Technology

Galaxy X Foldable Phone: Will It Hamper The Galaxy S9 Release?

The Galaxy X foldable screen will make it a standout aspect of the Samsung smartphone range for 2018. But what impact will this have on the flagship Galaxy S9?

While Samsung hasn’t officially confirm the existence of the Galaxy X, it has stated that there will be a bendable smartphone release next year. With the Galaxy X largely anticipated by the Samsung-following community, the handset will probably showcase new hinge technology and a foldable display.

Galaxy X Foldable Device
Image Credit: Samsung / Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) (screenshot)

Flip phone

The familiar yet attractive flip phone format will be one of the smartphone highlights of the year, and this will leave Samsung with a challenge for its major Galaxy S9 release. How can the smartphone from the Korean corporation impact on a market dominated by its first-ever foldable handset?

Well, the beginning of the answer to this question starts with the Samsung approach to the Galaxy X. Although this will undoubtedly be a significant smartphone release, the expectation of the analyst community is that it will only be released in South Korea initially. There are several reasons for this, with one of the most prominent being that the manufacturer wishes to test the water for the product in its native community before venturing outwards into the global marketplace.

Certainly the market for the Galaxy X foldable display is not understood as of yet. It is generally believed that this could make a big impact with consumers in 2018, but this is far from guaranteed. To some extent, the flip phone can be considered a dated design, and it is possible that the Galaxy X will fail to achieve traction, even in a Korean market in which Samsung is massively popular.

Possible pariah

And the Galaxy X foldable screen could actually become something of a pariah in a smartphone marketplace that is already flooded with devices. This means that it is sensible for the handset to be launched in just one territory initially, with Samsung carefully monitoring the performance of the Galaxy X in Korea before making a decision about a global launch.

This means that the Galaxy S9 will still be the major smartphone release from Samsung in the first half of 2018, regardless of the appearance or otherwise of the Galaxy X. It would seem to be logical to sandwich the release of the first ever Galaxy X foldable device between the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy Note 9, but even if this is the case it will not necessarily steal the thunder of the Samsung flagship.

The Galaxy X provides a platform for Samsung to demonstrate its technological skill and maintain its reputation of being a hugely innovative manufacturer. But there is no need for it to commit itself to including this innovation in a major device intended for the mass marketplace, and this will enable the Galaxy S9 to remain relevant even in the face of the release of the Galaxy X foldable device.

Cautious approach

It is interesting that Samsung is taking such a cautious approach with the Galaxy X, as it has been characterized as more of a risk-taker than Apple in recent years. Yet there has been something of a role reversal over the last twelve months, with Apple taking for more chances with its recent iPhone X release, effectively adopting a cavalier attitude in shifting away from a fingerprinting facial recognition for biometric security.

With Touch ID being removed from the tenth generation smartphone, Apple is sending a clear message out regarding the future direction of security features in the iPhone range. But it is perhaps the performance of the Galaxy Note 7 that has led to Samsung steadily evolving its approach to a more cautious one over the last 12 months or so.

This phablet became one of the most infamous technology devices in history when it showed a propensity to explode. Samsung actually dealt with this highly embarrassing and damaging episode with great aplomb, and it has now re-established itself as a massive and credible player in the smartphone marketplace.

But the lessons of the Galaxy Note 7 have been learned and learned well, and this partially explains why the Galaxy Note 8 was a more conservative unit than previous releases, and also why the Galaxy X foldable device will not be rushed out into the world market immediately.

Strong position

Samsung also has no particular need to push the boat out in the next few months, as it has re-established itself at the pinnacle of the smartphone industry with the Galaxy Note 8. Samsung sales have been extremely encouraging over the last 12 months, and the Korean corporation can feel emboldened by its current market position.

Ironically, the Galaxy Note 9 may be a more ambitious unit than this year’s Galaxy note 8, now that Samsung has engendered significant damage limitation following the release of the Galaxy Note 7. Some of the more revolutionary features that have been linked with the phablet range in the past may now see the light of day once the Galaxy Note 9 is released, and this will help take the focus off the Galaxy X foldable device, potentially also giving the Galaxy S9 some breathing space.

Limited release

A relatively limited release is expected for the Galaxy X foldable prototype, and this means that the Galaxy S9 will still remain the mass-market device, and much of the focus of Samsung commercial efforts. It will be interesting to see to what extent the Galaxy X is promoted in the Western world, and whether its release is heavily publicized in the media.

But what can be said with some certainty is that it will be impossible for American consumers to get their hands on the Galaxy X device initially, without importing it from Korea.

Although there may be concerns about the performance of the Galaxy S9 given the release of the Galaxy X, the relatively meager specs of the new smartphone mean that the Galaxy S9 will undoubtedly remain the flagship of Samsung. There is surely room in the smartphone world for both the Galaxy S9 flagship and the Galaxy X foldable.