Samsung is changing its aftercare device protection service for the new Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3 devices by having customers voluntarily subscribe to its Care+ program. While it may seem like they'll be spending more money this way, experts disagree and think customers will actually benefit from the service. Furthermore, they add that Samsung believes in its products enough to offer mainstream care protection.
With previous generations of the foldable devices, Samsung offered Z Premier Service, which it called a "new approach to owner care." The service was only available for the Samsung Galaxy Fold, Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G, Galaxy Z Flip, and Galaxy Z Flip 5G. The service will run through the end of 2022, at which time customers will have the option to subscribe to Samsung Care+.
The Z Premier Service was added to Samsung's foldable repertoire after the initial batch of Galaxy Fold units suffered a reputation hit when early reviewers found dust could easily enter the phone's hinge and cause screen damage. Despite those issues, the foldables were still considered to be among the best Android devices out there, and the newer models are even better regarded.
Samsung said in an email to Android Central that the service was only available for a limited time for previous generations of the phones and only gave a discounted one-time screen replacement along with an on-demand concierge service. Screen replacement was priced at an initial discounted rate of $149 for the Galaxy Z Fold and Fold 2, and $119 for the Galaxy Z Flip devices.
In the email, Samsung said one of the main reasons it discontinued Premier Service was because "usage was low." In addition, the spokesperson said that "many Galaxy Z owners were actually opting for Care+ already."
Samsung Care+ is a device protection subscription service that is very similar to Apple's AppleCare+, offering customers setup assistance, remote technical support, and replacement coverage for product hardware failures. It also provides discounted repair costs for accidental damage.
It should also be noted that this plan is specific to U.S. customers. Care+ pricing and systems work differently in other countries, and Samsung said it can't comment on "price discrepancies with other countries."
Samsung getting rid of Premier Service was 'inevitable'
Neil Shah, vice president of research at Counterpoint Research, said in an interview that the change was "inevitable" as Samsung has mastered the foldable display and design, which yields to gaining more confidence in the quality and durability.
"Foldables are entering the third generation for Samsung, so bringing it to a broader audience opens up more opportunities to monetize with the standardized Samsung Care+ program," he says, adding that the program itself delivers good protection and value to a customer.
"Foldables are entering the third generation for Samsung, so bringing it to a broader audience opens up more opportunities to monetize with the standardized Samsung Care+ program," Neil Shah says.
Shah also notes that the initial bundling and Premier Service was a smart move as the technology was in its infancy, but now that the foldable prices have come down, from Samsung's perspective, it makes sense to start offering the Care+ service to the lineup of foldable phones.
With the new devices, customers will have the option to subscribe to Samsung Care+, which costs $3.99, $8.99, or $11.99 per month depending on your device and is automatically billed on a monthly basis, Samsung says. For the Fold 3 and Flip 3, Samsung says the monthly cost is $12.99, the spokesperson says, adding that the website is still being updated with pricing information.
According to the FAQ page, Care+ covers accidental damage "from handling with a low service fee for approved claims. The service fee varies depending on your type of service selected." It adds that there is no service fee for mechanical breakdown claims.
For example, Samsung says there is a $249 deductible each time you repair your screen, and you can do this up to three times per year.
If you pre-ordered either of the new foldable devices, the first year of a three-year subscription to Care+ is free, but that was a limited promotion.
So you are paying $156 per year, plus how much you paid to initially get your device. The Fold 3 retails at $1,799 (a $200 price decrease from the Fold 2), and the Flip 3 retails for $999.
Break it down for me, how much does it cost to buy the phone and have Care+?
If you're a Fold owner who preordered the device, you're paying $1,799 + $311.76, which is the cost of two years of Care+ since you get the first one free. If you're a Flip owner who preordered, you're paying $999 + $311.76 and any additional tax.
So let's say you damage your Fold 3's screen once a year. Your total cost for that year would be $405 (your Care+ subscription fee for a year, plus the $249 deductible).
According to The Verge, if you don't have Samsung Care+, fixing the interior folding screen of a Fold 3 costs $479 and for the Flip 3 is $369. The external displays are a bit cheaper at $149 for the Fold 3 and $99 for the Flip 3.
This all seems like a lot of money, and it might seem like Samsung is out to get more money out of you.
But let's put that in perspective: if you were part of the Premier Service, you would only get to fix your screen once at a discounted rate. You're paying a deductible along with a hefty price for the phone.
Carolina Milanesi, president and principal analyst at Creative Strategies, says in an interview that Samsung isn't trying to lowball customers.
"I am not sure I would read into the lower price [of the phone] and the Care+ service as a way to get more money out of the customers. At the end of the day, you don't have to buy the service," she says.
"I am not sure I would read into the lower price [of the phone] and the Care+ service as a way to get more money out of the customers. At the end of the day, you don't have to buy the service," Carolina Milanesi says.
IDC's research manager of worldwide device trackers, Jitesh Urbani, agrees in an interview, adding that "Samsung [isn't] out to deceive customers or take advantage of them in any way."
"I suspect that with the first two generations of folding devices, Samsung learned that the Premium Service was underutilized by customers or perhaps not as highly valued by customers, and as a result, it wouldn't be missed if removed from future iterations," he says.
"Without the removal [of the service], it would be tough for Samsung to offer the new folding devices at regular flagship prices."
Fold 3 and Flip 3 are 80% more durable, on par with other premium mobile devices
According to Samsung, the main screens on the Fold 3 and the Flip 3 are 80% more durable than previous generations and are able to withstand 200,000 folds.
The added benefit, Counterpoint Research's Shah explains, is that consumers will have longer protection and "offers peace of mind through the average lifespan of the device," which is typically two to three years.
IDC's research director on worldwide device trackers, Nabila Popal, said in an interview that because Samsung has indicated the level of durability is much more on par with other premium mobile devices in the market it will increase sales faster.
"With the significant drop in prices and simultaneous improvement to durability, Samsung has addressed two of the biggest hurdles to the uptake of foldables, which was previously the super high price tag and fragility of the earlier devices. The market is responding very positively to the new launch due to these two factors, and as a result, we expect to see a rapid acceleration in the uptake of foldables in the second half of 2021."
To put that in perspective, in 2020, foldables made up less than half a percent of the 1.28 billion global smartphone market, according to IDC. However, IDC expects the foldable volume to grow anywhere up to three to four times over from last year's volume with this new launch.
Popal says it "speaks a lot to Samsung's confidence" in the improved durability of these phones and that it is necessary for separate service offerings.
"It gives an indirect statement that [Samsung] feels these devices do not need 'special' care any different from its other premium devices," she says.
Fold 3 should still have its own premium service to cater to business customers
Despite Samsung's efforts in pushing to make foldable phones a mainstream staple, Anshel Sag, a senior analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, says in an interview that the company should have kept a separate care package for the Fold 3.
"The Fold is very much a productivity and business-centric device, and I would've liked to see Samsung lean into that more, rather than try to lump the Fold and Flip together," he said.
"The Fold is very much a productivity and business-centric device, and I would've liked to see Samsung lean into that more, rather than try to lump the Fold and Flip together," Anshel Sag said.
Sag notes that the Fold 3 should have been promoted separately and with different marketing, messaging, and support/service.
"Business users want to know they are going to be taken care of no matter what," he says.
And because the Fold 3 is priced higher, likely targeting that business-centric market, Sag notes that Samsung should still offer a higher level of support, especially since its S Pen compatibility opens the door to additional screen damage, despite Samsung's precautions.
"While the Fold may be great for artists as well, I just think that Samsung is missing an opportunity to capture new business users that see the utility of having a split-screen and S Pen on their phone," he says.
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