Why the cutting-edge Galaxy Z Fold 3 is doomed to flop - PhoneArena

Why the cutting-edge Galaxy Z Fold 3 is doomed to flop

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Why the cutting-edge Galaxy Z Fold 3 is doomed to flop
Samsung's new favorite child, the Galaxy Z Fold 3, is on the way to replace the beloved by many Galaxy Note series. Rumor has it that we are about a month or so away from when this transition will become official. That's why it seems like the perfect time for a "Samsung reality check".

Let’s go through what I think will be the biggest challenges for the Z Fold 3, and tell you why you probably shouldn’t get your hopes too high.

1. Galaxy Z Fold 3: No sur-price
2. Galaxy Z Fold 3 screen sizes: "Yes surprise."
3. Folks ain't ready for a foldable?
4. Bonus: Huawei does it better
5. Verdict: The Foldbidden fruit
6. Poll: Would you buy a foldable phone if it came at… let's say $1,250?
7. Poll: Which foldable phone would you buy if it came with an affordable price tag?

1. Galaxy Z Fold 3 price: No sur-price

Fine… In fact, by the looks of it, the Z Fold 3 will actually be cheaper than its predecessor, the Z Fold 2. However, this doesn't mean it's becoming affordable. Not even close. The Z Fold 2 launched with a price tag of $1,999. Samsung realized this price was unrealistic and made it $200 less unrealistic soon after the phone was announced.

Now, the Z Fold 3 is rumored to bring the price down to "just" $1,599. Unfortunately, this information doesn't come from multiple sources, so we remain cautiously optimistic for now. The problem is that even if the rumors prove to be accurate, and Samsung launches the Z Fold 3 at a price of $1,599, this will still put a "rich people only" label on that phone.

We understand that manufacturing such a device comes with challenges and complications, resulting in a heftier bottom line. But… If Samsung wants to really try and put a foldable phone/tablet in people's hands, even $1,599 seems like a far stretch, given the fact that the most premium of "regular" flagships come at around $1,000.

2. Galaxy Z Fold 3 screen sizes: "Yes surprise."

Let's give the Z Fold 3 the benefit of the doubt and assume it'll cost $1,599, and you don't mind paying the price for this novel piece of tech. That's when the screen size issue becomes probably the biggest bummer because it's not even cost-related, meaning that even if you could afford it, you prooobably will be frustrated with some of its aspects.

That's right - I had the chance to play with the Galaxy Z Fold 2 for a short while, and I was immediately surprised/shocked by how small the "big" inner display was. Spoiler: It looks so much bigger on photos/videos.

Holding it simply didn't give me the confidence I could do anything more than what I'd be able to do on a big "regular" phone with a 7-inch screen. The aspect ratio makes it feel like you've glued two small phones together.

Even if we put productivity aside, even multimedia consumption is somewhat underwhelming since videos fill only the middle of the screen, and you're left with huge black borders, letting your "big screen" go to waste. Again, a 7-inch "standard" phone would basically do the same job here.

But! While Samsung's implemented some good multitasking features, which let you take advantage of the inner screen, and the seriously incredible speakers kinda rescue the multimedia consumption element, nothing can save you from the absolutely hilarious outer display! Out of the gate, this one is borderline unusable.

Now, I know… Samsung wants you to use the bigger inner screen as much as possible, and that's why this phone exists, and blah, blah, blah… However, the tiny (mostly narrow) outer screen literally discouraged me from doing anything on it.

Don't get me wrong - viewing "quick" content on this one is… fine. However, the moment you have to interact with it, it turns into a nightmare. The icons and virtual arrows become hard to hit; the taller aspect ratio requires adjusting your grip more often than not, and the typing… don't get me started on the typing.

If you use lots of instant messaging as your main way of communication (which WHO DOESN'T?!), you'll be forever frustrated with this tiny outer screen. But wait… You can just open the big one, and then your problems are solved, right?

Nope. Not at all. I advise everyone who hasn't held a smaller tablet in their hands to go in-store and try it. Try typing on it. It can be even trickier than on a tiny screen. Also, what if one of your hands is busy? Then you have to resort to the small outer screen whether you want to or not. Not to mention a proper-sized tablet like the 11-inch iPad Pro for example… Every time I have to type while holding the iPad in my hands, I… don't. It's a joke.

