SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Samsung Electronics Co Ltd on Wednesday unveiled a nearly $2,000 foldable smartphone in an attempt to get to the top of the technology from Apple Inc and Chinese rivals and re-start consumer interest for a huge consumer electronics category, that was her worst sales ever last year.
The Galaxy Fold will go on sale on April 26 and take advantage of new and faster 5G mobile networks. The device looks like an ordinary smartphone, but then opens like a book to reveal a view of the size of a small tablet to 7.3 inches (18.5 cm).
The device “answers skeptics who said that anything done could be done,” DJ Koh, chief executive of Samsung Electronics, said during an event in San Francisco. “We are here to prove them wrong.”
With the foldable phone, Samsung is trying to take the technology lead on two fronts in the smart phone race, with an eye-catching new feature with the large, bending screen, and the first 5G connection in a premium phone, a feature analysts don’t expect Apple to match up to 2020.
It also challenges the idea of what a phone can cost, will debut at nearly double the price of the current top-of-the-line models from Apple and Samsung itself.
Patrick Moorhead, founder of Moor Insights & Strategy, said the new folding device could help Samsung to stay at the top and lure the consumers to upgrade devices that looked largely the same over the past five years.
“Samsung and Apple go back and forth” to lead the premium smartphone market, Moorhead said. “I think that this is Samsung’s chance to take back the innovation crown.”
And although the $1,980 starting price is steep, some dedicated Samsung fans said they would pay. Navneet Kumar Singh, a Samsung enthusiast from India traveled to San Francisco to look at the start, ready to place his order.
“The prices of the flagship models are a little aggressive in India,” he said, “But in the end, if you invest the money that you still a different experience.”
Samsung also introduced a number of accessories to compete with Apple, including a pair of wireless headphones called the Galaxy Peaks. The headphones feature wireless charging, a feature that Apple promised to compete AirPods but is not released yet.
Samsung’s new Galaxy Fold smart phone that boasts the world’s first 7.3-inch Infinity Flex-Screen that works with the next generation of 5G networks is to see in this picture released is in San Francisco, California, USA February 20, 2019. Thanks Samsung/handout via REUTERS
Samsung also said that the new Galaxy phones will be able to wirelessly charge the headset, and the new smartwatch by setting the accessories on the back of the phone.
Samsung said it had developed new production processes for the phone hinge and flexible screen to allow opening and closing hundreds of thousands of times.
10 TIMES FASTER
Together with the folding phone, Samsung also added new cameras and a 5G version of its Galaxy series of phones.
Verizon Communications Inc. be the first carrier to offer service for the Samsung 5G phones. The networks are expected to 10 times faster than the current, the improvement of the display of live news and sports events.
The 5G smartphones, both folding and rigid, aim to beat major rivals Apple and Xiaomi Corp on the market with a next-generation device like the Samsung defends a narrowing lead in the global handset shipments.
With the 5G versions of the flagships, the Korean electronics maker seems to have beaten Chinese rivals in the 5G race, although the device will work only on the small number of networks for the launch later this year. Apple is not to be expected that the release of a 5G-smartphone until the end of 2020.
Rival smartphone makers are expected to announce 5G models at next week’s Mobile World Congress, the leading annual event in Spain. Samsung said its 5G handset would be available in the early summer.
The Galaxy 10 series should appeal to consumers who are reluctant to upgrade for only incremental technological improvements in the performance. This resistance has led to the worst year ever for smartphone sales in 2018.
All of the Galaxy series of rigid phones with the exception of the 5G will be available from 8 March, with the S10+ for a price of $1000, and the S10 for a price of $900 and the smaller S10e of $750.
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The main line S10 compares with $999 for Apple’s iPhone XS and $858 for Huawei Technologies Co Ltd is a premium ner Of 20 Pro.
Samsung is still the worldwide smartphone market leader with about 19 percent share, but it underperformed the market, which was down.
Huawei and Apple will fight for the second place with approximately 13 and 12 percent, respectively.
Reporting by Stephen Nellis; Editing by Lisa Shumaker