Want a cheaper foldable phone? It's not happening for a few years

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review
(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

We've been waiting for foldable phones to drop in price so that they become affordable for the rest of us, but it sounds like we might be waiting a good few years before the cheap phone revolution comes to these futuristic mobiles.

Leaker @chunv8888 - who has a mixed record with accurate leaks - posted a tweet saying "Foldable Galaxy A" which is short but easy to understand - Samsung is apparently working on a foldable member of its Galaxy A line of affordable devices. 

Unfortunately, the leak was quickly clarified with a follow-up tweet that said "Not happening that soon tho, 2024-2025". 

Oh. So we've got two or three years to wait? Thankfully there wasn't a third post, so we didn't have any more bad news piled on top.

We don't expect Samsung's cheap foldables will actually be called the 'Foldable Galaxy A' - the current ones are called the Galaxy Z line, not the Foldable Galaxy S (which it would have to be called to match its S line of premium mobiles). But we interpret it as chunv8888 using this term to make the message clear and simple.

The leak doesn't give any reason as to why the affordable foldable phones from Samsung could be so far away, but our analysis shows it likely to be an unfortunate cocktail of the natural prices of folding tech taking a while to depreciate in cost, and the ongoing chipset shortage affecting the value of components too.

Analysis: Samsung will likely be first

This news was only about Samsung's first affordable fold being two or three years out, so you might be wondering why we've been referring to all such devices being this far out - but it's likely that Samsung would be the first to venture into this new niche.

Despite not being the first company to put out foldables, it's one of the companies (alongside Huawei) that's been working most feverishly to put out new such phones.

We imagine most companies, even if they usually focus on cheap phones, will make their first foldables more expensive to recoup R&D costs and allow them to establish a more afforadble manufacturing process.

This will then allow for cheaper devices over time. Just look at Motorola - despite many of its smartphones being low-cost, its Razr line of foldable devices were all pretty expensive.

One possible threat to Samsung's cheap, foldable phone dominance would be TCL, as that company has stated in the past that it's looking to make low-cost bending phones - but after years and years of showing off concepts for cheap bending mobiles, it's yet to put out a single one, so we're skeptical that the brand can put its money where its mouth is.

If we see a low-cost affordable folding phone that's worth buying, before 2024, we'll be very impressed - but deep down, we expect Samsung will be the first with its Galaxy A foldable, especially as Samsung has revealed how it's learned from past foldable phone mistakes.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.