Foldable smartphones are a big trend in the tech world lately, from Samsung’s Galaxy Fold and its upcoming Z Flip to the resurrection of the Motorola Razr. Even Pablo Escobar’s brother is launching one ( sort of). But what they all seem to have in common is a lackluster reception from consumers, who are not quite ready to invest more than $1,000 in one of these devices.
PCMag surveyed 11,374 in the United States about their purchasing plans with regards to a folding smartphone. A resounding 82 percent of respondents said they had no plans to buy such a device. Most of the remaining respondents were undecided (16 percent), while a mere 2 percent said they were interested in buying a foldable smartphone.
So who is most likely to purchase a folding smartphone? Not young people. Of the 18 percent of people who were undecided or likely to buy a foldable phone, those in the 45–54 age range are most likely to purchase a foldable smartphone (27 percent); 18 percent are in the 35–44 age bracket.
It makes sense that groups with more disposable income are more likely to invest in expensive and unproven tech. The Fold started at $1,980 while the Razr retails for $1,499.99 and the Galaxy Z Flip is not much cheaper.
When asked about the benefits of owning a foldable smartphone, 31 percent of respondents felt that having a more compact device was the best feature. Still, 20 percent said having a bigger screen was a major benefit, so it isn’t necessarily all commentary about smartphones being too big these days.
The question of device durability seems to be the biggest concern, though no one is sure which part of the phone will be most problematic-25 percent of people are afraid the hinge will break, while 24 percent feel the bigger screen will drain the battery. Further still there’s the screen itself, with 18 percent of respondents worried it will be too fragile and another 16 percent believing the hinge will crease the screen over time.
If you break the Galaxy Flip Z, for example, it’ll cost $499 to replace the folding screen and $149 for the 1.1-inch cover display, SamMobile reports. And there’s a good chance that might happen, if social media reports are any indication.
It makes sense that consumers would be wary of a foldable smartphone’s durability when you consider the very public issues the Galaxy Fold faced with review units breaking. While manufacturers are trying to make more durable devices, it’s hard to combat public perception and consumer expectations when making purchase decisions.
Still, it’s not all bad news for foldable phones. While PCMag’s survey showed that 28 percent of respondents deem folding to be an unnecessary design flourish, 30 percent said folding is at least somewhat necessary. Respondents also believe a foldable smartphone is more likely to survive a fall than a regular phone, though that might not be the case.
There may not be overwhelming positivity around foldable smartphones, but many are still willing to give the idea a chance. Something that works in manufacturers’ favor when it comes to early adopters is that consumers don’t feel like they need to wait for 5G before they buy a foldable phone.
Still in the early stages of release, 5G is not necessarily faster than 4G at this point. We have already advised that you should wait for better service and phones before getting a 5G device, so if consumers are fine sticking with LTE right now, foldable phone manufacturers won’t have to worry about the 5G craze getting in the way of sales.
Overall, the survey shows that while the demand for foldable smartphones is currently low, those who are open to the idea are simply waiting for the right conditions. That means a more reliable product at a better price point. And what are consumers willing to pay for such a device? PCMag’s survey reveals that 44 percent of respondents are looking for a phone that is less than $600, which would put it in the mid-level range.
That’s a huge ask for a product that is currently selling as a luxury device, but someone will likely create a durable foldable smartphone at the right price-eventually.
Originally published at https://www.pcmag.com.