Samsung’s Foldable Phones and the Cost of Dominance

Omar Zahran
6 min readAug 12, 2022

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 & Z Flip 4 are incremental updates in a smartphone niche that should be dominated by innovation and outside-of-the-box ideas

This week Samsung unveiled its fourth generation of foldable phones the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4. There does not seem to be much difference between this year’s version and last year’s version (the classic battery life and processor upgrades are notwithstanding). Having an incremental upgrade with a foldable lineup strikes me as especially odd, this is supposed to be the growth and innovation sector of an otherwise dull smartphone market after all. This strategy is indicative of a company that fancies itself the victor in the foldable race and sees no need for aggressive innovation anymore.

The Dominant Galaxy

It feels a bit strange to call foldables the wave of the future or the bleeding edge of innovation. It has been nearly three years since Samsung unveiled the first generation Galaxy Z Fold. For Samsung, this is starting to feel like a product line that is inching towards the maturity stage of its life cycle. The company invested and bet on the form factor of the phone that transforms into a tablet and a re-imagination of the flip phone and it has worked better than they ever could have imagined. The company currently dominates the foldable segment with 62& market share, a number that could climb up to 80% after initial sales of the Fold 4 and Flip 4.

Samsung has done this through marketing, establishing the feeling that the Fold is the future of computing and that the Flip is as much a fashion statement as it is a phone. This mixed in with Samsung’s very aggressive trade-in promotions to get these phones into people’s hands has led to many trying them and loving their appeal. Owners of the Fold specifically will often say to anyone that will listen that it has revolutionized the smartphone. Flip owners will often brag about how compact the phone is, a huge win for people that think phone sizes have gotten out of hand.

This level of satisfaction and dominance, particularly in the United States where…