Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 August 2019

UAE consumers to wait longer to get Samsung Fold

Priced at Dh7,273, foldable device delivers a new kind of mobile experience with six cameras and the world’s first infinity flex display

Samsung Galaxy Fold will go on sale in selected markets in September. Bloomberg
Samsung Galaxy Fold will go on sale in selected markets in September. Bloomberg

UAE consumers - known for their penchant for the latest smartphones - will have to wait longer than the US and European buyers to have foldable screen phone in their hands.

Samsung Galaxy Fold - launched in San Francisco in February this year - will go on sale in the US on April 26 while it will be available for European customers on May 3. However, the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer is tight-lipped over its regional roll-out date.

“It’s always a let down when Middle East isn’t part of the first wave to receive devices,”, Abbas Ali, managing editor of TechRadar Middle East, told The National.

Samsung Fold is the first foldable device from a top-tier manufacturer and has plenty of consumers excited, said Mr Ali, who expects a series of software tweaks of the phone to improve users’ experiences.

“When the phone launches in the region, I expect the software to be A-class.”

With extensive internet penetration, the UAE has been one of the most important markets for smartphone manufactures. A YouGov survey, taken in November last year, revealed nine in 10 respondents in the UAE own a smartphone, with 70 per cent of those who do not own one planning to buy one.

In recent years, Samsung has faced stiff competition from the likes of Huawei, Xiaomi and Oppo, steadily losing market share to the Chinese manufacturers, particularly in big markets such as India and China.

Global market share of the South Korean company was 18.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018, a drop from 23.4 per cent in the first quarter of that year, according to Statista. However, analysts feel that the roll-out of the foldable-screen phones could disrupt the industry.

“Development of foldable smartphone devices are likely to have the biggest potential impact on market saturation, although Samsung is not alone in its efforts to develop these technologies,” Matthew Kendall, chief telecoms analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit, told The National.

The Galaxy Fold, priced at $1,980 (Dh7,273), delivers a new kind of mobile experience. With six cameras, it features the world’s first infinity flex display, at 18.5 centimetres, which folds into a compact device with a cover display.

“We have already started getting inquiries for Galaxy Fold from the local customers, but they have to wait … we cannot divulge the release date,” Tarek Sabbagh, head of IT and mobile division at Samsung Gulf Electronics, told The National earlier.

Following in Samsung’s footsteps, Chinese manufacturer Huawei also unveiled its first 5G and foldable phone, the Mate X, at the Mobile World Congress in February this year in Barcelona. In its compact form, the device works as a smartphone with a 16.8cm screen and, when unfolded, it turns into a slim tablet with a 20.3cm screen that is 5.4mm thick.

The company, based in Shenzhen, has announced the base model will retail at the relatively high price of $2,607 (Dh9,576) and it will be available initially in select markets in Europe in the middle of this year.

Updated: April 17, 2019 02:11 PM

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