Foldable Phones Have Flopped, but Samsung Hopes Its New Model Will Flip the Script

Samsung, which launches the Galaxy Z Fold 2 Tuesday, has a lot riding on making foldable handsets a success

Galaxy Z Fold2 shop
Galaxy Z Fold2 shop

SEOUL—The foldable phone was supposed to upend the smartphone industry, but so far it has flopped.

By Elizabeth Koh

Pitched last year as novel introductions to a staid industry over the past decade, folding phones promised portability with displays that opened up to the size of tablets yet when closed could still perform most functions of a smartphone.

But just as device makers were expecting sales to surge, the global coronavirus pandemic hit and sheared away early enthusiasm. Buyers stuck at home didn’t need a multifunctional gadget on-the-go, while lockdowns closed many retail shops where buyers could be wooed by the flashy phones up close. The economic shocks also have left fewer people craving a high-price device.

Globally, 1.74 million foldable devices were shipped from the first launch last September through June 30, according to market tracker Canalys. That is a fraction of prepandemic forecasts and a rounding error in an industry that shipped 1.28 billion smartphones during the 12 months ended that same date.

The latest entrant arrives Tuesday with Samsung Electronics Co.’s unveiling of the Galaxy Z Fold 2, the second iteration of its flagship foldable-screen model. It has a reinforced folding hinge and an even larger 7.6-inch main display. The price remains the same as its predecessor at $2,000. More

By Elizabeth Koh https://www.wsj.com/