One way Samsung will benefit from being first to enter foldables market
Samsung’s launch of its first commercial foldable phone, the Galaxy Fold, was turbulent. The company overlooked an important aspect of the Fold’s design and had to delay the device’s release for nearly six months. Many believe the design oversight happened because Samsung simply wanted to be first with a foldable device on the market, and they have a point. But being first to market does have its benefits, as the upcoming Galaxy Z Flip will prove.
If the rumors are to be believed (and at this point, they can be), the Galaxy Z Flip’s foldable screen will have an ultra-thin layer of glass on top. The other clamshell foldable phone that’s launching this year, the Motorola Razr, won’t. Just like Samsung, Motorola is making sure people know that the Razr will have to be handled with care. And while that is going to be general advice for any foldable phone in the first few years, Samsung does have an advantage here.
Since Samsung has been working on foldable phones for a longer time, the folding screen on its second foldable phone won’t be as fragile as the screen on the Galaxy Fold or Motorola’s upcoming Razr. The Razr is Motorola’s first attempt at a foldable phone, and, as a result, it has exactly the same disadvantage the Fold had last year: The foldable screen, which is made of plastic, has no glass layer on top for protection.
The Razr is also priced very expensively for its spec sheet, but that’s another discussion altogether. The point I’m trying to make is that in early 2020, the foldable phone from Samsung will be more resilient than the one Motorola will sell to its customers. That wouldn’t be possible if Samsung hadn’t decided to go all in on the foldable segment before anyone else.
Sure, the company could have decided to hold off on launching a product in the market until it had the ability to put glass on top of a foldable screen, but the same could be said about Motorola. However, that’s not how it works. Every new product category has to start somewhere, and the early adopters always have to accept some risks and compromises.
In the case of the Galaxy Fold and the new Razr phone from Motorola, it’s a folding display that you have to be extremely careful with. And, for the next couple of years, those who buy a foldable device will also be paying a pretty high price even though these foldable devices have the same specs as standard non-folding smartphones.
But thanks to its persistence, Samsung will have solved — to some degree — a major issue of foldable screens before anyone else. And I can’t help but feel that’s a pretty big advantage. The Razr will probably see a lot more demand as it carries an iconic design, but for anyone looking for a foldable phone with a flip phone form factor, the Galaxy Z Flip’s glass-equipped folding display makes it a more sensible option.