Samsung Gulf Electronics has launched its new foldable smartphone devices in the UAE and expects that demand for the devices will increase by 77 per cent in the GCC, compared with its Fold4 and Flip4 models, as interest in the emerging smartphone category grows, a top executive of the company said.
The retooled Galaxy Z Fold5 and Flip5, launched at the first Unpacked event held in Seoul last month, have had an overwhelming response during the pre-order phase, said Fadi Abu Shamat, head of Samsung Gulf's mobile experience division.
“We are targeting a 77 per cent increase [in demand] in our upcoming Fold and Flip, in anticipation of amazing demand from the local market, especially from our younger generation,” Mr Abu Shamat told The National on Thursday, ahead of the launch.
He said while pre-order growth figures have yet to be finalised, Samsung Gulf is targeting a 40 per cent increase over last year's Galaxy Z line-up.
“It's very ambitious, but we're very confident that we will deliver it because we believe in the trends.”
Both devices remain popular, and on different fronts: while Fold leads in terms of quantity, the Flip is growing faster, Mr Abu Shamat said.
“The Fold still has a strong presence in the region, showing that its users are maintaining and upgrading. But in terms of growth, the Flip has witnessed 50 per cent more growth so far in the pre-order phase,” he said.
“So this is extremely good news for us because we are retaining our Fold users and expanding, almost doubling our Flip users.”
The world's biggest manufacturer of mobile phones had also taken cues from customer feedback in the GCC to attract a larger user base, said DooHee Lee, president of Samsung Gulf Electronics.
“The GCC markets' ever evolving and vibrant landscape underscores the significance of providing an exciting mobile experience that also enhances the new growth chapter in the region,” he said.
Samsung Gulf does not oversee the Saudi Arabia market.
Seoul-based Samsung Electronics wants to cement its lead in the still niche but growing foldable category in the hotly contested smartphone market.
Both the Fold5 and Flip5 phones are aesthetically similar to their predecessors and come with token upgrades. However, the clamshell-type Flip5 is arguably the bigger deal, with its cover screen nearly doubled to 3.4in.
The premium Fold5 – Samsung's most expensive handset – is the slimmest and lightest in its series. Both devices use an upgraded Flex Hinge, which closes the gap between their folds and makes them easier to operate.
Foldable devices are a minor category in the overall smartphone market, but manufacturers are working to bring more of these into the market as consumer preferences shift.
The growth in popularity of foldable smartphones has been attributed mainly to Samsung, which pushed the category into the mainstream, starting with the Galaxy Z Fold in 2019. The company followed that with the Galaxy Z Flip the following year.
Shipments of foldable smartphones are forecast to quadruple by 2025 as original equipment manufacturers focus on the premium device business, Counterpoint Research said in a report last month.
Original equipment manufacturers are expected to ship about 55 million foldable devices by 2025, into a premium smartphone segment that grew by 1 per cent last year, compared with the overall smartphone market's 12 per cent decline, it said.
“As we launch the new devices in the market, we are excited to surpass this demand. We forecast an aggressive double-digit growth in our mobile ecosystem throughout the year,” Mr Abu Shamat said.
As part of the launch campaign, Samsung Gulf announced two partnerships with UAE global technology company e&, formerly known as etisalat.
The latter's financial technology division, e& money, has added Samsung Wallet to its digital payment platform for secure and contactless payments at several online and in-store outlets globally.
The move is aimed at “transforming how people engage with the digital world, simplifying payments and unlocking a new level of convenience and control”, Khalifa Al Shamsi, chief executive of e& life, which oversees e& money, said in a statement.
Samsung has also partnered with e& and Emirates Nature-WWF to support sustainability projects, in which Samsung will donate a portion its sales for ocean-specific projects in the UAE.
Pre-launch orders for the devices end today, and they will be available in shops from tomorrow. The Flip5 is priced at Dh3,899 ($1,069) and Dh4,349, while the Fold5 is priced at Dh6,799 and Dh7,249, for 256GB and 512GB, respectively. A limited-edition 1TB version of the Fold5 is Dh8,149.
Customers ordering the Flip5 through Samsung's website will also get Beyond Limits Special Edition packaging, in collaboration with Amna Al Qubaisi, the first Emirati woman racing driver.
Samsung also introduced the Galaxy Tab S9 series and the Watch6 line-up, comprising the Watch6 and Watch6 Classic.