TLW #014: The State of Foldables in the US 2022

👋🏻 Hi, fellow tech enthusiasts. I have a couple of announcements to make this week. I wanted to let everyone know that I will be changing the format of things again. First, you will no longer see “TLW #” (Tech Last Week) in the title starting next week. Second, instead of briefly touching on four to five news items that happened last week, I will focus on just one topic. Please let me know if you like this format better 🙏🏻

This week, let us talk about the state of foldable phones in the US.

  • 📺 7.6″ & 6.2 AMOLED 120Hz
  • 🧠 Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
  • 🗃️ 12GB RAM 256/512GB/1TB
  • 📸 50MP wide, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP Tele, 4MP/10MP selfie
  • 🎨 Phantom Black, Gray-green, Beige
  • 🔌 25w wire, 15w Qi
  • 🔋 4400 mAh
  • 💸 1800+
  • 📆 2022.08.26

As many of you know, a large number of foldable phones were announced last week. Samsung announced the new Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Flip 4, Motorola also announced the Razr 2022, and Xiaomi announced the Mix Fold 2.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
  • 📺 6.7″ AMOLED 1080 x 2640 120Hz
  • 🧠 Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
  • 🗃️ 8GB RAM 128/256/512GB
  • 📸 12MP wide, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP selfie
  • 🎨 Graphite, Blue, Pink Gold, Bora Purple, Bespoke
  • 🔌 25w wire, 15w Qi
  • 🔋 3700 mAh
  • 💸 1000+
  • 📆 2022.08.26

All major players in the smartphone world (excluding Apple, but we all know they are slow) are trying to take a piece of the foldable pie. The biggest problem for US consumers is that most of these competitors are not releasing their phones here. Both the Motorola Razr 2022 and Xiaomi Mix Fold 2 are currently only released in China. It is expected that they will release a global version at some point but, if the Vivo X Fold is any indication, the phones will most likely not support US 5G bands or be sold at carrier stores. This leaves Samsung as the only viable foldable player in the US.

  • 📺 6.56″ & 8.02″ AMOLED 120Hz
  • 🧠 Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
  • 🗃️ 12GB RAM 256/512GB
  • 📸 50MP wide, 13MP ultrawide 8MP 2x tele, 20MP selfie
  • 🎨 Black, Gold
  • 🔌 67w wire
  • 🔋 4500 mAh
  • 💸 ¥8999
  • 📆 2022.08.16 in China

I think part of why the upgrade from Z Fold 3 to Z Fold 4 feels so incremental is because of this lack of competition. In the US, Samsung does not need to fret. In Europe and Asia (excluding China), Samsung will have a head start. In China, Samsung isn’t even competing anymore.

Motorola Razr 2022
  • 📺 6.67″ PMOLED 1080 x 2400 144Hz
  • 🧠 Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
  • 🗃️ 8/12GB RAM 128/256/512GB
  • 📸 50MP wide, 13MP ultrawide, 32MP selfie
  • 🎨 Black
  • 🔌 33w wire
  • 🔋 3500 mAh
  • 💸 ¥5999
  • 📆 2022.08.15 in China

I think losing LG was a major blow to the US smartphone market. LG had ambitions that kept Samsung on its toes. Remember the LG rollable phone and LG Wing 5G? There is no way Samsung would be making incremental updates if they had competition like that.

So where does this leave the US and US consumers? Well, there are basically three companies competing in the flagship space. These companies are Apple, Google, and Samsung. You can argue that OnePlus is also present, but they are also slowly withering away. The consolidation with Oppo has so far caused a lot of people to lose faith in OnePlus. Their newer phones, especially the OnePlus 10 T, are starting to feel like generic mid-range phones.

Knowing this, there are only two possible competitors to Samsung in the US foldable space: Apple and Google. Apple is not going to release a foldable phone soon. The foldable screen tech is still too new for their standards. I also have questions on how iOS would work on a foldable. Would Apple combine iPad OS with iOS again after splitting them up a few years ago? Google’s foldable phone (Pixel Fold) on the other hand, keeps getting delayed. Google also has an odd working relationship with Samsung where they can’t fully compete. Samsung definitely will cry foul if Google decides to release the Pixel Fold in direct competition with the Galaxy Z Fold line. My guess (with no evidence whatsoever) is that Samsung does get a degree of special treatment from Google on this. This leaves the US in a sad state where Samsung essentially has a monopoly on foldable phones at the moment.

All of this leads to this question: If Vivo, Motorola, Oppo, and Honor had a larger presence in the US, do you think we would have seen a more ambitious Samsung Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4? In my opinion, yes.

I’ll be back to chat again next Monday ☕ cheers!

You Might Also Like

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.