Samsung's $1,800 Galaxy Z Fold 4 is Intentionally Out of Reach

Samsung’s $1,800 Galaxy Z Fold 4 is Intentionally Out of Reach

At its Unpacked event last week, Samsung unveiled its new flagship Galaxy Z Fold 4 foldable phone, which adds better multitasking software, a slimmer design and a more durable body. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the staggering $1,800 price tag, which probably few consumers can afford. But that exclusivity is exactly why the Fold 4 exists.

It might seem disconcerting to keep the Z Fold 4 at twice the price of other premium phones when Samsung wants foldables to become more common, as CEO TM Roh said during Unpacked. I argued that price cuts would be the best way Samsung could fight Apple this holiday season. With Samsung holding steady with the price of the Z Fold 4, it’s clear the company is happy to keep it a niche device available only to tech enthusiasts with deep pockets.

The Z Fold 4 sits at the top of a tier where it has no real rivals. It is essentially a Ferrari between Mercedes and BMW. Creating that level of exclusivity is totally on point, giving Samsung an exciting and aspirational product that generates excitement and interest across the lineup. Taking a few hundred dollars off its price won’t make a difference, said IDC research director Nabila Popal.

Keeping the Z Fold 4 at $1,800 is “the right move, in my opinion, even if it won’t be affordable for the masses,” Popal said.

This dynamic, which runs counter to the idea that a lower-priced foldable can spark interest in the category, is one of the problems facing this entire area. Foldables occupy an exciting niche in the phone business, which has seen an endless parade of drab slabs of glass and metal emerge for more than a decade. But the high price prevents them from really exploding.

The only answer is to slowly build up market and interest through a mix of exciting but less attainable options like the Z Fold 4 and the comparatively affordable $1,000 Z Flip 4.

Samsung hopes the Z Fold 4’s dynamic design, which is still impressive in person, will give the company a boost ahead of Apple’s event next month and generate excitement for foldable devices in general.

Samsung relies on the Z Flip series to sell the ambient of folding, transitional phones that alter their shape. And Samsung has work to do, because they’re still rare in nature, with research firm IDC estimating that just over 7 million foldable devices shipped in 2021 compared to 1.3 billion smartphones sold last year.

From a market perspective, the small volume the Z Fold 4 could get may help Samsung regain some of the global share in high-end phones, as Apple sells seven out of 10 Premium phones $800 and up worldwide.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Screenshot from CNET

No price cuts while parts are expensive

Although price cuts would help Samsung make its foldable phones more common, the company may have little choice but to keep its prices static. Unlike truly mainstream products like Samsung’s Galaxy S series, which have flat screens and components used in many other smartphones, the small volume of foldables sold each year have specialty parts.

“That means the very specialized components required … are still being produced in small quantities and therefore are likely to remain very expensive,” said Bob O’Donnell, an analyst at Technalysis Research.

That leads to a chicken-and-egg problem that affects all specialty devices: Parts can’t get cheap until they’re made at scale, and there’s no point in making them at scale while consumers buy very few of the expensive devices that use those. parts. That’s why so few phone makers are making foldables, including Apple, O’Donnell said.

“We really can’t ignore the fact that the supply chain isn’t really ready for an Apple-level product, and that’s part of the reason Apple hasn’t [made a foldable] either,” O’Donnell said.

Samsung is splitting the difference with the Z Flip 4, a folding foldable that’s half the size of a “flat” smartphone when closed, but unfolds to reveal an internal screen as big as any regular phone’s screen. Samsung sees the Z Flip 4 as a “gateway device” that turns adventurous buyers into fold people, an on-ramp for consumers to eventually upgrade to the larger, more expensive Z Fold line.

Samsung says the Z Flip is the best-selling series, accounting for 70% of the foldable devices shipped by the company, but both devices serve different demographics. The Z Flip is sleek but ultimately just a retractable version of a typical ‘flat’ smartphone, not a junior edition of the productivity-enhancing Z Fold devices that fold out into tablet-sized screens.

More foldables are being sold every year, and IDC predicts shipments will grow to 25 million foldables by 2025. Whether that’s enough volume to enable cheaper foldables is hard to say. Samsung has at least gotten creative in offering more value foldables.

Facebook network on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Facebook on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.

Screenshot from CNET

Cheaper folds through trade-ins and carrier deals

The industry is working to make foldables a thing. You can get a Galaxy Z Fold 4 for under $1,800 through Samsung’s generous trade-in values ​​and various carrier deals. Samsung retains its elite price tag, carriers are getting more customers to sign up for their services, and customers are holding the next evolution in phones in their hands.

Samsung trade-in offers take $1,000 off the list price of a Z Fold 4 if you send in your previous Z Fold 3, Z Fold 2, or this year’s Galaxy S22 Ultra. But trade-in values ​​are still pretty generous for the original Z Fold or other Samsung flagship phones from the past few years. Apple’s more expensive phones also get decent trade-in value, but you’ll hardly get anything for phones from Google, Motorola, LG, or OnePlus.

Carriers can also save you money on the Z Fold 4, with Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile offering various trade-in deals to cut the price by up to $1,000. Verizon is also offering $800 off a second Z Fold 4 after you buy the first, in case your household needs two foldables.

The other option is to wait for Black Friday or the holiday season, when Samsung may introduce new deals to discount its foldable devices.

Just don’t hold your breath for Samsung to discount its most premium mobile device. Unlike the Z Flip 3, which got a $150 price cut With its successor revealed this week, the Z Fold 3 is priced at the same $1,800 on Samsung’s website as it was when it launched a year ago. With high parts prices, years of R&D to make up, and a lack of competition, there isn’t much pressure for Samsung to lower its prices.

Samsung is “a leader in this space right now and can afford to charge a premium before other Android players step up in this space, and maybe even Apple in a couple of years,” Popal said.

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