The form factor is compelling, says analyst Rod Hall, but he will believe Samsung’s $1,980 clamshell smartphone/tablet when he sees it.
From a note to clients posted last week:
- Clamshell form factor compelling and may not be doable for Apple. Just as with the very popular Motorola RAZR devices back in the featurephone era we see foldable screens as a compelling form factor. Not only do users get even larger screens in a portable form factor but the screen is inherently protected from damage by the outer device. We see this as challenging for Apple who could find themselves with no access to the critical flexible OLED technology for which we believe Samsung has at least a two year lead over other display competitors.
- Several outstanding questions. The fact that the Fold was not available for demo at this event suggests that the product may not be completely ready with only two months to go to launch in our opinion. This raises the question of what sort of volume Samsung will be able to provide and when. We also would like to actually use the device as the larger screen is covered by plastic rather than glass so the user experience is an unknown and is potentially inferior to glass for nearly $2,000. We also noticed that Samsung is not shipping the device with a stylus which seems like it would be useful given the tablet-like inner screen.
- Our bottom line. The Galaxy Fold appears to be a first generation device but it looks to us like a promising form factor that Apple may not be able to duplicate given a lack of access to Samsung’s display technology. However, we reserve judgment until the product actually launches in mid-April.
Maintains Neutral rating on Apple and (deep underwater) $140 price target.
Cue the unveiling video:
My take: It’s nice to own the factory that makes the displays.
UPDATE: Friend-of-the-blog Bruce Oran points out that Huawei’s foldable phone beat Samsung to the punch, at least in specs. See The Verge’s Huawei’s Mate X foldable phone is a thinner 5G rival to the Galaxy Fold.