Samsung did an outstanding job developing the foldable smartphone market and is by far the leader in the segment. However, its marketing push to “join the flip side” appears to be missing the mark by heavily obsessing over current iPhone users, so much so that it feels like the company forgot to give reasons for current Galaxy Z owners to upgrade in 2023.
Of course, the South Koreans were not the first to launch a foldable screen phone, as some readers are quick to remind us. But after five generations of Galaxy Folds—and the same number of iterations for the Flip line—, Samsung doesn’t seem that much interested in popularizing its foldable phones, but actually in trying to steal Apple’s customers, something they can only dream of.
The current campaign is a sequel to the 2022 marketing around the Galaxy Z Flip 4, before the 2023 tsunami of foldables from Motorola, Oppo/OnePlus, and Google, all of which brought interesting takes on the format, even if sometimes they felt experimental or even first-generation-like.
Samsung, on the other hand, relies far too much on its very impressive Flex Hinge—which ended the wedge shape previous Galaxy Z phones formed when closed. However, 2023 phones from all three previously mentioned companies feature the same flat profile when folded.
Worse, maybe it is a cultural insensitivity on my part (or just marketing at work), but the ads seem to underestimate people’s intelligence as if seeing a 2021 design—the ads show the Galaxy Z Flip 4, or the Flip 3, we cannot know for certain (the same issue applies for the Fold, BTW)—in 2023 would be enough to invest a thousand bucks.
Maybe worse than that, those who fell for the Flip’s charm—which we did, in 2021—are depicted as mindless zombies… Something that the 2022 ad already did for iPhone users, as if millions of people would be willing to transition to an entirely new ecosystem.
If only the ads showed the Galaxy Z Flip 5 with its substantially superior cover display—which still relies on hacks to offer the same functionality as the 2023 high-end Razr. It could highlight its compact build and how the new external screen can make opening the phone unnecessary in many situations. Then maybe the marketing department could dream of snatching the small-phone-crowd Apple seems to have abandoned.
But no, just relying on the act of folding/unfolding and the nice possibilities available from Flex Mode won’t be enough to convince the kids afraid to be represented by green bubbles—as if the price weren’t prohibitive enough for that market.
In the meantime, Samsung may have replaced the Galaxy Note series with its Fold models but has yet to make the S Pen a first-class citizen on the Z Fold line since adopting (or inheriting) the stylus in 2021. Not only is the pen not included with the expensive phones, but Note loyalists need to buy a special case to safely store the accessory on the Galaxy phone.
We get that the foldable market is a glimpse of hope in the middle of the current sales slump in the smartphone market. And not only Samsung was heavily affected but also Apple, at least according to Counterpoint Research’s numbers.
However, even before its first foldable, Google managed to increase its shipment numbers in the same timeframe, especially through great bang-for-the-buck offers (which doesn’t apply to the Pixel Fold) and carrier deals in the few countries Pixel phones are sold.
At the current state, especially by repeating its formulas on screens, cameras, battery, charging, and especially price, it not only looks like Samsung won’t be able to lure iPhone fans, but it is not offering enough compelling reasons to keep its usually loyal customer base.