Samsung Electronics unveiled its latest high-end foldable smartphones on Wednesday, keeping prices at the same level as last year’s in a bid to cement its leadership in an expanding but still niche market.

The smartphone maker priced its clamshell Galaxy Z Flip4 at US$999.99, and the 5G-enabled top-line Galaxy Z Fold4 with a 7.6-inch main screen to start at $1 799.99, the same as the launch prices of last year’s models. South African launch pricing is as follows

  • R37 999 for the Galaxy Fold4
  • R21 999 for the Galaxy Flip4

Pre-orders open today, with the devices on sale in South Africa on 1 September. Samsung said consumers can trade in existing Samsung and competitor devices and get a “guaranteed” up to R10 000 in a refund or up to R400/month off subscription value through a contract.

“We’ve successfully transformed this category from a radical project to a mainstream device line-up enjoyed by millions worldwide,” said TM Roh, president and head of mobile experience at Samsung Electronics.

The Galaxy Z Flip4 and Z Fold4, as well as its latest earbuds, Galaxy Buds2 Pro, will be generally available starting on 26 August in select markets. The phones will be launched in South Africa on 1 September, with pre-orders open immediately.

Counterpoint Research forecast global shipments of foldable smartphones to grow to 16 million units this year, just 1.2% of the 1.36 billion smartphone shipments forecast, but a jump from nine million foldables shipped last year.

Although the overall smartphone market is seen shrinking this year as consumers spend less, foldable smartphones are likely to fare better, as their quirky form factor, large screens and portability attract interest, analysts said.

Samsung held a 62% market share in foldable smartphones in the first half of 2022, followed by Huawei at 16% and Oppo at 3%. Counterpoint forecast Samsung’s share in the second half will be around 80% after the new releases.

Samsung said it is aiming for foldable phone sales to surpass that of its past flagship smartphone, Galaxy Note, in the second half.

“Foldables have helped Samsung differentiate itself… Apple will be Samsung’s key competitor in the future and we expect a foldable to be released from Apple in either 2024 or 2025,” said Counterpoint senior analyst Jene Park.

Samsung said the latest models make it easier for phone owners to use popular apps such as Instagram and Microsoft’s Outlook.  — Reuters