Samsung Galaxy Fold
Samsung Galaxy Fold

It makes calls. It takes photos. It browses the internet. It opens like a book? Wow.

Smartphone giant Samsung this week announced what it believes will become a new category of smartphone. According to DJ Koh, President and CEO of IT & Mobile Communications Division, Samsung Electronics,

Today, Samsung is writing the next chapter in mobile innovation history by changing what’s possible in a smartphone. Galaxy Fold introduces a completely new category that unlocks new capabilities never seen before with our Infinity Flex Display.” Koh continued, “We created Galaxy Fold for those that want to experience what a premium foldable device can do, beyond the limitations of a traditional smartphone.”

In an interview with BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, Samsung spokesman Mark Notton said that Samsung has a need to “continuously, relentlessly innovate“.

Corbeau reckons there are fascinating aspects to these statements, worth unboxing for closer inspection (well we can’t get our hands on the device until March!).

If Mr Koh is right that the Fold is the next chapter in mobile innovation history then Samsung didn’t really write it. Samsung more kind of edited it. Just one month before the Fold, the FlexPai foldable smartphone was launched by Shenzhen-based Royole Corporation. While the Fold is a bit on the thick side for a phone, the FlexPai looks more like a bookie’s wallet on race day. With similar pricing (around £1200 for the FlexPai and £1300 for the Galaxy Fold), Royole will find it difficult to compete. Actually this is probably not the huge problem for Royole that it appears. The venture-backed Chinese corporation has IP, fabrication facilities and a line of milestone AMOLED products dating back to 2014. Their innovation model is to transfer a core technology to different products in different market sectors.

Samsung on the other hand has been a major player in the smartphone market for some years, finally getting a nose in front of Apple at the end of 2018. According to IDC a global market intelligence company, Samsung presently has 20% of the market in terms of unit sales, with Apple and Huawei around 15% and Xiaomi and OPPO each taking around 8% of handset sales. The drive for continuous and relentless innovation at Samsung has produced incremental improvements in their flagship Galaxy S to keep them out in front but with the smartphone market finally saturating and rivals like Xiaomi snapping at their heels, they need to innovate an entirely new premium product.

Is the Samsung Galaxy Fold the answer? Time will tell. Users can certainly understand the value of being able to carry a single device that functions both as a phone and a tablet.

The first flexible screen smartphone from Royole Corporation may find it difficult to compete against the stylish Fold but Royole are an organisation to keep a beady-eye on.

Further information on the Samsung Galaxy Fold can be found on the company website. Further information on the FlexPai smartphone from Royole Corporation can be found on their product information page. A detailed review of new tech revealed last month at CES 2019 can be found at TechRadar.