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Samsung’s third folding phone tries to reduce the price of entry without actually cutting the cost

September 1, 2020, 2:00 PM UTC

Samsung has unveiled its third generation of folding smartphone, the Galaxy Z Fold2 5G, with a host of improvements—and several ways to reduce the price for consumers.

On the outside, the new version now has a larger 6.2-inch screen, up from just 4.6 inches on last year’s original Z Fold. Inside, a slightly bigger folding 7.6-inch screen has reduced bezels and a refresh rate of up to 120Hz, double the rate of the older design, to make animations appear smoother.

The phone also gets “sweeper technology,” a set of interior brushes designed to keep dust and dirt out of the hinge mechanism that first debuted on Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip six months ago. Samsung says it also improved the glass on the screen and made the hinge mechanism stronger.

Some things haven’t changed, however. The phone still folds down the middle like a book using interior hinges, includes compatibility with superfast 5G networks, and retails at a starting price of $2,000. The phone is available for preorder on Tuesday and arrives in stores on Sept. 18.

Samsung's Galaxy Fold2 5G phone
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold2 5G phone costs $2,000 and folds down the middle like a book.
Courtesy of Samsung

High prices and some early reliability problems have convinced most consumers to avoid the folding phone segment so far. Samsung, Motorola, and Huawei among others have released a variety of folding designs, all at prices above $1,000, and none have become a big hit yet. Samsung says it’s working on cheaper models, and next week Microsoft will release its new twist, the Surface Duo, which seeks to be more durable by having two separate screens that fold closed in the middle.

But until prices fall, Samsung and its carrier partners are also innovating on reducing the cost of entry for the Z Fold2 5G.

First, Samsung is letting owners of either of its earlier folding models trade in their existing phone and get a credit of up to $800. Owners of other smartphones can get up to $650 through a trade.

Next, Samsung developed a program that works sort of like leasing. Participants in the “guaranteed buyback program” pay half of the price of the Z Fold2 5G split over 20 months, or about $50 per month, and then can return the device to receive full credit for the remaining 50% of the price.

Finally, the company is throwing in a grab bag of discounts and offers from others. The Galaxy Z Premier Service includes membership to the Founders Card entrepreneur-oriented service, a prepared meal from a Michelin star restaurant via Tock, and passes to exclusive golf courses from ClubCorp. Buyers can also get one-on-one tech support from Samsung.

The Z Fold2 5G also gets some new software tricks, like letting the screens on the inside and outside be turned on at the same time, so if the user is taking a picture, the subject of the photo can also see what the picture will look like. The phone can also take advantage of Android apps that have been updated for use on tablet screens by, for example, displaying a list of items next to the content of a selected item.

The Fold2 5G follows the original Fold unveiled at Mobile World Congress in February 2019 and delayed for release until last fall because of durability issues. Samsung’s second folding phone was the Galaxy Z Flip, announced in February of this year.