Home / News / Samsung Should Unfold the Galaxy Z Fold Into Its Own Lineup Like the Galaxy S Series

Samsung Should Unfold the Galaxy Z Fold Into Its Own Lineup Like the Galaxy S Series

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For the past four years, Samsung fans looking for a foldable phone had two options: the nearly tablet-size Galaxy Z Fold and the clamshell-style Galaxy Z Flip. That’s still true in 2024, but Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold may expand into its own product line, perhaps pushing devices that combine the experience of a phone and tablet closer to mainstream audiences.

Samsung is reportedly developing a new tri-folding device to compete with Huawei, according to the leaker known as Revegnus (@TechReve) on X. That follows a report from Korean news outlet ETNews suggesting that Samsung will release a cheaper version of the Galaxy Z Fold alongside the standard model this year. 

Read more: Best Foldables for 2024

Taken together, both of these reports hint the Galaxy Z Fold may evolve into its own family of devices like the Samsung Galaxy S series. Doing so would suggest Samsung is taking greater effort in establishing foldable phones as the new norm, with the Z Fold being a major part of that plan. More importantly, launching new book-shaped phones in different price ranges could make foldables more appealing and more accessible to wider audience. 

As one of the world’s largest smartphone makers, Samsung has a lot of influence over where mobile devices are headed. But it’s also facing more competition than ever before in both the foldable phone market and the broader smartphone space. 

Apple surpassed Samsung as the leader in global smartphone shipments, signaling the first time since 2010 that the Korean tech giant hasn’t held the number one spot, according to the International Data Corporation. Google and OnePlus both launched their first foldable phones in 2023, meaning the Galaxy Z Fold isn’t one of the only phone-tablet hybrids around anymore. 

China now holds the largest slice of the foldable phone market thanks to the rising popularity of models from Huawei and Vivo, not Samsung, according to Counterpoint Research. 

Expanding the Galaxy Z Fold into a family of devices could be just what Samsung needs to maintain its position as a foldable phone leader.

Samsung’s rumored tri-folding phone and cheaper Z Fold 

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Samsung Display revealed several foldable concepts at CES 2022, including the Flex S tablet shown here.

Samsung

Samsung is considering adding a new device with a tri-folding display to its lineup, according to Revegnus, an account that frequently posts information about upcoming Samsung products. It would be part of Samsung’s attempt to compete with Huawei, says the leaker, which is also rumored to be developing a tri-folding phone according to Korean news outlet Hankyung. Samsung also reportedly finished developing its rollable display to further compete with the Chinese tech giant. 

It’s also worth noting that Revengus isn’t always correct. The leaker predicted that Samsung would release a foldable tablet called the Galaxy Z Tab in 2023, for example, which it didn’t. 

Samsung hasn’t discussed future plans for its foldable phones. But the company has been open about what it’s capable of when it comes to new types of flexible and foldable display technology. At the CES tech conference in Las Vegas, for example, Samsung’s display division showcased concept devices with tri-folding displays that bend like an accordion. A patent application for a phone that folds in two places also contributed to speculation that Samsung could one day launch a tri-folding phone. 

TM Roh, president and head of Samsung’s mobile experience division, teased that the company has even more display concepts up its sleeve, although he couldn’t speak to the company’s roadmap.

“We are preparing many different products and technologies until they are ready to be revealed to the consumers,” he said in a previous CNET interview. “And also aside from the concepts and products that you have seen at CES, there are actually many more concepts and many other designs and technologies that are underway.”

The leaks from Revegnus don’t mention whether this supposed tri-folding phone would be part of the Galaxy Z Fold line or an entirely new product family. But adding it to the Z Fold series would seemingly follow the same approach Samsung has taken with other phones and tablets like the Galaxy Note and Galaxy S lineup, which includes standard, Plus and Ultra phone models. 

Samsung has already spent more than four years building an audience for the Z Fold, so it makes sense that the company would expand that line rather than building a new one from scratch. I could imagine a tri-folding phone being branded as the Galaxy Z Fold Ultra, for example. 

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 on a table with the S Pen The Galaxy Z Fold 5 on a table with the S Pen

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 supports S Pen input. 

John Kim/CNET

Rumors about a cheaper Galaxy Z Fold, meanwhile, come from the Korean news site ET News. The outlet reported that Samsung is working on two versions of the Galaxy Z Fold 6: one with S Pen support, which would presumably be the standard successor to the Z Fold 5, and one without. The model without S Pen support would be cheaper than the standard model, says the report, a move that Samsung hopes would help boost foldable phone sales.

