5G and foldables are the future of phones. But if you want both in one device, you’ll have to live in Korea, the UK or Germany.
Samsung’s revamped Galaxy Fold, the company’s first foldable device, will be available in Korea on Friday. The only version available in Korea comes with 5G connectivity and costs 2.398 million won (about $2,000).
The UK and Germany will be getting 4G models on Sept. 18, and the 5G model is coming to the UK that day too, Samsung said in a release Friday. It’ll be exclusive to EE, the UK’s largest wireless carrier. We don’t know when the 5G one is coming to Germany yet.
But the US will only get a 4G version of the Galaxy Fold, a Samsung spokesperson said Thursday after the company’s IFA press conference.
Samsung — and pretty much every other phone manufacturer — is having a tough time selling high-end devices. Phone prices are increasing and people are upgrading less often. If someone’s buying a $1,000 phone with all the bells and whistles they can imagine, they tend to hold onto it longer than before. In the US, people now upgrade to a new model about once every three years instead of every two. At the same time, software updates make old phones feel new, hardware designs aren’t changing much from year to year and less expensive devices are getting features previously found only in pricey flagship phones.
Foldable devices and 5G are seen as two things that could revitalize the smartphone market. They’re both viewed as the future of mobile, even though the rollouts haven’t been smooth. This year, the Fold is mostly for early adopters who want to play with the absolute cutting-edge innovations in mobile. Eventually, foldable displays will move down the lineup and drop in price, becoming an option for more of us.
Samsung worked on foldable displays for years before showing anything to the public. It demonstrated a flexible OLED screen at CES 2013 and gave the first glimpse of the Galaxy Fold at its developer conference late last year. It officially unveiled the Galaxy Fold at the beginning of its Unpacked Galaxy S10 launch in February and planned to launch it April 26.
But after using the device for only days — or, in some cases, hours — during a short review period in mid-April, several technology journalists reported issues with their devices. Some peeled off a thin top layer from the display, which was an essential protective coating, not a removable screen protector. Others had detritus get under the screen itself, causing bumps and bulges. Samsung canceled the release date to explore what happened.
In late July, Samsung said the Galaxy Fold would hit the market in September.
The Galaxy Fold has a 4.6-inch display when folded, and a separate 7.3-inch display when unfolded into a tablet. It starts at $1,980 (about £1,500 or AU$2,800) and will come in four colors: cosmos black, space silver, martian green and astro blue. You’ll be able to start using apps like Flipboard on the small, front display and then pick up where you left off when moving to the big, inside display.
With the launch of the 5G version of the Fold, Samsung now offers four different 5G phones around the globe — more than virtually all of its competitors. They range in price from 749 euros (about $827) for the new Galaxy A90 5G to about $2,000 for the 5G Fold.
First published at 4:18 a.m. PT.
Updated at 5:02 a.m. PT: Adds details about 5G model’s UK release.