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Xiaomi, Motorola Foldables Throw One-Two Punch at Samsung

by Ken Hyers | 8月 11, 2022

Samsung on August 10, 2022 launched its 4th generation Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4 foldables.  The new foldable display smartphones from Samsung are its most refined yet.  Samsung is the current market leader in foldables and is the only vendor offering this iconic new class of devices in all global markets.

Motorola announced its next generation foldable the same day, the RAZR 2022, while Xiaomi launched its own updated foldable, the Mix Fold 2 on August 11, 2022.  Motorola’ RAZR is a flip-style folder, while Xiaomi’s is a booklet style one.  The timing of the two announcements from the Chinese vendors appears to be intended as a challenge to Samsung, but since neither company has announced plans to bring their offerings to markets outside of China, that challenge is a little underwhelming.

Samsung launched its first foldable in 2019, the original Fold, a booklet-style device.  Motorola quickly followed the same year with its RAZR flip-folder.  Both devices underwhelmed reviewers due to build quality and other issues.  Samsung continued to iterate, including bringing a flip-style foldable, but Motorola did little more than bring a 5G version of its RAZR to market in 2020 and essentially took 2021 off.

Xiaomi introduced its first commercial foldable, the Mi Mix Fold in 2021.  The smartphone was a compelling introduction with top tier specs, making it a respectable first attempt in the foldables game.  Of course, Xiaomi was standing on the shoulders of Samsung, Motorola, Huawei and other first movers in foldables, despite carping by CEO that he directed his team to create a foldable because he was unhappy with the ones that came before.

The new Motorola RAZR 2022’s internal display is the same size as its predecessor, though the new panel is brighter, and it has a 144Hz refresh rate.  Even better, it has a new pear-shaped hinge that allows the device to close completely flat, leaving no gap at the hinge. It also has a 50MP sensor plus a 13MP ultrawide, compared to the Flip 4’s dual 12MP main cameras. Pricing starts at CNY5,999 (~US$900), or about $100 less than the Flip 4. It will go on sale initially in China, and no indication yet that it will come to international markets – and that’s a shame, as it looks like it could give Samsung’s Z Flip 4 a run for its money.

Motorola RAZR 2022

Motorola RAZR 2022

Xiaomi’s Mix Fold 2 is a booklet folder, like Samsung’s Z Fold 4. It is a top-spec’d device with a lovely large 8” AMOLED display and a triple lens main camera (50MP, 8MP zoom, 15MP ultrawide). But what really sets it apart is how well Xiaomi has slimmed it down: Closed it’s 11.2mm and open just 5.4mm (Xiaomi’s specs don’t account for the camera bump though).  For comparison, Samsung’s Fold 4 is 15.8mm folded and 6.3mm opened.  Given how big booklet foldables are, Xiaomi’s thinness is a real feat, though it may come at the expense of long-term durability. 

Xiaomi Mix Fold 2 (unfolded)

Xiaomi Mix Fold 2 unfolded

Pricing for Xiaomi’s Mix Fold 2 starts at CNY8,999 (~US$1,340), which is a lot less than Samsung’s Fold 4.  But like the Motorola RAZR 2022, it will go on sale in China and there’s no word as to when or if it will come to international markets.  If it doesn’t, this is a huge, wasted opportunity as it has the makings of a real challenger to Samsung’s booklet.

Samsung created the foldable category. No other vendor has invested the time and resources in R&D, marketing and supporting the introduction of these new style of device.  Samsung is betting that foldables are the future of smartphones and by mid-decade will account for half of its smartphone sales.  Chinese vendors could offer Samsung serious competition in foldables.  But as long as they keep their foldables hidden in China, the rest of the world will never know.

Clients of our Device Technologies (EDT) service can learn more about which vendors are leaders or laggards in the global foldables race, and where in the report Global Foldable Display Smartphone Vendor Market Share by Region: Q2 2022, here.

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