Foldable phones are now a thing, and both Microsoft and Samsung are chasing this opportunity in a reasonable effort to take even more market share from Apple.
By ROB ENDERLE
Samsung Galaxy Fold is arguably on its second version, and the Surface Duo phone’s release is still around a year out. As a result, we’ll mostly focus on both companies’ approaches to the foldable screen and why one approach may be better, for a phone anyway, than the other.
Let’s take each in turn.
The Samsung Fold uses two displays, the featured foldable display with a secondary notification display that sits on the outside of the device. The main display is a Dynamic AMOLED capacitive touchscreen with 16M colors, has an unfolded size of 7.3-inches, and a resolution 1536 x 2152 pixels. The secondary display is 4.6-inches, Super AMOLED with Gorilla Glass, and it has a resolution of 720 x 1680 pixels.
The phone uses the top of the line Qualcomm SDM855 solution with eight cores and the Adrino 640 graphics subsystem. The weight is heavy, for a phone, at 263g.
The Galaxy Fold is priced around $2K—or more expensive than most are currently willing to pay for a smartphone.
Microsoft Surface Duo
We know less about this phone, and it is still in prototype form. The Microsoft Surface Duo has two Gorilla Glass displays on the inside of the device and no secondary display on the outside. Each display is 5.6-inches and the phone unfolds to an 8.3-inch tablet or one inch larger than the Samsung. Now we immediately jump to guesses because Microsoft hasn’t yet released the specs. Microsoft tends to favor their Pixel Sense spec for displays, which is 2880×1920 pixels.
The prototype phone used an identical Qualcomm 855 solution, but this will likely change before the release. The Surface Duo weight should be in-line with the Samsung because of fewer features (one less camera) but offset by two Gorilla glass-covered screens that are larger.
The estimated price for this phone is between $1K and $1.5K, and—I expect–they’ll attempt to undercut iPhone pricing as a penetration strategy, suggesting that, with incentives, it could be much less. (Ideal target price for a penetration product would be sub-$750 and this phone could hit that price point under a penetration pricing strategy).
Comparing The Efforts
The phones, while seemingly very similar, are very different. The Samsung Galaxy Fold is a true “Halo” product, which means it is a technology showcase intended to drive interest in the brand but not sell much volume. It is a true early adopter device and is arguably the most fragile phone currently in market at any price thanks to the plastic main screen.
The Surface Duo is a market penetration phone, which means it will have a far tighter focus on keeping the price down. It also has a unique business focus, which is a segment largely abandoned by everyone, but the BlackBerry-branded phones with keyboards like the Key2. As a result, the phone is more robust, and it should have a sharply lower cost to build.
For instance, it only has one rather than two cameras but, by folding the screen over, you can get a similar experience and without the resolution degradation that typically occurs when you switch cameras. More
As President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, Rob provides regional and global companies with guidance in how to create credible dialogue with the market, target customer needs, create new business opportunities, anticipate technology changes, select vendors and products, and practice zero dollar marketing.
For over 20 years Rob has worked for and with companies like Microsoft, HP, IBM, Dell, Toshiba, Gateway, Sony, USAA, Texas Instruments, AMD, Intel, Credit Suisse First Boston, ROLM, and Siemens.