Stock - Samsung
Samsung will have a clear shot at selling its top-of-the-line Flip and Fold handsets - and without facing much of a competition from rival launches. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: This year’s new model year smartphone launches will start early, with Samsung just confirming the date – July 26 - for the latest Flip and Fold handsets. Both will be making their UAE almost immediately.

Last year’s launch of the Samsung models were early September. Samsung bringing forward this year’s launch means the South Korean brand will have a clear run in picking up sales in the UAE and elsewhere through August. In other words, without any distractions from any of the major competition.

Pre-booking for the latest foldables will start immediately after the launch.

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“This essentially means a surge in sales from August itself,” said Rajat Asthana, Chief Operating Officer at Dubai-headquartered Eros Group, and one of the biggest retailers in the region of brand Samsung. “The brand’s UAE share is anywhere between 30-40 per cent, and these days, the super-premium flagship models (including the Galaxy S) represent higher volumes.” (In Apple’s case, widening of the iPhone range to include more entry level options has worked out just fine.)

Foldable smartphones are picking up in scale
According to IDC, the worldwide foldable phone market will reach 21.4 million foldable phones in 2023, up 50.5% from the 14.2 million units shipped in 2022. Total foldable shipments worldwide will reach 48.1 million units by 2027, resulting in a CAGR of 27.6% for 2022–27.

In the UAE and GCC, the design and portability of smartphones are playing a key role in driving consideration and purchase. “And this holds true particularly when it comes to foldables,” said Fadi Abu Shamat of Samsung Gulf Electronics.

The UAE smartphone demand has clearly cleaved into a two-brand race, featuring Apple and Samsung. Based on retailer feedback, sales of both are running neck-to-neck. The introduction of the Flip and Fold in 2019 helped the maker bring in some of the Wow factor, by essentially re-introducing a design concept from the heydays of Nokia and Motorola in the first decade of this century.

Stock - Huawei
The Mate X3 is getting a lot of attention from UAE smartphone users intent on a new form factor and with heavy specs.

Recently, Huawei brought out the latest in its own foldable series, the Mate X3 and with a go-for-broke pricing that topped Dh7,600.

Last year, Samsung’s range for the Flip4 and Fold4 was Dh3,799 to Dh7,249. “The indicative prices for the July launches have not been revealed,” said Asthana.

Whatever be the pricing, demand for smartphones across the board has been running strong in the UAE. The recent price drops on the current model line-up are also helping.

- Rajat Asthana

Slashing by 30-40%

With DSS on, smartphone focused promotions have seen offers of up to 30-40 per cent discounts, with retailers intent on forcing anyone with a half a mind to go for a handset upgrade to do so.

Through the next generation of Galaxy devices slated for a launch later this month, Samsung will push the boundaries with the most carefully designed mobile experiences yet.

- Fadi Abu Shamat, Head of Mobile eXperience Division, Samsung Gulf Electronics

Then there’s Nothing

Another smartphone brand that will hope to get some visibility is the relatively new entrant to the ranks, Nothing. Distinctive with its design and skewing towards a younger buyer-owner profile, Nothing has been building its retailer network in the UAE.

Nothing Phone (1)
“It’s still small beginnings for Nothing, but it looks promising,” said Asthana.