Samsung goes ahead with Galaxy Fold release in U.S. with higher sales target

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2019-04-19 13:54 Updated : 2019-04-19 13:54
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Samsung IT & Mobile Communications Division CEO Koh Dong-jin introduces Galaxy Fold during a showcase event held in San Francisco on March 20. [AP / Yonhap Photo]

SEOUL -- Unfazed by some negative assessment by early reviewers, Samsung Electronics will go ahead with the scheduled shipment of its foldable smartphone, Galaxy Fold, this month in the United States to take the upper hand in competition with rival firms, including China's Huawei.

In an internal decision, Samsung has doubled its sales target for Galaxy Fold to more than two million units this year as the foldable phone could be a game changer in the competitive smartphone market. Industry officials said Samsung's production lines in the southern city of Gumi and parts manufacturers were busy to increase production.

Initially, Samsung IT & Mobile Communications Division CEO Koh Dong-jin envisioned a conservative goal after the "Unpack" event in San Francisco in February that the world's largest smartphone maker would try to sell one million units of Galaxy Fold, citing its transitional nature that represents a completely a new form factor.

Samsung's internal mood has revised its target due to a better-than-expected response to Galaxy Fold's price competitiveness and technical strength that overwhelmed negative comments from some early reviewers, including journalists, mainly in the United States, who claimed that the expensive new device broke after just a few days of use.

It's a long shot, but Samsung has retrieved broken Galaxy Folds to see if there are any serious technical faults. "We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter," Samsung said in a statement, adding some early reviewers might have mistaken the top layer on the surface of Galaxy Fold as a protective film and removed it.

"Separately, a few reviewers reported having removed the top layer of the display, which caused damage to the screen," Samsung said, describing the top layer as part of the display structure designed to protect the screen from scratches. "Removing the protective layer or adding adhesives to the main display may cause damage. We will ensure this information is clearly delivered to our customers."

Galaxy Fold features a 7.3-inch display, which folds into a compact device with a separate 4.6-inch cover display. It weighs 263 grams and is 6.9 millimeters thick when opened and 15-17 mm thick when folded. It is lighter but thicker than Huawei's Mate X foldable phone.

The secret of Galaxy Fold lies in its active matrix organic light emitting diodes (AMOLED) display that is flexible, tough and foldable by using a new polymer layer. Two main bodies are connected by a specially designed hinge that opens and closes smoothly like a book. Sophisticated interlocking gears are hidden in the casing of the hinge for a seamless look. Two batteries are distributed evenly so that users feel comfortable while holding it.

When Galaxy Fold is folded and opened, apps will automatically switch displays, enabling users to continue what they were doing. Samsung said the larger screen is designed to offer a new way to multitask, watch videos, play games and more by displaying up to three windows simultaneously.

It has a built-in fingerprint scanner on the side where the thumb usually rests and enables users to take high-quality pictures in various angles with three rear-facing cameras, two front-facing cameras and a single camera on the cover.

Galaxy Fold houses a powerful 7nm 64-bit Octa-core processor capable of simultaneously running three apps on the large screen. It is equipped with six cameras from cover to cover as well as next-generation AP chipset and 12GB of RAM to support powerful performance.

Samsung will release Galaxy Fold on April 26 in the U.S. for $1,980 and in Europe in May for 2,000 euros. In South Korea, a model that supports 5G mobile communication will be available in mid-May. The price is cheaper than Huawei's "Mate X," which costs 2,299 euros.

Market research companies earlier predicted that the total shipment of foldable smartphones would be less than two million units this year and 10 million units until 2023. WitsView, a market research firm, predicted that the market share of foldable phones would not be around one percent until 2021. However, if Galaxy Fold succeeds in attracting early box office sales, experts predict the global use of foldable phones will be faster than expected.