Samsung unfolds next-level smartphone experience for Indians

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By Nishant Arora

New Delhi, Aug 15 (IANS) Smartphones have remained more or less the same in look and feel for years, with some tweaking around the display. Samsung is now looking to make the new foldable form factor available at more accessible price points and more and more Indians are now looking forward to flaunting this new lifestyle.

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Touted as a big leap both in terms of software and hardware, Samsung has announced to bring Galaxy Z Fold3 5G (with first ever S Pen support on a foldable) and Galaxy Z Flip3 5G devices to India next month at a very competitive price in the premium segment.

Despite the cost reduction, the 7-inch Galaxy Z Flip 3 (that may cost around Rs 85,000-Rs 90,000) does not compromise on the hardware or features. It offers “under-display camera”, improved toughness with armor aluminum and Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus, along with other top-end features.

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According to industry experts, Samsung will eventually look to upgrade its smartphone users (especially on Note series which did not arrive this year) to the foldables.

“Galaxy selected trade-in will make Fold even more attractive, especially on the Note series where users will move on to an entirely new form factor and experience,” said Research Director Tarun Pathak at market intelligence firm Counterpoint.

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The shipment of foldable smartphones will remain in single digit in 2021 at around 9 million units — a three times growth over 2020 — with Samsung dominating with over 88 per cent market share.

By 2023, Counterpoint Research expects a 10 times growth in foldable smartphone shipments.

Samsung has said it expects better performance in the second half with the launch of new foldable smartphones and the expansion of mass-market 5G devices.

The South Korean giant said it sold 60 million units of handsets in the second quarter, down from 81 million units in the previous quarter, with the portion of smartphones reaching the mid-90 percent range.

“It is great to see that Samsung persevere and persist with new innovations around the foldable form factor, with each successive iteration. With its third-gen foldable, Samsung has been able to move the needle forward, even including, potentially mainstreaming the foldables,” Prabhu Ram, Head, Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), at Gurgaon-based CyberMedia Research (CMR), told IANS.

Ritesh Bendre from Counterpoint Technology Market Research team added that while it is good to see Samsung making efforts to make foldable smartphones more affordable than before, there are supply constraints as the yield for foldable displays is still not good.

“Once these supply issues are resolved, we believe the $800-$1,000 price point will be a sweet spot for foldable smartphones over the next couple of years,” he noted.

Although the foldable market grew significantly over the past year, it was from a small base and is expected to remain niche through the medium term.

“Three key things must happen before we see any significant volumes: 1) Significant price declines with flagships at around $1,000-$1,500; 2) more vendor participants — we’re starting to see this now; and 3) Apple’s entry into the space,” according to Counterpoint Research Senior Analyst, Jene Park.

In a price-sensitive market like India, if Samsung plays its cards well and gets the India pricing right for the Galaxy Z Flip (below the Rs 85,000 mark), “it will potentially have a best-seller in the upcoming festive season”, said Ram.

(Nishant Arora can be reached at nishant.a@ians.in)

–IANS

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