There’s no denying that Samsung has kickstarted the foldable smartphone revolution. Its launch of the original Galaxy Fold was an incredibly brave move. Despite the device’s stumble out of the gate, Samsung was able to prove that foldable smartphones could be more than a gimmick.
With each passing year, it only got better. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 felt like a completely different device compared to its predecessor. It looked better, was more durable and offered more functionality. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 kicked things up several notches by being water-resistant and compatible with the S Pen.
Samsung has not had any real competition in the foldable space for the past two years. This has allowed the company to define what a foldable smartphone should be. It has captured a significant market share in the process. As far as phones that fold in half are concerned, Samsung is now the company to beat.
Microsoft hasn’t had much luck in the smartphone business. From pushing a Windows-branded operating system to eventually wasting billions of dollars buying Nokia’s phone division, it failed to keep up. The company has been out of the smartphone game for some time now.
It sees an opportunity with foldables and that brought us the Surface Duo in September 2020. The handset arrived not too long after the Galaxy Z Fold 2 was unveiled. It became clear from the outset there was not even a question of a Galaxy Z Fold 2 vs Surface Duo comparison. Samsung’s device was head and shoulders above what Microsoft had made.
Sure, the aspect ratio made sense to some people and the lower price tag was definitely more appealing. However, compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 2, it had a last generation chipset and similarly underwhelming specs. One could even argue that the Surface Duo wasn’t a true foldable since it doesn’t have a folding display. The device has two separate OLED panels that are connected by a hinge.
The Surface Duo shipped with Android 10 out of the box. What’s surprising, and also a bit disappointing is that it’s still running Android 10. Microsoft is unable to confirm even now when the Surface Duo Android 11 update is going to be released. The company had previously promised that the update would be released by the end of 2021. We’re in 2022 now and that hasn’t happened.
Do you know when the Galaxy Z Fold 2 got updated to Android 11? It was in January 2021, merely four months after the device was released. Remember, both the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Surface Duo were launched around the same time. As if that wasn’t painful enough for Surface Duo fans, Samsung also released Android 12 for the Galaxy Z Fold 2 in the last week of December 2021.
We’ve highlighted already how Samsung is absolutely crushing it with software updates recently. Forget its latest phones. Samsung even updated the original Galaxy Fold, a device released back in 2019, to Android 12 before the end of 2021.
Some of you might be aware that Microsoft launched the Surface Duo 2 in September last year. That device came with Android 11. However, there’s no sign of Android 12 for that device so far. Customers who bought into Microsoft’s vision of a foldable smartphone can do nothing more than be envious of the swift software support that Samsung is providing.
Anyone can make a foldable smartphone. For companies like Microsoft that have very deep pockets and no shortage of exceptional talent, whipping up a mobile device is no big deal, but there’s more to it than just developing the device and shipping it out.
At a time when customers are holding on to their phones longer than before and when the quality of software support has become a genuine purchase consideration for customers, this is simply not good enough.
That’s really what sets Samsung apart in the foldable space. The company has shown its incredible technical prowess with the foldable phones it has released so far. From the original Galaxy Fold that felt like a proof of concept to the highly impressive Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3, the Korean juggernaut has shown the competition that it stands head and shoulders above them.
The exceptional pace at which it has rolled out Android 12 also puts its rivals to shame. It seems that Samsung is finally treating updates as a way to boost customer loyalty. Why would its customers buy anything other than the best Samsung phones that check all of the boxes on both the hardware and software front?
Samsung’s near dominance of the foldable smartphone market will continue for the foreseeable future, even though potential competitors have now emerged. Oppo has a new foldable phone that seeks to steal the Galaxy Z Fold’s market share. Huawei has a Galaxy Z Flip competitor. Both might find it difficult to win any considerable share outside China for now.
There’s still a long road ahead for Microsoft. The company might just launch another Surface Duo this year. How that would compare to what Samsung has in store for 2022 is anybody’s guess. What users would certainly wish for is a better software update experience. Nobody likes using outdated software on their device.
In the meantime, Samsung can remain on top of the foldable smartphone market knowing all too well that there’s nobody to steal its thunder. It truly is the king of foldables. We just hope it continues to push the envelope and bring us exciting new foldable devices every year.