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Samsung aims to slash cost of foldables in fight with iPhone

Samsung aims to slash cost of foldables in fight with iPhone
Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 5, left, and Galaxy Z Flip 5 smartphones. (Photo: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg)

Samsung Electronics Co. is considering adding an affordable option to its portfolio of foldable phones, in a move to hasten adoption of the novel form factor.

“We are trying to make a leap in our price positioning,” the chief of its mobile business, TM Roh, told Bloomberg News. “We are seriously considering the timing, but it is surely a difficult task.”

The world’s largest smartphone manufacturer is in talks with supply partners to drive down the cost of manufacturing foldables without compromising key specs. Samsung was first among major phone manufacturers to offer a foldable costing less than $1,000 — and its $999 Galaxy Z Flip has quickly become its most popular offering in the category.

Moving further down the price range would help Samsung’s foldables more directly challenge Apple Inc.’s mainstream iPhone range, which starts at $799. The Suwon-based company has so far pitched foldables as premium and high-end devices, including by partnering with fashion brand Thom Browne to boost their perception as a luxury product.

The broader smartphone market downturn over the past year and a half has not stinted the rise of foldables. Estimates for their growth in coming years vary widely: IDC forecasters expect close to 50 million foldables shipped in 2027, whereas Counterpoint Research puts that year’s figure at 100 million. Counterpoint’s assumptions include the release of a foldable iPhone within two years.

“We see 2025 as a possibility for the release of a foldable iPhone, which could provide another growth spurt for the segment,” said Jene Park, senior analyst at Counterpoint.

Samsung’s dual-track strategy of pushing its flagship foldables as premium products while driving down the cost at the entry level is aimed at securing its leading market share. Rival Android device makers out of China have all now introduced their own foldable offerings — though they have been largely limited to the domestic market so far.

Android’s Google has also got into the contest with its Pixel Fold device, albeit only in a handful of regions. Samsung remains the most global and widely available seller of foldables.

The rising competition is evidence of foldables becoming mainstream, Roh said. Samsung will seek to maintain its lead by collaborating with software partners like Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Meta Platforms Inc. and Microsoft Corp. It’s engaged in discussions with Google and Microsoft about collaboration on generative AI, the executive said, without elaborating further.

Samsung will continue efforts to expand its share in China, where it has a paltry 1% of the market, and lean on the appeal of its premium range to do it, Roh said. DM

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