Will the second time be the charm for Samsung’s new folding phones?

In 2019, Samsung launched its Galaxy Fold smartphone, technically its second iteration of the device after early reviewers discovered problems with screens that could easily break and other issues. At nearly $2,000, the smartphone wasn’t cheap, and it didn’t offer any dust or water resistance. The novelty of a large folding screen wasn’t enough to sway most critics. Now, two years later, and after a good dose of R&D time, Samsung is back at it, having just launched the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G and the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G, for $1,799.99 and $999.99, respectively.

Both devices feature brighter and more responsive displays and reviews this time around have been far more positive. Tom’s Guide called the Galaxy Z Fold3 the “most exciting phone in 8 years” because of its “ability to expand the screen into something with greater visibility and real estate [which] completely changes how users interface with the device.” The Fold3 opens to a tablet-like 7.6-inch display, and many have praised the device’s hinge and overall refined design. The more affordable Flip3 appears to be getting great marks as well, with one reviewer at TechRadar stating, “I’m in love. It’s the best clamshell foldable we’ve seen yet.”

Many consumers are holding onto their smartphones for years at a time, and far longer than they did a decade ago when annual upgrade cycles were typical for many. A lack of smartphone innovation has likely contributed to this trend in recent years, but it’s not clear yet if folding phones with big displays is the innovation consumers are seeking. For some consumers, the “next big thing” may come in the form of smart glasses that one day replace the smartphone entirely.

Samsung should be commended for trying something new with its smartphones, but the company also appears to be at a slight disadvantage as its smartphone customer base is less inclined to be the first to purchase new technology products when they’re launched, according to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, which shows that iPhone owners and Google phone owners are more inclined towards early adoption of new tech.