Samsung has unveiled a new range of flagship phones – including a foldable smartphone.
But the Galaxy Fold has received a mixed reaction from industry experts, with question marks over its viability as well as its £1,500 price tag.
The Galaxy Fold has a 4.6-inch smartphone screen but can be opened out to reveal a 7.3-inch tablet-sized display.
Set to go on sale in the UK on May 3, the device is expected to cost £1,516.
The larger screen can display up to three apps at once, aimed at multi-tasking, and Samsung’s ‘App Continuity’ will allow users to switch between the two screens seamlessly – as the Fold opens and closes, apps will automatically show up where you left off.
But the new foldable device has received a mixed reaction from industry experts.
Rob Baillie, mobile expert at comparemymobile.com said there were still questions about how viable the device is.
He said: “There have been many rumours floating around the first key folding device on the market – what tech it’s going to incorporate, what the USPs are beyond the novelty and, importantly, how much it’s going to cost.
“With the ‘Fold’ first look, which they boldly claim is not a smartphone but actually represents the invention of a completely new category, a nice caveat to avoid it being benchmarked against smartphones on price, not all these questions have been answered.
“We’ll now be looking towards other brands, such as Huawei, to how they’ve approached it, but it still feels too soon to tell if the fold really is the future or just a sparkly gimmick to put some distance between Samsung and its competitors.”
Industry analyst Julie Ask from Forrester said price could also be an issue.
“If people thought the iPhone X was expensive … 1,980 US dollars is nearly double.
“If people view it as an iconic device, if there are awesome new experiences, and if they find a market for the hybrid device of tablet and smartphone, which is a similar price point to buying both with the added convenience of one device, it may get traction.”
Alongside the foldable device, Samsung also unveiled a trio of new flagship phones, including one with enough storage to hold more than 300,000 photos and an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor built into the screen.
All three new phones also support Samsung’s new Wireless PowerShare charging feature, which enables S10 devices to charge other smartphones by placing them back-to-back.
Mobile phone expert Ru Bhikha from uSwitch.com said the range offered enough diversity to be a success.
“Samsung has responded to the rise of consumer handset apathy by pulling not just one, but several, rabbits out of the hat at this year’s Unpacked event,” he said.
“Whereas the 10th anniversary of the iPhone last year drew criticism for making minor improvements that some believed couldn’t justify its price tag, Samsung has made sure to perceptibly raise its game in nearly every respect.
“From wireless power charging and in-screen fingerprint sensors to the hole punch camera – killing off the notch – the Galaxy S10 looks, and acts, like a different beast to its predecessor.
“While these elements have all appeared in different handsets over the last year, it’s significant to see the world’s biggest manufacturer bringing them all together in one place in what is essentially a ‘mainstreaming’ of these well-received features.”
But Mr Baillie said: “The Galaxy S10 handsets are impressive and had the capability to excite people without the Fold stealing its thunder.
“The world’s first ultrasonic fingerprint scanner is going to appeal to many consumers, as is the update on the next generation pro-grade camera that is going to give consumers access to an ultra-wide camera field, with the suggestion that it will allow anyone the ability to take professional calibre shots from their smartphone.
“Our research over the past few months has shown that consumers aren’t rushing to get the very latest handset anymore so the question will remain on whether these innovations do enough to draw people from their familiar phones that are doing everything they need.
“The slump in Apple sales is not promising. Unlike Apple, though, Samsung aren’t putting all their eggs in the flagship S10 basket, with a full suite of products to suit all consumers’ price points and needs available – and three price points to spread the risk.
“The iPhone XS started brushing a grand, whereas the most affordable version of the S10 is £669.”