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Kagan: Galaxy Fold vs. Surface Duo, battle of folding screen

This is an exciting time in the wireless industry as a new folding screen smartphone category is just beginning. The initial two heavy hitters are the Microsoft Surface Duo and the Samsung Galaxy Fold. They have entered this space and this new horserace has begun. So, let us take a closer look at how long these devices will last and what this new segment means for wireless going forward.

First, there are two things we will be watching. One, the folding screen smartphone category itself. Two, how Microsoft Surface Duo and Samsung Galaxy Fold will compete, and which will win.

Will this be a successful beginning to another slice of the wireless pie? We won’t know for a while but keep your eyes open because it could be.

Microsoft Surface Duo vs. Samsung Galaxy Fold folding screen smartphone

I think the larger story of the two is the creation of this new category which will be with us going forward. The hard part will be getting the technology right.

Innovation should continue to lead this race going forward for years to come. But this first competitive battle between Surface Duo and Galaxy Fold will be very interesting to follow as well.

Samsung started this race months ago. However, it had a very rocky rollout of the Galaxy Fold foldable smartphone, with its peeling screens. They had to go back to the drawing board to fix this problem. Now they are re-launching. At the same time Microsoft is jumping in with their Surface Duo.

The new version of the Samsung Galaxy Fold is finally here. So, let’s take a look at the new device, whether it will be a winner and what this means for the future of the wireless industry moving forward.

First, I think it is important to understand this foldable phone concept will not replace the traditional smartphone like Android or iPhone for the vast majority of users. It does have a larger screen, but this comes at a price. It is thicker and heavier, and it costs around $2,000.

So, this device will have a limited appeal and user base size.

CNET test says Galaxy Fold screen works 120,000 times before breaking

The next question is, has Samsung fixed the screen problem? It may depend on how you use the device. CNET just conducted a test and they said on Friday they opened and closed the screen 120,000 times before it broke, and half the screen goes dark. They said that is about three years of use.

What I take from that test is this. If you are a gentle user or a seldom user, it will last longer than if you use this more aggressively or more often. However, even the gentlest user will likely break the screen after a few years.

This means users should not hang onto this device too long. That will also mean people who buy pre-owned devices will not be interested in this one either. That limits the resale value to any user. That’s not good.

The problem comes from the new, plastic-like screen.

Is new foldable phone category the future of wireless?

Over the next year or two we will likely see other foldable phones from other phone makers come out, making this a real category. How successful it will be depend’s on how it is marketed and how many users love it and buy it.

To start, this device will be an eye-catcher and conversation-starter because it’s so different. That newness will last for the first few months, then it will fade into the background of the different smartphones and tablets we are all familiar with.

The foldable phone is kind of a hybrid. A mix between a smartphone and a tablet. There are users who don’t like carrying both, so this single device may work for them. However, in my opinion, this is a smaller market size, at least at this early stage.

Foldable screen is hybrid between smartphone and tablet

It will take a while to determine whether this new category of smartphone/tablet will be popular enough among the masses over time. Or even popular enough to last. If so, every generation will be better than the last. If not, then it will limp along. Only time will tell.

When Microsoft to releases their Surface Duo we will can get an idea of how it stacks up to the Galaxy Fold and to what users expect.

Will customers prefer Surface Duo or Galaxy Fold?

The bottom line is the customer. Which will the customer prefer? Remember, these are both Android devices, so the buying decision will come from the manufacturer and the features.

These two devices are similar, but different. The Surface Duo is two separate screens compared to the plastic-like folding screen or bendable screen on the Galaxy Fold, there will be other differences with new devices as well.

Based on what we know so far, I would say the Surface Duo looks like it may last longer than the Galaxy Fold. Perhaps Samsung will have to offer a warranty to fix this continuing screen problem when it occurs. We’ll wait and see how they respond.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Jeff Kagan
Jeff Kaganhttp://jeffkagan.com
Jeff is a RCR Wireless News Columnist, Industry Analyst, Key Opinion Leader and Influencer. He shares his colorful perspectives and opinions on the companies and technologies that are transforming the industry he has followed for 35 years. Jeff follows wireless, wire line telecom, Internet, Pay-TV, cable TV, AI, IoT, Digital Healthcare, Cloud, Mobile Pay, Smart cities, Smart Homes and more.

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