Small folding smartphone could attract galaxy of users

Flipping and folding devices are being touted as the most likely to steal Apple iPhone customers as its biggest rival unveils two smartphones destined for Australian consumers. 

But experts say Samsung’s sixth generation of folding smartphones, due for release on July 31, and those from other brands will have to convince many more buyers to invest in flexible screens for the technology to dominate device sales.

Samsung revealed its latest folding phones in Paris on Thursday (Australian time), with its larger Fold6 device boasting a slimmer, lighter but wider form while the smaller Flip6 adds a 50-megapixel camera and more photography modes. 

Samsung’s latest folding smartphone
Folding smartphones have become the fastest-growing technology in Samsung's portfolio.

The devices will feature AI-powered software for the first time as well as upgraded processors to power it.

Samsung Australia mobile experience head Eric Chou said folding smartphones had become the fastest-growing technology in its portfolio and the most likely to lure customers from other brands.

"The install base (for folding phones) continues to grow at a much faster rate than all of our other products," he told AAP.

"Our total base has now seen a very, very big increase in the number of foldable users and Fold and Flip continue to be the devices that bring across customers who are experiencing a Galaxy for the first time."

Mr Chou said folding phones had been in the market for five years and in development for 13, and consumer fears about their ability to withstand everyday knocks had been addressed.

"We’ve certainly had lessons but we continue to improve on that durability," he said.

Figures released by research firm TrendForce predicted the popularity of foldable phones would more than triple by 2028, and Kantar Worldpanel ComTech found their popularity had grown by 60 per cent in the past year. 

Samsung folding phone
Samsung’s latest folding smartphone, the Galaxy Fold 6, features AI-powered software.

Smaller folding phones, such as Samsung’s Flip and the upcoming Motorola RAZR 50 Ultra, were the most popular with new buyers, the research found, and had the strongest potential to steal users from other brands such as Apple.

But Kantar Worldpanel global consumer insights director Jack Hamlin said the technology had a long way to go to challenge sales of traditional smartphones. 

"The foldable market has ample room for growth and as more people buy, fewer will feel the first-move anxiety associated with adopting a new technology," he said.

"However, it remains to be seen whether foldables can move from a niche technology towards mass adoption."

Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi said folding phones would continue to attract consumers who wanted more powerful functions or more screen real estate but Apple’s unwillingness to launch a flexible rival might limit sales. 

"Even with high demand, the lack of an Apple folding device makes consumers feel that the technology is still not ready or still has problems," he said.

"It’s still considered experimental by over half the market, so that’s going to be a mitigating factor."

Samsung’s new folding phones will compete with folding devices from Motorola, Oppo, Huawei and Google. 


* Samsung Galaxy Z Fold6 ($2749): The latest version of the folding phones that started the trend will feature a thinner, lighter but wider body, AI features and 50-megapixel camera

* Samsung Galaxy Z Flip6 ($1799): The brand’s flip phone will add features including an auto-zoom feature for selfies and AI messaging suggestions when it launches on July 31

* Motorola RAZR 50 Ultra ($1699): Due to arrive in Australia on July 17, the folding RAZR update promises to bring a four-inch front screen, water resistance and new ways to capture images while folded

* Google Pixel Fold 2 (TBA): Google chose not to release its first folding phone in Australia in 2023 but the internet giant could reveal a change of heart at its next phone launch on August 13

* Oppo Find N3 ($2699): The Chinese phone manufacturer offers an alternative to Samsung's Fold with a phone that opens up to show a larger, 19.8cm display.

The reporter travelled to France as a guest of Samsung Australia.

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