The Korea Herald


Samsung mulls moving launch date forward for upcoming foldable phones

By Jie Ye-eun

Published : May 22, 2023 - 15:51

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Samsung Electronics' latest Z Fold and Z Flip foldable phones (Samsung Electronics) Samsung Electronics' latest Z Fold and Z Flip foldable phones (Samsung Electronics)

Samsung Electronics is considering holding the upcoming unpacking event for its new foldable phones at home in Korea while advancing its launch schedule to earlier than usual, industry sources said Monday.

Samsung usually holds two highly publicized launch events for its Galaxy smartphones in US cities every year: an event for its flagship Galaxy S phones in February and another for its Z foldable phones in August.

But this year, Korean cities like Seoul and Busan are being discussed as potential locations for the new foldable phone launch event. And the event is likely to take place as early as late July, sources say, with sales starting possibly in August.

Amid the ongoing US-China trade conflict and sluggish demand for IT products, Samsung is experiencing a decrease in exports in China. The novel transition might be a part of the tech giant’s diversification strategies for the Asian market.

With Samsung’s smartphone market share in China not exceeding 1 percent and the continuous sluggish Chinese smartphone market outlook, the firm has set its eye on emerging markets such as Southeast Asia and India as alternative regions for the Chinese smartphone market, where Korean pop culture booms.

India, the world’s second-largest smartphone market after China, is expected to grow with a compound annual growth rate of 8 percent in 2027. The Android operating system has a 95 percent market share in India, making India a friendly market for Samsung.

The recent worsening of anti-China sentiment among Indian nationals due to the country's border disputes with China might also serve as a favorable factor for Samsung in India's smartphone market.

Meanwhile, Samsung has not finalized its plans yet, but it will soon decide on whether to hold the launch event for its next-generation foldable smartphones -- the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and the Galaxy Z Fold 5 -- in Korea, as well as the announcement time frame. Final decisions will likely be made "around mid-June," a Samsung official told The Korea Herald.

Some sources predicted that after the June release of Google’s first foldable smartphone, the Pixel Fold, Samsung may want to defend its No. 1 position in the global foldable smartphone market by holding the event at home.

"The company may look to take full advantage of Hallyu by using domestic landmarks as backdrops for the event," a source said on condition of anonymity.

The slump in the memory market has also become one of the reasons why Samsung is considering moving its unpacking event up. Samsung reported its worst quarterly earnings in 14 years for the January-March period amid weak demand and falling chip prices. However, it was able to prevent additional losses on the back of strong sales of the latest Galaxy S23 series.

If new foldable smartphones are released two or three weeks earlier than planned, Samsung's third-quarter earnings could improve.

"Since the new foldable smartphones were unveiled in mid-August (last year) and sales began at the end of that month, the firm only had a month to reflect the sales performance for the July-September period. But an earlier launch (this year) could give it an extra month of the new smartphone sales effect," another source said on condition of anonymity.