SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Samsung Electronics launched two foldable smartphones Wednesday as it continues to bet on curved-screen devices, an emerging market that hasn't fully taken off due to high prices.
The Galaxy Z Flip 5, with its clamshell design, and the Galaxy Z Fold 5, a large device that opens and folds like a book, are available for pre-order starting Wednesday in select markets, including the US and South Korea.
Built around a 6.7- and 7.6-inch main screen, the phone has a larger display than previous Samsung foldable devices and is equipped with a more advanced camera that offers more functionality for work, text and video chats, movies and games. Designed to be compact and easy to carry, the Flip 5 is designed with a 3.4-inch flip screen that allows you to fold it in half for use.
Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor chip, this phone is designed to be slightly thinner and lighter than its predecessor, while being more durable and shock-resistant.
All this technology comes at a high price. In the US, the Flip 5 will start at around $1,000, while the Fold 5 will start at $1,800.
Samsung, the South Korean tech giant and also a major manufacturer of computer memory chips, released its first device in 2019, the longest-running supplier of foldable phones.
The company announced the new phone at a luxury product event in Seoul, South Korea, targeting a market where foldable phones are closer to becoming a mainstream product than a novelty.
Samsung mobile chief TM Roh told a select group of reporters during the meeting that foldable devices accounted for about 40 percent of Samsung's high-end devices sold in South Korea last year, and that share is expected to grow through 2023.
While Samsung aims to make foldable phones affordable, Roh says it's hard to say exactly when they'll arrive, given the intricate engineering and trade-off between cheap components and high-end features expected from such a device.
Roh said the high price won't stop foldable phones from becoming mainstream in global markets.
"The form factor isn't exactly new, it's actually something people have been using for a long time," Roh said, pointing to the reporter's folded notebook.
“People want products that fold, make them easy to carry and protect important information... then unfold for use and note taking. This has been a natural pattern for people in both East and West for a long time.
There is optimism in the industry that global sales of foldable phones are growing rapidly, with Google, Motorola and Huawei now competing with Samsung.
According to Counterpoint, a technology market research firm, global shipments of foldable phones will reach 19 million units in 2023, a 45% increase from 2022.
Counterpoint said in a report released Wednesday that shipments could exceed 100 million units by 2027, though the forecast is based on the assumption that Apple will eventually release a foldable iPhone sometime in 2025. Apple, which is neck and neck with Samsung for the top spot in global smartphone shipments, has yet to confirm any devices.
Samsung said on Thursday that operating profit for the April-June quarter fell 95% to 670 billion won ($526 million) from the same period last year, largely due to a slower recovery in the global semiconductor market.