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Samsung’s New Foldables and What They Mean for the Future

Folding phones - the hot new thing!
Samsung’s New Foldables and What They Mean for the Future

Only a handful of years ago, foldable phones were a pipe dream. The first few models were laughably fragile and capable of breaking if you looked at them wrong. But Samsung kept at it, and its newest creations, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 demonstrate two important things in the world of smartphones:

  1. Samsung knows how to iterate.
  2. Foldables are going to be BIG in 2022.

The company’s launch event, which is usually reserved for the latest in its Note lineup, lacked Note devices entirely. The focus was on foldables, which means Samsung is putting major marketing power behind these devices going forward. It also managed to get the price on the Flip 3 down to $1000, the sweet spot for premium phones, like the iPhone’s Pro models.

I’m not going to go into the details of either device. For that I recommend you watch my favorite tech YouTuber, Michael Fisher—aka: MrMobile—and let him walk you through their features:

I’m not gonna lie. I’ve been lusting after the Z Fold 3 since I laid eyes on it. The only downside is I’d have to leave the iOS ecosystem, which I won’t.

It’s been rumored that Apple has been secretly working on its own foldable, waiting until the display tech was good enough so it could blow the competition away. I hope the rumors are true, because I think this is the puck Apple should be skating to (to use a tired, Jobs-era colloquialism).

The idea of an iPhone Pro Max that unfolds into an iPad Mini is tantalizing. I’m imagining a time when I can be Twittering on a regular slab phone on the subway before ducking into a Starbucks, opening my phone into a tablet, and then pairing it with my portable Bluetooth keyboard—one device handling 90% of my daily tasks that’s small enough to slip into my pocket.

(I’m 6’3”—my pockets are pretty big.)

Do I think Apple will do such a thing? Possibly, if they decide to jettison the iPad Mini. The company isn’t afraid to cannibalize its own products, but it needs a reason. It’s also possible Apple will ignore foldables entirely in favor of its dream of an Augmented Reality future where the whole world is the screen. I’m skeptical AR will ever really take off outside of fun demos and certain industries.

For now, though, Samsung is hanging its hat on the foldables market—a market Samsung created. If enough people ditch their glass slabs in favor of origami mobiles, then we may start to see folding iPhones and Pixels in 2022 or 2023.

Regardless, it’s nice to see some variety in the mobile landscape. We’ve been without it for so long and everything has been looking pretty homogenized for a while. I’m excited to see where Samsung—and other companies—take this form factor in the future.