Samsung has established a monopoly over the foldable smartphone market in India over the years. There has been little to no competition from companies like Motorola, Vivo, and Oppo that have released foldable handsets in other parts of the globe. However, all this might change in 2023 with the improvements in foldable display technology and increasing demand for foldables. An increase in competition should benefit consumers with a reduction in the prices of foldable smartphones. Rumour has it that Google might also be throwing its hat in the ring with the launch of a foldable Pixel smartphone in the near future.
On this week’s episode of Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast, host Akhil Arora — in his final episode as host — discusses the possible future of the foldable smartphone segment in India with deputy editor Roydon Cerejo and senior reviewer Sheldon Pinto.
Samsung has enjoyed a monopoly over the foldable smartphone market in India. However, things could change in 2023 and some firms could possibly alter the status quo. Pinto believes that Oppo, Vivo, and Motorola might be the ones to do so. All of these brands already have foldable smartphones available in China. However, none of their foldable models have made their way to India in recent times.
It is worth noting that the foldable segment is a niche market with prices crossing the Rs. 1.5 lakh mark, and this might be a factor holding companies back from competing in this space. Despite the ultra-premium pricing, the demand for foldables has grown in India. However, users should be extra careful while handling foldable smartphones, especially while gaming due to the pliable nature of the foldable display. Pinto reveals a mishap with a previous generation Galaxy Flip model. Early adopters of foldable smartphones were seemingly used as beta guinea pigs to test the performance of their devices in the real world. It seems like this has always been the case for early adopters of any technology.
Do foldable smartphones provide better functionality? Pinto says that his experience with the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 revealed a major flaw with the flip form factor. He had to use both of his hands to open the device, which felt cumbersome and inconvenient at times. In addition, the external display on flip smartphones offers even less functionality than smartwatches. On the other hand, Cerejo had a much better experience with larger foldable handsets. However, current foldable smartphones are still very bulky.
In terms of possible foldable smartphones that might debut in India, it seems like the Oppo Find N2 and Oppo Find N2 Flip that were recently launched in China might enjoy a global release in 2023. The Vivo X Fold+ might also come to India, since Vivo already has launched premium smartphones in the country. Later in the year, Samsung might also come with its next-gen foldable models. Pinto mentions the rumours of a cheaper Galaxy foldable being in the works. However, a more affordable phone might also eat into the sales of the Galaxy S series.
Google is tipped to launch a first-generation Pixel foldable phone in 2023, but it seems like this purported model might not make its way to India in 2023. It might be the first foldable to offer a premium camera performance in this segment. It’s worth noting, though, that Google does not have a good track record when it comes to fresh hardware. However, an increase in competition will definitely lead to better prices.
You can listen to all of that — and more — in detail on our episode by hitting the play button on the Spotify player embedded above. Meanwhile, our upcoming episodes will be hosted by Pranav Hegde and Siddharth Suvarna.
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