Samsung may debut an affordable $400 foldable phone next year, and I’ve got questions

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

June Wan/ZDNET

Flip phones are back — in the form of foldable phones at least — and consumers have plenty of options if they’re looking to enter the fold. But a new foldable phone from Samsung could be one of the most enticing options yet. 

While Samsung’s current foldable phones, the Galaxy Z and the Fold carry price tags of about $1,000 and $1,800 respectively, a recent leak showed a reported mid-range Samsung foldable phone set to debut next year that would cost a shockingly affordable $400 to $500.

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For reference, the Motorola Razr, the most affordable foldable phone this year, had a starting price of $699 and was recently on sale for $499. Black Friday sale aside, the new Samsung phone would significantly undercut the prices of every other foldable. 

It’s not clear whether this will be a book-style or a clamshell, but based on their current prices, it’s likely this will be more similar to the lower-priced Galaxy Z. What kind of concessions would Samsung have to make for that lower price? 

If the Motorola Razr was any indication, the reduced-price Samsung would probably have a smaller display, likely a less-powerful camera, and would probably make cuts to processing power. But the Razr still handles daily tasks very well, so the phone has plenty of use for most people.

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Of course, the biggest question now is, will this be the foldable that leads to mainstream adoption? Folding phones are certainly the hot thing right now, but they haven’t found a foothold among other flagships, at least in the US (foldables accounted for 40% of premium phone sales in South Korea last year, and that’s only expected to grow this year).

In our hands-on review of the Galaxy Z Fold 5, though, it was pointed out that Samsung President TM Roh said that 50% of smartphone users were considering an upgrade to a foldable device. And if that is indeed the case, the lower price of this phone could finally be a tipping point for many buyers.