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The new features in Samsung's latest iteration of the Galaxy Z foldable smartphone are unlikely to jumpstart corporate adoption of the multi-mode device. Nevertheless, tech buyers should watch for future business-friendly advancements.
The new Galaxy Z Fold3 5G, unveiled this week, shows that Samsung remains focused on better hardware and software with each version, analysts said. In time, the device could evolve into a Chromebook substitute if its smartphone and tablet capabilities continue to improve.
"The Fold could be two devices in one, replacing the cost of a second individual device," said Jack E. Gold, principal analyst at consulting firm J. Gold Associates.
The Galaxy Z Fold line has two screens with a hinge that lets the user fold the displays into a smartphone with an outside screen. When expanded, the Fold3 offers a 7.6-inch touchscreen.
Samsung made improvements to the Fold3 that businesspeople would appreciate. The features include:
- Support for Samsung's S Pen. The stylus lets Fold3 users draw and take notes on the smartphone's expanded screen.
- An under-display camera on the main screen to free up the entire display for applications and content.
- Flex Mode support that makes running applications on hinged devices easier. For example, a person using an unfolded Fold3 could take part in a video conference on the top screen while taking notes on the bottom screen.
- A more shockproof frame made of more robust aluminum than the Fold2. Other features that make the device more durable include using Corning's Gorilla Glass Victus to cover the outer screen when the phone is closed. The Fold3 can also remain underwater for 30 minutes and still function, according to Samsung.
Also crucial to the Fold3's usefulness are the partnerships Samsung has with software makers willing to tailor business applications to the device. For example, Microsoft has agreed to make more Office, Teams and Outlook features available on the Fold3.
For now, businesses will likely shy away from the Fold3 because of its hefty $1,800 price tag. Although that's $180 less than the first Galaxy Z Fold, the price is still too high for a foldable smartphone that can't fully match the capabilities of a tablet, analysts said.
Also, Samsung hasn't marketed the Fold line aggressively to business, concentrating primarily on consumers instead, Gold said. "I don't think we'll see any major adoption in enterprise in the short term, although individual business users may find the devices attractive."
Mark Bowker, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, agreed. He said the Fold3 could find a place among the few businesspeople with a work style that favors a small device with a larger viewing screen than the typical bar smartphone.
"The foldable technology has the potential to work its way initially into niche enterprise markets and geographies," Bowker said.
Indeed, Bob O'Donnell, principal analyst at Technalysis Research, believes Samsung's Fold line could eventually replace the Galaxy Note smartphone. Samsung sells the Note to businesses today.
"It seems Samsung wants to encourage its large body of loyal Note users -- who have typically always seen themselves as cutting edge technologists -- that the future of smartphones is foldable," O'Donnell said in a LinkedIn post.
This week, Samsung also introduced the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G flip smartphone for $1,000. The Flip3 expands into a 6.7-inch display. The Flip3 and the Fold3 will be available in stores and online by the end of the month.
Enterprise Strategy Group is a division of TechTarget.