If you're wondering why I'm having a go at the Z Fold 2, while this story is about the Z Fold 3, that's because the new Fold is said to keep the same screen sizes like on the Z Fold 2! And I'm simply NOT loving it, as you could already tell.

Sorry, Samsung, if this turns out to be true, I'm out!

3. Folks ain't ready for a foldable?

Not that Samsung seems "too ready" to commit either, when looking at the supposed screen sizes of the Z Fold 3, but people are definitely not prepared to make the switch. Even at this early "stage three" of foldables, people simply don't… talk about them. Now, is this due to the way they are marketed, or due to the price, availability, etc.? Probably all of the above.

However, if we put smartphone nerds aside, foldables are still viewed as a concept which is in development. In fact, they kind of are… Yes, they are now usable. The same couldn't be said about the first Galaxy Fold. However, it seems like not many know about them or are interested.

I know this might trigger some people, but the fact that Apple hasn't entered the foldable phone race holds the entire industry back. In a nutshell, Apple has the strongest marketing and most loyal customers… When Tim Cook and company enter a market, it comes alive.

There are many examples, but the most recent one is AirTags, which made trackers cool again (considering they were cool before?!). The one with the most dramatic impact is probably AirPods and how they literally changed the way we listen to music.

4. Bonus: Huawei does it better

Without going into too much detail here (you can refer to our Huawei Mate X2 vs Galaxy Z Fold 2 comparison), I'll simply say that Huawei's Mate X2 has been out for over half a year now. Despite that, it shapes up to be a much better attempt at a foldable even when compared with the Z Fold 3 - or at least what we know about it so far.

Now, is that a valid point, given that it doesn't run Google apps out of the box, costs about twice as much as the Z Fold 2 (if we consider some Fold 2 deals), and it has limited availability? No, absolutely not. That's not a valid comparison. Thanks, US trade ban...

However, at least the way I am - I'll lose some sleep over the fact that SOMEWHERE out there in a storage room in China, there's a foldable phone that runs circles around Samsung's Fold, and:

  • Has larger, better displays - especially the outer one
  • Pretty much solves the "crease issue" when unfolded
  • Comes with a waaay better set of cameras - flagship-grade
  • Much faster charging
  • And have you seen the GENIUS design move that allows the Mate X2 to fold without leaving a gap?!

Verdict: The Foldbidden fruit

I'll finish off by pointing out something much less obvious. You wouldn't know it if you haven't been to a smartphone retail shop in Germany (unless this happens elsewhere too).

The Z Fold 2 is almost a year old now, but if you go to a German store (in this case - Saturn), you'll notice that there's a see-through display box that goes over the Galaxy Z Fold 2?! I first thought this might be done for security reasons - I get it the phone is expensive. However, as it turns out, you can remove the cover and play with the phone.

Why? Why are they making this device seem more "un-normal" than it already does? In fact, many people probably skip past it thinking exactly what I did: "I'm not supposed to touch this, and if I do, I'll need permission and someone to remove this pastry lid… I can't bother".

In my humble view, the Fold should be advertised, treated, handled, and just portrayed as any other device. Yes - it's different and special, but if you're trying to make it the "norm", you better start making it feel "normal", so people don't have the perception of something they can't afford or aren't supposed to have, before even looking at the price and reviews.

In the end, even if the Galaxy Z Fold 3 turns out to be a "flop" - whether that's related to sales, or simply design, that's... OK! This is still a novel device, and it will take some trial and error to get it right.

Would you buy a foldable phone if it came at… let's say $1,250?

Yes, definitely! This price seems very tempting.
I'm not sure. $1,250 is still too much for ANY phone - foldable or not.
I'd wait another two-three years when foldables have matured and cost as much as current flagships.
I'm waiting for a different form factor - a triple fold that can replace my bigger tablet or even a rollable phone!

Which foldable phone would you buy if it came with an affordable price tag?

The Galaxy Z Fold 3. I like the Z Fold 2, so this upgrade is enough for me.
The Huawei Mate X2, but only if it came with Google Mobile Services. It's a better phone overall.
The Mi Mix Fold - it's currently the cheapest foldable, so it's likely to get even cheaper.
I'm waiting for Google to enter the foldable phone race.
I'm waiting for Apple to enter the foldable phone race.
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