• February 1, 2023

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Samsung’s launch of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Galaxy Z Flip 4 at last week’s Galaxy Unpacked event keeps the South Korean company at the top of the list for Android’s early adopters. But the folding handsets are important to Samsung’s relations with consumers, partners, and the wider smartphone community.

For many years, Samsung used the product launch for the back half of the year to push the Galaxy Note. When that handset first arrived, large screened handsets were a novelty and offered a different focus for consumers. That first handset, launched ten years ago, came with a then stunning 5.3-inch screen. As the years passed, the Note could offer direct competition to Apple’s iPhone… which invariably would launch in the following month.

For a long time, the Galaxy Note was used as a technological marker, a sign that Samsung could out-innovate Apple’s smartphone, and the Galaxy name would stay at the top of the pile. As larger handsets became commonplace, and Samsung’s own Galaxy S range brought out its own large-screened variant, the Note fell out of fashion. It was no longer unique in terms of physical size, and more was it able to differentiate Samsung from Apple when they were launched.

This is why Samsung using the August spot to launch the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 is so interesting.

While the Fold and Flip dominate the market for foldable smartphones, taking the two top spots and a 74 percent share between them, total sales are still lower than the mainstream regular ‘solid’ smartphones by some way. The emphasis placed on these two phones allows Samsung to keep flying the flag of technological achievement to many.

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Consumers see two exciting handsets, and many of them will be tempted. I’ve spotted a good number of Z Flip models while out and about after lockdown, the Fold less so, but this is of course just watching around Edinburgh, other cities may vary.

More importantly, the handsets show Samsung as a technologically advanced company, offering smart and sexy hardware, albeit expensive hardware. They promote the Galaxy brand and help drive sales, but sales across the entire portfolio, not just of the foldable. The Fold and the Flip are Samsung’s equivalent of a ridiculously overpowered sports car that everyone loves to look at while they buy a practical four-door city runabout.

With the Fold and Flip handsets sold at scale, Samsung can demonstrate the ongoing improvements of its folding screen technology not just in a small tech demo, but in a live environment with millions of units in circulation. And that technology, through Samsung Display Solutions, is available to other manufacturers. What better shop window could the South Korean company have?

And finally, it’s a timely reminder to the industry and the collective tribes that there are more ways to innovate than the path chosen by Apple for the iPhone.

A strong statement to the public, a demonstration of excellence to partners, and a reminder that there’s more than one way to define progress. Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4 are wielding a lot of power.

Now read the latest smartphone headlines in Forbes’ weekly Android Circuit column…

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