Samsung unfolds new-look ‘iPhone killer’
SAMSUNG fired a direct shot at Apple overnight, unveiling its first smartphone with a folding glass screen, unusual selfie modes, and a promise that it could kill the iPhone for some buyers.
But the company's second generation Galaxy Z Fold2 will also cost almost $3000 when it launches in Australia on September 25, which experts say could limit its popularity to the most enthusiastic adopters.
Samsung unveiled its new folding smartphone in a virtual event overnight, showing off a device with big improvements over the first model, including a larger internal screen made of glass instead of plastic, a bigger external screen, a 5G connection, and a rugged, redesigned hinge that will let users prop the phone at a right angle to watch videos or take photos hands-free.
The Fold2 will also introduce unusual camera features to folding phones, including Rear Cam Selfie mode that will let users see portraits while taking a snap with the phone's 12-megapixel camera.
Samsung Australia mobile vice-president Garry McGregor said the company's hero phone would not only be in high demand from loyal customers but could steal users from one of its biggest tech rivals.
"More than just a phone, it really is a status symbol," Mr McGregor said.
"And in a time when people are more likely to switch banks than their mobile ecosystem, we know Fold is one of the highest drivers of switching to Samsung from competitors: specifically Apple."
Mr McGregor told News Corp the company had seen "more than double" the number of iPhone users switch to Samsung to buy the original Fold than was typical, and expected even more to purchase the second model that featured significant improvements.
The Fold2 will also launch weeks before Apple is expected to reveal its new iPhones due to delays at Chinese manufacturing plants during the coronavirus pandemic.
Samsung's second Fold smartphone should also face an easier launch this year after the first model was recalled before sale due to hardware issues with its hinge, seals, and a plastic covering on its screen that, when removed, could break it.
Samsung Electronics mobile communications president Dr TM Roh said the company spent a year redesigning the phone based on issues it had identified and user experiences.
"We closely listened to user feedback to ensure we were bringing meaningful improvements to the hardware, while also developing new innovations to enhance the user experience," he said,
Mr McGregor said Australian buyers could also expect to see the folding smartphone in more stores and with more carriers this time, rather than last year's "very limited launch".
Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi said consumers should also expect to see more folding smartphones from other manufacturers in the coming months, such as the Microsoft Duo that will go on sale in the US on September 10.
But while they might look futuristic, Mr Fadaghi said makers needed to ensure the software on these devices phones needed to work just as seamlessly as that of their flat peers.
"We're still in the early days when it comes to consumers' uptake of folding phones," he said.
"There's no doubt going to be a lot more of these devices that will become available in the smartphone market but they still have to prove themselves, especially in application support. They're likely to do better than the first generation, but they need more support to prove themselves."
Samsung will begin accepting pre-orders for the Galaxy Z Fold2 next Wednesday, September 9, before its launch on September 25.
Originally published as Samsung unfolds new-look 'iPhone killer'