When asked whether Samsung would release a foldable phone priced at lower than $1,000 anytime soon, Roh said doing so would be challenging.

“It is probably not going to be easy for us to offer a less than $1,000 foldable in the very near future,” he also said during that previous interview. “But we will keep trying.”

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This is the Flex In & Out Flip concept device, which Samsung unveiled at CES 2024.

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This is the Flex In & Out Flip concept device, which Samsung unveiled at CES 2024.

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This is the Flex In & Out Flip concept device, which Samsung unveiled at CES 2024.

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This is the Flex In & Out Flip concept device, which Samsung unveiled at CES 2024.

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When unfolded, it unfurls into a 6.7-inch screen. 

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When unfolded, it unfurls into a 6.7-inch screen. 

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When unfolded, it unfurls into a 6.7-inch screen. 

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When unfolded, it unfurls into a 6.7-inch screen. 

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When it’s bent backwards, one side of the Flex In & Out Flip is shorter than the other. This stops it from covering the camera.

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When it’s bent backwards, one side of the Flex In & Out Flip is shorter than the other. This stops it from covering the camera.

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When it’s bent backwards, one side of the Flex In & Out Flip is shorter than the other. This stops it from covering the camera.

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When it’s bent backwards, one side of the Flex In & Out Flip is shorter than the other. This stops it from covering the camera.

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Samsung Concept Flip Phone Lets You Bend It in Both Directions

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Why these new foldables would be a big deal

The first Android phone, the HTC G1 alongside Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 5 The first Android phone, the HTC G1 alongside Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 5

The Galaxy Z Fold 5

James Martin/CNET

Expanding the Galaxy Z Fold series would underscore Samsung’s stance that foldables are the future of smartphones. But there are a couple of other important reasons why launching an Ultra edition of the Z Fold along with a cheaper version would be significant.

For one, a completely new style of foldable phone would go a long way in keeping phones feeling exciting and new. Even for foldable phones like the Galaxy Z Fold, annual upgrades are starting to feel incremental. The biggest differences between the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and last year’s Galaxy Z Fold 5, for example, are the Z Fold 5’s new hinge and faster processor. 

You could argue that releasing a new type of foldable phone at a time when current foldables account for only a fraction of the smartphone market is a bit premature. While that may be true, experimenting with new formats and designs could help Samsung find the so-called “killer app” for foldables. If Samsung’s concepts are anything to judge by, a display that folds in two places instead of one could allow you to cram an even larger screen in your pocket, perhaps strengthening the value proposition of having a device that doubles as a phone and a tablet. 

A device like the hypothetical Galaxy Z Fold Ultra wouldn’t be for everyone. Like the Galaxy S24 Ultra and other Ultra phones that came before it, this device would be a way for Samsung to showcase the best of its technology. With its 100x digital camera zoom, giant 6.8-inch screen, four rear cameras and S Pen, the Galaxy S24 Ultra offers more than most people probably need in a smartphone — at a high price to match. The Galaxy Z Fold Ultra, should it ever come to fruition, would likely be similarly over-the-top. 

Google's Pixel Fold phone Google's Pixel Fold phone

It’s not just Samsung. Other foldable phones, like the Google Pixel Fold (pictured) are also very expensive. 

James Martin/CNET

The rumored cheaper Galaxy Z Fold 6, which seems more likely to become a real product, would represent a step toward solving the biggest issue stifling today’s foldables: price. Foldable phones have always been more expensive than your standard phone, and that hasn’t changed much in the last four years. 

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 starts at an eye-watering $1,800 without a trade-in or discount, while the Galaxy Z Flip 5 begins at $1,000. And it’s not just Samsung; Google’s Pixel Fold also starts at $1,800, and the OnePlus Open is priced at $1,700. While cheaper flip phones have started to emerge, like the $700 2023 Motorola Razr, we have yet to see affordable book style foldables. 

Samsung’s budget friendly smartphone models have also performed well in the past, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the company take a similar approach with its foldable phone line. Several of Samsung’s cheaper A-series phones, including the Galaxy A14, Galaxy A54 5G and Galaxy A34 5G, were among the most shipped phones in the first half of 2023, according to market research firm Omdia. 

Only time will tell what’s next for Samsung’s foldable phone ambitions. But if the company truly wants to make them appealing to more than just tech enthusiasts, broadening the Z Fold into its own product line seems like a step toward getting there. 

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