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Samsung Beats Apple To The $2,000 Smartphone

The Galaxy Fold is about $500 more expensive than even the priciest iPhone available right now.

Samsung made mobile history Wednesday by unveiling the first foldable smartphone for the mainstream, the Galaxy Fold.

But while Apple has taken so much grief for its steep iPhone pricing in recent years, Samsung has blown past Apple with the pricing of the Galaxy Fold, which starts at nearly $2,000.

[Related: 5 Things To Know About Samsung's Galaxy Fold]

The starting price is $1,980, to be exact, clearly a way for Samsung to avoid admitting it's created the first major $2,000 smartphone. But the audience reaction after the price was announced at Galaxy Unpacked on Wednesday—a mixture of "woahhhh" and other audible expressions of disbelief—said it all. This is a new era for mobile, indeed.

High prices have been widely blamed for Apple's slowdown in iPhone sales in recent quarters, but even the highest-priced iPhone configuration—the iPhone XS Max with 512 GB of storage—doesn't come all that close to $2,000 (it's $1,449).

The Galaxy Fold is certainly a niche product, but who exactly is it for? The cover display measures just 4.6 inches, which is a major step down from the large screens that smartphones have been offering of late. But the internal display measures 7.3 inches, which is great for looking at a map, using multiple windows or watching Netflix--but is an unnecessary amount of space for most smartphone tasks.

All of that to say, the Galaxy Fold will apparently be for that user who doesn't mind having a choice between either a minimal amount of space or a huge amount of space on their phone. And who doesn't mind folding their phone open continually. And who has $2,000 to spare.

There are those who will buy it just for the sake of the novelty, but eventually that will wear off, and we'll find out just how many people actually might prefer this sort of device.

(Of course, anyone that uses both a smartphone and a tablet frequently might relish the idea of getting rid of the tablet in favor of the Galaxy Fold. But tablet demand has cooled off significantly in recent years, so this potential user base is not what it once was.)

The bottom line: Samsung has certainly beat Apple into a major area of innovation on the smartphone, at a time when Apple seems much more vulnerable than usual. But in the process, Samsung has also grabbed the title of most-expensive smartphone maker away from Apple.

Pricing the Galaxy Fold at $1,980, nearly twice the $999 iPhone X price that was so widely derided not long ago, is without a doubt a bold move. Stay tuned to see how it's received when the Galaxy Fold arrives in late April.

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