In the space of just 90 minutes, Samsung launched a product for seemingly everyone during its Galaxy Unpacked 2019 event on February 20. Whether you’ve got $35 to spend on the Galaxy Fit E fitness band, $2,000 to splash out on the Galaxy Fold, or almost any figure in-between, Samsung has got an exciting new device for you. What stands out the most is just how coherent and logical the new range is, as it manages to go a step beyond the meticulous planning we’re already used to seeing from Samsung.
None of this is by accident, and Samsung is confident its new hardware sets the standard for the coming year. And given the increased competition out there, it needs to. We spoke to Daniel Benjamin, Samsung’s head of product planning in the U.K., about Samsung’s decision to announce so many new products on one day, the price of the new Galaxy Fold, and what it all means for you.
The event started with the Galaxy Fold, followed by the S10 range of smartphones, the Galaxy Watch Active, new fitness bands, and even new wireless earbuds. It also came just a couple of days after the announcement of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e tablet. Samsung hasn’t held back at all. We asked Benjamin why?
“It shows the depth of the range of products,” he quickly answered. “We’re laying out our cards. Whether someone wants to go for 5G, for a foldable phone, or upgrade a Galaxy S8 or S9, we’re offering them that choice. It’s all demonstrating Samsung’s innovation.”
While Samsung has always had an extensive range of products, the Galaxy range now covers the vast majority of devices people want to buy, Benjamin said.
“The Galaxy Fold will hit a ‘super-premium’ category.”
“The great thing about the lineup today is that we provide more colors, choice, and variants than ever before. The nice thing we have in the range is, whether you’re looking at the $750 Galaxy S10e or up to the Fold, there’s something for everybody. There are also clear step-ups throughout the range, as you’re moving up,” he said.
The spread of new products at varying price points is visible in Samsung’s wearables too. The Galaxy Fit E is just $35, the Galaxy Fit will cost around $80, the Galaxy Watch Active is $200, and the Galaxy Watch starts at $330. While the Galaxy Fold’s price has captured headlines, we shouldn’t forget that you can also buy a complete new Samsung Galaxy setup, consisting of a Galaxy S10e and a Galaxy Fit E, for less than $800.
The Galaxy Fold’s price tag
We knew the folding smartphone would be expensive, but it’s tough to prepare for the first time you hear the final figure. We now know the Samsung Galaxy Fold will cost the best part of $2,000, or about 1,800 British pounds. Yes, the best, most technologically advanced smartphones have been getting more expensive for some time, but this is twice as much as the last “outrageously priced” device, the iPhone X. How does Samsung justify this, and where does it fit in with the rest of the range?
Benjamin explained: “The premium market is the fastest-growing market in the U.K., and people are holding on to their devices longer, so when they do come to buy a new one, they are much more conscious of what’s on offer. They want to future-proof [their new purchase].”
There has been evidence of this throughout the market already, with Apple recently showing a slowdown in device sales, which, among other things, were affected by people continuing to keep their phones for longer. Samsung’s solution to the problem is to think big, both in terms of screen size and price.
“… Just when you wonder how it can improve, we come along and improve it even more.”
“The Galaxy Fold will hit a ‘super-premium’ category,” Benjamin said, before going on to explain the device’s significance. “What we’ve also created is a new segment in the market. It allows you to have a tablet and a phone in your pocket, and have the best of both worlds.”
While discussing the justification of charging $2,000 for the Galaxy Fold, Benjamin pointed out that “we’re starting to see the technology of a laptop in a mobile phone,” highlighting the level of technology inside the Galaxy Fold, as well as another reason for its high price.
Times are tough, and Samsung knows it
While it wants to make its customers happy, and therefore continue to buy its products, there are other factors at play that may have pushed Samsung to go all-out. We spoke to Francisco Jeronimo, associate vice president at industry analytics company IDC, about this topic.
He called the Unpacked even, “one of the most important for Samsung in years,” due in part to Samsung recently losing ground to rival Huawei. “Samsung is fighting hard to stay ahead of competition and retain its leadership,” he continued. “Unveiling one of the most disruptive devices we have seen in years, the Galaxy Fold, shows strong commitment to bringing innovation to its customers.”
But the Fold is only part of it. “The S10 lineup, with both a compact and a 5G version, along with the new Galaxy Active Watch, the fitness bands, and the Galaxy Buds, demonstrates Samsung wants to win on all fronts,” he added. Samsung’s fighting spirit helped get it to the top of the mobile industry, said Jeronimo. “To be able to retain that position, Samsung needs to demonstrate the ability to innovate in all segments, and it showed it last night,” he added,
It’s very clear Samsung is not leaving anything to chance, and is starting 2019 off in a conspicuously confident way. Benjamin hammered home this point, as well as Samsung’s belief in itself.
“Everything is getting better,” he said, referring to mobile technology in general. “But just when you wonder how it can improve, we come along and improve it even more. We’re celebrating 10 years of Galaxy, and we’re now looking toward the next decade. We’re setting the standard of where mobile phones are going to go.”
- Everything we saw at Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked 2019 on Feb. 20
- Here’s where you can buy the brand-new Samsung Galaxy S10
- Yes, Samsung, the foldable phone’s exciting, but don’t forget about the Galaxy S10
- 5G smartphones are on the way: Here’s every phone that will support 5G
- LG’s V50 ThinQ is a different take on the folding phone, and it supports 5G