The Expensive Reason Behind Foldable Smartphones

Chris Pantones is a big fan of the Google Pixel and has even credited his cell phone’s car crash detection tool for saving his life in a previous accident. As a tech enthusiast and YouTuber, he has owned many Pixel devices and creates content to share his passion for them. However, the recent release of the Pixel Fold has left him taken aback by its high price tag of $1,799. Despite his desire to own one, he cannot justify the financial burden at this time.

Pantones is not alone in feeling sticker shock over the cost of foldable smartphones. When Samsung launched the Galaxy Z Fold in 2020, it was priced at $1,999. Though prices have come down slightly, the latest version of the Z Fold still starts at $1,799, the same as the Pixel Fold. This is not unique to Google or Samsung, as even low-end brands’ folding models sell for well over $1,000 in overseas markets.

One reason for the high prices is the components unique to foldable smartphones. The flexible displays require more engineering and are more expensive to manufacture than traditional displays. Additionally, the Pixel Fold has a custom-made 180-degree hinge, which requires complex engineering and costly manufacturing. These expenses are a significant factor in why prices remain high, as manufacturers need to recoup their investments in R&D and associated costs.

The high price point of foldable phones has limited their market size. According to ABI Research, foldable and flexible displays accounted for only about 0.7% of the smartphone market in 2021, but are expected to reach just under 2% in 2022. Manufacturers may struggle to lower the prices of foldable smartphones anytime soon, as premium parts such as foldable displays and hinge technology are expensive.

Despite the high cost, some consumers are still eager to purchase the latest foldable smartphones. The future of foldable devices remains uncertain, as most apps are not yet optimized for them, and Apple has yet to embrace the trend. Repairing a foldable smartphone can also be expensive. However, Google’s decision to release the Pixel Fold may help convince more consumers to take the chance.

For now, consumers like Pantones are waiting for possible trade-in deals or sales before investing in foldable smartphones. As prices remain high, manufacturers will continue to face challenges in making foldable devices more accessible to the masses.

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