, the trend is promising. As the world opens back up, the conditions improve and consumers’ pent up demand unleashes, that’s when Apple’s luck may run out. We may see a lot more people switching over to foldables.

That’s one of the reasons why Samsung should look to expand its lineup of foldable smartphones even further. There has already been talk of a Galaxy Fold Lite model. A similar aggressively priced Galaxy Z Flip model may also prove to be lucrative.

Opinion AppleGalaxy Z Flip 3Galaxy Z Fold 3
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