A production model of the Samsung Galaxy Fold. Photo: AFP/ Simon Nagel/ dpa

Samsung Electronics will release the Galaxy Fold on Friday in South Korea – its first foldable smartphone and the company’s flagship model – with the hefty price tag of 2.398 million won (US$2,002).

The phone will also be available in select countries including France, Germany, Singapore, the UK and US. It will come in Cosmos Black and with Space Silver collars. A 5G-ready option is also available in some countries.

“Galaxy Fold was designed to inspire new experiences: When closed, you can access your essentials on the cover display comfortably with one hand, and when opened, you can explore new ways to multi-task, watch videos, play games, and more, on its immersive 7.3-inch Infinity Flex Display,” the company’s press release says.

Samsung’s rival Huawei, blacklisted by the US government, also plans to release a foldable phone called the Mate X, but Samsung took the lead as Huwawel has not announced its schedule to release the Mate X.

Samsung had planned to launch the Galaxy Fold on April 26. However, during a review period in mid-April, technological issues were raised. Some reviewers peeled off a thin coating of film attached to the screen which protects the display panel.

The Galaxy Fold then malfunctioned or stopped operating. After initially blaming the reviewers, Samsung postponed the launch. It said that after months of refining, a new display and hinge were put on for smooth and durable folding.

According to Samsung, the Galaxy Fold offers a 4.6-inch cover display and 7.3-inch display when unfolded.

It also has a “Multi-Active-Window” for stronger multi-tasking, with the 7.3-inch screen divided into two or three parts. The phone comes with three cameras on the back: a 16-megapixel super-angle camera, a 12-megapixel wide-angle camera and a 12-megapixel long-distance camera. It features 12GB of RAM, 512GB of built-in memory and the newest processor, which is as capable as a PC.

Not a volume model

Samsung has had a tough time selling high-end smartphones as consumers do not upgrade their devices as often as in the past.

The firm’s It & Mobile Communication division posted 1.56 trillion won of operating profits, down from 2.27 trillion won in the previous quarter. Despite improved sales of lower-end phones, sluggish sales of high-end smartphones weakened its profitability.

Samsung plans to improve the profitability of the smartphone business, launching new high-end products. It recently released another high-end smartphone, the Galaxy Note 10.

Samsung has not revealed its plans for the production volume of the Galaxy Fold, but it will not be a high volume model given the price.

An industry insider said: “The development of the Galaxy Fold is to explore a new range of high-end smartphones for the market. That means it will not help to improve Samsung’s earnings immediately, even if it sells well.”

DJ Koh, the President and CEO of Samsung’s IT & Mobile Communications Division, said: “Consumers have responded positively to larger screens, and the Galaxy Fold’s revolutionary form factor offers a bigger, more immersive screen without sacrificing portability. This is what we call innovation of new mobile experience in action.”

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