It’s starting to look very likely that Samsung will launch its next foldable phone alongside the Galaxy S11 in February 2020.
A few leaks – and Samsung’s own messaging – have pointed to a Motorola Razr-style clamshell style device on the horizon, which, if accurate may change the entire Galaxy S11 lineup. Why? Because the sheer number of flagship devices Samsung is launching next year means something will have to change to accommodate them all.
Let’s take the rumoured clamshell foldable device for example. Samsung is apparently launching it alongside the Galaxy S11 range (it could be branded a Galaxy S11 variant itself, which would be a big deal) for a significantly cheaper price than 2019’s Galaxy Fold.
Sources speaking to the Korea Herald claimed that Samsung is looking at a $840 price tag for the new foldable phone. Whilst I think that’s unlikely – largely because it’s cheaper than the current generation S10 – Samsung’s next foldable will be cheaper than the $2000 Galaxy Fold. If Samsung wants this technology to be adopted en masse, it has to be. What that means is an affordable new Samsung foldable phone – presumably competitively priced with the $1500 Motorola Razr – will force the prices of current generation models down too.
The alternative is Samsung’s next generation technology costing the same – or close to the same – as the top-end of current generation tech, which may end up cannibalising the sales of one or both devices. I don’t think that’s Samsung’s plan.
A cheaper-priced Galaxy S11, with new camera tech and a huge 5000mAh battery becomes an irresistible prospect. Alongside a more reasonably priced – and better designed – foldable phone (with the same camera tech) then Samsung will comfortably have the best smartphone lineup of the year.
The other interesting result of the rumoured clamshell device possibly forcing prices down is what it means for the Samsung’s mid-range phones. It already has an impressive ‘E’ variant and there are rumours about an S10 Lite in the works, but what happens to those devices when the flagship current generation tech becomes a lot more affordable?
What I think we’re seeing is a slow redefinition of mid-range smartphones. Chinese brands like Xaomi, OnePlus and Oppo have been stretching the definition for a few years, but companies like Samsung and Google (the Pixel 3A is better value for money than the Pixel 3) finally getting on-board is how wide-scale industry change happens.
What may eventually happen is that if the new Galaxy Fold takes off, then the current generation technology may – by default – become the new mid-range simply because prices will have to come down to make way for the more exciting foldable phones. Which, for the average thrift conscious consumer, will be a big win.