There's been a lot of hype surrounding the Samsung Galaxy Fold — especially following a new teaser that Samsung released on Wednesday, where we basically see the Galaxy Fold being folded by machines...over and over and over again. (We get it, Samsung, the phone can fold and there are no creases in sight.)
At a time when consumers are looking for products with innovative and efficient new features, it's worth asking: Is a foldable phone is something we'll need — or even want — by the time it officially hits the market on April 26?
More importantly, it's time to come to terms with the fact that foldable phones are, as The Wall Street Journal's Christopher Mims once called it, "the 3D TV of the mobile world." That means there's a good chance it'll end up being another failed gimmick.
With that in mind, you're probably better off saving that $1,980 (the Galaxy Fold's starting price).
Nine years ago, IGN, a video game and entertainment media website, published an article calling 2010 the year of the 3D TV. "This year, all the major brands have announced their commitment to making 3D the next generation of home entertainment, including Sony, LG, Samsung, Panasonic and more," the piece read.
Unfortunately, it was the dawn of an era that never came.
Between the infrastructure of electronic trade shows like CES and the blogosphere, the Internet managed to work itself into a tizzy over 3D TVs. But how many people actually even wanted one in the first place?
Sales of 3D home video equipment declined from 2012 to 2017, and then LG and Sony, the last two major TV makers to support the 3D feature, announced that they would stop incorporating it into its products.
Just this January, LG teased a 4K TV that rolls up. It looked more compelling than 3D TVs ever did, but still seemed unimpressive for something priced at $8,000.
And now, a folding phone appears to be the new lifeblood of this ongoing cycle that relies on planned obsolescence. Sure, a phone that can fold into a pocket-sized tablet is novel (and kind of magical, to be honest), but who's to say that it will work as advertised?
We'd be more confident in the functionality of the product if Samsung wasn't going to such great lengths to reassure consumers by releasing a video entitled, "The Galaxy Fold's Folding Test."
Much like the classic scene from the pilot episode of "Mad Men," in which Don Draper (the main character played byJon Hamm) insists, "No, everybody else's tobacco is poisonous. Lucky Strike's is toasted," Samsung highlighted a routine part of any quality assurance process in its new promo video.
Nothing about a standard stress test proves a remarkable level of durability. All Samsung is doing is emphasizing the fact that the phone can fold.
Still, whatever happens with the Galaxy Fold, Samsung could very well have a hit on its hands. It's a great device for people who enjoy watching videos, playing games or reading on a screen that's smaller than a standard tablet, and consumers have spent good money on temporary solutions in the past.
Theo Miller is a storyteller and former product person designer at Carta. He's also a tech columnist for Forbes and serves as a judge and mentor for UC Berkeley's Big Ideas entrepreneurship contest. Follow him on LinkedIn here.
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